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Micron brings out 2.5-inch SAS SSD, anticipates decline of SATA SSD

Micron launched the 6 Gbps, 2.5-inch P140m SAS SSD this week, and expects SAS to overtake SATA as the most popular SSD interface by 2016.

Looking to go where the market appears to be heading, Micron has added a 6 Gbps Serial-Attached SCSI drive to its solid-state storage lineup with the release of the P410m solid-state drive. The 2.5-inch, 7 millimeter SAS drive is available in 100 GB, 200 GB and 400 GB capacities.

The P410m uses 25 nanometer multi-level cell (MLC) NAND flash, and is the Serial-Attached SCSI (SAS) version of Micron's P400m SATA interface solid-state drive (SSD). It is Micron's first SAS SSD and uses the company's XPERT performance and reliability technology, which includes on-board power-loss protection, and a redundant array of independent NAND (RAIN), the flash equivalent of a RAID.

According to Micron's internal market research, sales of SAS SSDs will overtake both SATA SSDs and solid-state PCI Express (PCIe) card sales by 2016 with an expected 3.7 million drives sold that year, Micron Senior Product Manager Phil March said.

"It's a lot of business and something we are taking seriously," March said.

SAS SSDs can handle up to 256 outstanding requests compared to 32 outstanding requests handled by SATA SSDs. Both support 6 Gbps today. The SAS roadmap calls for 12 Gbps bandwidth and higher, while SATA will max out at 6 Gbps.

Micron is selling the P410m through its sales and distribution channels, and to OEMs. EMC is qualifying the Micron P410m for use in its products.

Joseph Unsworth, a Gartner Inc. research vice president for NAND flash and SSDs, said he expects SAS to be the dominant interface for all storage -- not just for SSDs -- by early 2015.

The challenge Micron will face is that a number of major drive manufacturers, including Intel Corp., SanDisk and STEC Inc., are competing in that market, Unsworth said. Others such as Toshiba, Seagate and OCZ Technology have said they will have SAS SSDs by the end of the year.

"[The P410m] gives [Micron] a solid chance to get some market share, of which it currently is at the bottom of the playing field," Unsworth said in an email. "[The EMC design win] is a great start, but in a very crowded landscape [with] some very capable vendors."

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