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 | May 31, 2016 - 03:38 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: TurboWrite, Samsung, PM971-NVMe, BGA, 512GB, 48-layer, 32GB, 256Gbit
Have you ever checked out one of those laptops with the soldered-on eMMC SSD, where the manufacturer was basically checking the 'SSD' box for forgetting the 'Performance' box entirely? What if I told you that it was possible to fit an entire PCIe NVMe SSD with performance comparable to a 950 Pro into a package similar to those eMMC parts?
Introduction, Specifications and Packaging
The steady increase in flash memory capacity per die is necessary for bringing SSD costs down, but SSDs need a minimum number of dies present to maintain good performance. Back when Samsung announced their 48-layer VNAND, their Senior VP of Marketing assured me that the performance drop that comes along with the low die count present in lower capacity models would be dealt with properly. At the time, Unsoo Kim mentioned the possibility of Samsung producing 128Gbit 48-layer VNAND, but it now appears that they have opted to put everything into 256Gbit on 3D side. Fortunately they still have a planar (2D) NAND production line going, and they will be using that same flash in a newer line of low capacity models. When their 850 Series transitions over to 48-layer (enabling 2TB capacities), Samsung will drop the 120GB capacity of that line and replace it with a new OEM / system builder destined 750 EVO:
The SSD 750 EVO Series is essentially a throwback to the 840 EVO, but without all of the growing pains experienced by that line. Samsung assured me that the same corrections that ultimately fixed the long-term read-based slow down issues with the 840 EVO also apply to the 750 EVO, and despite the model number being smaller, these should actually perform a bit better than their predecessor. Since it would be silly to just launch a single 120GB capacity to make up for the soon to be dropped 850 EVO 120GB, we also get a 250GB model, which should make for an interesting price point.
Baseline specs are very similar to the older 840 EVO series, with some minor differences (to be shown below). There are some unlisted specs that are carried over from the original series. For those we need to reference the slides from the 840 EVO launch:
Subject: Storage | April 28, 2015 - 12:44 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: TurboWrite, tlc, ssd, slc, Samsung, 840 evo
For those of you following the Samsung 840 EVO saga, last week we saw the release of Magician 4.6. Samsung was initially throttling downloads and firmware update rates, but those limits appear to have been lifted as of this morning. Another thing we noticed this morning was the inclusion of the standalone ISO updater for those who are otherwise unable to run the Magician software (i.e. Mac users):
For those on laptops or other devices with no optical drive, I've confirmed the ISO can be used via USB if placed there with a tool such as Rufus.
Note to Linux users:
There was an early report of complications from a user who was running a full disk fstrim during boot, where that operation was causing errors (corrected once that operation was disabled). It should be noted that full disk TRIM operations are redundant so long as the OS is issuing TRIM on-the-fly during regular file moves / deletions. This may be an issue with queued TRIM handling of the new 840 EVO firmware. If not reproduced / corrected by Samsung, the Linux devs may be able to add this firmware revision to the queued TRIM blacklist to possibly fix the problem on their end.
Note to mSATA 840 EVO users:
It appears the update does not currently apply to these. I've asked Samsung about this.
Subject: Storage | April 23, 2015 - 02:21 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: TurboWrite, tlc, ssd, slc, Samsung, 840 evo
For those who watched last night's podcast live, I predicted that Samsung would be posting their 840 EVO Firmware and new Magician 4.6 software 'soon'. Turns out that 'soon' was actually this morning, but there's a catch - Samsung decided to limit the daily downloads:
If you went to the Samsung SSD Download Page and got the above error, don't fret, there are a few mirrors out there:
I downloaded from these three sources and at the time of this posting can confirm all three are identical to the Magician 4.6 download available from Samsung.
Once installed, you *should* be able to use Magician to update the firmware on your 840 EVO and (hopefully) see its performance come back to where it should be. There have been some reports of users unable to update, but that appears to be Samsung's servers being hammered and Magician's default / timeout is to report that you are on the latest firmware. Restarting Magician may force it to re-check and get the update.
Linux and Mac users are not yet able to update as the ISO updater has not been released for the new firmware. Those capable can update their Linux or Mac 840 EVOs connected as a secondary drive under Windows with Magician 4.6 installed. Also, if you're running Linux and happen use fstrim during boot, read this post prior to updating.
Subject: Storage | July 26, 2013 - 06:08 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: TurboWrite, tlc, ssd, slc, Samsung, 840 evo, MEX controller
Along with Al's review of the new EVO line you can get a second opinion from The Tech Report about the performance of the new SSD with a fast cache. The majority of the storage is 19nm TLC NAND but there is an SLC cache sitting between the controller and that long term TLC storage to help with the overall responsiveness of the drive, aka TurboWrite. In the 120 and 250GB models that cache is 3GB while in the larger models you get a 6GB cache. In their real world testing the new EVO drive is incredible at large file copying though Sandforce drives can beat it in small file copy speeds, likely thanks to the compressed write trickery that controller family is so good at. Check out the review here and keep your fingers crossed that MSRP is the acual price these drives sell at.
"Samsung's entry-level 840 EVO SSD combines affordable TLC NAND with a server-style SLC cache. We explain the drive's unique buffering tech and explore how it affects performance."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Samsung 840 EVO SSD @ The SSD Review
- Samsung SSD 840 EVO Review: 120GB, 250GB, 500GB, 750GB & 1TB Models Tested @ AnandTech
- Samsung 840 EVO 250GB, 750GB SSD Review @ Custom PC Review
- Samsung 840 Evo SSD @ Hardware.info
- Samsung unveils 840 EVO solid-state drive family @ The Tech Report
- 240GB OCZ Vertex 450 Solid State Drive @ Benchmark Reviews
- Plextor M5M 128GB mSATA SSD Review @ Legit Reviews
- OCZ Vertex 3.20 240GB SSD @ eTeknix
- OCZ Vector 512GB SSD @ Kitguru
- RunCore Pro IV 1.8 Inch ZIF SSD @ LanOC Reviews
- Silicon-Power Velox V55 240GB @ Legion Hardware
- Seagate 600 Pro SSD 400GB @ Bjorn3D
- Securely Erasing Your SSD with Linux: A How-To @ Techgage
- Seagate Central 3TB review: User-friendly? @ Hardware.info
- Silicon Power Blaze B20 32GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive @ NikKTech
- USB 3.0 Flash Drive Roundup July 2013 @ Legion Hardware
- Icy Dock FlexCage 2 Bay and 3 Bay Hard Drive Enclosure Review @ HiTech Legion
- Zalman ZM-VE400 USB 3.0 HDD/SSD Enclosure @ Funky Kit
- QNAP TS-421 & QTS 4.0 @ techPowerUp
- Thecus N2520 review: first NAS with Intel Atom CE5315 @ Hardware.info
Introduction and Specifications
Last week, Samsung flew a select group of press out to Seoul, Korea. The event was the 2013 Samsung Global SSD Summit. Here we saw the launch of a new consumer SSD, the 840 EVO:
This new SSD aims to replace the older 840 (non-Pro) model with one that is considerably more competitive. Let's just right into the specs: