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Micron 6500 Ion increases layers over 200, lowers price

Micron expanded its enterprise SSD portfolio with the 232-layer Micron 6500 Ion to lower costs and the Micron XTR, a new SLC, to increase overall performance.

Micron expanded its enterprise SSD portfolio with two new drive families, one that lowers costs for TLC storage and one that can boost performance for certain workloads.

Micron's 6500 Ion 232-layer NVMe SSD is aimed at general enterprise storage and all-flash arrays. The drive is triple-level cell (TLC) NAND, with a high layer count that reduces the price down to that of quad-level cell (QLC) pricing. Micron also released its XTR NVMe SSD, a single-layer cell (SLC) NAND with higher performance than TLC or QLC. Customers can utilize the drives together for cost and performance.

The NAND market has been experiencing a downturn for several months, according to Joe Unsworth, an analyst at Gartner. Prices and profitability are down, and it may be some time before the market sees a recovery, he said.

"You want to be there with your best technology when the recovery happens," Unsworth said.

He added that Micron is looking to take advantage of current market conditions with the 6500 by offering a high-performing, low-cost SSD.

More layers for better pricing

The Micron 6500 Ion is a PCIe Gen 4 SSD with an upper capacity of 30.72 TB. The quoted performance is 5 GB/s bandwidth and 1 million IOPS for throughput with an endurance of one drive writes per day (DWPD). The 6500's performance falls short of other TLC SSDs, such as the Micron 9400 Pro enterprise SSD, but surpasses QLC drives, according to the vendor.

Moving to 200 layers gives you the cost reductions seen in previous generations of QLC.
Jeff JanukowiczAnalyst, IDC

Enterprise workloads have diverse storage needs, according to Jeff Janukowicz, an analyst at IDC. Companies have invested in QLC for workloads and applications, but some -- such as read-intensive workloads -- don't require the highest-performing SSDs.

QLC, which is relatively young compared with TLC, also comes with challenges around performance and endurance, particularly with write speed. The increased density per cell slows write speeds and causes the NAND to wear faster, lowering endurance.

"Moving to 200 layers gives you the cost reductions seen in previous generations of QLC," Janukowicz said.

This is the first 200-plus layer NAND SSD for the enterprise, Unsworth said. The 6500 offers improved performance and reliability over QLC SSDs. With 232 layers, Micron claims better cost-effectiveness compared to a 144-layer QLC SSD, as higher layer counts contribute to a more favorable cost structure.

 "You're not compromising for price here," Unsworth said.

For customers that want the value of the 6500 but want more power, Micron introduced the XTR.

Not quite SCM

The Micron XTR is a 176-layer SLC SSD available in 960 GB and 1.92 TB capacities. XTR can complement the 6500 Ion for caching. The drive has high performance and high endurance, giving it a similar profile as storage class memory (SCM). While XTR doesn't have the low latency of SCM, it can be an alternative in cases where SCM is used as a write buffer, he said.

With an endurance of up to 60 DWPD, the XTR can be targeted to niche workloads such as write caching, booting, logging, journaling and online transaction processing, Unsworth said. The move also expands use cases for Micron, as customers may find XTR a cost-effective replacement to SCM.

The XTR will have SLC pricing, Janukowicz said. However, there are still many applications that require high endurance.

"As the market adopts more QLC drives, something like a write-intense drive in front can offload some of the write endurance issues of QLC," Janukowicz said.

Adam Armstrong is a TechTarget Editorial news writer covering file and block storage hardware and private clouds. He previously worked at

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