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How To Choose an NVMe SSD for Long-Duration Sustained Write Applications

NVMe SSDs are classified based on their endurance ratings, performance capabilities, and serviceability. Though there is some overlap, each class is best matched with a specific set of target applications. To determine which SSD is right for your application, you will need to know the basics of the three primary classes of NVMe media; Client, DC and Enterprise.

Client class M.2 media is the most common type of NVMe storage, and is typically used to boost the performance of modern workstation and server platforms; often serving as the platform’s boot volume. They are also ideal for a targeted application, such as a media post-production project, or high-speed data transfer for a server or workstation environment.

Enterprise NVMe storage is exactly as its name implies – designed for use with enterprise grade business servers that require maximum performance and storage capacity. They utilize the industry-standard 2.5” form factor, and can be easily integrated into large-scale servers and rackmount chassis.

DC, datacenter, class NVMe storage is relatively new to the market and is ideal for specialized high-speed workflows that require a compact, high-density storage solution, such as an AI server or AV application. They provide an excellent mix of client and enterprise class features.

We breakdown some of the basics below.

Client Class (M.2) – Most M.2 NVMe SSDs fall into the Client category. Due to their endurance characteristics (relating to both transfer I/O and lifespan), Client class SSDs are not recommended for applications that involve long-term, long-duration I/O. The SLC and TLC NAND combination employed by this type of media delivers a high level of random performance (both read and write), with solid sequential performance for smaller workloads. However, when the size of the transfer exceeded the size of the SLC cache, performance can drop drastically, from 5000+MB/s to 2000MB/s, or even sub 1000MB/s, depending on the make & model of the SSD in question. In addition, client class SSDs have shorter lifespans. Drive Endurance is typically measured in TBW (total bytes written), as opposed to DWPD (disk writes per day), which is associated with DC and Enterprise class media.

DC (Datacenter) Class (E1.S, M.2, U.2/U.3) – DC class NVMe SSDs represent an ideal middle-ground between Client and Enterprise class media. Their endurance ratings are solid; both in terms of long-duration sequential transfer capability and lifespan/reliability, which are typically between 1 and DWPD (disk writes per day). Their overall performance characteristics are superior to Client SSDs, but still lower than that of Enterprise media.

Enterprise Class (U.2/U.3) – Currently, Enterprise class NVMe media is exclusively either a 2.5” U.2 /U.3 SSD, or less commonly an E3.S drive. Enterprise NVMe media delivers the highest levels of performance and endurance/reliability. They deliver excellent random and sequential I/O and impose little to no penalty for extended workflows. Enterprise class storage is designed to operate 24/7/365. Like DC Class media, lifespan is measured in DWPD; typically, between 1 and 3, but those with higher ratings are available.

So, which Class is right for me?

For most applications that require storage capable of delivering consistent, high-level of sustained write performance over extended I/O sessions, we would strongly recommend considering DC class media.

Though ultimately not as fast as Enterprise class media, DC class SSDs are capable of delivering a much higher level of sustained write performance than their client-class counterparts, and were designed to excel in 24/7 workflows. DC class E1.S media have endurance ratings comparable to U.2/U.3 SSDs, ranging from 1 to 3 DWPD (disk writes per day), depending on the throughput and capacity requirements.

HighPoint NVMe AICs can be used to optimize the performance and capacity of DC-class storage configurations; 4 and 8-Channel models provide x16 lanes of dedicated PCIe Gen4 host bandwidth, with a full x4 lanes available for each SSD. Our high-port count NVMe AICs can accommodate up to eight 30TB DC-Class SSDs (U.2/U.3); that’s 240TB of storage from a single PCIe device!

Importantly, DC class NVMe SSDs are now available in the E1.S form factor. Sized similarly to 22110 M.2 media, E1.S SSDs are capable of delivering even higher levels of sustained long-duration write performance, and while less dense than U.2/U.3 media, are available with up to 8TB of capacity.

HighPoint Rocket Series NVMe AICs Support DC-Class SSDs

HighPoint offers two product lines suitable for DC class media; NVMe AICs and NVMe RAID AICs:

Rocket 1xxx Series NVMe AICs

Rocket 1500 and 1000 series PCIe Gen4 NVMe AICs can be easily integrated into a wide range of high-performance platforms. They are easy to install and administer, and are compatible with nearly any modern server or workstation. Rocket series NVMe AICs are supported natively by all current operating systems (Linux, Windows, macOS, etc.) and require no additional software (neither a device driver or management suite). They are capable of supporting single disks or RAID configurations via the OS’s standard storage utilities or common SDS applications (software defined storage).

SSD7xxx Series NVMe RAID AICs

SSD7749, 7500 and 7000 series NVMe RAID AICs are designed for customers that need a more specialized solution (a specific performance target, platform or application). SSD7xxx series AICs are powered by HighPoint’s industry-proven RAID stack, which enables them to support one or more RAID 0, 1, or 10 arrays alongside individual SSDs. SSD7500 and SSD7749 series AICs are also capable of supporting bootable configurations. A comprehensive suite of pre-OS and OS level RAID and storage management interfaces are available for SSD series AICs, including UEFI and BIOS utilities, an in-depth CLI (command line interface), and a web-based management tool (WebGUI) which features our SHI solution (Storage Health Inspector), which can be used to monitor and configure temperature thresholds, and monitor the operation status and endurance of NVMe media in real-time via S.M.A.R.T. technology.

New! Double-Wide NVMe AICs

Our new line of SSD7749 series NVMe AICs were designed specifically for high-end industrial workflows, such as AI servers and AV applications, and are capable of supporting up to 8 DC class PCIe Gen4 NVMe SSDs. Their unique double-wide PCIe architecture was selected for the extra space it provides. Roughly the same size and shape as a high-end GPU, SSD7749 series AICs feature a unique tool-less SSD loading system and powerful, purpose-engineered NVMe cooling system designed to keep the risk of thermal throttling at bay.

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