For years we have been repeatedly teased by Samsung. Launch after successful launch in the consumer SSD space, topping performance charts nearly every time, but what about enterprise? Oh sure, there were plenty of launches on that side, with the company showing off higher and higher capacity 2.5" enterprise SSDs year after year, but nobody could ever get their hands on one, and even the higher tier reviewers could not confirm Samsung's performance claims. While other SSD makers would privately show me performance comparison data showing some Samsung enterprise part walking all over their own enterprise parts, there was not much concern in their voices since only a small group of companies had the luxury of being on Samsung's short list of clients that could purchase these products. Announcements of potentially groundbreaking products like the Z-SSD were soured by press folk growing jaded by unobtanium products that would likely never be seen by the public.
Samsung has recently taken some rather significant steps to change that tune. They held a small press event in September, where we were assured that enterprise SSD models were coming to 'the channel' (marketing speak for being available on the retail market). I was thrilled, as were some of the Samsung execs who had apparently been pushing for such a move for some time.
As a next step towards demonstrating that Samsung is dedicated to their plan, I was recently approached to test a round of their upcoming products. I accepted without hesitation, have been testing for the past week, and am happy to now bring you detailed results obtained from testing eight different SSDs across four enterprise SSD models. Testing initially began with three of the models, but then I was made aware that the Z-SSD was also available for testing, and given the potential significance of that product and its placement as a competitor to 3D XPoint products like Intel's Optane, I thought it important to include that testing as well, making this into one heck of a Samsung Enterprise SSD roundup!
One large note before we continue - this is an enterprise SSD review. Don't expect to see game launches, SYSmark runs, or boot times here. The density of the data produced by my enterprise suite precludes most easy side-by-side comparisons, so I will instead be presenting the standard full-span random and sequential results for fully conditioned drives, marking the rated specs on the charts as we go along. High-Resolution QoS will also be used throughout, as Quality of Service is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing SSDs for enterprise usage. In short, the SSDs will be tested against their own specifications, with the exception of some necessary comparisons between the Samsung Z-SSD and the Intel Optane SSD DC P4800X which I will squeeze in towards the end of this very lengthy and data-dense review.
Subject: Storage | September 5, 2018 - 10:54 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: Z-NAND, V-NAND, ssd, sata, Samsung, NVMe, 983 ZET, 983 DCT, 883 DCT, 860 DCT
Samsung was strangely absent from FMS this year, but they had us out to NYC yesterday for a briefing we've been waiting a looong time for:
Above is a spec layout for Data Center SSDs that are to be in the retail channel, meaning they will be available for purchase on the open market, not locked behind exclusivity contracts with a select few corporations, as was the case previously. Here's the abbreviated rundown:
- 860 DCT
- Low write workloads
- 960GB, 2TB, 4TB
- Low cost (~0.25/GB)
- 883 DCT
- Mixed workloads
- Power Loss Protection
- 240/480/960GB, 2TB, 4TB
- 983 DCT
- NVMe (M.2 / U.2)
- Mixed workloads / higher performance
- Power Loss Protection
- 960GB, 2TB
The prices above are MAP (Minimum Advertised Price) as MSRP doesn't carry over to enterprise products quite the same. Performance details are above and below in the full press release, but the gist of them is that they are comparable to current Samsung SATA and NVMe products with the exception of random writes being rated at steady state sustained values (client SSDs are typically rated for reduced span random writes of shorter durations).
There was another thing to check out as well:
That's Samsung's elusive Z-SSD, now with the model name 983 ZET. It contains slightly modified V-NAND operating in straight SLC mode and with some additional tweaks to help reduce latencies - referred to by Samsung as Z-NAND. Here are the specs:
We did note that some of what drives those super-fast latencies is the use of a DRAM cache. We won't know how this impacts larger span random performance until we can test this product first-hand. Samsung also showed where they expect these new products to fall relative to other competing offerings:
I'm thrilled to see Samsung finally opening up their Data Center parts to the rest of the masses. We'll be testing and reviewing these as samples arrive. I personally can't wait, because Samsung's data center parts are known for having amazing QoS performance, and I can't wait to throw our enterprise test suite at them!