The future – for SSDs, working through the PCI Express bus using NVMe protocol. And it’s not just our opinion, talking about it all the industry leaders. For example, the company Samsung, which at the recent conference SSD Global Summit 2016 published the astonishing figures showing that now the structure of the company’s supply for every two SATA hard drives, there is one PCIe SSD. Of course, this ratio is largely due to large-scale Samsung OEM-contracts, for example, it provides drives for Apple computers, which have long been used only PCIe SSD. Nevertheless, the general trend, albeit with some advance, it reflects. And even more than that: in the next year as the Samsung predicts, shipments of its PCIe-drive models for the first time will exceed supply with SATA interface. In other words, the company will have a very abrupt change in consumer preferences, to the point that within a few years the demand for the PCIe-drives will at times exceed the demand for SATA SSD.

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And in general is very easy to believe in such prospects. The SATA interface is outdated, and there can be no doubt. It has been developed for mechanical hard drives, SSD does not consider the specifics and significantly limits their performance. In fact, the speed of SATA-drives growth is not observed for several years, and this is due primarily to the fact that their speed is limited to SATA-interface, which not only does not give increases throughput, but also prevents parallel processing of commands and reduce latencies. The bus is a PCI Express protocol imposed on it NVMe all these deficiencies deprived. Even in this embodiment, when the media needs to be used four lines PCI Express 3.0, the bandwidth can be up to 3.9 GB / s, which is – at least six times greater than the offer SATA familiar interface 3.1

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In addition, the Samsung optimistic about the PCIe SSD is supported by the fact that all the necessary infrastructure for them has already been created and the industry has come to a tacit approval of the uniform format NVMe-drives: M.2. The corresponding slots with support for the necessary interfaces to the hardware and software level, now available in almost any modern Intel development platforms. Even AMD is that over the past few years has lagged behind the technological progress, is preparing to implement support for PCIe-drives in their prospective processors Zen. In other words, there are no obstacles to the implementation of a new generation of SSD in the mass of the system is not present, and then only to ensure that the new standard fell like a mass user.

In fact, the restriction remains only one thing – the price level. Today PCIe-drives are positioned as premium products with a value significantly higher than the cost of SATA SSD. However, this obstacle must disappear in the next few months, as soon as NVMe-drives come cheap TLC 3D NAND. The first step in this direction has already been made Intel with its novelty 600p, but finally erase the distinction between economic past and new generations of SSD Samsung plans itself, which produced very promising by the ratio of performance and price novelty – 960 EVO

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But today we will talk about a slightly different product Samsung – drive the PRO 960, which is the mass segment, in general, is not targeted. The objective of the new items in the other – to secure for South Korea’s status as a leader in the field of manufacture of high-performance SSD and build on the success achieved by the previous PCIe-flagship of 950 the PRO . It would seem, why Samsung needed to prepare the replacement of the already successful 950 PRO? This model and to this day remains the fastest SSD for PCs, but the receiver could surpass any of its competitors. However, as explained by representatives of the company, the development of PRO 960 began not so much because of any strategic considerations, but because of the intra-corporate makeovers. After all, how is it: the bandwidth used in the 950 PRO interface almost 4 GB / s and drive squeezes a 2.5 GB / s? Disorder! And 960 PRO – is a second attempt samsungovskih engineers reveal all the benefits of PCI Express and NVMe if not the maximum, but at least more fully

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And at the same time the release of 960 PRO manufacturer decided and a number of side, but nevertheless still significant problems for yourself: expanded range of offerings NVMe-capacity drives 1-2 terabytes, updated memory used by the third generation of MLC 3D V-NAND 48 layers and increased the declared resource consumer SSD up to the peta-scale values. What happened in the end, we’ll see in this review.

Specifications

Despite the fact that between the Samsung 960 PRO and its predecessor – only a small difference in the model room, the architecture of these drives varies almost everything. It remained unchanged only the format and method of connection – M.2-card with interface PCI Express 3.0 x4, working on NVMe-protocol. The rest of us to a brand new SSD.

First, the Samsung 960 PRO uses a new controller – Polaris. Compared to the triple-core chip UBX, which underlies the 950 PRO, the new controller is significantly increased computing performance. Now he combines as many as five cores with ARM architecture, with one of them allocated exclusively for work with the host. As a result, the peak power increased almost threefold, and drives 960 PRO series were able to develop the capacity of up to 440,000 IOPS when reading and up to 330,000 IOPS – when recording

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Контроллер Samsung Polaris

The controller Samsung Polaris

Second, Samsung PRO 960 has moved to a new kind of memory. The 950 PRO used 32-layer MLC 3D V-NAND of the second generation, a new drive is installed as 48-layer MLC 3D V-NAND third generation. Curiously, the 960 PRO is the first consumer drive, which got this memory, and up to now we have dealt only with the third generation of Samsung three-dimensional memory cell trёhbitovoy. But it is – only positive change, because the new MLC 3D V-NAND in comparison with the second generation of MLC-memory not only has increased the speed, but also boasts a high storage density, which allows to build compact M.2-drives the previously unattainable volume. Capacity crystals MLC 3D V-NAND third generation has doubled and reached 256 Gb, resulting in a series of 960 PRO with storage volumes appeared, crossed the terabyte mark.

