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Micron 9100 MAX Enterprise NVMe SSD Review (2.4TB)

It has been quite some time since Micron has released a new PCIe SSD into its product portfolio. With the many new NVMe products being released in the market, it was about time Micron caught up, and not only did they catch up, their latest drives look to be some of the best out.  First announced back in April, Micron showed us the new 9100 Series and we were quite eager to get our hands on one of these new SSDs. These PCIe SSDs leverage the NVMe protocol to enable blisteringly fast speeds at very low latencies.

Within the family are PRO and MAX variants and with capacities ranging from 800GB to 3.2TB and SKUs for read-centric or mixed-workloads, the 9100 series should have you covered for anything you want to throw at it. The difference between the MAX and the PRO models is simply the amount of over provisioning. The 9100 MAX SSDs have upwards of 66% over provisioning to provide for the best mix of performance and endurance for while the 9100 PRO SSDs are all about capacity and price per GB, though their performance is nothing to laugh at either. They deliver sequential reads and writes up to 3GB/s and 2GB/s respectively, over 750K IOPS random read and 300K IOPS random write performance, and an extremely tight QoS. With these stats, the Micron 9100 MAX 2.4TB we are reviewing today looks to be an absolute beast on paper! But, does it have what it takes when we put it to the test? Read on to find out!

Micron 9100 MAX 2.4TB Main

SPECIFICATIONS AND AVAILABILITY

The Micron 9100 series comes in two form factors, HHHL AIC and U.2. Capacities are available from 800GB to 3.2TB. It utilizes a PCIe 3.0 x4 interface to deliver up to 3GB/s read and 2.GB/s write. Random 4K IOPS are rated for up to 750K/300K read/write.  Furthermore, endurance is rated from 790TB to 9.6PB depending on the capacity and workloads utilized. Power consumption is rated from 7W at idle up to 30W under load for the largest capacities. There are also 20W and 25W limiting modes which can be enabled. The cost for the 9100 MAX is about $1.35 per GB while the 9100 PRO is around $1.10 per GB.

Micron 9100 SeriesPROMAXPROMAXPRO
Capacity800GB1.2TB1.6TB2.4TB3.2TB
Sequential Read (MB/s)2,1002,8002,8003,0003,000
Sequential Write (MB/s)6501,3001,3002,0002,000
4K Random Read (IOPS)540K750K750K750K750K
4K Random Write (IOPS)55K180K100K300K160K
Endurance PB (Seq Writes)2.44.84.89.69.6
Endurance PB (4KB Random Writes)0.793.51.756.573.28

QoS has been a very important metric for storage in enterprise world and in order to show performance consistency, Micron lists their QoS data for the 9100 Series shown in the chart below.

Micron 9100 Series QoS

In terms of reliability, the MTBF is 2 million hours and the UBER rating is <1 sector per 10^17 bits read. There is end-to-end data protection, temperature protection (0°C to 85°C, 1000 hours MAX operation at 60°C), enhanced power-loss data protection, SMART monitoring, bad block management, and wear-leveling. Also, redundant array of independent NAND (RAIN) technology, similar to how RAID works, enables complete, transparent data recovery if a single storage element (NAND page, block, or die) fails. All this is encompassed in their eXtended Performance and Enhanced Reliability Technology (XPERT) suite feature set, which we have spoken about before in our Micron M510DC review, that greatly improves SSD performance and reliability.

If the system management bus (SMBus) is configured to be enabled, the SSD uses the
SMBus interface for presenting product data, monitoring drive health, checking drive
status before power-up, and error posting. Two protocols are supported: NVMe Basic Management Command revision 1.0 and Enterprise SSD Form Factor interface with its accompanying vital product data (VPD) definition. The 9100 series also support field-upgradable firmware.

As for system drivers, Micron recommends using the native NVMe drivers for the following operating systems: Microsoft Windows Server® 2016, Red Hat® Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 6.5+, CentOS® 6.5+,SUSE® Linux Enterprise Server 11 SP4, 12+, Ubuntu® 12.04.03+, 14.04+, and VMware® 5.5, 6.0+. For those with Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2, Hyper-V (recommended), RHEL 6.1-6.4, CentOS 6.1-6.4, and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 SP1-SP3, they recommend utilizing their custom drivers.

Finally, Micron notes that the 9100 is not intended to be a bootable device and that it is not validated. You may use it as a boot drive at your own risk.

A CLOSER LOOK

The 9100 Series utilizes a full length heat sink with a grey shroud to optimize airflow. The AIC version of the 9100 series requires 300LFPM of airflow while the U.2 variant requires a bit more at 450LFPM. Our sample came with both full and half-height brackets. The backside is bare of any protection over the components. On this side of the PCB we can see there are five 512MB DDR3 DRAM packages and 16 NAND packages.

Micron 9100 MAX 2.4TB Front Micron 9100 MAX 2.4TB Back

Once the heat sink is removed we can see that there are another four 512MB DDR3 DRAM packages on the front side of the PCB as well as another 16 NAND packages. Thus, we can see that the nine DRAM packages are arranged in an ECC set up of 4GB. This amount is due to the large amount of NAND on this 2.4TB SSD. In total there is 4096GiB of Micron 16nm 128Gbit NAND, that equates to an over provisioning amount of 1.6TB or about 66%!

Micron 9100 MAX 2.4TB Diss

Furthermore, we see there are two electrolytic capacitors which provide for the power-loss protection.

Micron 9100 MAX 2.4TB Controller

The controller is none other than the 16-channel, 16-core Microsemi (previously PMC) Flashtec NVMe1032 controller, part number 89HF16P04CG3. This NVMe controller is being utilizes by many vendors in the enterprise market, such as HGST, Samsung, and Techman due to its sheer power and customizability. Today’s review will showcase just how well Micron was able to tweak this drive versus others. With so much over provisioning, the 9100 MAX could provide for some of the best performance we have seen yet.

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