Micron’s new 30.72TB SSD could trigger huge price drop amongst big QLC SSDs

Micron unveiled the first 200+ layer NAND data center NVMe SSD, the 6500 Ion as it looks to strengthen its presence in the booming hyperscale storage market. 

The company says its new SSD is better value than similarly priced QLC (quad-layer cell) competitors (like the Solidigm D5-P5316) because it uses TLC (triple-layer cell) that’s as price competitive with QLC but also offer better performance.

An early review by Tweaktown’s Jon Coulter showed that the drive delivered what it had promised: TLC for the price of QLC and that’s important. The D5-P5316 is the cheapest of the large capacity SSDs on the market and, like the 6500 ion is available in U3 and E1.L form factors. 

Provantage stocks both SKUs for just under $2,500 and if Micron managed to match Solidigm’s price tag, then one can expect QLC prices to fall down, which will have a knockoff effect on the wider market.

61.44TB SSD on the horizon?

Key to Micron’s pricing strategy is the use of 232-layer TLC flash NAND compared to competitors that are using 144-layer QLC flash (its marketing literature states that it has a die density 5% higher than QLC at 14.55Gb/mm^2. This, alone, removes the main advantage of QLC, which is pricing. TLC wins almost everywhere else: read/writes (random or sequential), power consumption and perhaps most importantly, endurance.

Two things caught my attention as well: there’s only one SKU for the 6500 ION and that’s the 30.72TB model. I am inclined to believe that there might be a bigger SKU (61.44TB??) introduced should there be an appetite for it in the future. Micron also saw it fit to bundle a passive fan to cool the SSD; the fan more than doubles the height of the SSD (bearing in mind that this is an 15mm U3 drive).

We have reached out to Micron to find out whether the fan could be removed to reduce the thickness of the SSD to something that can be placed in a laptop.

Micron has another 30.72TB drive, the 9400 Pro which was launched earlier this year and has a higher endurance (about 3X) that of the 6500 ION. As expected, it is also a bit more expensive; I managed to source it online for around $3,100

More 30TB SSDs on the way?

Until recently, Samsung’s PM1643 was the only large capacity (30.72TB) drive available. Since then, Nimbus data released two 32TB SSDs (as well as a 64TB, 50TB and 100TB model), Samsung added the PM1653 and the PM1733, Kioxia introduced the PM6 and the CM6 and Solidigm dropped the D5-P5316 and the just announced P5430. There are of course other niche players (Pure Storage, Liqid Element) with either proprietary solutions or products that target a small segment of the storage market.

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