Every now and again we need to develop updated benchmarks to match the current workloads in the market. Today we're launching our updated 2020 Enterprise SSD test suite, and in order top draw comparisons of new to old, we're taking a look at two SATA SSDs that have almost nothing in common. From Kingston, we have their latest entry-level offering that stretches the definition of an enterprise SSD in pursuit of affordability. At the other end of the spectrum, we have the Micron 5100 MAX, a top of the line flagship model from two generations ago; old but not necessarily obsolete. We also have other drives in the mix, tested on the new suite, however these two are our main focus.

Kingston DC450R: The New Budget Enterprise SSD

The Kingston DC450R is part of a burgeoning market segment for entry-level server SSDs that compromise on one or more key features that traditionally define enterprise SSDs. Entry-level drives always tend to have endurance ratings and overprovisioning ratios comparable to consumer SSDs. That's certainly true of the DC450R, but it also eschews power loss protection capacitors. For many traditional server use cases, such as transactional databases, that would immediately disqualify the DC450R. But many of the most read-oriented workloads do not particularly need the extra data integrity assurances that power-loss capacitors provide - these use cases are fine with relying just on a accessing a filesystem (that likely has redundancy regardless). Content Delivery Network (CDN) servers are the best example of this: they only need to mirror content distributed from a central source, and there are no serious consequences if a single CDN node goes down—but they still can benefit from SSD performance.

Kingston DC450R Series Specifications
Capacity 480 GB 960 GB 1920 GB 3840 GB
Form Factor 2.5" 7mm SATA
Controller Phison PS3112-S12DC
NAND Flash Kioxia/Toshiba 512Gbit 96L 3D TLC
DRAM Micron DDR4-2666
Sequential Read 560 MB/s
Sequential Write 510 MB/s 530 MB/s 530 MB/s 525 MB/s
Random Read 99k IOPS 98k IOPS 99k IOPS 99k IOPS
Random Write 17k IOPS 26k IOPS 28k IOPS 26k IOPS
Power Max Read 1.25 W 1.3 W 1.42 W 1.48 W
Max Write 4 W 4.25 W 4.5 W 5.5 W
Idle 1.05 W 1.15 W 1.22 W 1.3 W
Warranty 5 years
Write Endurance 285 TB
0.3 DWPD
582 TB
0.3 DWPD
1301 TB
0.4 DWPD
2823 TB
0.4 DWPD

The Kingston DC450R is a clear derivative of the DC500 series. We're looking at the same basic PCB layout, but now with empty pads where the DC500s have power loss protection capacitors. Our 3.84TB DC450R sample includes 4GB of DDR4-2666 DRAM and sixteen NAND packages each containing 256GB, spread across four dies of 512Gbit each. The NAND this time is Kioxia/Toshiba BiCS4 96L TLC. This is rated for 3k Program/Erase cycles compared to the 5k P/E rating of the 64L Intel TLC used in the DC500 series.

 

Micron 5100 Max: 2017 Enterprise Performer

The 1.92TB Micron 5100 MAX may seem to be an odd drive to be reviewing in 2020, given that it was announced at the end of 2016 and has been replaced by two newer generations. We're reviewing it because MyDigitalDiscount has a batch of several thousand unused drives from an OEM excess deal, and they're selling them off for $299.99 each. That's in the same ballpark as the DC450R above and other entry-level server SSDs. And the 5100 MAX was top of the line for its time, rated for 5 drive writes per day and loaded with all the bells and whistles (TCG Enterprise encryption, power loss protection capacitors). Because the SATA interface hasn't gotten any faster in the years since the 5100 MAX was released, it stands a good chance of holding its own against modern drives. The one big caveat is that this drive is not being sold with the original manufacturer's warranty, but MyDigitalDiscount is providing their own warranty with the same 5-year/17600 TBW terms.

