Gaming PC

U.3 SSDs for Data Center Workloads

Micron today unveils its latest data center SSD offering. The 9400 NVMe series builds on the success of Micron’s 3rd generation 9300 series. introduced Back in Q2 2019. The 9300 series adopted his U.2 form factor with PCIe 3.0 x4 interface and utilized 64L 3D TLC NAND. With a maximum capacity of 15.36 TB, this drive was at the forefront of storage capacity at the time, rivaling the largest HDDs (with clearly much higher performance numbers). Over the past few years, data centers have migrated to PCIe 4.0 and U.3 to meet performance requirements and consolidate NVMe, SAS, and SATA support. With these in mind, Micron is releasing his 9400 NVMe series of U.3 SSDs with a PCIe 4.0 x4 interface using his mature 176L 3D TLC NAND. The capacity-per-die increase will allow Micron to offer 2.5-inch U.3 drives with capacities of up to 30.72 TB, effectively doubling the capacity per rack of his previous generation.

Like the 9300 NVMe series, the 9400 NVMe series is also optimized for data-intensive workloads and comes in two versions, 9400 PRO and 9400 MAX. The Micron 9400 PRO is optimized for read-intensive workloads (1 DWPD), while the Micron 9400 MAX is for mixed use (3 DWPD). The maximum capacity points are 30.72 TB and 25.60 TB respectively. The specifications for the two drive families are summarized in the table below.

Micron 9400 NVMe Enterprise SSD
9400 Pro 9400MAX
form factor U.3 2.5″ 15mm
interface PCIe 4.0 NVMe 1.4
capacity 7.68TB
NAND Micron 176L 3D TLC
Sequential read 7000MBps
Sequential write 7000MBps
Random read (4 KB) 1.6M IOPS (7.68TB and 15.36TB)
1.5M IOPS (30.72TB)
1.6M IOPS (6.4TB and 12.8TB)
1.5M IOPS (25.6TB)
Random write (4KB) 300K IOPS 600K IOPS (6.4TB and 12.8TB)
550K IOPS (25.6TB)
Power operating 14-21W (7.68TB)
16-25W (15.36TB)
17-25W (30.72TB)
14-21W (6.40TB)
16-24W (12.8TB)
17-25W (25.6TB)
Idol ?W ?W
write endurance 1 DWPD 3 DWPD
guarantee 5 years

The 9400 NVMe SSD series is already in mass production for AI/ML and other HPC workloads. A move to faster interfaces and high-performance NAND delivers 77% more random IOPS per watt than the previous generation. Micron also claims superior all-around performance across a variety of workloads compared to competing enterprise SSDs.

Micron 9400 PRO goes up against Solidigm D7-5520, Samsung PM1733 and Kioxia CM6-R. The Solidigm D7-5520 is handicapped by a lower capacity point (because it uses 144L TLC) and performs poorly against the 9400 PRO in all but the number of sequential reads. The Samsung PM1733 is also 15.36 TB and shows similar performance numbers to the Solidigm model. Kioxia CM6-R is the only U.3 SSD with capacities up to 30.72TB. However, the performance figures in all corners are far behind the 9400 PRO.

The Micron 9400 MAX competes with Solidigm D7-P5620, Samsung PM1735, and Kioxia CM6-V. Except for sequential reads, the Solidigm D7-P5620 lags behind the 9400 MAX in terms of performance and capacity. PM1735 is only available in HHHL AIC form factor and uses PCIe 4.0 x8 interface. So despite its 8 GBps sequential read performance, it cannot be deployed in a similar fashion to the 9400 MAX. The Kioxia CM6-V hits 12.8 TB and has lower performance numbers compared to the 9400 MAX.

While it’s not the first time a 32TB-class SSD has entered the data center market, Micron is confident that the final offering will offer the highest level of performance across a wide variety of workloads compared to its competitors. We guarantee it. We hope to provide some practical performance numbers for SSDs in the coming weeks.

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