Micron's P400m: Reliable And Consistent; Fast Enough?
The days of 2.5" SSDs based on SLC memory appear to be coming to an end. In the past 18 months, Intel replaced its X25-E with the SSD 710 and SSD DC S3700. Now, Micron is replacing its P300 with the P400m. At the beginning of this piece we asked whether MLC memory technology is mature enough to compete with single-level cell NAND in demanding enterprise environments? Both Intel and Micron, respected drive vendors, seem to be answering that high-endurance MLC NAND is the future of enterprise SSDs.
The P400m is the fastest 2.5" enterprise-oriented drive we've seen Micron introduce. It races past the P300 it replaces, as well as the P400e now positioned lower in the company's product line. Sporting low latencies and consistent performance, this SSD does well in each test we hit it with.
Unfortunately, the most unique characteristics of the P400m aren't easily benchmarked. Micron's XPERT feature suite promises to extend drive life and reliability with data protection at multiple levels through the ARM/OR, DataSAFE, and RAIN technologies. Average customers will never even know those capabilities are working behind the scenes to keep their data safe. With that said, we really enjoy explaining and trying to quantify vendor-specific enhancements, particularly when they're so well-integrated.
But this is the point where we have to address the elephant in the room: Intel's SSD DC S3700. Other than our average and maximum latency tests, where the P400m asserts itself compellingly, the Intel drive wins in almost every other performance measurement. In fact, in a number of benchmarks, the SSD DC S3700 simply dominates.
Micron is able to best Intel when it comes to the price of its 400 GB P400m. However, its 100 and 200 GB models are more expensive. Intel also sells an 800 GB model; Micron does not. The 400 GB P400m is a solid alternative to the SSD DC S3700 when you look at cost per petabyte of data written. However, Micron's 400 GB drive performs a lot like the 200 GB version, while the 400 GB SSD DC S3700 keeps up with Intel's faster 800 GB mode.
Compared to its past efforts, Micron arms the P400m with a lot of new technology and decidedly better performance. But do the company's XPERT optimizations and corresponding promise of reliable storage make up for a second-place finish to Intel's SSD DC S3700 in our benchmarks? That's ultimately the question you’ll have to answer when you decide between these two modern drives.