Micron 5100 Series Specifications Comparison
  5100 ECO 5100 PRO 5100 MAX
Form Factor 2.5" 7mm and single-sided M.2 2280 2.5"
Capacities

480GB– 7680GB (2.5")
480GB–1920GB (M.2)

240GB–3840GB (2.5")
240GB–1920GB (M.2)

240GB–1920GB

Controller Marvell 88SS1074
Interface SATA 6Gb/s
NAND Micron 384Gb 32-layer 3D TLC
Sequential Read 540 MB/s
Sequential Write 380–520 MB/s 250–520 MB/s 310–520 MB/s
Random Read 93k IOPS 78k–93k IOPS 93k IOPS
Random Write 9k–31k IOPS 26k–43k IOPS 48k–74k IOPS
Endurance 0.45–8.4 PB 0.65–17.6 PB 2.2–17.6 PB
Encryption optional TCG Enterprise and FIPS 140-2 validation

Inside the 5100 MAX we find the Marvell 88SS1074 controller, which was also used in Crucial consumer SATA drives until they switched to Silicon Motion with the MX500. The NAND flash is Micron 32L 3D TLC. This was Micron's first generation of 3D NAND and the die was designed as more of a MLC-first product even though it ended up being used predominantly as TLC. So what would have been 256Gbit dies as MLC are used as 384Gbit TLC parts, and four of them per package adds up to 192GB. Sixteen of these gives a nominal raw capacity of about 3072 GiB on a drive with 1920GB usable capacity, for an incredible 42% overprovisioning ratio compared to the 12% on the Kingston DC450R. The 5100 MAX uses 2GB of Micron DDR3-1600 DRAM. The power loss protection capacitors are lined up around the edges of the PCB.

One unusual feature of the 5100 MAX is that it will optionally use 12V power if provided. Most SATA SSDs use the 5V supply exclusively, and the 5100 MAX can run without the 12V supply. Our testing was conducted with the 12V supply turned on, but it wasn't until we saw power efficiency scores that looked too good to be true that we realized the calculations needed to include the 12V rail for this drive needed. Fortunately, our Quarch HD Programmable Power Module always records from both rails simultaneously, so we didn't need to re-run any tests.

Our Micron 5100 MAX arrived with the outdated D0MU037 firmware version, and we updated it to D0MU071 before testing.

 

This Review

For this review, we've overhauled our enterprise SSD test suite. The overall structure of our tests is the same, but a lot has changed under the hood. We're using newer versions of our benchmarking tools and the latest longterm support kernel branch. The tests have been reconfigured to drastically reduce CPU overhead, which has minimal impact on the SATA drives in this review but lets us properly push the limits of the many enterprise NVMe drives that have also been running through the new test suite this winter. We'll go into more detail about that in our upcoming enterprise NVMe review.

Enterprise SSD Test System
System Model Intel Server R2208WFTZS
CPU 2x Intel Xeon Gold 6154 (18C, 3.0GHz)
Motherboard Intel S2600WFT Firmware 2.01.0009
CPU Microcode 0x2000065
Chipset Intel C624
Memory 192GB total, Micron DDR4-2666 16GB modules
Software Linux kernel 5.4.0
fio version 3.16
Thanks to StarTech for providing a RK2236BKF 22U rack cabinet.

The Kingston DC450R's closest competitor is probably the Samsung 860 DCT, another entry-level server SSD that also lacks power loss protection. We also have results for Samsung's next step up, the 883 DCT which is another TLC-based drive but with all the usual enterprise features. From Kingston we have the DC500R and DC500M, the next two steps up their enterprise SSD product lineup. There are few direct competitors to the Micron 5100 MAX from current-generation SSDs; the high-performance/high-endurance market segments have largely moved over to NVMe or are lingering on SAS. Even Samsung's SM883 MLC SATA drive is only rated for 3 DWPD to the Micron's 5 DWPD. But at the price MyDigitalDiscount is charging for their stock of the 5100 MAX, it's totally fair to compare it against the more recent low-end enterprise SATA models. For the sake of comparison, we've also included results from the Samsung 983 DCT NVMe SSD, but we've omitted it from some graphs where it distorts the scale too much.

Performance at QD1
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  • mgiammarco - Thursday, February 6, 2020 - link

    I agree perfectly finally someone that explains the real importance of power loss protection. Frankly speaking an "enterprise ssd" without plp and with low write endurance is really should be called "enterprise"? Which is the difference with a standard sdd? Reply
  • AntonErtl - Wednesday, February 5, 2020 - link

    There is a difference between data integrity and persistency, but power-loss protection is needed for either.

