Today Micron initiated the first of a multi-tier launch of a new SATA Enterprise SSD lineup built around their IMFT 32-layer 3D NAND Flash. It may seem odd for a full enterprise line to use IMFT 3D TLC, as that flash has not been known for the high random IOPS demands of the datacenter, but Micron looks to be making it work, and work well.
Above is a performance consistency plot of their MAX model. While this does have the highest OP of all of the models, the consistency is surpassing even NVMe models (using a bus *much* faster than SATA). Sure the results are only using 1-second averages and not our Latency Percentile, but we will be able to pick out any single-IO inconsistencies once we get samples in for detailed review.
Saturated IOPS performance also looks good 'on paper'.
The advantage to operating their flash in TLC mode is that the per die capacity moves from 32GB to 48GB, ultimately driving down the cost/GB of these products and making them an easier sell to enterprise customers. It also enables high capacities - the max capacity of the model with the least overprovisioning (ECO) will reach 8TB in a 2.5" SATA form factor when the last leg of this launch is completed later next year.
The three lines are all using the same controller and base firmware, but with differences in how the dies are laid out with respect to expected performance and endurance.
Below are all of the products being launched. All products use a Marvell 88SS1074 controller at SATA 6Gbit:
- 5100 ECO
- 2.5" 7mm: 480, 960, 1920, 3840, 7680 GB
- M.2 2280: 480, 960, 1920 GB
- Sequential read/write: 540 / 380-520 MB/s
- Random read/write: 93k / 9k-31k IOPS
- Endurance: <=1 DWPD
- Cost / GB: $0.45 - $0.55
- 5100 PRO
- 2.5" 7mm: 240, 480, 960, 1920, 3840 GB
- M.2 2280: 240, 480, 960, 1920 GB
- Sequential read/write: 540 / 380-520 MB/s
- Random read/write: 78 (240GB)-93k / 26k-43k IOPS
- Endurance: 1-3 DWPD
- Cost / GB: $0.55 - $0.65
- 5100 MAX
- 2.5" 7mm: 240, 480, 960, 1920 GB
- M.2 2280: (none)
- Sequential read/write: 540 / 310-520 MB/s
- Random read/write: 93k / 48k-74k IOPS
- Endurance: 5 DWPD
- Cost / GB: $0.65 - $0.75
All models come with Micron 'Flex Capacity', which enables custom *increases* in OverProvisioning. Flex Security enables FIPS 140-2 validated 256-bit AES encryption.
The specs are very good when you consider their performance consistency claims, meaning a 74k IOPS random write rating applies to random writes across the *entire span* of the SSD *at steady state*. Consumer SSD firmware typically chokes with this type of workload, even ones equipped with MLC flash.
We will have more on the 5100 Series from Micron as these products are rolled out and sampled to us for performance review.
Press blast after the break.
Introduction, Specifications and Packaging
Since Samsung’s announcement of the 960 Series SSDs, I have been patiently waiting not for the 960 PRO (reviewed a few weeks back), but for the 960 EVO. It is the EVO, in my opinion, that is the big release here. Sure, it doesn’t have the quad Hexadecimal Die Packages, Package-on-Package DRAM and ultimate higher capacity of the PRO, but what it *does* potentially have is class leading performance / price in the M.2 form factor. Just as we all wanted lower cost SSDs in the 2.5” SATA form factor, M.2 is seeing greater adoption across laptops and desktop motherboards, and it’s high time we started seeing M.2 SSDs come down in price.
I know, don’t tell me, the Intel 600p carries a SATA-level cost/GB in an M.2 form factor. Sure that’s great, and while I do recommend that SSD for those on a budget, its caching scheme comes with some particularly nasty inconsistencies in sustained writes that may scare off some power users. Samsung 840/850 EVO SSDs have historically handled the transitions between SLC cache and TLC bulk writes far better than any competing units, and I’ve eagerly anticipated the chance to see how well their implementation carries over to an NVMe SSD. Fortunately for us, that day is today:
An important point to note in the performance specs - the lowest capacity model is the only one to see its performance significantly taper in stated specifications. That is because even with its 48-layer VNAND operating in SLC mode, there are only two packages on all 960 EVOs and the 250GB capacity comes equipped with the fewest dies to spread the work across. Less parallelism leads to lower ultimate performance. Still, it is impressive to see only 250GB of flash reaching near saturation of PCIe 3.0 x4 in reads.
