Micron 6500 ION NVMe SSD: The Ultimate Value Proposition for High-Capacity Storage

Posted on 25 September, 2023

Micron has recently provided us with their latest 6500 ION NVMe SSDs for comprehensive evaluation. The 6500 ION stands as Micron's strategic response, tailored to meet the requirements of cloud storage, content delivery networks (CDNs) and AI/ML data lakes. What sets this SSD apart is its groundbreaking departure from its predecessors in the "ION" SSD series, which relied on slower QLC NAND technology. Instead, the 6500 ION leverages the remarkable speed and reliability of TLC NAND, signifying a tremendous leap forward in SSD technology.

When it comes to reducing SSD costs, two fundamental approaches are at play: increasing bits per cell or scaling layer counts. Micron has opted for the latter, a decision that has garnered much acclaim. Unlike the earlier Micron 7450 and 9400 series SSDs, constructed with 176-layer TLC NAND, the 6500 ION boasts a remarkable 232-layer TLC NAND, showcasing an unparalleled level of density and efficiency. In addition to this, Micron has packed in as much of this NAND as they could and built a massive 30.72TB SSD rather than offering multiple capacity options, ultimately driving down production costs further.

Micron claims that 6500 ION can deliver TLC performance at QLC price points while achieving up to 25x more random write performance, up to 54% better QoS and up to 56% better power efficiency than competitors that use slower QLC NAND. Available in the datacentre-friendly U.3 (2.5") and E1.L form factors, the Micron 6500 ION boasts an impressive PCIe 4.0 interface and incorporates the updated NVMe 2.0 storage protocol, solidifying its position as a technological marvel in the realm of storage solutions.

Pic: Micron 6500 ION U.3 SSD’s at Boston Labs

As previously mentioned, the Micron 6500 ION is exclusively available in a single substantial capacity option of 30.72TB. The drive's endurance is contingent on the specific workload it encounters. Micron specifies an endurance rating of up to 1DWPD (drive writes per day) for sequential write patterns and up to 0.3DWPD for random operations over a span of 5 years. While this may appear relatively modest when compared to mainstream and high-end SSDs, it's essential to consider that the 6500 ION is a 30.72TB SSD engineered primarily for read-intensive workloads. In practical terms, writing more than 9.2TB per day will suffice for most datacentre applications.

It's worth noting that the 6500 ION competes directly with QLC-based NVMe SSDs, which often exhibit lower endurance capabilities in most use cases.

Full specs along with detailed endurance and performance figures can be found in below table.

Pic: Micron 6500 ION specification

The below part number decoder will help you to identify the meaning behind each character in the product part number.

Pic: Micron 6500 ION part number decoder

The 6500 ION boasts support for 128 NVMe namespaces, a pivotal feature that allows the drive to be partitioned into smaller logical sections, each with its dedicated I/O submission and completion queues. This segmentation proves highly advantageous, especially in scenarios where NVMe SSDs are utilised across high-bandwidth fabric setups. By isolating I/O for each namespace, this technology effectively reduces interactions between multiple users, thereby optimising overall performance.

Notably, the 6500 ION shares enterprise-class features with the 7450 model and extends its capabilities by being compliant with OCP 2.0, NVMe 2.0 and NVMe-MI 1.2b standards. It also boasts industry-leading security features, including SPDM 1.2 and TCG Opal, further enhancing its appeal and suitability for a wide range of applications.

In our pursuit of assessing the capabilities of Micron's 6500 ION SSD’s, we leveraged one of the cutting-edge systems available for testing within Boston Labs: the Supermicro SYS-221BT-HNTR. This powerhouse is no ordinary server; it belongs to the "Big Twin" family, known for its dense multi-node configuration. The Supermicro SYS-221BT-HNTR sports four dual-processor nodes, each powered by Intel's 4th Gen Scalable Processors, codenamed Saphire Rapids, which hold the latest PCIe 5.0 technology.

We will be comparing the new value Micron offering with their mainstream 7000 series and high-end 9000 series SSD which also use a PCIe 4.0 bus, to confirm its place within Micron datacentre NVMe SSD portfolio.

Pic: Micron’s data centre NVMe SSD portfolio

To assess the sequential throughput performance of the Micron SSD's, we utilised the widely recognised ATTO Disk Benchmark. This tool is capable of testing various I/O chunk sizes ranging from 512 Bytes up to 64MB. The following graphs display the performance of the 6500 ION alongside 7450 PRO and 9400 PRO drives across different block sizes.

