Network based systems

Micron ships high-density SATA-based SSDs for data centers

Micron Technology is bucking the trend of moving to PCI Express-based storage and launching a new SATA III-based SSD with ultra-dense memory storage and optimized readout for faster data access.

The SATA interface has been around since the turn of the century, but it has progressed much more slowly than the PCIe interface and without any progress in terms of performance. Among gamers, who are as obsessed with performance as someone who makes AI models, PCIe drives are standard issue and SATA drives are best used for storage.

This is because SATA III has a throughput of around 550 MB/s, while PCIe 4.0 has over 10 times the throughput.

SATA III is more than adequate for modest use cases. For example, a 50 Gigabit Ethernet consisting of two 25 Gb/s ports can easily be filled with data by 12 SATA drives. That’s about half the number of drives that fit in a 2U storage array when using the standard 2.5-inch drive form factor, says Alvaro Toledo, vice president and general manager of data center storage. at Micron.

So, for basic functions such as file storage and business applications, SATA does the job just fine. For HPC and AI modeling, you will use a PCIe-based storage array. “It all depends on the right tool for the job,” Toledo said. “I’m not going to tell you that high-performance AI-like workloads use SATA.”

To this end, Micron introduces a 176-layer TLC NAND SATA SSD, the Micron 5400 series. TLC means that the memory cells of the NAND flash chips contain three bits each. There is higher density NAND flash, QLC, with four bits per cell, but it has a much lower durability rating than TLC.

The 176-layer memory is quite a leap. For some time, NAND memory has been committed to 3D stacking to increase density in a small space, and the highest density has been 128 layers. Adding 48 more layers means more density per chip, and therefore more storage. The Micron 5400 range scales from 240 GB to 7.68 TB.

Toledo says the 240GB drive is primarily used for boot images and only contains the operating system, while larger capacity drives are used more for storage and a lot of reads and writes. . The 7.68TB drive is specifically designed for high-performance reads because the assumption is that customers are using it for mass storage, Toledo said.

Micron said OEM partners are qualifying memory for their drives, with some shipping to the channel now.

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