Perceptions of NVME SSDs: Truth or Myth?

By Doug Rollins - 2019-11-10

How many memorable teachers have you known? Teachers who stick with you long, long after you have gone your own way? I’ve been fortunate to have many excellent teachers, but Mrs. Mary Hanley is easily one of my most influential teachers. In the early 1980s, I was in Mrs. Hanley’s high school English class where she taught me the value of three: To make a point or convince your audience, you should have three supporting facts, three succinct points. According to Mrs. Hanley, “two is too few and four is a bore.”

Three Perceptions About NVM ExpressTM SSDs

I was thinking about Mrs. Hanley when I wrote about how our recently announced Micron 7300 series of solid-state drives with NVM ExpressTM has changed the way most of us think about NVMe. To set the stage a bit, when you think of NVMe SSDs, what leaps to mind? Before the 7300, these perceptions leaped to my mind:

  1. The selection of NVMe SSDs is very limited. They are too big and take too much power, which forces us to mix SSD types inside the same platform (making management a bit tough).
  2. NVMe is too expensive to use with everyday applications and workloads. We have to focus our use of NVMe and deploy it on only the most performance- and latency-sensitive workloads.
  3. NVMe SSDs may be too “over the top” for core lines of business applications. Many applications cannot take advantage of their amazing performance.

See? There’s Mrs. Hanley and that magic number three. Let’s take a look at each of these perceptions and then decide whether they are true or just myths.

Perception #1: NVMe SSD selection is limited, making it very difficult to build simple platforms that use SSDs from the same family for everything — boot, cache and capacity storage.

Is it true? I would have agreed that this one is true, but the 7300 changed my mind. Sure, there are NVMe SSDs aimed at the extremes of capacity, performance and power draw, and those NVMe SSDs tend to be in physically large form factors, but the 7300 series breaks that mold. It is available in three form factors (two M.2 and 7mm U.2) and three intended-use designs (boot, read-focused and mixed-use input/output [I/O] profiles):

  • 7300 system boot (M.2): Offered in both 80mm and 120mm M.2 with capacities ranging from 400GB to 3.84TB, the 7300 M.2 enables robust, enterprise SSD class startup without sacrificing a data storage slot.
  • 7300 PRO (U.2), read-focused I/O: Quickly leverage the incredible value of your vast data stores. Unlock that value by quickly finding, sorting and acting on insights right away. The 7300 PRO offers a capacity-stretching 7.68TB per 7mm U.2 SSD to build platform and rack density with lightning speed.
  • 7300 MAX (U.2), mixed-use I/O: Hot data drives your business every day. Some of the most critical data, the data we write and modify most, is the hottest data in a platform. These critical assets aren’t written (ingested) into the system in neat, orderly and sequential chunks. Hot data can be random or sequential, in small or large blocks, organized or chaotic.

Perception #2: NVMe SSDs are too expensive to use with everyday applications and workloads.

Is it true? No, it isn’t. The 7300 series maximizes flash storage in the data center for a wide spectrum of virtualized and bare metal workloads that are performance- and I/O-sensitive. Leveraging low power consumption and the price-performance efficiencies of 96-layer 3D TLC NAND technology, the 7300 series makes NVMe SSDs more appealing to mainstream cloud and enterprise workloads.

Here's what affordability looks like when we compare the 7300 series to legacy, non-NVMe SSDs and performance-focused high-end NVMe SSDs:

Three Wallets

The 7300 series bridges the affordability gap, making these SSDs a compelling choice for everyday core line of business workloads where we might otherwise have used a legacy interface.

Perception #3: NVMe SSDs may be too “over the top” for core line of business applications, many of which cannot take advantage of their amazing performance.

Is it true? First, let’s compare performance trends by SSD type (not specific SSDs or specific performance metrics, just an overview). Here's what relative performance looks like when we compare the 7300 series to legacy, non-NVMe SSDs and performance-focused high-end NVMe SSDs:

Three Speedometers

The 7300 is on par with performance-focused NVMe! The 7300 isn’t exactly the same, of course, but it is in the same general area.

But how can we really use the 7300 performance? Legacy interface SSDs work well when retrofitting existing platforms (to extend the life span of existing assets, for example). The 7300 uses NVMe, the interface of choice and longevity for new systems.

Three Myths Busted!

With Micron’s launch of the 7300 series of NVMe SSDs, we’ve tackled three common perceptions head-on. Broad NVMe selection? Yes — the 7300 comes in multiple form factors, capacities and use designs. Affordable NVMe? Yes — the 7300 brings affordable performance to everyday workloads and applications. Usable performance? Yes — the 7300 is a great choice for new platforms supporting NVMe (and our 5300 series of SSDs are a great choice for refitting existing platforms).

So we’ve exposed these common perceptions as the myths they are, thanks to the launch of the 7300 series.

High school English was a long time ago for me, but Mrs. Hanley’s lesson on the value of three lives on — three myths busted, three truths affirmed. She taught me well.

Doug Rollins

Doug Rollins

Doug Rollins is a principal technical marketing engineer for Micron's Storage Business Unit, with a focus on enterprise solid-state drives. He’s an inventor, author, public speaker and photographer. Follow Doug on Twitter: @GreyHairStorage.