PCIe SSDs: High-Performance Storage for Workstation Applications

Today we are introducing some exciting new storage innovation technologies on our Dell Precision tower and rack workstations – The Micron P320 PCIe Solid State Drives (SSD), which are ultra-performance SSDs designed specifically for workstations.

Most SSDs use Serial ATA (SATA) interfaces to connect to the host. This interface is capable of transferring maximum effective data rates of approximately 500MB/s which is considered sufficient for most SSD applications and users. However, advanced workstation users who demand high data transfer rates have motivated the storage industry to look for other interfaces to feed the need for performance, hence, PCIe based SSD.

Micron P320 offers one of the latest advancements in SSD technology. This device is designed with a PCIe interface that enables the host workstation to take advantage of the high performance of the device. PCIe SSD is connected to the host through very high speed of eight lanes of PCIe interface – speeds that have not been available on workstations before.

Relative to current SATA SSD performance, the Micron device is approximately 1.5x the performance when using PC mark 07, and more than 4.5x when using PC Mark 8 Storage bandwidth tests.

Even though this device is utilizing the new PCIe interface, Dell and Micron engineering teams worked extensively to design and validate the reliability and compatibly of the device with professional software applications.

Dell engages its partners early in the product development cycle to analyze customer requirements and define the product.  For example, Dell analyzed the workload patterns of a professional application to optimize SSD Performance on a Dell Precision workstation.  This analysis revealed significant information on user I/O patterns and data volume written to the drive. The results helped drive the design and validation of the SSD ultimately offered on Dell Precision.

Dell evaluates the SSD device design, as well as the technology partner development, testing, and manufacturing processes. We also conduct intensive reliability testing where they are continuously exercised to ensure they meet Dell requirements and eventually customer expectations.

Questions workstations might ask “Do I need this level of performance?” “Are the current SATA SSDs good enough or should I be using a hard drive?”  The good news is Dell offers all these technologies, SATA SSD, PCIe SSD, and harddrives. And the better news is we even can help you pick the best one to meet your needs. Having said that, figuring out which storage technology to buy is dependent on your workload and applications. In general terms, we recommend HDD for any application with minimum storage dependency, SSD for applications with high-demand on storage I/O and PCIe SSDs with very large datasets that require intensive I/O performance on professional ISV applications.

PCIe SSDs represent the latest in workstation storage technology for advanced users who need ultimate performance –  without compromising reliably and quality.

About the Author: Munif Farhan