Micron Seeks to Solve Data Center Challenges with New Generation SSD

October 07, 2021 by Jake Hertz

Data centers are facing serious challenges as technology continues to boom and Micron is out to keep them at bay with its latest solid-state drive.

When one thinks of the challenges facing data centers, the first thing that might come to mind usually is processing power. However, an equally important piece of hardware infrastructure for data centers is memory. 


Predicted data created, captured, copied, and consumed worldwide.

Predicted data created, captured, copied, and consumed worldwide. Image used courtesy of Statista


Recent trends show that the amount of data in the world is doubling roughly every two years and may increase beyond that. Naturally, our existing data center infrastructures, and specifically their memory hardware, are not fully poised to handle this kind of volume.

Yesterday, Micron announced the availability of its new 7400 SSD with NVMe, a product family that hopes can alleviate memory issues in data centers. AAC had the chance to hear from Raj Hazra and Jeremy Werner from Micron to learn about the release firsthand. 


The Growth of Data

Today's big trend for data centers is the huge growth of data that now needs to be accounted for. As Hazra, SVP of Micron's Compute and Network Business Unit, puts it, "...the biggest thing about the data center is [that] it's literally drowning under data." 

This trend is primarily due to the plethora of interconnected devices and high-data applications that have found popularity in the past decade. As more pictures are taken with smartphones, IoT products like security cameras are used, and applications like ML are pursued, increasing the sheer amount and overall dependence on data. 

In fact, data is growing so fast that experts predict data creation will grow at a faster rate than installed storage capacity. 

With all of these issues and challenges in mind, this trend has sparked major concern for data center engineers. 


Memory Challenges in Data Centers 

With the extreme growth and reliance on data, it's undeniable that the memory infrastructure is quickly becoming one of the most important aspects of data center hardware. 

Werner, CVP of the Storage Business Unit at Micron, explains that "... there's no doubt that processors are an important part of the data center, but without access to data, processors can't do anything..." 

Overall, one major memory concern caused by the explosion of data is security. As more and more proprietary and personal data is sent to the cloud, it is vital to secure the data. 



A simple memory hierarchy of a data center.

A simple memory hierarchy of a data center. Image used courtesy of Rambus


Beyond this, memory needs to be scalable and flexible, dealing with what Hazra calls "a plethora of workloads very diverse in characteristics on compute, memory storage, and even networking." Data centers need scalable memory that provides high performance per watt and total ownership cost across various applications and data types. 

Finally, data centers need to be able to scale and grow in a way that is energy efficient. If not done right, building up more data centers to support the increase in data will require an infeasible amount of power. This power demand could negatively impact the environment and make them economically infeasible. 

To combat these issues and keep data center memory evolving, Micron is releasing the 7400 SSD.


The Micron 7400 SSD 

To hopefully address all of these issues, Micron has released its new Micron 7400 SSD for data centers. 

The new SSD solution is built to support the NVMe protocol while offering PCIe Gen4 performance, which states provide high performance and low power. Compared to previous generation SSDs, Micron claims that the 7400 delivers over 2x the throughput and input/output operations per second (IOP) per watt. 

When designing the solution, Micron also considered scalability. First off, Micron has offered the new SSD solution in various form factors, achieving anywhere from 400 GB to 7.68 TB of storage to allow designers to balance storage, space, and power requirements. 

The SSD is also backward compatible with PCIe Gen3 and supports Open Compute Project (OCP) deployments for qualified environments. Micron claims the 7400 can be used for standard server storage, cloud, and system boot applications. 


All of the form factors that are currently available for the 7400.

All of the form factors that are currently available for the 7400. Image used courtesy of Micron


Finally, Micron also took security seriously in this design, implementing a series of features for data-at-rest and in-flight. These features include secure execution environments, asymmetric roots of trust, digitally signed firmware, key-based privileged access, and much more. 

All in all, Micron appears to be taking on each major challenge that plagues data centers with this latest release. By bringing such a solution to the table, it will be interesting to see what lies in the future for data centers.


The Future of Data 

There's no doubt that data management and storage are going to be amongst the most difficult challenges facing data centers in the future. To approach the challenges, memory that is scalable, performant, and secure is needed. 

Micron undoubtedly has the big picture in mind, as Hazra closes out by paraphrasing Alan Kay, telling us, "you don't sit here waiting for the future to be created, you create it. If the future is five years out… we're working on things that we think could be viable in the next ten years."


Featured image used courtesy of Micron