I've appended the 'sustained' (TLC) performance specs at the bottom of the above chart. These 'after TurboWrite' figures are the expected performance after the SLC cache has been depleted. This is nearly impossible in actual usage scenarios, as it is extremely difficult for any typical (or even power user) desktop workloads to write fast and long enough to deplete such a cache, especially considering how much larger these caches are compared to prior models.
Samsung has carried forward their simple packaging introduced with the 960 PRO. The felt pad on the bottom of the installation guide is both functional and elegant, keeping the 960 Pro safely in place during shipment.
Subject: Storage | October 18, 2016 - 03:30 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: vnand, ssd, Samsung, NVMe, 960 PRO, 48-layer, 2TB
Al has already exhaustively covered the new Samsung 960 Pro in his latest article, which also happens to be the premiere of PC Perspective's new storage testing suite. An in depth discussion of the new testing methodology can be found on the third page and you can expect to hear about it on our podcast tomorrow and perhaps in a standalone article in the near future. Several comments have inquired as to the effect this drive would have on a system used for gaming or multimedia and how it would compare to drives like the Intel 750 and DC P3700 or OZC's RD 400. The best place to find those comparisons is over at The Tech Report, their RoboBench transfer test features a long list of drives you can look at. Check it out once you have finished off our article.
"Samsung's 960 Pro follows up on last year's 950 Pro with denser V-NAND, a brand-new controller, and space-age label technology. We put this drive to the test to see whether its performance is truly out-of-this-world."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Samsung SSD960 PRO 2TB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD @ Kitguru
- WD Blue SSD Review (1TB) @ Kitguru
- Crucial MX300 M.2 525GB SSD @ eTeknix
- Seagate BarraCuda Pro 10TB SATA III HDD Review @ NikKTech
Introduction, Specifications and Packaging
Just under a year ago we published our review of the Samsung 950 PRO, their first foray into NVMe SSD territory. Today we have a 960 PRO, which strives to be more revolutionary than evolutionary. There are some neat new features like 16-die packages and a Package-on-Package controller/DRAM design, all cooled by a copper heat spreading label! This new model promises to achieve some very impressive results, so without further delay, let's get to it!
Specs have not changed since the announcement. Highlights include
- A new 5-core Polaris controller (with one die solely dedicated to coordinating IO's to/from the host)
- 4-Landing Design - It's tough fitting four flash packages onto an M.2 2280 SSD, but Samsung has done it, thanks to the below feature.
- Package-on-Package - The controller and DRAM are stacked within the same package, saving space.
- Hexadecimal Die Packages - For the 960 Pro to reach 2TB of capacity, 16 48-layer MLC V-NAND packages must be present within each package. That's a lot of dies per package!
Nice touch with the felt pad on the bottom of the installation guide. This pad keeps the 960 Pro safely in place during shipment.
Subject: Editorial | October 13, 2016 - 11:22 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: XG-U2008, western digital, video, stratix, ssd, podcast, nvidia, msi, kaby lake, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 7, iphone, Intel, drobo, asus, apple, 5c
PC Perspective Podcast #421 - 10/13/16
Join us this week as we discuss our review of the iPhone 7, the Drobo 5C, Intel FPGAs and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store (audio only)
- Google Play - Subscribe to our audio podcast directly through Google Play!
- RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader (audio only)
- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Allyn Malventano, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Sebastian Peak
Program length: 1:22:35
Week in Review:
Today’s episode is brought to you by Casper!
News items of interest:
Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
Subject: Storage | October 11, 2016 - 01:45 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: western digital, wdc, WD, ssd, Blue, 1TB, marvell 1074
Al is hard at work benchmarking the new Western Digital SSDs and you should expect to see his full in depth review in the near future but for those who need immediate gratification here is Hardware Canucks review. The 1TB WD Blue uses a Marvell 1074 controller, a full gigabyte of cache provided by a pair of Micron 512MB DDR3 chips and 15nm TLC that should survive 400TB of writes and is warrantied for three years. Western Digital and SanDisk DNA meet for the first time in a consumer SSD, check out how it fares against the competition right here.
