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Micron Blog

UBM TechInsights Takes a Closer Look at the RealSSD C300

  • September 08, 2010
As mentioned in our post last week, we asked the analysts at UBM TechInsights to write a blog post that goes into more detail on their recognition of the RealSSD C300 with an Insight Award. We are honored to be recognized by such a renowned analysis firm, and are proud of the hard work our engineers put into designing this award-winning SSD. Read on to learn why UBM TechInsights chose the RealSSD C300 as “Most Innovative SSD Technology.”

Taking a closer look at the RealSSD C300 By Tarek Alhajj, Engineering Analyst, UBM TechInsights

UBM TechInsights analyzed the 256GB Micron RealSSD C300 SSD when the device was nominated for an Insight Award for Most Innovative SSD Technology. To better understand what we were analyzing, we decided to review datasheets before diving into any teardown or benchmarking activities. The 256GB Micron RealSSD C300 SSD offers a higher-level performance compared to other commercially available SSDs. This is especially the case with its read speeds, which surpass what SATA-2 (3Gb/s) connectivity can offer. Some of the details of this innovative SSD design, which was the first to feature a SATA-3 (6 Gb/s) controller for next-generation SATA connectivity, will be discussed followed by a summary of results from our benchmarking efforts. Our analysis of the 256GB Micron RealSSD C300 consisted of a teardown for a board and chip investigation as well as an analysis of the NAND flash arrangement. The single board inside contains the following main components: a controller, NAND flash, and the SDRAM. These devices are all BGA packaged devices which would likely cost more from a manufacturing perspective but will keep parasitic and lead inductance down (as compared to a standard TSOP-48 package). Further, it allows for more efficient use of board space.

Micron RealSSD C300 Board Bottom Micron RealSSD C300 Board Top

Inside the RealSSD C300 The controller is a Marvel 88SS9174, which is a relatively new chip. It provides the RealSSD C300 with next generation SATA-3 connectivity at 6Gb/s to accommodate for its extremely fast read speeds that overwhelm SATA-2 (3 Gb/s). This controller has two ARM9 processor cores that operate in parallel to balance the load on the drive, with one core handling host requests and the other handling requests to read and write to the NAND flash devices. The controller uses the Micron DDR3 SDRAM for caching data to more quickly and efficiently manage traffic.

Marvell Controller Micron DDR3 SDRAM

Micron NAND Flash Micron 34nm, 32Gb NAND Die

Each NAND flash package contains four stacked Micron 34 nm 32 Gbit MLC NAND flash die. There are a total of eight parallel NAND flash channels, where each channel consists of two NAND flash packages, thus giving a grand total of 16 NAND flash packages. Having this many channels for the controller to utilize plays a major role in achieving its high read and write speeds; and based on the results of the read and write tests, the controller is able to manage the traffic to the appropriate channels quickly and efficiently. This SSD has a clean layout of high-end BGA packaged devices and a highly parallel configuration of NAND flash devices. When we began our investigation of the capabilities of the RealSSD, our test results returned some impressive results.

Testing the RealSSD C300
Testing began with the development of a testing rig to conduct our analysis.  The test rig consisted of an Intel 2 GHz Core 2 Duo PC running Windows XP with an Asus U3S6 PCIe card to provide SATA-3 connectivity. For comparison, the results for the Intel X25-M V2 (2nd generation) 160 GB SSD are also presented. After formatting both drives and filling them with various types of data up to 25% of their total capacity, HD Tune, ATTO and IOMeter were used to test the drives. The RealSSD C300 provided sequential read speeds between 280 MB/s and 380 MB/s and sequential write speeds of 185 MB/s to 195 MB/s, while the X-25M provided 209 MB/s to 255 MB/s and 100 MB/s to 105 MB/s sequential read and write speeds, respectively. The X25-M had a slightly faster access time at about 0.06 ms, as compared to the C300 at about 0.12 ms, but overall, the overwhelmingly fast read and write speeds of the C300 put this SSD well ahead. Our next test involved checking out the Input/Output operations per second (IOPS). The sequential and random 4 KB read IOPS for the RealSSD C300 were 42182 and 7298 with respective speeds of 162 MB/s and 29 MB/s, while the IOPS for the X25-M were 36102 and 5966 with speeds of 141 MB/s and 23 MB/s. The sequential and random 4 KB write IOPS for the C300 were 26712 and 1830 with speeds of 104 MB/s and 7.2 MB/s, and were 13819 and 8473 for the X25-M with speeds of 54 MB/s and 33 MB/s. The C300 comes out ahead for the most part here, but it is worth noting the X25-M random 4 KB write IOPS performance. The teardown analysis and test results show that the Micron RealSSD C300 is a very well designed SSD that features industry first SATA-3 connectivity and provides leading-edge performance, especially with respect to its incredibly high read speeds.

SSD Benchmark Testing

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