*Updated* Samsung 960 PRO and 960 EVO Announced - Details and Specifications Inside

Subject: Storage | September 21, 2016 - 12:00 AM |
Tagged: ssd, Samsung, pcie, NVMe, M.2, 960 PRO, 960 EVO

I'm currently running around at the various briefings and events here at Samsung's Global SSD Summit, but we did get some details on the 960 PRO and EVO that I've set to go live at the NDA time of 1 PM Seoul time.

960 Set_B.JPG

Here is a distilled version of the specs, capacities, and prices of the 960 PRO and EVO:

960 PRO

  • 512GB, 1TB, 2TB capacities
  • Sequential: 3.5 GB/s reads / 2.1 GB/s writes
  • 4K random (IOPS): 440,000 read / 360,000 write
  • Dynamic Thermal Guard (new version of their overtemperature protection - details below)
  • 5 year warranty, endurace peaks at 1.2PBW for the 2TB model
  • 512GB model = $329.99 ($0.64/GB)

960 EVO

  • 250GB, 500GB, 1TB capacities
  • Sequential: 3.2 GB/s reads / 1.9 GB/s writes (write speed is for TurboWrite SLC cache)
  • 4K random (IOPS): 380,000 read / 360,000 write
  • Dynamic Thermal Guard
  • 3 year warranty, endurance up to 400TBW for the 1TB model
  • 250GB = $129.99 ($0.52/GB)

I would certainly like to see Samsung push the 960 EVO capacities upwards of 4TB, and with competing M.2 NVMe products shipping at a lower cost, those prices use some tweaking as well.

More information and pics to follow later today (tonight for you USA folks)!

**UPDATE** - since everyone is in bed and hasn't read any of this yet, I'm just going to add the information from the presentation here.

First, some of you may be wondering about the inverted capacity difference between the PRO and EVO. Historically, Samsung has shipped their EVO line in higher capacities than the PRO line. The 850 EVO currently ships in capacities up to 4TB, while the 850 PRO remains limited to 2TB. If you look closely at the photos above, you'll note that there are four flash packages on the PRO, while there are only two on the EVO. The cause for this difference is that the DRAM package (visible on the EVO) is integrated within the controller package on the PRO model. This is similar to what Samsung has done with their PM971-NVMe SSD, which has not only the controller and DRAM, but the flash itself all stacked within a *single* package. Samsung calls this package-on-package (PoP):



During the Q&A, Samsung's Unsoo Kim indicated that future 960 EVO's may also shift to the PoP design in order to shift to 4 packages, and therefore double (or quadruple) the capacity on that line in the future.

Samsung also tackled thermal throttling head-on with what they call Dynamic Thermal Guard. This is a combination of a few things. First is the reduced power consumption - the new controller draws ~10% less power despite moving to a 5-core design (up from a 3-core on the 950 PRO). Second, and perhaps more interesting, is a new heat spreading label:


This new label contains a copper layer that helps spread heat across more of the surface area of the M.2 part. Samsung gets bonus points for outside the box thinking there. The combination of the reduced power draw and the heat spreader help to make thermal throttling even more impossible under typical use:


While the above chart was for reads (writes produce more heat), that's still a very good improvement, and being able to move potentially the full drive capacity before throttling is pretty good, especially considering the new models are moving data at a much faster speed. About those faster speeds, here are some increased details on the per-capacity specs:

960 PRO





960 EVO





Take the 960 EVO write specs with a grain of salt - those are assuming writes are going into the SLC cache area but never fear because TurboWrite is getting a boost as well:


This new 'Intelligent TurboWrite' increases the SLC cache area significantly over that of the 850 EVO we are all used to, with up to a 42GB area on the 1TB model! This should make it easier to swallow those boastful write performance claims, as there's a really good chance that all writes any typical user applies to the new EVO will go straight into that new larger cache. 

Apologies for the odd cutoffs on these pictures. They were corrected for parallax prior to posting. I also couldn't do anything about the presenter being in the way of the data :). I've requested slides from Samsung and will replace these here if/when they are provided.

Last but not least was a newly announced '2.0' version of the Samsung proprietary NVMe driver, which should help enable these increased speeds, as the Windows InBox driver is certainly not optimized to handle them. With the driver comes a new ground-up redesign of Samsung's Magician software, which added support for file-specific secure erasure and a special 'Magic Vault' secure encrypted area of the SSD that can be invisible to the host OS when locked.

This appears to be the bulk of what is to be announced at the Summit, so for now, I leave you with the endurance ratings and (MSRP) pricing for all capacities / models:



Full press blast after the break.

