ECD: Tell us about Micron’s recent breakthroughs in Solid-State Drive (SSD) write performance. What numbers are you getting, and which two or three things got you there?
Klein: Micron’s SSD portfolio has the RealSSD C300 for client applications (notebooks and desktop PCs), as well as the RealSSD P300 for enterprise applications (blade servers, system storage, enterprise servers).
The C300 SSD delivers sequential write speeds of up to 215 MBps. With native support of the SATA 6 Gbps interface, the data path between the host computer and the C300 SSD is twice as fast as the SATA 3 Gbps interface. The C300 also leverages a finely tuned architecture and high-speed Open NAND Flash Interface (ONFI) 2.1 Multi-Level Cell (MLC) NAND to provide a whole new level of performance.
The P300 SSD (Figure 1) delivers up to 16K IOPS steady-state write performance, more than 15 times the write performance of other SATA-based SSDs. It achieves up to 275 MBps in write throughput speed, also using the SATA 6 Gbps interface, and is optimized for write cache disabled performance. This provides the highest SATA drive IOPS/throughput without risk of data loss, as is often seen when one relies on write cache. The P300 also was designed using Micron’s 34 nm ONFI 2.1 Single-Level Cell (SLC) NAND, which is important as it runs at 166 MBps per channel.
This is real performance on real data, not synthetic benchmark data. The result is one RealSSD P300 can outperform a RAID of 12 short-stroked hard drives in many cases, while at the same time consuming less power than a single hard disk drive and far less space than an array of 12 drives.
ECD: Many embedded applications can take advantage of SATA drives, right? What other SSD technology is important for embedded applications?
Klein: Absolutely, and the availability of new classes of embedded processors with SATA ports from Intel, Marvell, Texas Instruments, Qualcomm, Broadcom, and others makes SATA-based SSDs a natural fit for embedded applications.
There are also a number of new form factors for SSDs that allow innovative embedded designs where the SATA interface is not available. Micron has eUSB and e•MMC solutions that provide embedded customers with a much smaller and more durable solution for their product designs.
Suitable for embedded boot-up applications, eUSBs are available in densities ranging from 2 GB to 16 GB and provide a cost-effective solution for applications that only require a small amount of storage. These eUSBs use a USB 2.0 system interface, and their small footprint – only 36.9 mm x 25.6 mm x 9.6 mm – enables a storage solution where traditional solutions are not possible. Performance of 30 MBps sequential read and up to 28 MBps sequential write speeds enable fast boot times for embedded OS applications and improve system performance as a cache device.
Another type of embedded memory, e•MMC, combines high-quality, low-cost NAND flash memory with a high-speed, JEDEC-compliant MultiMediaCard (MMC) controller in a single, low-profile BGA package. Offered in density ranges from 4 GB to 32 GB, e•MMC includes a managed interface that addresses potential NAND design concerns using ECC, wear leveling, and bad block management technology. It handles errors internally, taking the burden off the host controller.
Dean Klein is VP of Memory System Development at Micron Technology, where he focuses on developing SSD technologies and capabilities. He holds more than 220 patents in computer architecture and electrical engineering, and earned BSEE and MSEE degrees from the University of Minnesota.