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Micron launches 7400 PCIe Gen 4 SSDs for data centers

Micron unveiled NVMe SSDs with seven form factors this week, all with PCIe Gen 4 performance. The new family of SSDs could take Micron deeper into the data center.

Micron continues its focus on the data center, as evidenced by its release of the 7400 PCIe Gen 4 family of SSDs Wednesday.

Customers will have a range of form factor options, including the U.3, E1.S and M.2 form factors with capacity ranging from 400 GB to 7.6 TB. The new SSDs also come in two endurance ratings, either 1 DWPD or 3 DWPD.

As the size of enterprise data continues to balloon, customers are looking for faster speeds. NVMe PCIe Gen 3 has been the reigning king of flash storage speeds in the data center with wide adoption.

Now, more and more vendors are supporting the newer NVMe PCIe Gen 4. Gen 4 potentially doubles speeds over Gen 3, when compared with Micron's 7300 PRO U.2 PCIe Gen 3 SSD. Earlier this year, Micron introduced its 2450 and 3400 PCIe Gen 4 SSDs aimed at consumers. With the 7400, Micron is now taking that technology to the data center.

We are living in an unprecedented time in human history, in terms of the way that we collect, generate, interact and use data to really solve problems for humankind.
Jeremy WernerVice president and general manager of storage business unit, Micron

"IoT is feeding an enormous growth in the data center, and being able to manage, access and really utilize this data in a productive way is a major trend that is shaping everything that happens in a data center," said Jeremy Werner, corporate vice president and general manager of Micron's storage business unit, during a virtual fireside chat Wednesday held in conjunction with the SSD news. "We are living in an unprecedented time in human history, in terms of the way that we collect, generate, interact and use data to really solve problems for humankind."

Micron is currently offering the two more commonly found form factors with the U.3 and M.2. These are further broken down into different sizes, including the 15 mm- and 7 mm-thick versions. For companies that need more performance but still maintain a 1U footprint, Micron is also rolling out the E1.S, which it will also offer in a range of sizes to address different use cases.

Jim Handy, industry analyst and general director of Objective Analysis, found the number of form factors offered in one release to be noteworthy.

"I don't remember ever having seen such a broad offering all rolled out at the same time," he said. "It's like Micron's trying to come on like gangbusters and say, 'We didn't have solutions in this space, and now we've got more solutions than everybody else in this space.'"

Micron 7400 PCIe Gen 4
Micron released its 7400 PCIe Gen 4 SSDs Wednesday.

Taking aim at the data center

The new SSDs utilize Micron's 96-layer, 3D TLC NAND and the PCIe Gen 4 NVMe v1.4 interface. This is the company's first PCIe Gen 4 NVMe SSD aimed at the data center.

The 7400 can hit 6.6 GBps and nearly 1 million IOPS all with sub-millisecond latency, according to Micron. Werner noted that's "over double the performance per watt than we had in a Gen 3 NVMe SSDs." The 7400 is offered in 1 DWPD and 3 DWPD for endurance and has 128 namespaces for maximum scalability in virtual environments.

During the fireside chat, Werner said the range of form factors provided for more efficient performance without sacrificing density.

"Optimizing the form factor for flash allows for better performance, reduction of the footprint in the data center and a reduction in energy consumption," he said. He added that the 7400 "delivers almost a million IOPS in just 6W."

Patrick Moorhead, an analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy who joined Werner during the fireside chat to discuss the future of the data center, said the range of options means customers can optimize for specific use cases. "The idea of the homogenous data center is the past," he said. "We have scale-up, the edge, core of data center, along with different optimization levels for storage, heat and cooling."

A step away from legacy systems

The 7400 conforms to newer standards for hardware including Enterprise and Data Center SSD Form Factor (EDSFF) specification, the support for the Open Compute Project (OCP) standards as well as security standards.

The EDSFF, particularly the E1.S, can correct issues such as capacity and overheating with the M.2 form factor while keeping to a 1U density in a server or array, according to the Storage Networking Industry Association, a nonprofit focused on developing storage standards. Adhering to EDSFF specifications pushes away from legacy systems to modern, future form factors and standards.

Another step toward newer standards is the support of OCP, aimed at reducing integration complexity and speeding time to market. The 7400 is Micron's first product to support the standard for NVMe SSD requirements for qualified applications, according to Micron's Werner.

"Many NVMe SSDs in the market today have disjointed features and not necessarily great compatibility or interchangeability," he said. "The OCP standard will help to address that."

While the drive family comes with standard security features, Micron has added more, including the Secure Execution Environment with dedicated security processing hardware with physical isolation. The Secure Execution Environment delivers "a trusted hardware dedicated security environment with dedicated RAM and secure firmware in order to run the critical security functions inside the drive," according to Werner.

On Wednesday, the company also announced its Heterogeneous Memory-Storage Engine 2.0, an open source tool aimed at SSDs and storage class memory for maximizing their capabilities. HDD-based architectures are lacking, when customers need the performance and energy savings of flash, according to Micron. HSE 2.0 is available to everyone.

Both the 7400 SSD family and the Heterogeneous Memory-Storage Engine 2.0 are currently available.

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