Is the C400 a good choice for enterprise applications?
The C400 is designed and optimized for the client computing segment. With that being said, there are pockets of applications within the enterprise computing space where the C400 can be a good fit. The C400 is designed with MLC NAND technology, whereas typical enterprise SSDs are designed with SLC technology due to the extended endurance and performance they provide. If the C400 is being considered for an enterprise application, Micron recommends reviewing the endurance specification in the C400 data sheet to ensure the total bytes written specified aligns with the expected application usage.
Is the C400 available in an industrial temperature option?
No. Micron’s C400 SSD is designed with commercial temperature applications in mind. The drive supports 0°C to +70°C operating temperature ranges.
Is the C400 SATA 6Gb/s SSD backward compatible with legacy SATA interface speeds?
Yes, the C400 supports the full range of SATA interface speeds, including SATA 6Gb/s, 3Gb/s and 1.5Gb/s. The drive will "auto downshift" to the appropriate interface speed upon completion of negotiation with the host.
The hardware in the C400 SED looks very similar to your C400 drives. What’s different?
The C400 SED leverages the same controller and NAND that the C400 uses, but an entirely different firmware structure and organization. Featuring an AES-256 encryption engine coupled with powerful firmware algorithms, the C400 SED provides hardware-based data encryption in accordance with TCG-Opal standards for trusted peripherals and government data security.
What is the Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS)? Do you meet it?
FIPS is a publicly announced standard developed by the U.S. government to regulate information processing. The FIPS 140 standard relates to cryptography modules, which is relevant to hardware-encrypted drives. The C400 SED’s encryption algorithms are FIPS-certified (see the list below), but we have not completed FIPS 140-2 certification on the entire drive, a process that can take more than nine months.
- Micron 400 AES Module—Cert. #1704
- Micron 400 DRBG Module—Cert. #105
- Micron 400 RSA Module—Cert. #833
- Micron 400 SHA 256 Module—Cert. #1487
What is the Trusted Computing Group Opal specification, and why is it important?
The Trusted Computing Group (TCG) is a worldwide not-for-profit organization that develops open standards to enable data, system, and user security, as well as hardware regulatory compliance. TCG’s Storage Work Group Opal Security Subsystem Class Specification defines specifications for implementing security technologies for fixed media storage devices in the consumer and enterprise storage system market. By using a widely accepted and trustworthy industry standard such as TCG, organizations can reduce their TCO (total cost of ownership) and be better-protected against data breach.
What is the value of the C400 SED drive?
Our C400 SED drive provides all the benefits of our client SSDs, but with the added benefit of data security through strong hardware-based encryption.
What version and revision of the TCG Opal specification does your drive support?
We support the TCG Storage Security Subsystem Class: Opal Specification Version 1.00 Revision 3.00 4 February, 2010.
Where do you envision the C400 SED being used?
The C400 SED is designed to provide data security in mobile computing applications, like laptops used in government organizations and large corporations.
Whose firmware is used on the C400 SED drive?
All firmware was designed, developed, and tested by Micron’s engineering teams.
Why is hardware encryption better than software-based encryption?
Traditional software-based encryption is known for performance degradation, high implementation and management costs, and security vulnerabilities through the memory, operating system, and BIOS. Hardware encryption offers several key advantages as a data-security solution: it does not slow performance by burdening the CPU; it is more secure because authentication is performed in the hardware, independent of the operating system; and it offers easy, cost-effective integration and management.
Why is the C400 64GB capacity branded as the C400v?
The "v" is intended to represent value. We see this as a class of product that is meant to address the cost-conscious system designers and end consumers that are highly interested in the performance and reliability that an SSD provides over traditional storage, but are not willing to pay the higher price required for what are deemed the mainstream capacities in the market, (those being 128GB and above).
Why hasn’t Micron/Crucial released a next-generation M-series product in the past 12 months?
We’ve had great success with our C400/m4 generation of SSDs, which have been very compelling, top-selling products throughout their entire lifetimes. We’re focused on developing and providing products based on our customers’ needs rather than simply releasing a new product every year. We’ve made improvements to the C400/m4 for all customers—including firmware updates that boost performance by 20% and enable Windows 8 support—rather than roll out new SKUs.
We tie our product development to key personal computing trends discovered through our relationships with top-tier OEMs. The new M500 SSD includes key features such as a device sleep low-power mode and temperature sensors to support new platform requirements.
Can the delayed release of the next M-series product be attributed to some sort of process issue at Micron?
