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

    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
  • WithoutWeakness - Tuesday, October 16, 2018 - link

    There will continue to be a market for fast, high-endurance NAND-based SSDs for years and 3D MLC like the 970 Pro will likely continue to fill that need in the consumer space. However there's a reason so few drives use it. TLC and QLC exist because most people don't *need* extreme high-speed and high-endurance storage. They just want to replace slow, bulky, and loud mechanical hard drives with solid state storage and high bit-per-cell NAND is the best available solution. QLC will be a major factor for cheap SSD storage and will open the door to 4TB+ SSDs at less than 20c per GB but it comes with tradeoffs. The need for extreme high-endurance storage in the client space is dwindling as storage continues to get cheaper and computers are treated like commodity items and are completely replaced every few years instead of being upgraded to extend their lifespan. Reply
  • saratoga4 - Tuesday, October 16, 2018 - link

    > Just like we're largely stuck with TLC (which we all generally can agree is abysmal when it comes to endurance)

    We aren't stuck with TLC, you can still buy MLC drives, they just don't make a lot of sense since TLC endurance is already more than sufficient for most people. Not really seeing what the problem is here? Buy what you need, don't complain when other people do the same.
    Reply
  • npz - Tuesday, October 16, 2018 - link

    > For most people this drive will still outlast the computer they put it in.
    See my response below to see evidence of why it will not. This isn't some edge or niche usage case.

    Currently the value proposition is terrible.
    This QLC 500GB drive is $109.
    You can get a Mushkin 3D NAND TLC 500GB nvme for $119:
    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CYJ4GS3?ke
    OR a higher performing WD Black 500GB for $129:
    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07BR9FV1C
    OR a Samsung 970 EVO 500GB for $139
    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07BN4NJ2J

    Just to save a measly $10 you loose multiples of endurance and performance.
    With the current economics, all I can see is that when QLC proliferates, it will just push the prices of TLC and MLC upwards. You have very, very few NAND fabs.
    Reply
  • TheinsanegamerN - Wednesday, October 17, 2018 - link

    OH NO! you mean the drive will onyl last 90 years instead of 100?!? THE HORROR!

    You would need to write 100GB per day for 5 year straight to hit the 200TBW limit. Now, of course, keep in mind that SSDs can easily hit way above their TBW rating, as has been proven multiple times.

    Your average user will write 10GB per day maximum, for a lifespan of 50 years on these new drives. I dont think endurance is gonna be a problem here.
    Reply
  • npz - Thursday, October 18, 2018 - link

    > Your average user will write 10GB per day maximum

    You did not read what I wrote didn't you? As I referenced and as you can test yourself, Firefox alone will write at least 10GB per day and as one user mentioned for a typical days' use, 12GB. That's ONE application. Add to that say, caching and scratch space (which is by default on the C:\ or system drive) for Adobe suites and nearly any other application (burning blurays will always write exactly that amount on disk as cache first) and again, you can easily exceed the DWPD

    > You would need to write 100GB per day

    The endurance rating for this 500GB drive is 0.1 DWPD, that's **50GB** per day. And as I mentioned above and below any moderate use WILL exceed that.
    Reply
  • PeachNCream - Thursday, October 18, 2018 - link

    Pretty much this. I've already killed off a couple of planar MLC drives...2 x 120GB Patriot Torches within 4 years of purchase. Swapping, web browsing, and ripping DVDs along with some light gaming were enough to kill them both off. Granted that 3D NAND has allowed for a larger process node and implies higher P/E numbers, but thanks to the move to TLC and now QLC, P/E has dropped significantly enough that the capacity increases don't offset reduced endurance. Reply
  • Kamgusta - Friday, October 19, 2018 - link

    You are talking nonsense here.
    My MX100 with MLC has been in use as an OS/Programs/Games/Temporary drive for 22000 hours and it is reported to be at 89% of his lifespan. This means it would last, in the same conditions, at least 170000 more hours (19 years).
    Problem is, I recently upgraded to a MX500 so I am declassing that MX100 as cold storage for my documents. That means the 19 years estimate has just turned in "forever", by remembering my 2004's Raptor 74GB mechanical hard drive buring somewhere.
    Reply
  • PaoDeTech - Friday, October 19, 2018 - link

    I just checked with Samsung Magician my main 840PRO 512GB SSD: After ~5 years (and at least 5 OS full reinstall): 13TB total write. This means that a 1TB QLC would last me at least 25 years (100TB / 20TB * 5years). I can assure you that none of my past storage reached 25 years. Endurance is a non issue even for above average client workloads. Reply
  • chrcoluk - Wednesday, September 25, 2019 - link

    probably more like 2-3 years instead of 5-7. Reply

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