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New 6 Gbps flash SSD boosts Micron solid-state offerings

Micron Technology Inc.'s new flash SSD, the RealSSD P300, is built on a 6 Gbps SATA interface and boasts higher capacities and better performance than its predecessor. Keywords

Micron Technology Inc. has unveiled its new enterprise-class solid-state drive (SSD), the RealSSD P300, a second-generation flash SSD replacement of its RealSSD P200. The new drive features a 6 Gbps SATA interface and comes in 50 GB, 100 GB and 200 GB capacity models vs. the P200's 25 GB and 50 GB capacities. The drives are expected to ship in volume by the end of September.

A key feature of this second-generation product is that its bandwidth capabilities have been greatly expanded, said Kevin Dibelius, Micron's enterprise SSD senior product marketing manager. The company said the RealSSD P300 offers more than 15 times the write performance of competing SATA-based solid-state drives, delivering 44,000 IOPS for random reads and 16,000 IOPS for random writes to target demanding enterprise applications.

The first generation RealSSD P200 has a 3 Gbps SATA interface. The P200 line will continue to be available through June 2011.

"We wanted to make sure our drive is optimized to work on enterprise-level environments," Dibelius said. "Enterprise applications have higher random reads and writes, so IOPS are important."

When factoring in overhead from the host, the 3 Gbps SATA interface can top out at 270 MBps to 275 MBps, Dibelius said. "Our P300 SATA 6 tops at 360 megabytes per second. We had to go to a new generation to allow for much higher throughput. This really expands the size of the pipe."

The RealSSD P300 uses Micron Technology's ONFI 2.1 34-nanometer single-level cell (SLC) NAND technology to ensure higher performance and endurance compared to multi-level cell (MLC) technology. MLC is typically cheaper than SLC technology, but lags in performance and endurance, and succumbs to greater wear and tear over time.

"We want to see MLC adopted because of the lower price-point, but customers want the same level of endurance of SLC," Dibelius said. "That is the challenge the market is posing."

James Bagley, senior analyst at Storage Strategies Now, characterized the RealSSD P300 as a typical technology upgrade, a straightforward enhancement of Micron's MLC-based RealSSD C300 client drive. The P300 uses the same interface featured in the consumer-based C300 drive that's intended for use in workstations or desktops. Also, by using 34nm lithography, the P300 can offer higher capacities in the same 2.5-inch package.

"This is an expected follow-on to the C300 drive. They have gone to an enterprise-class version of the C300," Bagley said. "The more significant news is where this gets priced on the market. That is the interesting thing we don't know yet. We will have to wait until September for that information."


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