Introduction and Specifications
Micron is announcing a brand new, enterprise-class solid state drive today, the RealSSD P400m. We have a looked at a number of Micron-built solid state drives in the past, including the ultra high-end RealSSD P320h PCI Express-based beast and the consumer-targeted RealSSD C300, but what makes the P400m somewhat different is that it was designed from start to finish by Micron’s NAND and SSD engineering teams to provide high endurance and reliability and superior data protection. That’s not to say Micron’s previous products lacked in those departments, but the P400m goes a few steps further with custom NAND and firmware and physical power loss protection designed for mainstream enterprise applications.
We’ve got the Micron RealSSD P400m’s main specifications and features listed below and have a full set of benchmarks laid out on the pages ahead. Take a look at the drive itself and familiarize yourself with some of its proprietary features, and we’ll get to some hard numbers in a bit...
From the outside, the Micron RealSSD P400m looks just like the vast majority of other 2.5” solid state drives currently on the market. The drive has a slim, 7mm Z-Height, and is adorned with a single decal listing the model number and some other identifying information, but other than that, there’s not much to see externally.
Crack open the RealSSD P400m and you’ll find that the drive is built around the tried-and-true Marvell 88SS9187-BLD2 controller, which has been used by a number of other manufacturers as well. This particular drive is a 200GB model, but it’s outfitted with 256GB of total NAND. The unallocated capacity is used for wear leveling and other maintenance routines.
The actual flash memory in this drive is custom 25nm MLC NAND that is not being offered to other drive manufacturers at this time. Details were scarce on what makes this NAND different than what Micron offers to OEM customers, but we’re told it was designed for longevity and endurance. According to Micron, “The P400m takes full advantage of Micron’s vertical integration with XPERT and a custom MLC NAND device designed specifically for our enterprise SSD product line. This NAND device is built using our proven 25nm process and will not be sold to the open market—it will only be available in Micron SSDs.”
What the pictures don’t show are some of the proprietary technologies Micron has incorporated into the RealSSD P400m, including RAIN (Redundant Array of Independent NAND), Adaptive Read Management/Optimized Read (ARM/OR), and DataSAFE, which fall under the umbrella of Micron’s extended performance and enhanced reliability technology, or XPERT.
RAIN can be considered somewhat of a RAID 5-type solution that works across the flash channels in the drive. With RAIN, the P400m can recover lost data beyond page, block, and die-level failures. Adaptive Read Management / Optimized Read (ARM/OR) uses custom DSP algorithms implemented in firmware to optimize NAND read locations to deal with issues that affect the accuracy and endurance of a cell over time. DataSAFE is a protection scheme that ensures all data is within the drive is transferred correctly through the various SSD structures, including the drive interface, DRAM cache, all error checkers, etc. To further protect data, the RealSSD P400m is also outfitted with Physical Power-Loss Protection. The drive sports an array of capacitors that can provide enough power for the drive to commit all pending write commands in the event of a power failure.