The discontinuation of 3D XPoint / Optane development by both Intel and Micron has left a void in the data center SSD market. Despite its high cost, the Optane SSDs were attractive from both a performance and endurance perspective. For database-related workloads like journaling, these are important aspects.

Along with the 6500 ION high-capacity TLC SSD, Micron is also launching the XTR NVMe SSD with SLC flash. While it is marketed as an alternative to Optane, it is not fundamentally a low-latency storage-class memory (SCM) option. Among its key advantages, according to Micron, are its low power consumption (up to 44% lower than the Optane P5800X), additional usable capacity (20% higher at each corresponding capacity point), and much lower pricing (20% of the equivalent Optane drive). Obviously, SLC flash endurance is not as high as Optane's, but Micron still promises 35% of the DWPD ratings of the P5800X's 100 DWPD.

Micron XTR NVMe SSD Specifications
Aspect XTR
Form Factor 2.5" 15mm U.3
Interface, Protocol PCIe 4.0 x4 NVMe 2.0
Capacities 960 GB 1.92 TB
3D NAND Flash Micron 176L SLC
Sequential Performance (GB/s) 128KB Reads @ QD 128 6.8 6.8
128KB Writes @ QD 128 5.3 5.6
Random Access (IOPS) 4KB Reads @ QD 128 900K 900K
4KB Writes @ QD 128 250K 350K
Latency (Typical) (us) 4KB Reads @ QD 1 60
4KB Writes @ QD 1 15
Power Draw (Watts) 128KB Sequential Read 12.0
128KB Sequential Write 12.0
4KB Random Read 12.0
4KB Random Write 12.0
Idle ?? ??
Endurance (DWPD) 100% 128KB Sequential Writes 60.0
100% 4KB Random Write 35.0
Warranty 5 years

This SLC offering makes perfect sense as a caching SSD when used along with the 6500 ION, or for write-intensive workloads involving heavy logging and journaling. Based on Micron's note about pricing relative to the P5800X Optane product, we should see the 1.92TB version come in around $600 - not entirely unreasonable for a SLC SSD. The competition in the market comes from Kioxia's FL6 series enterprise SCM SSD. Using 96L BiCS XL-FLASH, the FL6 series was introduced in 2021, and has overall better performance numbers in terms of speeds and latency. However, the Micron XTR appears to win out on the power consumption front. Given the use of 176L SLC (vs. 96L SLC in the Kioxia FL6), it is likely that the XTR has a pricing advantage also (pricing for the FL6 is not publicly available).

Concluding Remarks

Micron has completely revamped its enterprise SSD lineup over the last few years and brought in competitive offerings. With the two new products being launched today, the company is plugging the holes in its portfolio. While the Micron 6500 ION emerges as a compelling alternative to the Solidigm P5316 - the current de-facto choice for low-cost high-capacity SSDs aiming to maximize rack storage capacity, the Micron XTR is a new product that appears to be a storage-class memory (SCM) alternative at a much lower price point.

The new SSDs are already being sampled to hyperscalers, and are entering volume production towards the end of this month. Micron indicated that the drives would be available in the retail channel as well, similar to their current enterprise SSDs. Concrete pricing information was not provided. We will be taking a hands-on look at the performance of the Micron 6500 ION NVMe SSD in the coming weeks.

The Micron 6500 ION TLC NVMe SSD
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  • LiKenun - Sunday, May 21, 2023 - link

    The latency doesn’t come near Optane, but the endurance of the SLC is pretty impressive. The P4800X is “just” twice the endurance at 60 DWPD. The P5800X has the SLC offering beat on capacity though; it’s got a 3.2 TB capacity while Micron’s SLC tops out at 1.92 TB.
  • Silver5urfer - Sunday, May 21, 2023 - link

    Unfortunately, It's all in vain for the even enthusiast consumer.

    M.2 2280 is a poorly designed interface. The size is too small to scale, and Enterprise almost never uses them, which is why most of the NVMe drives are using 2.5" U.2 or U.3 form factor which is literally Universal across all the Enterprise SSDs. Look at Optane P4800X and P5800X same. Enterprise Samsung SSD PM1733 SSD also same it has 30TB of space, yes it its unobtainium class of price but still there are many U.2 SSDs to buy but consumers are out of options, you have to use an NVMe to U.2 adapters and I doubt they can be seamless.

    Plus except EVGA nobody offers U.2, tbh if I want an Extreme board from ASUS or Gigabyte or Godlike from MSI etc, they should have this U.2 connectors esp with the tons of PCIe 4.0 and 5.0 lanes now coming from modern x86 Intel and AMD processors.

    If you look at SATA SSDs, I bet all of the consumers forgot them as outdated. IRL the Enterprise still uses the SATA 2.5" SSDs and guess what ? They blow the lid off the NVMe M.2 in sheer Endurance and Capacity as well.

    In NVMe M.2 we also have the Controller / Firmware QC problems, look at Seagate 530 tons of failures, SN850 and X both have boot detection problems, Samsung 980 Pro and 990 Pro premature SSD wear. And these also have issues on Unraid, etc Homelab implementation. It's like they cared a bit on the controllers and threw a bunch of benchmarks and people became suckers on them. Oh also how many users do a post pseudo SLC cache write test ? They do not even know rofl, 90% of the users do not even know. They just think DirectX storage is the only thing they are buying these SSDs for not the high speed or consistency or the endurance.
  • erotomania - Wednesday, May 24, 2023 - link

    90% of users buy M.2 NVMe drives for "DirectX storage"? I think that perspective is warped.
  • Kamen Rider Blade - Monday, May 29, 2023 - link

    I 100% concur, M.2 is a poor interface for the desktop / server environment.

    I believe that the obsolete 1.8 HDD format should be brought back from the dead and re-used as a dedicated SSD format with 5 mm thick 1.8" SSD/HDD format for Consumer and 8mm thick 1.8" SSD/HDD format for Enterprise to allow for some Heat Sink fins.

    U.3 / U.2 connector FTW, it's so much more durable.

    The M.2 connector is only designed for 50 Mating Cycles.
    The SATA/SAS/U.2/U.3 connector is designed for 10,000 Mating Cycles.

    There's a WORLD of difference for durability.

    Let's leave M.2 as a Mobile Product ONLY solution.

    Every-where else, let's all move to U.3 & 1.8" SSD/HDD format please.
  • zepi - Thursday, June 1, 2023 - link

    M.2 is perfectly good form factor for server boot drives.
  • xane - Monday, May 22, 2023 - link

    I rarely, if ever use TLC, always go the extra mile to get MLC. QLC is a far cry to me, though I understand that decision to purchase these is often dictated by one's wallet, so I respect it. Solidigm went South with their lineup in my opinion. I have had Intel MLC drives for so long, none has failed yet (knock on wood lol).
  • erotomania - Wednesday, May 24, 2023 - link

    I briefly tried out two Solidigm P41 Plus SSDs. They were returned - the experience was similar to SMR HDDs. The only thing predictable was that they were unpredictably slow.

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