Samsung Kicks Off Global SSD Summit With 960 EVO and 960 PRO

Subject: Storage | September 20, 2016 - 06:01 AM |
Tagged: Samsung, 960 PRO, 960 EVO, NVMe, pcie, ssd, Summit, Global

Your humble Storage Editor is once again in Seoul, Korea. With these trips comes unique skylines:


...the Seoul Tower:


...and of course, SSD announcements! Samsung has a habit of slipping product pics into the yearly theme. This year they were a bit more blunt about it:


Yup, looks like tomorrow we will see Samsung officially announce their successor to the 950 PRO. We'll be hearing all about the 960 PRO and the new 960 EVO tomorrow, exactly three months after we broke the early news of these new models.

There will, of course, be more details tomorrow once we attend the relevant product briefings. This will be late at night for those of you back in the states. No further details for now. I'm off to get some dinner and recover from that 14-hour flight!

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Intel

Introduction, Specifications, and Packaging


It's been quite some time since we saw a true client SSD come out of Intel. The last client product to use their legendary 10-channel controller was the SSD 320 (launched in 2011), and even that product had its foot in the enterprise door as it was rated for both client and enterprise usage. The products that followed began life as enterprise parts and were later reworked for consumer usage. The big examples here are the SATA-based SSD 730 (which began life as the SSD DC S3500/3700), and the PCI/NVMe-based SSD 750 (which was born from the SSD DC P3700). The enterprise hardware had little support for reduced power states, which led Intel to market the 730 as a desktop enthusiast part. The 750 had a great NVMe controller, but the 18-channel design and high idle power draw meant no chance for an M.2 form factor version of the same. With the recent addition of low-cost 3D NAND to their production lines, Intel has now made began another push into the consumer space. Their main client SSD of their new line is the 600p, which we will be taking a look at today:


Read on for our full review of the Intel SSD 600p M.2 NVMe SSD!

PCIe 4.0 Will Still Deliver 75W of Slot Power

Subject: Graphics Cards, Motherboards | August 29, 2016 - 01:20 AM |
Tagged: pcie, PCI SIG

Last week, various outlets were reporting (incorrectly) that PCIe 4.0 would provide “at least 300W” through the slot. This would have been roughly equal to the power draw that a PCIe 3.0 GPU could provide with an extra six-pin and an extra eight-pin power connector, but do so all through the slot.


Later, the PCI-SIG contacted Tom's Hardware (and likely others) to say that this is not the case. The slot will still only provide 75W of power; any other power will still need to come from external connectors. The main advantage of the standard will be extra bandwidth, about double that of PCIe 3.0, not easing cable management or making it easier to design a graphics card (by making it harder to design a motherboard).

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Micron
Tagged: U.2, ssd, pro, pcie, NVMe, micron, MAX, HHHL, 9100

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging


It's been too long since we took a look at enterprise SSDs here at PC Perspective, so it's high time we get back to it! The delay has stemmed from some low-level re-engineering of our test suite to unlock some really cool QoS and Latency Percentile possibilities involving PACED workloads. We've also done a lot of work to distill hundreds of hours of test results into fewer yet more meaningful charts. More on that as we get into the article. For now, let's focus on today's test subject:


Behold the Micron 9100 MAX Series. Inside that unassuming 2.5" U.2 enclosure sits 4TB of flash and over 4GB of DRAM. It's capable of 3 GB/s reads, 2 GB/s writes, and 750,000 IOPS. All from inside that little silver box! There's not a lot more to say here because nobody is going to read much past that 3/4 MILLION IOPS figure I just slipped, so I'll just get into the rest of the article now :).



The 9100's come in two flavors and form factors. The MAX series (1.2TB and 2.4TB in the above list) come with very high levels of performance and endurance, while the PRO series comes with lower overprovisioning, enabling higher capacity points for a given flash loadout (800GB, 1.6TB, 3.2TB). Those five different capacity / performance points are available in both PCIe (HHHL) and U.2 (2.5") form factors, making for 10 total available SKUs. All products are PCIe 3.0 x4, using NVMe as their protocol. They should all be bootable on systems capable of UEFI/NVMe BIOS enumeration.

Idle power consumption is a respectable 7W, while active consumption is selectable in 20W, 25W, and 'unlimited' increments. While >25W operation technically exceeds the PCIe specification for non-GPU devices, we know that the physical slot is capable of 75W for GPUs, so why can't SSDs have some more fun too! That said, even in unlimited mode, the 9100's should still stick relatively close to 25W and in our testing did not exceed 29W at any workload. Detailed power testing is coming to future enterprise articles, but for now, the extent will be what was measured and noted in this paragraph.


Our 9100 MAX samples came only in anti-static bags, so no fancy packaging to show here. Enterprise parts typically come in white/brown boxes with little flair.