Third, significantly changed and algorithms drive. The Samsung 950 PRO to increase the recording speed of the active use dynamic caching technology SLC-when data is initially written to the memory in a fast one-bit mode, and only then, in moments of idle drive, is their reorganization. The new Samsung 960 PRO need for such tricks not. High power Polaris controller and sufficient bandwidth MLC 3D V-NAND third generation allows to get a good write speed when accessing memory in a conventional two-bit mode.

As a result, characteristics of the Samsung 960 PRO look really impressive.

Manufacturer

the Samsung

Series

960 the PRO

The model number

MZ-V6P512

MZ-V6P1T0

MZ- V6P2T0

Form factor

M.2 2280

interface

PCI Express 3.0 x4 – NVMe

capacity, GB

512

1024

2048

The configuration of

The memory chips are: the type of interface, process technology, the manufacturer

Samsung 256-Gbps 48-layer MLC 3D V-NAND

memory chips: the number / amount of NAND-devices on a chip

4/4

4/8

4/16

controller

Samsung Polaris

buffer: type, amount of

LPDDR3-1600,
512MB

LPDDR3-1600,
1 GB

LPDDR3-1600,
2GB

Performance

Max. sustained sequential read speed, MB / s

3500

3500

3500

Max. sustained sequential write speed, MB / s

2100

2100

2100

Max. random read speed (blocks of 4 Kbytes), IOPS

330 000

440 000

440 000

Max. speed random write (blocks of 4 Kbytes), IOPS

330 000

360 000

360 000

Physical characteristics

power consumption: inactivity / read-write, W

0.04 / 5.8

MTBF (mean time Between failures), ppm

1.5

resource records, TB

400

800

1200

dimensions: L × H × D mm

80.15 × 22.15 × 2.38

Weight g

9

Warranty period, years

5

Recommended price (USA / Russia)

$ 329
22.99 thousand rubles.

$ 629
44 490 rubles.

$ 1299
89 990 rub.

According to the speed, which declares the Samsung, 960 PRO – is a consumer NVMe SSD with the highest possible performance in today’s day. Moreover, the level of benefits, as can be seen from the following table, does not leave any chances to competing products.

Intel SSD 750

Plextor M8Pe

Patriot Hellfire M.2

the Samsung 950 the PRO

the Samsung 960 the PRO

Toshiba OCZ RD400

Available capacity, GB

400, 800, 1200

128, 256, 512, 1024

240, 480

256, 512

512, 1024, 2048

128, 256, 512, 1024

Form factor

the PCIe -card, 2.5 inch (u.2)

M.2, PCIe-card (adapter)

M.2

M.2

M.2

M.2, PCIe-card (adapter )

interface

PCI Express 3.0 x4

PCI Express 3.0 x4

PCI Express 3.0 x4

PCI Express 3.0 x4

PCI Express 3.0 x4

PCI Express 3.0 x4

Protocol

NVMe

NVMe

NVMe

NVMe

NVMe

NVMe

sequential read speed (max.), MB / s

2400

2500

2700

2500

3500

2600

The speed sequential recording (max. ), MB / s

1200

1400

2200

1500

2100

1600

random read speed (max.), IOPS

440 000

280 000

130 000

300 000

440 000

210 000

The rate of accidental recording (max.), IOPS

290 000

240 000

210 000

110 000

360 000

140 000

Warranty, years

5

5

3

5

5

5

However, the need to have one caveat in mind. In most practical real loads SSD speed depends not only on peak performance, which so love to flaunt manufacturers as of speed, which is obtained at a low depth of the request queue. And on this indicator increase in the Samsung 960 PRO compared to its predecessor is not so great, and promised only at the level of 10-15 percent.

However, to compare PRO 950 and PRO 960 directly is not quite true: they have different and almost no intersecting volume line. While previous flagship store existed only in versions of 256 and 512 GB, the new product was a distinct shift towards increased capacity with associated setting a new record – 2TB. Yes, Samsung engineers were able to place on-board miniature M.2 area of ​​19 cm 2 as much as 2 terabytes of flash memory. And this achievement is especially impressive when you consider that even the older modification of PRO 960 has a single-sided design. No other manufacturers M.2-capacity drives such offer is not able in any way, and therefore 960 PRO is unique not only in performance but also in terms of capacity. Take the line dvuhterabaytny Samsung has managed thanks to two factors: the transition to a two-bit V-NAND third generation with a capacity of 256 Gbit crystals (32 GB) and the ability to be stacked in a single chip to sixteen of these crystals

.

However, with the advent of in the line 960 PRO versions 1 and 2 GB and has increased the minimum amount. Junior Representative received capacity of 512 GB, and produce smaller Samsung has no plans to modify. Interestingly, what has been done so not on architectural and for marketing reasons. Composed of MLC 3D V-NAND third-generation 256-gigabyte array has a sufficient level of concurrency, and such a model could be quite viable. This, for example, indicates the existence of a fellow OEM-960 PRO such capacity – Samsung SM961 drive 256 GB. But Samsung has considered that, in the flagship series offers the consumer with a price below $ 300 should not be, and this segment will close NVMe-line of the lower level, the EVO 960, which will appear later.

However, it is fair to point out that the Samsung 960 PRO – are not fabulously expensive drive. The unit cost of a gigabyte, which is inherent in the new product, even better than at present terabyte NVMe market M.2-drives Toshiba RD400 and Plextor M8Pe . However, when compared with the massive 960 PRO SATA SSD, it is roughly twice as much.

Nevertheless, there definitely pay for it. Samsung 960 PRO is fundamentally superior to all consumer SATA SSD model not only in speed and capacity, but also a resource.

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