No. We don’t view this release as a delay; we view it as proof of Micron’s capability to deliver a product that has long-term market appeal.
Why are the capacities of the M500 (120GB, 240GB, 480GB, and 960GB) different than the C400/m4 (64GB, 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB)?
Micron uses RAIN technology to deliver the M500 SSD on leading-edge 20nm NAND with the same quality and reliability of the C400/m4, which is built on well-established 25nm NAND. With NAND shrinks, variations in NAND media occur. RAIN allows us to account for these variations and deliver on the new M500 features (e.g., device sleep, asynchronous power-loss protection, M.2 form factor, next-generation Opal 2.0) while maintaining our quality and reliability.
Are there quality or reliability issues with the 20nm NAND? Have you chosen to allocate NAND on the M500 to solve those issues?
No. The M500 delivers the same great quality and reliability and meets the same metrics as our previous-generation products: 1.2 million hours mean time to failure (MTTF), three-year warranty, and advanced endurance (72TB TBW, 40GB per day of host-written data for five years).
Your enterprise drives use RAIN to provide levels of data integrity well beyond the raw NAND. Have you implemented the same functionality for the M500?
Many of your competitors (Intel, Samsung, OCZ, and Plextor) have moved to a five-year warranty for some SSD models. Why does the M500 only have a three-year warranty? Are there quality and endurance concerns?
We expect the M500 to deliver the same great quality and reliability as our C400/m4 SSDs. In fact, our return rates are some of the lowest in the industry—much lower than competitors with longer warranties. We match our warranty periods to OEM and market requirements.
The sequential read for the M500 is still 500 MB/s, but your competition has made improvements to their new models. The Samsung 840 Pro has improved to 540 MB/s. The Samsung 840, using TLC NAND, has improved to 530 MB/s. And Plextor, which uses the same Marvell controller as the M500, raised its performance to 540 MB/s. Have your sequential reads not improved due to the quality of your NAND?
No. Our performance numbers are the result of design trade-offs we needed to make from an overall hardware/firmware architecture perspective. We focus on the overall user experience, and our PCMark Vantage scores—one of the best tests of real-world performance—are strong relative to the competition.
Additionally, the M500 SSD was designed to address feedback we’ve received directly from our customers—primarily, the need for higher capacities at more affordable prices. As a result, we developed industry-leading, high-density 20nm 128Gb NAND. This device delivers terabyte-class capacity for under $600. The tradeoff in using fewer NAND components in each SSD is less parallelism to drive higher performance. The M500 SSD is truly a well-balanced product that delivers capacity, reliability, features, and performance.
You aren’t releasing a 64GB drive. Most of your competition has introduced this capacity with their new models. Why didn’t you release a 64GB M500 SSD?
With the M500, we chose to focus on primary storage capacities of 120GB and above.
Why the name M500 instead of m5 as the follow-on to the m4?
We have chosen to combine the product names for our Micron and Crucial SSDs going forward in order to better cross-leverage the success that each brand has in its targeted markets.
What are the technical differences between the Micron M500 and the Crucial M500?
The M500 Micron and Crucial brands are built using the same core technical platform. The differences between the branded products relate to the types of customers that they are targeted at (Micron brand is for OEMs, Crucial brand is for consumers) and the level of support provided to those target customers.
So the M500 is replacing the m4. Will a V500 be released to replace the v4?
We do have a Vital brand category for the Micron and Crucial brands; however, we do not have a 20nm-based V-series drive scheduled for release in the immediate future.
Will there be an adrenaline-caching solution using the M500?
No. The M500 uses our high-density NAND device to drive higher capacity at a more affordable price. Caching solutions are moving more toward very low-capacity drives.
What are the specific improvements of the M500 over the C400/m4?
The M500 SSD has the following improvements:
- Capacities: Micron’s higher-density NAND allows for increased capacity for our module (from 256GB maximum with the C400/m4 to 480GB with the M500) and 2.5-inch (from 512GB maximum with the C400/m4 to 960GB with the M500) form factors.
- Performance: Random read/write performance, PCMark performance, and sequential write performance on the 480GB and 960GB drives are greater than previous products.
- Responsiveness: Responsiveness from a power-off condition and resume time from standby have greatly improved.
- Power: The device sleep feature provides the lowest inactive drive power consumption ever recorded on Micron SSDs. Our maximum power consumption per capacity is also lower with the M500.
