It’s that time of year again, when Samsung announces their latest solid state drives at an SSD summit in Seoul, Korea. Performance is the name of the game, with a new NVMe drive that bests last years 950 Pro by a decent margin. There is also a slightly more budget friendly EVO drive, which also offers top notch performance. So how much do they cost (spoiler, up to $1700!), and how did Samsung manage to improve speeds yet again?
The new 960 Pro and 960 Evo use NVMe and a PCIe Gen.2 x4 interface, are built on the M.2 2280 form factor and use Gen 3 Samsung V-NAND. They both use what Samsung calls Intelligent TurboWrite technology to reach speeds much closer to the NVMe 4000 MB/s theoretical maximum. They also have improved thermal controls, so can write data longer without overheating. The drives also boast a larger buffer, so can write larger chunks of data at full speed.
The 960 Pro offers peak sequential speeds of up to 3500 MB/s reading, and 2100 MB/s writing.. It also manages 440,00 and 360,00 IOPS, reading and writing. Compared to the 2500 / 1500 MB/s of last years 950 Pro, that’s a very impressive upgrade. The 960 Pro is available in 512GB, 1TB, and a new 2TB capacity - the only consumer NVMe M.2 SSD at this size. Both 128GB and 256GB drives are not available in the 960 Pro. No Australian pricing has been announced, but the US prices are as follows, with Aussie dollar conversion rates. Keep in mind that official Australian pricing won’t be released for a a little while yet.
512GB — $329 ($434 AUD) 1TB — $629 ($829 AUD) 2TB — $1299 ($1714 AUD)
Yes, you read that correctly - the 2TB model will cost over $1700! Sure, it’s a lot of cash, but then again, nothing else can really compare for such a high capacity in a tiny drive.
To squeeze that 2TB capacity onto a 2280 M.2 form factor, the 960 Pro has a bunch of tricks, such as stacking the DRAM on top of the controller. It also stacks 16 layers of 32GB chips into one chip, so can fit all 2TB on board with just four flash packages.
To eke out the extra performance, the 960 Pro has a new Polaris controller, with 5 cores, one of which is dedicated solely to handling communications from the SSD to the host. It also has improved thermal control, and even the sticker on top has a layer of copper in it to conduct heat better.
The 960 Pro is backed up by a 5 year warranty, or up to a massive 1.2 Petabytes written for the 2TB capacity. The 1TB 960 Pro is good for 800 TBW and the 512GB does 400 TBW.
The 960 Evo drops performance a little, down to 3200 MB/s writing, and 1900 MB/s reading. It manages 380,000 and 360,000 IOPS, reading and writing. That’s still faster than the 950 Pro, and one of the fastest SSDs you can buy.
As a comparison, the 950 Pro can do up to 2500 MB/s and 300,000 IOPS writing, and 1500 MB/s and 110,000 IOPS writing.
250GB — $129 ($170 AUD) 500GB — $249 ($329 AUD) 1TB — $479 ($566 AUD)
Depending on exactly what the official Australian prices are (and how much the 950 Pro prices drop), the 500GB 960 Evo could be faster, and offer better performance than the 950 Pro.
The Evo shares many of the new advancements of the 960 Pro, but with a lower maximum capacity, has more room to spread out, and does not need to stack the DRAM on the controller.
The Evo has a shorter 3 year warranty, and up to 400 TBW for the 1TB drive, 200 TBW for the 500GB, and 100 TBW for the 250GB.
Of course, it all remains to be seen how the drives performs in the real world, so keep an eye out for a hands on soon.
Lindsay traveled to Seoul as a guest of Samsung.