Tuesday, May 22nd 2018

Micron Ships Industry's First Quad-Level Cell NAND SSD

Micron Technology, Inc. has commenced shipments of the industry's first SSD built on revolutionary quad-level cell (QLC) NAND technology. Unveiled at Micron's 2018 Analyst and Investor Event, the Micron 5210 ION SSD provides 33 percent more bit density than triple-level cell (TLC) NAND, addressing segments previously serviced with hard disk drives (HDDs). The introduction of new QLC-based SSDs positions Micron as a leader in providing higher capacity at lower costs to address the read-intensive yet performance-sensitive cloud storage needs of AI, big data, business intelligence, content delivery and database systems.

As workloads evolve to meet the ever-increasing demands for real-time data insights and analytics, data centers increasingly need the capacity, speed, reliability and steady state performance that enterprise flash storage provides. Micron QLC NAND - reaching densities of 1 terabit with its next-generation 64-layer 3D NAND structure - is optimized to meet these demands and make SATA SSD performance and capacity more approachable than ever before.
"This breakthrough QLC SSD will usher in a new generation of storage products that allows enterprise and cloud customers to experience the benefits of NAND flash across an expanding array of workloads that were previously relegated to slow, power-hungry hard drives," said Micron Executive Vice President and Chief Business Officer, Sumit Sadana. "This innovative solution is another example of Micron's accelerating momentum in bringing high value solutions to market and creating true value for customers."

"Baidu is pleased to work closely with Micron on the latest innovations in solid-state storage, including Micron's QLC technology," said Mr. Liu Chao, general manager of System Technology at Baidu. "This deep technical collaboration helps Baidu to build on our leadership position as the premier AI service and cloud service provider in China, providing an exceptional user experience for our customers."

Available in a 2.5-inch form factor, compared to the traditional 3.5-inch HDD, the Micron 5210 ION SSD reduces server sprawl by packing more performance into fewer racks, which allows data centers to save on expensive power and cooling costs. The 5210 ION SSD complements Micron's existing storage portfolio, offering cloud customers greater performance and capacity options for cost-sensitive, read-dependent applications.
"Enterprise datacenters are constantly challenged to deliver faster, cheaper, and higher capacity storage," said Jeff Janukowicz, research vice president at IDC. "For read-intensive and performance sensitive workloads, QLC enterprise SATA SSDs provide an affordable way to move enterprise applications to flash and have the opportunity to increase the addressable market for flash in the enterprise."

The Micron 5210 ION SSD addresses the most stringent customer requirements by delivering the full enterprise feature set of Micron's SATA SSDs. Leveraging the proven architecture of the 5200 series SATA SSD, the 5210 ION SSD simplifies the qualification process by providing customers with a known design for their data center build-out. Customers will also be able to leverage Micron's unique Flex Capacity feature to custom-configure the drive's endurance and write performance for workloads that have a higher mix of writes but are still mostly read-intensive.

The Micron 5210 ION SSD is now shipping to strategic enablement partners and customers, with broad market availability expected in the fall of 2018. To meet market needs, the Micron 5210 ION SSD will be available in a 2.5-inch (7mm) form factor in capacities ranging from 1.92TB to 7.68TB, enabling more flash capacity per 2U chassis. Micron plans to continue innovating with QLC NAND in other interfaces to expand offerings across its product portfolio and offer even greater capacities in the future.
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14 Comments on Micron Ships Industry's First Quad-Level Cell NAND SSD

#1
CheapMeat
Heck yes! I've been looking forward to QLC launching finally. I think it's really exciting for those of us that still want lots of bulk storage, especially with redundant schemes. I think certain types of enterprise, especially cloud storage providers, will stay with 3.5" HDD platters, but almost everyone else will start shifting even faster now to 2.5" and hotswap M.2/M.3 (Samsung extra wide) (SuperMicro has examples up on their site). Gamers & some enthusiasts will have access to cheaper bulk storage too when PCIe variants come out (probably one or two drives). And folks like me will have plenty of room to grow with our hotswap bays (using IcyDock for example).
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#2
Tomorrow
No endurance or performance numbers?