    Data integrity is when your data is not corrupted if the system fails, e.g., from a poweroff; this needs the software (in particular the data base system and/or file system) to request the writes in the right order), but it also needs the hardware to not reorder the writes, at least as far as the persistent state is concerned. Drives without power-loss protection tend not to give guarantees in this area; some guarantee that they will not damage data written long ago (which other drives may do when they consilidate the still-living data in an erase block), but that's not enough for data integrity.

    Persistency is when the data is at least as up-to-date as when your last request for persistency (e.g., fsync) was completed. That's often needed in server applications; e.g., when a customer books something, the data should be in persistent storage before the server sends out the booking data to the customer.
    Reply
  • shodanshok - Wednesday, February 5, 2020 - link

    fsync(), write barrier and SATA flushes/FUAs put strong guarantee on data integrity and durability even *without* powerloss protected drive cache. So, even a "serious" database running on any reliable disk (ie: one not lying about flushes) will be 100% functional/safe; however, performance will tank.

    A drive with powerloss protected cache will give much higher performance but, if the application is correctly using fsync() and the OS supports write barrier, no added integrity/durability capability.

    Regarding write reordering: write barrier explicitly avoid that.
    Reply
  • FunBunny2 - Wednesday, February 5, 2020 - link

    "So, even a "serious" database running on any reliable disk (ie: one not lying about flushes) will be 100% functional/safe; however, performance will tank."

    industrial strength RDBMS still offer (on *nix OSs, at least) raw devices, which means the database engine does all the I/O, and always (IIRC) runs with more integrity guarantees and efficiency. it's just that *nix OSs have gotten sufficiently better at both over the last couple of decades that most RDMBS app developers discourage their clients from configuring that way.
    Reply
  • FunBunny2 - Wednesday, February 5, 2020 - link

    "There is a difference between data integrity and persistency, but power-loss protection is needed for either."

    depends on what the definition of 'it' is. way back in the late 80s and early 90s, SQL databases ran on machines without UPS or other forms power persistence. what industrial strength RDBMS did guarantee is that a use session would lose only its last in-memory transaction. app developers took this into account when designing transactions. they still have to, since any number of failure modes exist beyond just pulling the plug. RDBMS did, and still do, only guarantee integrity of data written to the write-ahead-log, which is where in-memory data is flushed on transaction completion. widespread use of storage class memory, and OS support for same beyond simulating a filesystems (gad!), will change this protocol. won't be next week.
    Reply
  • Siddhartha - Wednesday, February 5, 2020 - link

    Is there something I can do to stop your endless loop video popups? I understand you earn your living with advertising but the popups actually block your content. I usually spend a couple minutes on website and go somewhere because of the popups. Reply
  • RealBeast - Wednesday, February 5, 2020 - link

    What video popups? cough, MVPS host file blocking, cough Reply
  • leexgx - Wednesday, February 5, 2020 - link

    I exclusively use edge mobile browser on this website (the forums are even worse a floating video that follows you when you move up and down blocking over 70% of the page) 3 other sites that I use it on as well as they launch full screen ad when you click on a link for the first time or i page ads are floating with the page or randomly opening other pages when you try to swipe down (it thinks your tapping the add when your trying to pull down) Reply
  • Supercell99 - Wednesday, February 5, 2020 - link

    Nothing about the Kingston drives are "Enterprise" . The DWPD are nothing special. The lack of power loss protection capacitors is a deal breaker. I don't care if it is read heavy. Enterprise means, critical data and business use with $$$$ at stake. Loss of data and downtime is very expense. No power caps and <1 DWPD makes this just another SATA SSD, "Enterprise" is some label they threw on to make some extra cash from suckers. Reply
  • Foeketijn - Saturday, February 8, 2020 - link

    I bought a samsung 983 for 200 something euro's.
    Nice to install Windows server in about 2 minutes (and then need about 10 to go thought the bloatware options).
    Reply

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