Tiny New Drives Could Mean Even Thinner Computers

Micron’s new SSD is 63 percent smaller than standard HDDs

Key Takeaways

  • The Micron 2400 is the first SSD to deliver 2TB of storage in an incredibly small form factor.
  • It’s not the fastest SSD available, but it easily outpaces the fastest hard disks.
  • This combination of factors will help it replace hard disks in many portable devices, suggest experts.
An open computer hard drive with a hammer laying nearby.

Peter Dazeley / Getty Images

The Micron 2400 SSD (solid-state drive) is a nifty little disk that experts believe has what it takes to boot hard disk drives (HDDs) from laptops for good. 

Micron Technology recently began shipping what it claims is the world's first SSD based on the 176-layer QLC (quad-level cell) NAND technology, which enables it to offer performance improvements while reducing the physical dimensions of the drive. If priced right, experts believe the drive can become the de-facto storage device on portables and ultralight laptops.

"In some cases, it may hasten the demise of the HDD on the consumer level for storage at least for laptops," Michael Larabel, founder and principal author of computer hardware website, Phoronix, told Lifewire over email. "Micron's 2400 drives [based on] 176-layer QLC NAND tech certainly are interesting for many thin consumer devices seeking to maximize storage density while vendors continue pushing thinner and thinner devices."

Way of the Future

According to Micron, the new 176-layer QLC NAND technology delivers significant improvements in data transfer speeds and lowers read latency as compared to the earlier generation of 96-layer QLC-based SSDs. 

The company expects these performance improvements to help QLC-based SSDs become mainstream in consumer markets. 

But HDDs still have advantages when it comes to cost and proven reliability especially for NAS/network storage and other similar use-cases...

"We expect the new 2400 PCIe Gen4 SSD will significantly accelerate the adoption of QLC in client devices as it enables broader design options and more affordable capacity," Jeremy Werner, Corporate VP at Micron, said in the press release.

The new Micron 2400 PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD is available in three trims—512GB, 1TB, and 2TB.

The company claims the highest-capacity 2TB models can deliver sequential read speeds of 4.5GB/s, with write speeds of 4GB/s, and random reads/writes of 650K and 700K input/output operations per second (IOPS), respectively.

From a broader perspective, while these performance figures can't quite yet match those delivered by the best performing SSDs, they are a significant improvement over the fastest consumer hard disks currently in vogue. 

Thin Is In

One important factor working in favor of the new SSD is its form factor. According to Micron, at 22x30mm, the new SSD has lowered physical space requirements by a whopping 63 percent when compared to the 22x80mm M.2 form factor, which is the current benchmark for small form factor internal SSDs.

An image of an M.2 SSD memory storage chip.

magann / Getty Images

Experts believe the minuscule physical dimensions will further help the Micron 2400 SSD become an ideal choice for all kinds of portable and ultra-portable devices like laptops and tablets, eliminating one more use case for internal hard disk drives.

Furthermore, the new disks could also become an enticing option for computer manufacturers who wish to design compact, energy-efficient computing devices without compromising storage performance and capacity. 

In their announcement, Micron points out that the 2400 SSD is highly energy efficient. According to the company's benchmarking, the new disks reduce idle power consumption by half compared to Micron's previous-generation SSDs. It's for this very reason Micron believes the 2400 SSD will be able to meet the requirements of Intel's Project Athena, which promises to offer more than nine hours of battery life on laptops with real-world usage.

Larabel believes the combination of small form factor, storage capacity, and power efficiency will make the SSD ideal for edge and Internet of Things (IoT) computing devices. 

"With the continued growth of edge computing and all sorts of innovative devices on that front, there will surely be lots of opportunity ahead for such high density, low-power, and performant storage," shared Larabel.

Hard disk SSD m2 on the motherboard background.

Believe_In_Me / Getty Images

Down but Not Out

To begin with, the Micron 2400 will only be available to device manufacturers. However, the company has shared that the 176-layer NAND technology will eventually make its way into select Micron Crucial consumer SSDs.

While experts believe the drive will herald a new wave of thinner and lighter notebook PCs, they still won't cover all the use cases served by traditional hard disks.

"176-layer QLC storage should be great for consumers wanting a lot of storage within a small footprint," concludes Larabel. "But HDDs still have advantages when it comes to cost and proven reliability especially for NAS/network storage and other similar use-cases where the footprint is less of an issue [compared to] other more pressing concerns."

Was this page helpful?