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Jan 25 2018

Samsung Launches New Consumer-Grade SSDs


When it comes to popularizing solid-state disks (SSDs), few companies can (and will) claim they played a larger or comparably pivotal role in the effort than the Korean electronics giant. Earlier this week, the company launched the Samsung 860 PRO and EVO models (pictured above) as upgrades of their successful 850 lines of SATA SSDs, which premiered two and a half years ago.

According to the official press release, the new drives "combine the latest 512Gb and 256Gb 64-layer V-NAND, up to 4GB LPDDR4 mobile DRAM and a new MJX controller to elevate the user experience for both consumers and businesses," as opposed to the 32- and 48-layer V-NAND memory cell stacks available in earlier generations. As a result of this and a few other tweaks, the Samsung 860 PRO and EVO store twice as much data as their predecessors and offer much higher endurance. Technical specifications for both drive types are as follows:

  • The Samsung 860 PRO is a 2.5-inch SSD equipped with 2-bit MLC flash cells and Samsung's new MJX controller that allegedly "enables faster communication with the host system" and should be "powerful enough to handle workstation storage" while also providing greater Linux compatibility. The drive comes at five capacity points, ranging from 256 GB to a full 4 TB; sequential read and write speeds are said to reach 560/530 MB/s, whereas random reads and writes clock in at 100,000 and 90,000 IOPS, respectively. While speed gains are only marginal, endurance (measured in Total Bytes Written) is up to 16 times higher than that of the Samsung 850 PRO – the 4 TB model will sustain up to 4,800 TB or 4.8 PB (!) in total writes, compared to a mere 300 TB offered by its 2 TB predecessor. With characteristics like that, it's obviously geared towards professional and enterprise users who need fast, reliable and capacious storage media with prime longevity.
  • The Samsung 860 EVO is available in three form factors; along with the 2.5 inch standard SATA model, Samsung will also ship mSATA and M.2 versions of the drive. As a typical consumer-grade device, the 860 EVO uses TLC (triple-level cell) flash and a regular storage controller. As with the PRO edition, there are five capacity points for the standard SSD, starting a little lower at 250 GB and maxing out at 4 TB, while the M.2 and mSATA models offer four (between 250 GB and 2 TB) and three (between 250 GB and 1 TB), respectively. At 550/520 MB/s and 98,000/90,000 IOPS, sequential and random read and write speeds are insignificantly lower than those of the PRO edition. However, the EVOs will 'only' last half as long as their counterparts: Samsung says that endurance of the 4 TB drive amounts to 2,400 TB/2.4 PB (which still increases the number of total writes by a factor of 16 compared to the 150 TB of the previous generation). Given this feature set, the new EVOs is perfect for home users with large photo and/or video libraries, offering storage space for up to 114.5 hours of 4K UHD video.

Somewhat counterintuitive to these improvements, Samsung has unified the warranty periods for the new drive families – these now expire after 5 years or 4,800/2,400 terabytes written, whichever happens first. Customers may also want to take into account that endurance varies according to capacity, meaning that smaller SSDs will digest lower numbers in total writes.

The first EVO models will ship within the next 10 days, with the PRO variants following in the first full week of February. Pricing starts at $95 for the 250 GB EVO and maxes out at $1,900 for the 4 TB PRO edition; retailers in the Eurozone will charge around €90 (incl. VAT) for the smallest consumer-grade drive.


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