Read on for our full review of the Micron 9100 MAX 2.4TB U.2 Enterprise SSD!

Leaked Intel Roadmap Details Upcoming Optane XPoint SSDs and Storage Accelerators

Subject: Storage | June 13, 2016 - 03:46 AM |
Tagged: XPoint, tlc, Stony Beach, ssd, pcie, Optane, NVMe, mlc, Mansion Beach, M.2, kaby lake, Intel, imft, Brighton Beach, 3DNAND, 3d nand

A recent post over at benchlife.info included a slide of some significant interest to those who have been drooling over XPoint technology:


For those unaware, XPoint (spoken 'cross-point') is a new type of storage technology that is persistent like NAND Flash but with speeds closer to that of RAM. Intel's brand name for devices implementing XPoint are called Optane.

Starting at the bottom of the slide, we see a new 'System Acceleration' segment with a 'Stony Beach PCIe/NVMe m.2 System Accelerator'. This is likely a new take on Larson Creek, which was a 20GB SLC SSD launched in 2011. This small yet very fast SLC flash was tied into the storage subsystem via Intel's Rapid Storage Technology and acted as a caching tier for HDDs, which comprised most of the storage market at that time. Since Optane excels at random access, even a PCIe 3.0 x2 part could outmaneuver the fastest available NAND, meaning these new System Accelerators could act as a caching tier for Flash-based SSDs or even HDDs. These accelerators can also be good for boosting the performance of mobile products, potentially enabling the use of cheaper / lower performing Flash / HDD for bulk storage.


Skipping past the mainstream parts for now, enthusiasts can expect to see Brighton Beach and Mansion Beach, which are Optane SSDs linked via PCIe 3x2 or x4, respectively. Not just accelerators, these products should have considerably more storage capacity, which may bring costs fairly high unless either XPoint production is very efficient or if there is also NAND Flash present on those parts for bulk storage (think XPoint cache for NAND Flash all in one product).

We're not sure if or how the recent delays to Kaby Lake will impact the other blocks on the above slide, but we do know that many of the other blocks present are on-track. The SSD 540s and 5400s were in fact announced in Q2, and are Intel's first shipping products using IMFT 3D NAND. Parts not yet seen announced are the Pro 6000p and 600p, which are long overdue m.2 SSDs that may compete against Samsung's 950 Pro. Do note that those are marked as TLC products (purple), though I suspect they may actually be a hybrid TLC+SLC cache solution.


Going further out on the timeline we naturally see refreshes to all of the Optane parts, but we also see the first mention of second-generation IMFT 3DNAND. As I hinted at in an article back in February, second-gen 3D NAND will very likely *double* the per-die capacity to 512Gbit (64GB) for MLC and 768Gbit (96GB) for TLC. While die counts will be cut in half for a given total SSD capacity, speed reductions will be partially mitigated by this flash having at least four planes per die (most previous flash was double-plane). A plane is an effective partitioning of flash within the die, with each section having its own buffer. Each plane can perform erase/program/read operations independently, and for operations where the Flash is more limiting than the interface (writes), doubling the number of planes also doubles the throughput. In short, doubling planes roughly negates the speed drop caused by halving the die count on an SSD (until you reach the point where controller-to-NAND channels become the bottleneck, of course).


IMFT XPoint Die shot I caught at the Intel / Micron launch event.

Well, that's all I have for now. I'm excited to see that XPoint is making its way into consumer products (and Storage Accelerators) within the next year's time. I certainly look forward to testing these products, and I hope to show them running faster than they did back at that IDF demo...

Another look at the OCZ RD400 NVMe SSD

Subject: Storage | May 27, 2016 - 02:42 PM |
Tagged: TSV, toshiba, ssd, revodrive, RD400, pcie, ocz, NVMe, M.2, HHHL, 512GB, 2280, 15nm

If you somehow felt that there was a test that Al missed while reviewing the OCZ RD400 NVMe SSD, then you have a chance for a second look.  There are several benchmarks which The SSD Review ran which were not covered and they have a different way of displaying data such as latency but the end results are the same, this drive is up there with the Samsung 950 Pro and Intel 750 Series.  Read all about it here.


"With specs that rival the Samsung 950 Pro, a capacity point that nips at the heels of the Intel 750's largest model, and competitive MSRPs, the OCZ RD400 is out for blood. Read on to learn more about this latest enthusiast class NVMe SSD and see how it competes with the best of the best!"

