Technology News The Samsung 980 PRO PCIe 4.0 SSD Review: A Spirit of Hope – AnandTech

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It will very effectively be rather later than initially deliberate, but Samsung’s first user SSD to boost PCIe 4.0 is here. The Samsung 980 PRO modified into as soon as first previewed at CES in January, but we didn’t hear one thing additional till leaks began exhibiting against the finish of summer season. Now the 980 PRO is decided to kick off a brand unusual wave of PCIe 4.0 SSD releases. These unusual adjustments are per chance the most important adjustments to Samsung’s PRO SSD line since the debut of its first NVMe pressure.

As we march onto an global where PCIe 4.0 goes to initiate being provided to the broad majority of shoppers in all segments of computing, the transfer is on to have the ability to permit toughen for these unusual requirements. Benefits akin to elevated peak lumber, or diminished energy consumption, are obvious vital specs that PCIe 4.0 brings to the table, and thus having optimized products to protect company with it has continually been the case as unusual generations trump the suggested. Samsung’s first PCIe 4.0 x4 offering for customers is the 980 PRO, a series of M.2 drives with capacities up to 2.0 TB. 

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These unusual drives characteristic the most modern in Samsung’s controller scheme, but additionally mark the change from 2-bit cells to three-bit cells for the Pro line of drives. This creates adjustments for elevated capability and diminished impress, and attributable to Samsung’s controller know-how the lower theoretical endurace shall we request of with TLC is tranquil covered by the guarantee. Samsung’s Pro line of storage drives glean continually been designed to impress, continually being in the better echelons for efficiency for the market. Right here’s what we’re here to test on this overview.

Samsung 980 PRO SSD Specifications
Skill250 GB500 GB1 TB2 TB
InterfacePCIe 4 x4, NVMe 1.3c
Develop PartM.2 2280 Single-sided
ControllerSamsung Elpis
NANDSamsung 128L 3D TLC

Write Cache Dimension
Max49 GB94 GB114 GB
Sequential Read6400 MB/s6900 MB/s7000 MB/s
Sequential WriteSLC2700 MB/s5000 MB/s5000 MB/s
TLC500 MB/s1000 MB/s2000 MB/s
Random Read

IOPS (4kB)
Random Write

IOPS (4kB)
Active StrengthRead5.0 W5.9 W6.2 W
Write3.9 W5.4 W5.7 W
Idle StrengthAPST35 mW
L1.25 mW
Write Persistence150 TB

0.3 DWPD
300 TB

0.3 DWPD
600 TB

0.3 DWPD
1200 TB

0.3 DWPD
Guarantee5 years
Beginning MSRP$89.99




This present day we are attempting out the 250 GB and 1 TB fashions, representing the present minimal and maximum of what’s on supply. The two TB model is decided to easily about retail at a later date, at the side of its respective specs.

Two Waves of PCIe 4.0 Storage: Wave One

AMD kicked off the transition to PCIe 4.0 final year with the release of their Zen 2 family of CPUs. This began the first part of PCIe 4.0 SSDs, beginning with Phison.

Phison modified into as soon as the handiest SSD controller dealer ready with a PCIe 4.0 resolution at the time; its E16 controller has loved over a year on the market as the handiest probability for user PCIe 4.0 SSDs. We’re reported lots about it as effectively. However the Phison E16 modified into as soon as rather of a rushed scheme, with at least adjustments to their highly winning E12 controller to permit PCIe 4.0 toughen. That left the E16 with some famous shortcomings: it handiest presents rather of more peak bandwidth provided by the give a boost to to PCIe 4.0, and the additional efficiency comes with a bunch of additional energy consumption. The remainder of the SSD change decided to determine on the PCIe 4.0 transition device more slowly, preparing more faded controller designs to be manufactured on smaller job nodes that can present the efficiency vital to make exhaust of the fat lumber of a PCIe 4.0 x4 hyperlink whereas staying interior the thermal and energy constraints of a M.2 pressure.

The total vital gamers in the SSD controller market were preparing for this second wave of Gen4 drives, but Samsung is making the first transfer on this spherical. The 980 PRO introduces the unusual Samsung Elpis controller, constructed on their 8nm job and designed to double the peak efficiency provided by PCIe Gen3 SSDs.

Wave Two Begins With Samsung

As well to the unusual Elpis controller, the 980 PRO introduces a brand unusual generation of 3D NAND flash memory from Samsung. Officially, Samsung is not always disclosing the layer depend, but they’ve claimed it be 40% more than their old generation which modified into as soon as 92L, so this needs to be 128L 3D NAND. Samsung is not always the first to market with 128L NAND (SK hynix by not up to a month), but it completely shows that layer counts are rising and capability needs to be as effectively.

Historically, the PRO line of SSDs exhaust about a of Samsung’s quickest and most durable NAND readily available – here is what presents the products the PRO name. This time around, Samsung is changing issues to serve develop its Pro line buyer sinister – Samsung is leaving at the abet of the exhaust of the two bit per cell (MLC) memory that has been the hallmark of the PRO product traces, and with the 980 PRO, Samsung is lastly switching to three bit per cell (TLC) NAND flash memory. This change is not unprecedented: Samsung has been almost fully by myself in their continued exhaust of two-bit MLC NAND. By comparability, the relaxation of the SSD change (user and accomplishing) has moved from MLC to TLC, even on the forefront designs. 

