Crucial's First NVMe SSD: P1 M.2 With QLC NANDby Billy Tallis on October 16, 2018 12:00 PM EST
Micron's consumer-oriented Crucial brand is finally entering the world of NVMe SSDs with the new Crucial P1 M.2 SSD. The P1 is an entry-level NVMe drive using four bit per cell (QLC) NAND flash memory and the Silicon Motion SM2263 controller. This is the same basic formula as used in the Intel 660p, the only other consumer QLC drive on the market so far. Micron has brought their own firmware customizations, so while the performance characteristics are similar to the Intel 660p they are definitely not the same drive. The Crucial P1 has slightly lower usable capacities than the Intel 660p, which translates into slightly more spare area available for garbage collection and SLC caching. Unlike the Intel 660p, the Crucial P1 uses the same 1GB DRAM per 1TB NAND ratio as most MLC and TLC SSDs.
|Crucial P1 SSD Specifications|
|Capacity||500 GB||1 TB||2 TB|
|Form Factor||single-sided M.2 2280||double-sided M.2 2280|
|Interface||NVMe 1.3 PCIe 3.0 x4|
|Controller||Silicon Motion SM2263|
|NAND Flash||Micron 64L 3D QLC NAND|
|DRAM||512MB DDR3||1GB DDR3||2GB DDR4|
|Sequential Read||1900 MB/s||2000 MB/s||2000 MB/s|
|Sequential Write||950 MB/s||1700 MB/s||1750 MB/s|
|Random Read||90k IOPS||170k IOPS||250k IOPS|
|Random Write||220k IOPS||240k IOPS||250k IOPS|
|SLC Write Cache (approximate)||5GB min
|Idle||2mW (PS4), 80mW (PS3)|
|Write Endurance||100 TB
|MSRP||$109.99 (22¢/GB)||$219.99 (22¢/GB)||TBA|
With top sequential speeds of only 2GB/s, the Crucial P1 doesn't really need all four PCIe lanes, but Silicon Motion's entry-level SM2263 controller still has four instead of the two that some other low-end NVMe controllers use. Given the use of QLC NAND, the P1's SLC cache is far more important than it is on drives with TLC NAND. Micron has taken a similar approach to what Intel did with the 660p by making the SLC cache not just a write buffer but a full-time dynamically sized read and write cache. All data written to the Crucial P1 hits the SLC cache first, and is compacted into QLC blocks only when the drive's free space starts running low. This means that a mostly-empty drive will be using tens or hundreds of GB of SLC, but as it fills up the cache will shrink down to just 5-24GB depending on the model. All of Crucial's official performance specifications are for the SLC cache.
As with the Crucial MX series of SATA SSDs, the Crucial P1 features a greater degree of power loss protection than typical consumer SSDs, though not the fully capacitor-backed protection that most enterprise SSDs feature. With the MX500, Crucial had already substantially reduced the number of capacitors required for their partial power loss protection thanks in part to a reduction in write power requirements for their 64-layer 3D NAND. The P1 gains additional data security from its SLC-first write policy, which eliminates the partially-programmed page risk. However, there is still a tiny bit of used data buffered in volatile RAM, on the order of a few MB at the most.
The rated write endurance of 0.1 drive writes per day is low even for an entry-level consumer SSD, but given the large drive capacities it is adequate. The P1 is definitely not intended to be the workhorse of an enthusiast system with a write-heavy workload, but for more typical read-oriented workloads it offers better performance than SATA SSDs.
The initial MSRPs for the Crucial P1 are unimpressive: it's substantially more expensive than the Intel 660p, and about matches some of the most affordable high-end NVMe drives like the HP EX920 and ADATA SX8200. If Micron can catch up to Intel's pricing and compete for the lowest $/GB among all NVMe SSDs then the Crucial P1 has a shot at success.
The 2TB model will be launching slightly later due to using DDR4 DRAM instead of the DDR3 used by the 500GB and 1TB models. We are testing the 1TB Crucial P1, with some results already in our Bench database. Look for our full review next week.
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PeachNCream - Tuesday, October 16, 2018 - linkMmm, delicious low endurance storage! Sign me up for some QLC so I can out-crap the already crappy TLC we used to replace fairly low endurance MLC! I wonder what the per-cell P/E cycle numbers are like for this drive. Since they're hiding behind an obfuscation of 0.1 DWPD, I'm guessing we're in the 500 - 1,000 range. NAND used to have no trouble with a million P/E cycles, but we've really pushed the technology to an unreasonable limit without a clear path out of the poor retention and short lifespan corner we've painted ourselves into in the name of racing to the bottom of the barrel. What a great time to be alive!
Drazick - Tuesday, October 16, 2018 - linkGive us U.2 SSD's instead of M.2.
I'd be happy to have this one in U.2 form.
Flunk - Tuesday, October 16, 2018 - linkM.2 to U.2 converters do exist.
Drazick - Wednesday, October 17, 2018 - linkI want the U.2 form in order to have less thermal limitations.
M.2 is for Laptops, I want to see more drives designed for Desktops - Less thermal throttling.
Samus - Wednesday, October 17, 2018 - linkWhat kind of throttling do you expect from a drive that is physically limited to 2000MB/sec? We aren't talking about a Samsung 970 or WD Black class drive here. The SM2263 for all intents and purposes simply isn't powerful enough to tax NAND or overwork itself to the point of performance reduction.
Chaitanya - Wednesday, October 17, 2018 - linkCheck Techpowerup's review of P1, even this drive limited to 2000MBps throttles thermally.
Death666Angel - Wednesday, October 17, 2018 - linkAnd the first time the 512GB 970 Evo throttles to any appreciable degree is aber over 6 minutes and even then it is likely hardly noticeable in normal workloads. U2 is too bulky for my SFF tastes. Get a heatsink or a fan blowing a little air over it and it's fine. M.2 has much more versatile applications, U.2 won't gain any foothold in the consumer space.
chrcoluk - Wednesday, September 25, 2019 - linkDo they test in open benches?
My 970 evo idles at 57C on the nand and 79C on the controller.
If I do a bench on it, it throttles within 30 seconds.
The m.2 port placement seems about the worst place possible, I dont know what asrock were thinking, basically my m.2 drive is sandwiched between a 1080ti and a o/c 8600k LOL. Practically impossible to give it airflow as its below the gpu and cpu heatsink half and half. If they cannot put these ports at the far edge of the board away from cpu/gpu then m.2 for desktops needs retiring in my view and we just use pcie slot nvme drives instead or U.2.
I think the main reason there is no U.2 is vendors dont want enterprise's using cheaper consumer drives. Market segmentation at work here.
TheinsanegamerN - Wednesday, October 17, 2018 - linkU.2 is a dead format. Most motherboards dont have a connector for it anymore, and drives that use it are scarce.
WithoutWeakness - Tuesday, October 16, 2018 - linkThen don't buy it. This is a product of the race to the bottom. For most people this drive will still outlast the computer they put it in. It takes cheap NAND to get NVMe-class drirves down to SATA SSD prices and higher bit-per-cell NAND is still the easiest way to lower the cost of NAND. Samsung's 970 Pro is still using MLC and has the absurd endurance rating to match if you need to write more than 1 petabyte to your drive. For almost everyone else TLC has proved to be a good enough compromise between speed and endurance and QLC will slowly take over as people demand cheaper storage.