Suprised they start with enterprise instead of budget drives.
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#3
londiste
Given the appropriately low price, I would definitely take some QLC drives for NAS. Most of the stuff in there gets written very rarely.
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#4
CheapMeat
Tomorrow said:
No endurance or performance numbers?

Suprised they start with enterprise instead of budget drives.
Not sure about their numbers but from articles from Toshiba the cycles are a lot higher than expected. They used to think only 100 P/E cycles per cell, so it was just thought of as WORM (write once, ready many) but they showed it was at least 1000 cycles. Those articles were 2/3 years old though. Honestly, I see TLC diminishing greatly eventually because QLC will do it just has well for capacity tiers while Intel 3D Xpoint phase change and Samsungs Z-NAND (SLC mode) takes over the performance level. Not soon of course though. For consumers TLC will probably be the right balance of performance, capacity and price (for NVMe), since most will only have 1 or 2 drives usually. But after all the players really start pushing QLC I can see most enterprise and prosumers using it instead.
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#5
Tsukiyomi91
It's a matter of time until we see a proper QLC based SSD for mainstream market... gonna take a few years before the tech matures.
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#6
Octopuss
londiste said:
Given the appropriately low price, I would definitely take some QLC drives for NAS. Most of the stuff in there gets written very rarely.
They will probably still be horribly expensive. I have 2x4TB WD Red in mine :(
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#7
bug
Revolutionary? I think this is about as revolutionary as adding one more razor to your shaving device.
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#8
CheapMeat
Yeah but that four blade razor doesn't get significantly cheaper than the three or two blade razor model, nor does it become more useful in bulk. This does.
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#9
londiste
QLC fits 33% more data than TLC into pretty much the same cells.
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#10
bug
londiste said:
QLC fits 33% more data than TLC into pretty much the same cells.
It's not like we haven't been here before. Yes, it fits more data in there, but it requires more precision when accessing that data. We get slower access time (not really a problem so far) and decreased write endurance to go with it.
QLC will probably be more than fine for your main storage drive. But for a drive that you access more frequently, a little due diligence may be in order (imho).
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#11
hojnikb
Tsukiyomi91 said:
It's a matter of time until we see a proper QLC based SSD for mainstream market... gonna take a few years before the tech matures.
Funny enough, SANDISK already did QLC based SD cards way back in 2009. So it's not like the flash tech is not matured (it's literally just distinguishing 16 voltage states instead of 8 or 4) but rather ssd controller support is not there yet.
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#12
tfdsaf
As long as SSD's are significantly pricier than HDD's they will never be mainstream, they will never be used by big enterprise that needs tons of storage.

For just $65 I can buy 2TB HDD, I need to pay $200 for a high quality 512GB m2 SSD drive.
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#13
londiste
tfdsaf said:
As long as SSD's are significantly pricier than HDD's they will never be mainstream, they will never be used by big enterprise that needs tons of storage.
For just $65 I can buy 2TB HDD, I need to pay $200 for a high quality 512GB m2 SSD drive.
You can get 2TB SSD for about 400€/$, just not a high quality M.2 one that is in a league of its own.

But, that is a consumer comparison. Enterprise does have a need for fast storage where a couple SSD-s can replace a server full of HDDs.
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#14
bug
tfdsaf said:
As long as SSD's are significantly pricier than HDD's they will never be mainstream, they will never be used by big enterprise that needs tons of storage.

For just $65 I can buy 2TB HDD, I need to pay $200 for a high quality 512GB m2 SSD drive.
Not sure what you mean by "mainstream", I thought SSDs are mainstream already. I, for one, recommend even friends with a budget use a SSD in their builds. 256GB go a long way if you're not installing many games at once.
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