Micron's consumer-oriented Crucial brand is finally entering the world of NVMe SSDs with the new Crucial P1 M.2 SSD. The P1 is an entry-level NVMe drive using four bit per cell (QLC) NAND flash memory and the Silicon Motion SM2263 controller. This is the same basic formula as used in the Intel 660p, the only other consumer QLC drive on the market so far. Micron has brought their own firmware customizations, so while the performance characteristics are similar to the Intel 660p they are definitely not the same drive. The Crucial P1 has slightly lower usable capacities than the Intel 660p, which translates into slightly more spare area available for garbage collection and SLC caching. Unlike the Intel 660p, the Crucial P1 uses the same 1GB DRAM per 1TB NAND ratio as most MLC and TLC SSDs.

Crucial P1 SSD Specifications
Capacity 500 GB 1 TB 2 TB
Form Factor single-sided M.2 2280 double-sided M.2 2280
Interface NVMe 1.3 PCIe 3.0 x4
Controller Silicon Motion SM2263
NAND Flash Micron 64L 3D QLC NAND
DRAM 512MB DDR3 1GB DDR3 2GB DDR4
Sequential Read 1900 MB/s 2000 MB/s 2000 MB/s
Sequential Write 950 MB/s 1700 MB/s 1750 MB/s
Random Read 90k IOPS 170k IOPS 250k IOPS
Random Write 220k IOPS 240k IOPS 250k IOPS
SLC Write Cache (approximate) 5GB min
50GB max
12GB min
100GB max
24GB min
200GB max
Power Max 8W
Idle 2mW (PS4), 80mW (PS3)
Warranty 5 years
Write Endurance 100 TB
0.1 DWPD
200 TB
0.1 DWPD
400 TB
0.1 DWPD
MSRP $109.99 (22¢/GB) $219.99 (22¢/GB) TBA

With top sequential speeds of only 2GB/s, the Crucial P1 doesn't really need all four PCIe lanes, but Silicon Motion's entry-level SM2263 controller still has four instead of the two that some other low-end NVMe controllers use. Given the use of QLC NAND, the P1's SLC cache is far more important than it is on drives with TLC NAND. Micron has taken a similar approach to what Intel did with the 660p by making the SLC cache not just a write buffer but a full-time dynamically sized read and write cache. All data written to the Crucial P1 hits the SLC cache first, and is compacted into QLC blocks only when the drive's free space starts running low. This means that a mostly-empty drive will be using tens or hundreds of GB of SLC, but as it fills up the cache will shrink down to just 5-24GB depending on the model. All of Crucial's official performance specifications are for the SLC cache.

As with the Crucial MX series of SATA SSDs, the Crucial P1 features a greater degree of power loss protection than typical consumer SSDs, though not the fully capacitor-backed protection that most enterprise SSDs feature. With the MX500, Crucial had already substantially reduced the number of capacitors required for their partial power loss protection thanks in part to a reduction in write power requirements for their 64-layer 3D NAND. The P1 gains additional data security from its SLC-first write policy, which eliminates the partially-programmed page risk. However, there is still a tiny bit of used data buffered in volatile RAM, on the order of a few MB at the most.

The rated write endurance of 0.1 drive writes per day is low even for an entry-level consumer SSD, but given the large drive capacities it is adequate. The P1 is definitely not intended to be the workhorse of an enthusiast system with a write-heavy workload, but for more typical read-oriented workloads it offers better performance than SATA SSDs.

The initial MSRPs for the Crucial P1 are unimpressive: it's substantially more expensive than the Intel 660p, and about matches some of the most affordable high-end NVMe drives like the HP EX920 and ADATA SX8200. If Micron can catch up to Intel's pricing and compete for the lowest $/GB among all NVMe SSDs then the Crucial P1 has a shot at success.

The 2TB model will be launching slightly later due to using DDR4 DRAM instead of the DDR3 used by the 500GB and 1TB models. We are testing the 1TB Crucial P1, with some results already in our Bench database. Look for our full review next week.

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  • PeachNCream - Tuesday, October 16, 2018 - link

    Mmm, delicious low endurance storage! Sign me up for some QLC so I can out-crap the already crappy TLC we used to replace fairly low endurance MLC! I wonder what the per-cell P/E cycle numbers are like for this drive. Since they're hiding behind an obfuscation of 0.1 DWPD, I'm guessing we're in the 500 - 1,000 range. NAND used to have no trouble with a million P/E cycles, but we've really pushed the technology to an unreasonable limit without a clear path out of the poor retention and short lifespan corner we've painted ourselves into in the name of racing to the bottom of the barrel. What a great time to be alive! Reply
  • Drazick - Tuesday, October 16, 2018 - link

    Give us U.2 SSD's instead of M.2.

    I'd be happy to have this one in U.2 form.
    Reply
  • Flunk - Tuesday, October 16, 2018 - link

    M.2 to U.2 converters do exist. Reply
  • Drazick - Wednesday, October 17, 2018 - link

    I want the U.2 form in order to have less thermal limitations.
    M.2 is for Laptops, I want to see more drives designed for Desktops - Less thermal throttling.
    Reply
  • Samus - Wednesday, October 17, 2018 - link

    What kind of throttling do you expect from a drive that is physically limited to 2000MB/sec? We aren't talking about a Samsung 970 or WD Black class drive here. The SM2263 for all intents and purposes simply isn't powerful enough to tax NAND or overwork itself to the point of performance reduction. Reply
  • Chaitanya - Wednesday, October 17, 2018 - link

    Check Techpowerup's review of P1, even this drive limited to 2000MBps throttles thermally. Reply
  • Death666Angel - Wednesday, October 17, 2018 - link

    And the first time the 512GB 970 Evo throttles to any appreciable degree is aber over 6 minutes and even then it is likely hardly noticeable in normal workloads. U2 is too bulky for my SFF tastes. Get a heatsink or a fan blowing a little air over it and it's fine. M.2 has much more versatile applications, U.2 won't gain any foothold in the consumer space. Reply
  • TheinsanegamerN - Wednesday, October 17, 2018 - link

    U.2 is a dead format. Most motherboards dont have a connector for it anymore, and drives that use it are scarce. Reply
  • WithoutWeakness - Tuesday, October 16, 2018 - link

    Then don't buy it. This is a product of the race to the bottom. For most people this drive will still outlast the computer they put it in. It takes cheap NAND to get NVMe-class drirves down to SATA SSD prices and higher bit-per-cell NAND is still the easiest way to lower the cost of NAND. Samsung's 970 Pro is still using MLC and has the absurd endurance rating to match if you need to write more than 1 petabyte to your drive. For almost everyone else TLC has proved to be a good enough compromise between speed and endurance and QLC will slowly take over as people demand cheaper storage. Reply
  • PeachNCream - Tuesday, October 16, 2018 - link

    Not buying it probably won't be an option soon enough. Just like we're largely stuck with TLC (which we all generally can agree is abysmal when it comes to endurance) currently, if there isn't a way forward out of NAND, we are going to end up with widespread consumer QLC and that is a future I don't relish. Optane/Xpoint might be a viable alternative, but cold retention of ~3 months is a hard sell. There are no options for a durable and fast storage option for client systems these days. You either get high durability and the long retention of a mechanical drive at the cost of poor shock resistance and slow performance or you flip for speed and shock resistance while losing durability and retention. Sure, you can and should be looking at multiple storage solutions to suit each need, but then you wind up with multiple tiers of said storage that add a layer of complexity in the name of compensating for the individual shortcomings of mechanical drives, NAND, and now Xpoint. All of it has a very cobbled together feel. Reply

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