- Encryption: The M500 builds upon Micron’s successful implementation of the Trusted Computing Group’s Opal self-encrypting drive technology used in the C400/m4; the M500 complies with the second generation of Opal as well as the IEEE 1667 protocol. With these two protocols designed into the drive, the M500 operates as a hardware-based encryption drive when paired with Windows 8 BitLocker. This provides a built-in encryption solution for Windows 8 that won’t result in performance degradation as seen when BitLocker is run on a drive that doesn’t support this protocol. The M500 SSD also supports the standard full-disk encryption protocol through the ATA-8 security command feature set, as seen with many competing drives.
- Asynchronous Power-Loss Protection: This peace-of-mind feature helps to ensure data integrity during an unexpected power loss (for example, when users experience a software hang and have to power cycle their system before Windows can be shut down normally, when battery backups aren’t in place).
- New Form Factor: The M.2 (formerly NGFF) is designed for next-generation ultrathins; it allows PC makers to get creative with new thin and light designs.
- Adaptive Thermal Throttling: Another peace-of-mind feature that helps to balance the drive thermals in the rare case that the system encounters stressful conditions.
Why are you releasing an M.2 (NGFF) form factor for the M500?
Like the mSATA form factor, the M.2 form factor will help enable the next generation of ultrathin computing.
The M500 is a self-encrypting drive (SED). How can a consumer take advantage of an SED?
Windows 8 Professional, Enterprise, and RT editions all automatically support encryption key management of SEDs. The M500 fully supports Microsoft’s requirements for eDrive capability. This provides security for your data at rest with no loss of throughput performance. Additionally, third-party software vendors, such as Wave Systems, provide advanced encryption and authentication management features for Opal 2.0 storage devices.
What are the main advantages of SED versus FDE?
SED provides verified and certified data security with nearly unbreakable pre-boot access protection for user data. Because SED access is pre-boot, there is no possibility of an OS utility breaking authentication codes. Following TCG Opal 2.0 specifications and IEEE 1667 access authentication protocols provides security that meets government standards for sensitive data security in banking, finance, medical, and government applications. Our support for Windows 8 eDrive provides simple plug-and-play data security for individual users. This security can protect sensitive personal data without having to modify BIOS settings or encrypt data already in place, which is necessary for software encryption methods.
A feature of the M500 is robust data protection against unexpected power loss. Can you explain this further? Is there potential for data loss with the M500?
All MLC NAND-based storage devices have some vulnerability to data loss in the event of an unexpected power loss or other power disturbance. As Micron expands further into the mobile, desktop, and enterprise computing markets; we gain significant experience and knowledge of the wide variety of power environments that exist. The need to provide data protection across a spectrum of power environments inspired Micron to provide power-loss protection superior to that of even our own previous generation of SSDs. Our new advanced NAND technology, coupled with relatively simple and inexpensive capacitive circuitry, enables the M500 to ensure data integrity even in uncertain power environments.
What is adaptive thermal throttling?
We have added this feature based on OEM feedback about the thermal design challenges of new thin and light platforms. The M500 has a combined hardware/firmware solution that monitors the temperature of the drive. If the system is being stressed, our drive adapts and reduces the temperature at the drive level to help with the system’s overall thermal environment. In a typical client computing situation, our testing shows that the M500 temperature settles in at 40°C. The drive’s thermal throttling feature adapts to increased thermal activity at around 65°C, which is deemed to be a nonstandard computing situation. Adaptive thermal throttling is a peace-of-mind feature that is needed only during the most aggressive use of the computer and SSD.
With adaptive thermal throttling, does throttling mean the drive will reduce its performance to cool itself off? What threshold is set for this feature?
If thermal throttling is enacted, the temperature sensor on the drive has detected the drive’s temperature to be 65°C. The drive adapts by reducing NAND activity until the drive cools to 55°C. The end user probably won’t notice the reduction in NAND activity during the thermal throttling period.
When the temperature threshold is met, how much does the M500 reduce in performance? How long does it take to cool down and get to back to full performance?
In a typical client usage model, the thermal throttling feature is not likely to be used. If the drive experiences a continuous high-write scenario for an extended period of time, this feature ensures that the drive helps to keep the system running with the appropriate thermal balance.
Can an end user set the threshold and performance reduction for thermal throttling?
Can a system builder set the threshold and performance reduction for thermal throttling to meet their specific design needs?
Can I buy a Micron SSD for personal use?
We sell SSDs (and memory) direct to the consumer through our Crucial brand. Crucial SSDs offer the same great quality, reliability, and performance of Micron SSDs, but are packaged for consumer sales. You can buy one today at crucial.com/ssd.