First mentioned during CES 2013, Micron now officially delivers on its promise of a 960GB SSD priced at a mere $0.62 per GB. The M500 delivers a long-awaited refresh to the venerable m4 SSD family, featuring an updated controller, new NAND, and especially, new pricing. And just to clear things up now, the M500 branding applies to both the Crucial (consumer) and Micron (enterprise/OEM) brands.
The start with, the M500 replaces the Marvell 9174 with the 88SS9187 controller but continues to use an in-house proprietary firmware as the secret sauce. What makes the M500 stand out though is definitely the IMFT 20nm MLC NAND flash. This isn’t the typical 20nm 64Gbit flash either; Micron is the first to utilize the 128Gbit/die NAND flash in its drives, meaning double the density in roughly the same size die package. Just as the shrinking process node for CPUs (32nm, 22nm, etc) allows more transistors to be crammed into less space, the same is true for NAND flash. Except when we double the density, in effect the price per GB gets slashed considerably. This explains the unmatched $599 MSRP for the 960GB model.
Suggested retail prices for more standard capacity models are on the high side, but as we have seen before street prices will likely slot in below them once enough supply reaches the market. But for reference the 120GB is $129, 240GB is $219, the 480 is $399, and 960GB is $599. Or to put it another way, the M500 960GB has the same MSRP as the Intel X25-M 80GB back in 2008. It’s amazing what five years and moving from 50nm, 16Gbit NAND to 20nm, 128Gbit NAND can do to prices, let alone the considerable performance increase along the way.