Seagate Increases M.2 And U.2 Enterprise SSDs To 2TB, Adds AIC Model

The SSD vendors are gearing up to release the latest and greatest SSDs in conjunction with the looming Flash Memory Summit, and Seagate got the jump as it unveiled its new Nytro XP7102 NVMe AIC (Add-In Card) SSD. The company also announced that it updated its XM1440 M.2 / U.2 series SSDs to provide up to 2 TB of capacity.

Nytro XP7102 NVMe AIC

Seagate purchased the SandForce and Nytro SSD division from LSI back in 2014 for roughly half a billion dollars to help bulk up its flash offerings with SSD controllers and PCIe SSDs. The Nytro series of PCIe SSDs utilized a proprietary driver and SandForce controllers, which compress data to increase speed and endurance, for enterprise applications. We recently reviewed the Nytro XP6500, which is a unique SSD designed to offer the best performance with a battery-backed cache mechanism.

The Nytro cards offer great performance, and although the custom drivers can provide the best performance for transactional workloads, the proprietary driver stack can restrict deployment options due to extended qualification cycles. NVMe provides an industry-accepted platform with wide compatibility, which will extend the Nytro series to a greater range of applications. The Nytro XP7102 used the same components/controller as the smaller M.2 SSDs that we cover below, and Seagate will continue to offer its specialized line of proprietary driver-powered Nytro cards, as well.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Nytro XP7102 800GBNytro XP7102 1.6TBXP 6500 1.5TBXP 6500 4.0TB
Sequential Read/Write GB/s (up to)2,500 / 8502,500 / 9004.0 / 1.54.0 / 2.2
Random Read/Write IOPS245,000 / 35,000245,000 / 40,000300,000 / 100,000 (4K)275,000 / 75,000 (8K)
Endurance (PB Written)1.462.92820
Active - Idle Power (W)8.1 / 4.258.1 / 4.2533.5 / 23.833.5 / 23.8
NANDMicron 16nm MLCMicron 16nm MLCToshiba A19nm eMLC NANDToshiba A19nm eMLC NAND
DRAM Cache GB1224

The XP7102 is standard fare for an AIC, with large capacitors to flush data to the flash in the event of a host power-loss event. The HHHL (Half-Height Half-Length) AIC comes in 600 and 1,600 GB capacities and features Micron's planar 16nm MLC NAND, which is one of the fruits of the Seagate/Micron strategic alliance. The card connects via the PCIe 3.0 x4 connection and features a Marvell 1093 NVMe SSD controller. It also utilizes LDPC error correction and RAISE technology, which provides additional data redundancy to survive component failures.

Power is always a concern in the datacenter, and it appears that the XP7102 is going to be the power-miser to beat. The XP7102 weighs in with a maximum power draw of 11.5W and an average of 8.1W, which is considerably less than competing NVMe offerings and its XP6500 counterpart (in the chart above). The low power consumption comes as a direct result of the M.2 SSD roots, and the bootable card still provides up to 245,000/40,000 random read/write IOPS and 2,500/900 MBps of sequential read/write throughput. The NVMe 1.2a card comes with 3 DWPD of endurance, which targets it for read-centric and light mixed-use workloads, and it features 2 GB of Micron DDR3-1866 DRAM for LBA management tasks. The new Nytro cards are available now.

Nytro XF1440 XM1440

Seagate also updated its M.2 and 2.5" U.2 NVMe SSDs that it announced in April. Diminutive M.2 SSDs are becoming popular in the enterprise, though there is still a slow uptake due to few systems with integrated slots. However, the transition to M.2 in the datacenter is already well underway for boot volumes and general-use applications that employ PCIe carrier cards.

The XM1440 is the M.2 variant, while the XM1440 denotes the 2.5" U.2 models, and both get an increase up to 2TB of capacity. The 2 TB M.2 model provides the highest capacity of any enterprise-class M.2 with power loss protection. The M.2 SSDs remain in the 22110 (22 x 110 mm) form factor and, like its 2.5" U.2 brethren, Seagate stratified the drives into endurance- and capacity-optimized variants. Seagate adjusts the overprovisioning on the M.2 SSDs to provide the correct amount of endurance, with the capacity-optimized variants coming in 1,920, 960 and 480 GB capacities with 0.3 DWPD of endurance. The 400 and 800 GB SSD provide up to 3 DWPD of endurance.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
XF1440 And XM1440Endurance-OptimizedCapacity-Optimized
Capacity1,600 GB (XF Only), 800, 400 GB1,920, 960, 480 GB
Sequential Read/Write GB/s (up to)2,500 / 900 (XF Only) 600 (XM)2,500 / 900 (XF Only) 600 (XM)
Random Read/Write IOPS240,000 / 40,000 (XF Only) 33,000 (XM)240,000 / 15,000
Endurance DWPD30.03
Form Factor2.5" U.2 and M.22.5" U.2 and M.2
Active Power (W)7W (XM) 9W (XF)7W (XM) 9W (XF)
NANDMicron 16nm MLC and eMLCMicron 16nm MLC and eMLC

The series offers up to 2,500/600 MBps of sequential read/write throughput and up to 240,000/33,000 random read/write IOPS. The 1,920 GB model employs standard Micron 16nm MLC NAND, whereas the remainder of the models employ eMLC, and the entire range sips power at a mere 7W.

The U.2 XF1440 models, which also feature a PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe 1.2a interface, come in a svelte 7mm form factor. The 2.5" SSDs are experiencing rapid uptake, and Seagate (and Micron) are the only vendors offering them in 7mm, whereas the remainder of the industry still utilizes a 15mm Z-height. The U.2 series are also bifurcated into endurance- and capacity-optimized variants with the same capacity points and endurance, with the addition of a beefier 1,600 GB endurance-optimized model.

The U.2 series is somewhat faster, likely due to more thermal headroom, and tops out at 2,500/900 MBps of sequential read/write throughput and 240,000/40,000 random read/write IOPS. All of the U.2 models employ eMLC and have a higher power consumption of 9W, which Seagate indicated provides up to 30,000 read IOPS-per-Watt.

The 2 TB M.2 variants are sampling, with mass availability slated for November 2016.

Micron To Follow?

Interestingly, Micron also uses the XF and XM1440 series as part of its strategic alliance with Seagate. Micron brands its versions the Micron 7100, so we can expect it to follow suit with 2 TB models, and perhaps employ the AIC design, as well. 

The bulked-up Seagate line continues to employ Marvell controllers, which is somewhat surprising as we have yet to see a shipping SandForce-powered SSD with a modern controller from the company. 

Paul Alcorn
Managing Editor: News and Emerging Tech

Paul Alcorn is the Managing Editor: News and Emerging Tech for Tom's Hardware US. He also writes news and reviews on CPUs, storage, and enterprise hardware.