Surprisingly, during our testing, the Micron 6500 ION significantly outperforms its higher-end counterparts in both read and write conditions at lower block sizes of up to 32KB, apart from 1KB reads. However, as we increased the block sizes, the Micron 9400 PRO emerged as the clear winner in terms of overall performance, as expected from a high-end drive. It's noteworthy that the 6500 ION consistently outperforms the mainstream 7450 PRO in most test scenarios, which can be attributed to Micron's development of newer and denser 232-layer NAND technology.

Overall, we achieved impressive maximum throughput speeds during the ATTO benchmark cycle for the 6500 ION, with 6.09GB/s in read and 5.51GB/s in write performance, showcasing the remarkable capabilities of Micron's cost-effective offering.

To assess performance under random workloads, we employed the industry standard FIO Benchmark (Flexible I/O tester). We conducted this benchmark on the Ubuntu operating system to ensure the utmost precision and accuracy in our results.

The FIO test results for the Micron 6500 ION closely align with the performance figures we observed during testing of the 7450 PRO SSD. This consistency is indeed impressive, especially considering the 6500 ION's positioning as a "value" SSD. Our tests revealed impressive statistics, with read IOPs reaching 1.05 million and write IOPs at 251000.

To ensure a more realistic test scenario that mirrors typical server workloads, we employed the Random Mixed benchmark. This benchmark simulates usage patterns encountered in various server tasks, comprising a blend of 70% reads and 30% writes. In this mode, we achieved a substantial 380000 IOPs. Notably, these results closely match the figures provided by Micron in the 6500 ION datasheet, reaffirming its performance capabilities.

We also looked at the latency of the Micron 6500 ION during our FIO benchmark cycle. SSD latency is important because it affects the overall performance of the system. Latency is the time it takes for a storage device to respond to a request for data. In the context of SSDs, latency refers to the time it takes for the device to locate and retrieve the requested data from its storage cells.

Lower SSD latency means faster response times and faster overall performance. This is particularly important for applications that require fast access to data, such as databases, virtual machines and high-performance computing workloads. With lower latency, these applications can perform more transactions or calculations in a given time period, resulting in better overall performance and user experience.

The results indicate that the 6500 ION consistently maintains low latency levels during read workloads, outperforming the 7450 and 9400 series SSDs. However, it lags behind them in scenarios involving mixed and write-intensive workloads. This observation aligns with Micron's positioning of the SSD for read-intensive tasks, a choice attributed to its lower endurance compared to the other two products.

In summary, it is hard to find any flaws with Micron 6500 ION. This high-capacity NVMe SSD leverages TLC NAND technology, which delivers exceptional performance when compared to QLC counterparts from competitors. As widely acknowledged, TLC NAND technology outperforms QLC in various aspects, making the 6500 ION an obvious choice for those seeking a cost-effective, high-capacity SSD.

Micron's strategic positioning of this value offering places it in direct competition with traditional hard drives. This positioning is substantiated by its pricing proximity to HDDs, its low power consumption, that can be capped at 12W using NVMe power state, and a mere 5W in idle mode. In addition to its economic advantages, the 6500 ION distinguishes itself with superior performance and enhanced reliability, making it a compelling choice for various applications.

Boston Labs is dedicated to providing our clients with cutting-edge and groundbreaking storage solutions that set industry standards. Through our valued partnership with Micron, we bring forth the utmost in reliability and high-performance storage solutions tailored to your business requirements.

Our latest array of solutions, including the rigorously validated Micron 6500 ION SSD’s, is seamlessly integrated into our Igloo, Fenway and Roamer series offerings. By incorporating these SSDs into your projects, you not only mitigate risk but also unlock the full potential of your business operations, optimising overall performance and efficiency. Your success is our commitment, and we are here to help you achieve it.

We understand the importance of finding the right storage solution for your specific needs, which is why we offer a no-obligation proof of concept. Contact us today to request a test drive of the Micron 6500 ION NVMe SSD or any other Micron products and discover how Boston can help you build the perfect solution for your business. Our experienced sales advisors are ready to assist you and answer any questions you may have. Don't wait, elevate your business to the next level by emailing us at [email protected] or calling 01727 876100 today!

Written by:
Tom Michalski, Senior FAE at Boston Limited

Tags: review, Micron, storage, SSD, Benchmark

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