The Global SSD Summit is currently in progress and Samsung has kicked it off with a bang, announcing the 960 PRO and 960 EVO M.2 drives. AnandTech has a great overview of the new drives, but basically they’re both smoking fast PCIe NVME drives, with the 960 PRO clocking in at 3500MB/s sequential read and 2100MB/s write while the 960 EVO comes in at “only” 3200MB/s read and 1900MB/s write.
The new drives feature the same Polaris controller (no relation to the recently released Radeons) as the OEM-oriented SM961 that preceded them. For NAND, they both feature Samsung’s new 48-layer V-NAND, with the PRO using MLC and the EVO using TLC. The PRO also ditches the 256GB capacity, and is only available in 512GB, 1TB, and 2TB. Having 2 Terabytes of ultra-fast compact storage is amazing, but I’m annoyed that Samsung if forcing a premium for it by not having a 2TB option for the 960 EVO, which should be easier to do since it’s TLC.
Much ado has been made about thermal throttling with these high-performance M.2 drives and to address these concerns, Samsung has taken a two-prong approach. First is the typical solution of increasing efficiency so there is less heat generated to begin with, but the second solution is pretty clever. The M.2 form factor was mainly intended for laptops, so a drive that properly conforms to the spec doesn’t have room for a traditional heatspreader, so Samsung has integrated a thin heatspreader layer into the sticker instead! According to AnandTech: “One Samsung engineer estimated that this sticker accounts for about 30% of the improved thermal performance.” While this won’t completely eliminate thermal throttling, it will hopefully reduce it enough that it won’t occur for the majority of real-world workloads.
Pricing is reasonable, with the 960 PRO 512GB coming in at $330 and the 960 EVO 500GB at $250. Availability is set for next month.
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