What is Micron doing wrong in Flash? – A Guest Submission Brian Bulkowski CTO Aerospike Inc

Micron has the fastest Flash devices available, but they’re also the best-kept secret in storage. We think that should change.

Why are their devices rumored to be selling poorly? Although Micron isn’t releasing individual product sales numbers, all industry insiders say Micron sales haven’t reached expectations.


Aerospike’s testing shows Micron PCIe devices blow away the competition, and our customers who use them are very pleased. See below for numbers and details.

One excuse is that Micron’s speed is not apparent in many applications. Custom-built storage application layers, like Facebook and Apple’s infrastructure, push storage to its maximum. Aerospike’s Flash-optimized data layer does, too.

Micron might be able to kick-start its enterprise sales group and incent its distributors for a high-quality sales experience. But until they do that, there’s an opportunity for system integrators, architects, and solution buyers. You can take advantage Micron products to build solutions that go far beyond your competition, for a fraction of the price. Consider the following.


Micron has long been one of the leaders in NAND Flash lithography and fabrication. Through a joint venture with Intel called IM Flash Technologies, they have jointly pioneered high density and low cost production processes.

Aerospike’s testing shows Micron’s most recent devices are price-performance leaders. We’ve run the Aerospike Certification Tool or ACT  (http://github.com/aerospike/act) test, which measures latency under simulated read and write loads. For most customers, latency of reads is the most important aspect of performance for their high availability edge database – their interaction store.

Micron’s P320h (SLC) and P420hm(MLC), which are PCIe designs available in a variety of packages and capacities. The SLC is the only drive we have seen, which can sustain 99.8% of requests under one millisecond while simultaneously satisfying 150,000 read operations per second and 225 megabytes per second of writes, hour after hour.

Graph 1

We have also tested four of these devices in a single machine—a configuration a customer of ours has deployed—and latency stays low. This I/O density is unmatched in our experience.

Compare this to the results for the Intel s3700 device. These latency figures are with 12,000 read operations per second and 32 megabytes per second of writes. The Intel devices are cheaper per byte than the P320h, and many devices can be added to a single chassis.

Graph 11

The Micron P420m is also a PCIe device, but uses MLC Flash and is thus competitive with the Intel s3700 in price, but at 48,000 read operations per second and 144 megabytes per second of writes. This device is still quite credible, although not the speed demon of the P320h. Micron does well to include drives at both price points.

Graph 2

In discussions with Micron, we have asked them how—while using the same underlying Flash parts—Micron has been able to achieve such high throughput. Micron has entirely revamped its controller and driver technology for PCIe. Their driver architecture contains the following design excellence:

* One Micron designed controller, not many small parallel controllers

* Tailored Linux interrupt handling for maximized performance

* Optimized physical-to-logical translation mapping

* NUMA aware drivers without significant host requirements

PCIe performance and experience will be required for the next steps in the market. The full set of these optimizations shows Micron’s ability within the PCIe market, and we expect further excellent devices from Micron.

We only ask Micron to increase their marketing efforts and make some noise. Let’s all grow the Flash market with higher performance at lower cost!

Brian Bulkowski, Aerospike founder and CTO will speak at the Flash Memory Summit, which is being held August 13-15 in Santa Clara, CA. Brian will present the session, “Evaluating SSD Real-Time Database Performance,” as part of “Forum G-31: Application Acceleration with SSDs,” which runs 8:30 a.m. – 10:50 a.m. on Thursday, August 15.

Brian Bulkowski

About Brian Bulkowski

Brian Bulkowski, founder and CTO of Aerospike Inc. (www.aerospike.com) has 20-plus years experience designing, developing and tuning networking systems and high-performance Web-scale infrastructures. He founded Aerospike after learning first hand, the scaling limitations of sharded MySQL systems at Aggregate Knowledge as director of performance at this media intelligence SaaS company. Brian developed the open source Aerospike Certification Tool (ACT) to evaluate the performance of flash-based SSDs in supporting database functions after existing tools proved to be unreliable predictors of how well SSDs would support the Aerospike real-time database in real-world deployments. Today, ACT is used both by enterprise IT teams to determine which SSDs to deploy with their databases, and by storage providers to help tune their SSDs for enterprise database demands. Previously, Brian also has served as a founding member of the digital TV team at Navio Communications, chief architect of Cable Solutions at Liberate Technologies, and lead engineer at Novell.

Aerospike Certification Tool (ACT) for Solid State Drive (SSD) Benchmarks: http://www.aerospike.com/blog/act-ssd-benchmark/