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:


Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Toshiba (OCZ)

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging


The OCZ RevoDrive has been around for a good long while. We looked at the first ever RevoDrive back in 2010. It was a bold move for the time, as PCIe SSDs were both rare and very expensive at that time. OCZ's innovation was to implement a new VCA RAID controller which kept latencies low and properly scaled with increased Queue Depth. OCZ got a lot of use out of this formula, later expanding to the RevoDrive 3 x2 which expanded to four parallel SSDs, all the way to the enterprise Z-Drive R4 which further expanded that out to eight RAIDed SSDs.


OCZ's RevoDrive lineup circa 2011.

The latter was a monster of an SSD both in physical size and storage capacity. Its performance was also impressive given that it launched five years ago. After being acquired by Toshiba, OCZ re-spun the old VCA-driven SSD one last time in the form of a RevoDrive 350, but it was the same old formula and high-latency SandForce controllers (updated with in-house Toshiba flash). The RevoDrive line needed to ditch that dated tech and move into the world of NVMe, and today it has!


Here is the new 'Toshiba OCZ RD400', branded as such under the recent rebadging that took place on OCZ's site. The Trion 150 and Vertex 180 have also been relabeled as TR150 and VT180. This new RD400 has some significant changes over the previous iterations of that line. The big one is that it is now a lean M.2 part which can come on/with an optional adapter card for those not having an available M.2 slot.

Read on for our full review of the new OCZ RD400!

Seagate to Show 10 GB/s PCIe x16 Flash Drive at OCP Summit

Subject: Storage | March 8, 2016 - 03:07 PM |
Tagged: ssd, Seagate, pcie, NVMe, flash drive

Today Seagate announced that they are production ready on a couple of NVMe PCIe SSD models. These are data-center tailored units that focus on getting as much parallel flash into as small of a space as possible. From engineering drawings, the first appears to be a half height (HHHL) device, communicates over a PCIe 3.0 x8 link, and reaches a claimed 6.7GB/s:


The second model is a bit more interesting for a few reasons. This is a PCIe 3.0 x16 unit (same lane configuration as a high end GPU) that claims 10 GB/s:


10 GB/s, hmm, where have I seen that before? :)

The second image gives away a bit of what may be going on under that heatsink. There appears to be four M.2 form factor SSDs in there, which would imply that it would appear as four separate NVMe devices. This is no big deal for enterprise data applications that can be pointed at multiple physical devices, but that 10 GB/s does start to make more sense (as a combined total) as we know of no single SSD controller capable of that sort of throughput. It took four Intel SSD 750’s for us to reach that same 10 GB/s figure, so it stands to reason that Seagate would use that same trick, only with M.2 SSDs they can fit everything onto a single slot card.

That’s all we have on this release so far, but we may see some real product pics sneak out of the Open Compute Project Summit, running over the next couple of days.

Full press blast after the break!

Source: Businesswire
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Gigabyte


NVMe was a great thing to happen to SSDs. The per-IO reduction in latency and CPU overhead was more than welcome, as PCIe SSDs were previously using the antiquated AHCI protocol, which was a carryover from the SATA HDD days. With NVMe came additional required support in Operating Systems and UEFI BIOS implementations. We did some crazy experiments with arrays of these new devices, but we were initially limited by the lack of native hardware-level RAID support to tie multiple PCIe devices together. The launch of the Z170 chipset saw a remedy to this, by including the ability to tie as many as three PCIe SSDs behind a chipset-configured array. The recent C600 server chipset also saw the addition of RSTe capability, expanding this functionality to enterprise devices like the Intel SSD P3608, which was actually a pair of SSDs on a single PCB.

Most Z170 motherboards have come with one or two M.2 slots, meaning that enthusiasts wanting to employ the 3x PCIe RAID made possible by this new chipset would have to get creative with the use of interposer / adapter boards (or use a combination of PCI and U.2 connected Intel SSD 750s). With the Samsung 950 Pro available, as well as the slew of other M.2 SSDs we saw at CES 2016, it’s safe to say that U.2 is going to push back into the enterprise sector, leaving M.2 as the choice for consumer motherboards moving forward. It was therefore only a matter of time before a triple-M.2 motherboard was launched, and that just recently happened - Behold the Gigabyte Z170X-SOC Force!


This new motherboard sits at the high end of Gigabyte’s lineup, with a water-capable VRM cooler and other premium features. We will be passing this board onto Morry for a full review, but this piece will be focusing on one section in particular:


I have to hand it to Gigabyte for this functional and elegant design choice. The space between the required four full length PCIe slots makes it look like it was chosen to fit M.2 SSDs in-between them. I should also note that it would be possible to use three U.2 adapters linked to three U.2 Intel SSD 750s, but native M.2 devices makes for a significantly more compact and consumer friendly package.


With the test system set up, let’s get right into it, shall we?

Read on for our look at triple M.2 in action!