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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  • TheinsanegamerN - Wednesday, October 17, 2018 - link

    12GB per day would take over 40 years to hit the TBW rating on these new QLC drives.

    You are making mountains out of molehills here.
    Reply
  • npz - Thursday, October 18, 2018 - link

    Again, that's ONE application. For a typical user's use. You don't realize who much applications rely on caching. Every single update of cache is a write. Read my reply above. Use producttivity apps -- not server, but consumer professional applications -- and test for yourself. Reply
  • npz - Thursday, October 18, 2018 - link

    And DWPD matters more for these drives than total lifetime write (or max P/E for the entire drive). Notice how the DWPD is disproportionately less than total writes. That's because of the SLC cache, which uses the same cells as same QLC. All I/O goes to this same portion over and over again, until the firmware's scheduler moves it out to QLC portion later. Exceeding DWPD kills the wear leveling. Reply
  • hojnikb - Thursday, October 18, 2018 - link

    When "QLC" cells are run in "SLC" mode, they can obviously sustain much more p/e. SLC, MLC etc is just a way to distinguish the number of bits each cell represents. It doesn't matter what kind of representation you use, it will degrade at the same rate BUT the point which degradation can cause issues is obviosly sooner with QLC, since you need much finer voltage differentiation.

    If you were to set the QLC drive to work exclusivly in SLC mode, it would have a much higher endurance and DWPD.
    Reply
  • hojnikb - Thursday, October 18, 2018 - link

    And yet SSD faulires due to writes are very very uncommon. You'd have a much higher chance of controller crapping on you or going haywire than actually degrade the flash to the point, where no spare blocks are available.

    Also rated DWPD/total writes is usually very conservative and most drives can easily achieve multiple of that before using up all the spare blocks.
    Reply
  • Flying Aardvark - Tuesday, October 16, 2018 - link

    Yup. I only buy MLC drives. Using a 960 Pro 1TB at this time. Still have my old Intel X25-M 160GB drive in use too after all these years. It's worth the money to me, to have something that can last a while and be reliable without fiddling. Replacing stuff, worrying, all is worth money. Not always about performance/$ (the last metric I actually look at, as I prefer this wholistic view on buying). Reply
  • TheinsanegamerN - Wednesday, October 17, 2018 - link

    Because 40 years just isnt enough for a PC drive. Reply
  • hojnikb - Thursday, October 18, 2018 - link

    Not only that, but reliability in the past was almost always dependant on controller and not flash. Reply
  • deil - Wednesday, October 17, 2018 - link

    this is clearly laptop drive. Once installed most users will use maybe 20 GB per day. With 1 TB of space, its still 10 years before drive will bust. Way more than CPU/GPU will be sufficient. Reply
  • TheinsanegamerN - Wednesday, October 17, 2018 - link

    The drive "busting" is also not a guarantee. This has been proven multiple times over, that TBW isnt an exact science. MLC drives have hit as much as 2 petabyte written before keeling over. Techreport's worst drive still lasted nearly twice its TBW rating. Reply

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