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Say Hello: Meet the World’s First QLC SSD, the Micron 5210 ION

By Derek Dicker - 2018-11-05

What if cloud and data center storage were freed from the confines of hard drive technology? It takes flash storage to meet the workloads of today and tomorrow. Over the past decade, storage architectures have been focused on increasing speed and scale just to keep up with the avalanche of information flooding from enterprise data, devices and drives, machine learning and more. Yet some workloads continue to be relegated to slow and power-hungry hard drives. Now the waves of digital transformation demand greater infrastructure flexibility and, not just data, but data intelligence.

The breakthrough is a solid-state drive (SSD) that offers fast capacity for less. Micron announced shipping of the world’s first quad-level cell (QLC) SSD in May to strategic customers and partners. The Micron® 5210 ION SSD, featuring Micron NAND with 33-percent higher bit density than triple-level cell (TLC) flash storage, offers compelling economics for enterprise storage compared to spinning media. Micron’s QLC technology delivers features, capacity, performance and value in environments where read-intensive performance is critical, and the cost of SSDs has historically been too high.

Today our Micron 5210 ION SSD has reached general availability. As you ponder if the Micron 5210 is right for your use cases, here are a few questions to ask:

What are my workloads?

The Micron 5210 SSD quickly accesses and analyzes performance-sensitive, read-centric data stores that fuel your business. Read vs write workloads have evolved. In today’s market, most data only need to be written infrequently, but read and analyzed constantly. Before the age of AI, data center read-to-write ratios were typically 4:1. For AI workloads, they’re now over a million:1 and this is transforming the storage needs of the modern data center. Whether you’re querying a 10TB SQL database, streaming content and adjusting to traffic, or analyzing daily transactions to tune your business model, real-time speed reading is key. Machines can only learn as fast as they can read and analyze data.

If your workloads include real-time analytics, big data, content delivery, read-intensive AI, data lakes for machine or deep learning, BI/DSS and large block/active archive storage, the Micron 5210 SSD can provide impressive results. It’s not designed as a replacement for TLC (triple level cell) SSDs, it’s designed to be used with TLC SSDs for new cool/warm storage tiers as a way to increasingly displace HDDs and move more enterprise workloads to SSDs.

How much data do I really write?

You might have read that QLC NAND offers lower endurance than TLC SSDs. This is true, but what’s interesting is that according to Forward Insights, 75 percent of all enterprise SSDs shipped worldwide in 2017 shipped with ≤1 DWPD. And the trend continues toward lower endurance. Designed for read-intensive cloud workloads, the Micron 5210 SSD has a sturdy endurance rating of up to 0.8 DWPD and, for the first time ever, we’ve provided workload-specific endurance ratings so you can understand what you’ll get for your workloads (which is why the “what’s your workload” question is so key). Not only does the Micron 5210 SSD deliver close to 1 DWPD, but thanks to QLC NAND, you can now get the same level of endurance that you need at a lower cost. And remember, DWPD is a function of capacity. Since the smallest Micron 5210 SSD is nearly 2TB, you’re getting more endurance than you may think (in terms of the actual amount of GB-per-day that you can write to the drive).

5210 ION SSD

What types of writes do I do?

Understanding random versus sequential writes can help you identify sweet spots aligned with the optimal I/O profiles that the cost-effective Micron 5210 SSD is designed for.

5210 ION SSD

Am I struggling with spinning media?

The Micron 5210 SSD is the affordable way to move from HDDs if you match enterprise performance with the overall total cost of ownership (TCO). Comparing our 1.92TB Micron 5210 SSD datasheet specifications against a 2.4TB 10K RPM HDD with typical throughout performance of 270 MB/s and 400 IOPS* shows impressive results.

* Based on public datasheet values for the 1.92TB Micron 5210 SSD (70,000 IOPS random reads, 13,000 IOPS random writes) and SNIA PTSe IOPS industry-standard test results on 2.4TB 10k hybrid HDDs (rounded up to 400 IOPS for both random reads and writes). Actual performance may vary. Energy efficiency comparison based on datasheet values for active average reads.

5210 ION SSD

Real workloads also show impressive results. AMAX compared the Micron 5210 SSD to a 7200 RPM HDD JBOD for their specialty: deep learning. Testing showed 10.4 times more bandwidth and IOPS, reducing DL epoch times by up to 40%.

Do I demand enterprise-grade features for my cloud and data center?

Your first best choice is Micron NAND technology, which produces some of the best flash memory products in the industry. The Micron 5210 SSD is built on our next-generation 64-layer NAND structure and is designed to be easy to qualify since the Micron 5210 uses the proven and trusted architecture of the Micron 5200 SSD. The Micron 5210 also includes other enterprise-grade features to improve efficiency and security:

Micron Flex Capacity™, AES 256-bit encryption, TCG Enterprise configurability, power loss protection (data in-flight & at-rest), enterprise data path protection (user & meta data), our Storage Executive SSD management tool, hot pluggable, adaptive thermal monitoring, secure firmware and more.

Talk to us

Are you investigating QLC SSDs for your organization? Contact your Micron account representative to inquire about our Micron 5210 SSD sample program.

Learn more at micron.com/5210.

©2018 Micron Technology, Inc. All rights reserved. All information herein is provided on an "AS IS" basis without warranties of any kind. Micron, the Micron logo, and all other Micron trademarks are the property of Micron Technology, Inc. All other trademarks are property of their respective owners. Products are warranted only to meet Micron's production data sheet specifications. Products, programs and specifications are subject to change without notice. Dates are estimates only.

Derek Dicker

Derek Dicker is corporate vice president and general manager of the Storage Business Unit at Micron Technology. He is responsible for building world-class storage products and value-added solutions based on Micron’s nonvolatile memory technology to address the growing opportunity in large market segments like cloud, enterprise and client computing. He joined Micron in 2018.

Mr. Dicker has 20 years of experience in the semiconductor industry, including sales, marketing and executive roles at Intel, Integrated Device Technologies and PMC-Sierra (acquired by Microsemi Corporation). Most recently, he served as vice president and business unit manager of performance storage at Microsemi, where he led a global organization and drove all general management functions.

Mr. Dicker earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science and engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles. He attended INSEAD’s Young Manager Programme and the Stanford Executive Program.