"Western Digital, once known for their hard drives alone, is now wading in the SSD market with two new series. In this review, we take the new Blue 1TB SSD out for a spin."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Toshiba OCZ VX500 SSD @ OCC
- ICY DOCK Black Vortex Quad-Bay USB 3.0 & eSATA External 3.5" SATA HDD Enclosure Review @ NikKTech
- Asustor AS6204T 4-bay NAS @ Kitguru
- Kingston Action Camera microSD @ Benchmark Reviews
- iStorage datAshur PRO 8GB Secure Flash Drive @ Kitguru
Subject: Storage | October 11, 2016 - 11:50 AM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: western digital, wdc, WD, ssd, Green, Blue
It has been over 6 years since we saw an SSD come out of Western Digital, but we suspected some new ones may be coming after their recent acquisition of SanDisk. That say has come, and today we have two new SSD models announced by WD:
These new SSDs naturally borrow SanDisk 15nm TLC flash but drive that flash with aftermarket controllers. The Blue employs a Marvell 88SS1074 controller while the Green will use a Silicon Motion SM2256S. The Blue will have the typical SATA 6Gbps saturating specs seen in modern SSDs, while the Green will be derated a bit. Detailed specifications are below:
- Form Factors: 2.5¨/7mm cased, M.2 2280
- Endurance (Blue):
- 250GB: 100 TBW
- 500GB: 200 TBW
- 1TB: 400 TBW
- Power (Blue):
- Slumber: 42mW-52mW
- DEVSLP: 4.9mW-9.7mW
- Average Active Power: 70mW
- Warranty (Blue and Green): 3 years
The WD Green will be more budget minded and is to be offered in only a 120GB and 240GB form factor, with reduced endurance ratings of 40 TBW and 80 TBW, respectively.
Pricing (for the WD Blue SSD):
- 250 GB $79.99
- 500 GB $139.99
- 1TB $299.99
The WD Green SSD will be available 'later this quarter', and we do not yet have pricing for that model, but it should come in at a lower cost than the Blue prices above. We have a Blue model in for testing and should see how it fares on our new storage suite later this week.
Subject: Storage | October 5, 2016 - 07:57 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: ssd, mozilla, google, firefox, endurance, chrome
A couple of weeks ago, I saw a post pop up on Twitter a few times about Firefox performing excessive writes to SSDs, which total up to 32GBs in a single day. The author attributes it mostly to a fast-updating session restore feature, although cookies were also resource hogs in their findings. In an update, they also tested Google Chrome, which, itself, clocked in over 24GB of writes in a day.
This, of course, seemed weird to me. I would have thought that at least one browser vendor might notice an issue like this. Still, I passed the link to Allyn because he would be much more capable in terms of being able to replicate these results. In our internal chat at the time, he was less skeptical than I was. I've since followed up with him, and he said that his initial results “wasn't nearly as bad as their case”. He'll apparently elaborate on tonight's podcast, and I'll update this post with his findings.
Subject: Storage | September 27, 2016 - 05:51 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: toshiba, tlc, TL100, ssd, sata, ocz, 2.5
Toshiba launched the OCZ TL100 series today:
These are TLC SSDs aimed at the budget sector. They are using the ever more common SLC cached TLC hybrid configuration, and come in at bargain basement pricing. Here are the specs:
- Capacity: 120 / 240 GB
- Sequential read / write: 550 / 530 MB/s
- Random read / write: 85k / 80k IOPS
- Warranty: 3 years with advance replacement
- Endurance (120/240GB): 30 / 60 TBW (27 / 54 GB/day)
- 120GB: $45 ($0.38/GB)
- 240GB: $68 ($0.28/GB)
Yes, that's $0.28/GB and a 240GB SSD at less than $70 bucks. The endurance is on the low side, but if these perform even half way decently, they will be a great low-cost way to go for most budget PC builds. We'll be testing these shortly on a new suite of tests with workloads that have been specifically optimized to more closely resemble real usage. These tests allow hybrid SSDs to use their SLC cache as opposed to flooding the drives with IO and forcing TLC writes. Don't be surprised if these perform surprisingly well for their cost. No guarantees as we haven't tested them yet, but we will soon!
Subject: Storage | September 21, 2016 - 12:00 AM | Allyn Malventano
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.
Here is a distilled version of the specs, capacities, and prices of the 960 PRO and EVO:
- 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)
- 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:
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: