Brace Yourselves, Samsung SM961, PM961, 960 PRO and 960 EVO SSDs Are Coming!

Subject: Storage | June 21, 2016 - 04:02 PM |
Tagged: V-NAND, SM961, Samsung, PM961, 960 PRO, 960 EVO, 48-layer

We've known Samsung was working on OEM-series SSDs using their new 48-layer V-NAND, and it appears they are getting closer to shipping in volume, so here's a peek at what is to come:

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First up are the SM961 and PM961. The SM and PM appear to be converging into OEM equivalents of the Samsung 'PRO' and 'EVO' retail product lines, with MLC flash present in the SM and TLC (possibly with SLC TurboWrite cache) in the PM. The SM961 has already been spotted for pre-order over at Ram City. Note that they currently list the 1TB, 512GB, and 256GB models, but at the time of this writing, all three product titles (incorrectly) state 1TB. That said, pricing appears to be well below the current 950 PRO retail for equivalent capacities.

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These new parts certainly have impressive specs on paper, with the SM961 claiming a 25-50% gain over the 950 PRO in nearly all metrics thanks to 48-layer V-NAND and an updated 'Polaris' controller. We've looked at plenty of Samsung OEM units in the past, and sometimes specs differ between OEM and retail parts, but it is starting to make sense for Samsung to simply relabel a given OEM / retail part at this point (minus any vendor-requested firmware detuning, like reduced write speeds in favor of increased battery life, etc).

With that are the other two upcoming parts that do not appear on the above chart. Those will be the 960 PRO and EVO, barring any last second renaming by Samsung. Originally we were expecting Samsung to add a 1TB SKU to their 950 PRO line, but it appears they have changed gears and will now shift their 48-layer parts to the 960 series. The other big bonus here is that we should also be getting an EVO, which would mark Samsung's first retail M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 part sporting TLC flash. That product should come in a lot closer to 850 EVO pricing, but offer significantly greater performance over the faster interface. While we don't have specs on these upcoming products, the safe bet is that they will come in very close (if not identical) to that of the aforementioned SM961 and PM961.

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Samsung's 48-Layer V-NAND, dissected by TechInsights
(Similar analysis on 32-Layer V-NAND here)

All of these upcoming products are based on Samsung's 48-layer V-NAND. Announced late last year, this flash has measurably reduced latency (thanks to our exclusive Latency Percentile testing) as compared to the older 32-layer parts. Given the performance improvements noted above, it seems that even more can be extracted from this new flash when connected to a sufficiently performant controller. Previous controllers may have been channel bandwidth limited on the newest flash, where Polaris can likely open up the interface to higher speed grades.

We await these upcoming launches with baited breath. It's nice to see these parts inching closer to the saturation point of quad lane PCIe 3.0. Naturally there will be more to follow here, so stay tuned!

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June 21, 2016 | 04:08 PM - Posted by D1RTYD1Z619


June 21, 2016 | 04:36 PM - Posted by hosandmoney (not verified)

That chart from Fudzilla is old news.

June 21, 2016 | 05:35 PM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

You should keep reading the article...

June 22, 2016 | 01:26 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

lol Allyn... expecting a commenter to suppress the compulsion to comment and attack the author until they've actually read the article first. Funny guy.

June 22, 2016 | 06:05 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

The 950 Pro used newer tech to have better stats than SM951.

Is there anything in pipeline for SM960 Pro to be better than SM961? Safe to get SM961 at launch? Or wait for retail SM960 Pro 512GB card? thanks for articles :)

June 21, 2016 | 05:51 PM - Posted by Thedarklord

Do you think the 960 Pro lineup will stick with M.2 and PCI-E, and skip SATA all together?

Considering that 950 Pro basically saturated the SATA3 connection, I don't think it makes sense to bring it to that form factor.

June 22, 2016 | 10:09 AM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

The 900 series is M.2 / PCIe. SATA is currently on the 800 series, so any update would likely be 860 there. 850 saturates the bus in most situations, so there's not much motivation to hurry out an update on SATA.

June 23, 2016 | 04:03 PM - Posted by Thedarklord

Whops that's right, I meant the 850 Pro. It kinda seems like the last hurah for SATA 3, not really much more they can push out of it? Maybe some improvements to the logic/queuing/buffer...

July 31, 2016 | 11:55 PM - Posted by Tom S (not verified)

The bus might be saturated for sequential transfers.
However I would certainly welcome greater throughput on
random reads and writes at a queue depth of 1.
With the seek time eliminated, what is the bottleneck in
Random transfers? Some sort of switching speeds?

June 21, 2016 | 10:22 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

As usual, if you want a proper news and not just an half-aXX version of the article, just go there.

June 21, 2016 | 11:07 PM - Posted by Jeppe (not verified)

What are you talking about dude? The Guru3D article had less information than this article...

June 22, 2016 | 01:27 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

He doesn't care. His sole mission in life is trolling PCPer articles and trashing the authors. Facts don't matter.

No one knows what his motivation is, but it's all he does.

June 21, 2016 | 10:45 PM - Posted by EastSiderz (not verified)

well, anyone could predict a 960 anything, 940, 950...what is next? Author is grasping for attention/traffic.

June 22, 2016 | 10:10 AM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

Except there was no 940.

June 21, 2016 | 11:05 PM - Posted by Jeppe (not verified)

Will there be any M.2 devices from Samsung with good write endurance? (atleast 3DWPD) Possibly even with capacitors for power failures?

There is some cool boards/servers coming in the near future, like the ASRock 3U16N that features internal M.2 and SATA DOM on each board, but the current M.2, even enterprise M.2 devices usually lacks good enough DWPD and capacitors for real server workloads

June 22, 2016 | 07:28 PM - Posted by extide

Even in the enterprise world, it is looking like M.2 stuff will be relegated to OS disks or read intensive workloads, and dedicated PCIe cards or perhaps 2.5" drives with U.2 will take over the write heavy workloads.

June 22, 2016 | 03:20 AM - Posted by Shane (not verified)

Can't come soon enough,Waited forever on a 1tb 950 pro. I'll settle for this 961 instead. Running XP941 512gb since launch and has been amazing even though it's outdated, Just not enough space for a main drive these days. OS, A few programs then some games and it's all gone!
I just hope they make a black PCB on the new m.2 drives.

June 23, 2016 | 04:33 PM - Posted by TinkerToyTech

Allyn, will the 950 Pro's get cheaper for a pair in scary raid?

-TTT, a Patreon Supporter

June 24, 2016 | 12:11 AM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

They might, or they'll be replaced with slightly cheaper 960's. The EVO should come in at an even lower cost, probably closer to the cost/GB of high end SATA SSDs.

June 28, 2016 | 10:06 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

So when exactly are the retail version of the 960 pro coming out? a few weeks? a few months? I've waited too long for the 1TB version of the 950 pro.

July 25, 2016 | 11:14 PM - Posted by nagus (not verified)

bump - need a new m.2 drive now

August 5, 2016 | 07:12 PM - Posted by Anonymous #2 (not verified)

Almost mid August and still no new info about this? December ETA?

August 8, 2016 | 06:12 PM - Posted by The Bearded Modder (not verified)

Here we are August 8th.....still waiting. I put off buying the Ultra M.2 Samsung 950 Pro because the 960 Pro is screaming fast and twice the capacity. I am running out of time sadly. I'm going to end up with a lesser product that throttles itself and half the capacity i.e. Samsung 950 Pro 512gb vs the 1tb 960 Pro. When's the release date?????

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