The historical reasoning for deciding on MLC NAND over TLC NAND has continually boiled down to two vital factors: MLC tends to be sooner, and it has greater write patience. TLC NAND could very effectively be slower than MLC NAND in overall, but that does not imply that TLC SSDs must be slower than MLC SSDs. The efficiency advantages of MLC NAND for user exhaust were vastly diminished by the universal adoption of SLC write caching on TLC SSDs, and the pattern against greater SLC caches. Until a user goes effectively beyond the SLC cache, a TLC pressure with an SLC cache is noticably more preferable from a capability standpoint than an MLC pressure.

Write patience has continually been a actually remarkable assert to protect an watch on, but the SSD change has efficiently prevented it from becoming a severe assert for customers. Improved error correction and the primary advantages of 3D NAND over older planar NAND glean helped, but the perfect part has been the expansion of pressure capacities. The entire write patience of a SSD scales roughly linearly with its capability: a 2TB pressure can tackle about twice as many TB of writes over its lifespan as a 1TB pressure. On the opposite hand, user storage wants don’t grow in the same manner as accomplishing storage wants. When a user moves from a 512GB pressure to 1TB or 2TB, most of the additional capability that gets ragged is for moderately static records: photos, videos and video games that can not be modified all that continuously, and the truth is not various instances a day. 

The 980 PRO’s exhaust of TLC as a change of MLC could very effectively be the finish of an generation for SSDs, but it completely doesn’t basically mean that the pressure is not always noteworthy of the “PRO” name; the 980 PRO is tranquil very clearly at the excessive finish of the user market.

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In a complete lot of ways, this pressure can glean without problems been labeled the 980 EVO as a change for the 970 EVO Plus. Alongside with switching to TLC NAND, Samsung has lower the write patience rankings in half to 0.3 DWPD and dropped the usable capacities down to the same outdated TLC/EVO levels of 250/500/1000 GB as a change of 256/512/1024 GB. TLC manner the 980 PRO now depends on SLC caching for its peak write speeds, and write efficiency will drop considerably if the SLC cache is ever filled. On the opposite hand, Samsung has offset this by configuring the 980 PRO to make exhaust of considerably greater SLC cache sizes than their old EVO drives, and here is what’s going to give it the Pro name more than one thing.. MSRPs are additionally now remarkable lower, and similar to other TLC-primarily primarily based PCIe 4 SSDs.

The overall structure and search for of Samsung’s M.2 NVMe SSDs has modified miniature over the years even as the parts were upgraded. The Elpis controller is their second to characteristic a metal heatspreader on the controller equipment. Right here’s the third generation of drives to make exhaust of copper foil in the impress on the abet of the pressure as an additional heatspreader.

After the PCIe 4 toughen and 8nm fab job, the subsequent most important characteristic of the unusual Samsung Elpis is its toughen for 128 IO queues, up from 32 in the old Phoenix controller. Doubtlessly the most overall exhaust case for various IO queues on a NVMe SSD is for the OS to place one queue per CPU core, so as that no core-to-core synchronization is required for utility to put up unusual IO commands to the SSD. Now that CPU core counts glean grown effectively beyond 32, it’s miles excellent for Samsung to boost more queues—especially since these NVMe controllers are additionally ragged in Samsung’s entry-level accomplishing and datacenter NVMe SSDs.

Samsung Shopper/Consumer PCIe SSD Controller History
Section AmountS4LV003S4LR020S4LP077S4LN058S4LN053
Host InterfacePCIe 4.0 x4PCIe 3.0 x4PCIe 3.0 x4PCIe 3.0 x4PCIe 2.0 x4
Protocol Make strongerNVMe 1.3cNVMe 1.3NVMe 1.2NVMe 1.1

(or AHCI)
Preference of IO Queues12832781
Max Queue Dimension16384 (per queue)32
Fabrication Route of8nm14nm???
Retail Consumer

980 PRO970 PRO

970 EVO

970 EVO Plus
960 PRO

960 EVO
950 PRO(None)
Shopper OEM





The NVMe protocol hasn’t added any vital must-glean aspects since the model 1.1 ragged by the 950 PRO, but Samsung has maintained compliance with later versions and utilized about a of the unusual optionally available aspects. The 980 PRO doesn’t advertise compliance with the most modern NVMe 1.4 specification and as a change claims compliance with model 1.3c, but this has usually no excellent impact.

This Review

For presently’s overview, we’re focused namely on excessive-finish user SSDs. The drives to listen to to are:

  • Samsung 970 Pro (64L MLC)
  • Samsung 970 Evo (64L TLC)
  • Samsung 970 Evo Plus (92L TLC)
  • Any Phison E16 Force at PCIe 4.0, akin to Seagate FireCuda 520 (96L TLC) 
  • Any Phison E12 Force at PCIe 3.0, akin to Seagate FireCuda 510 (64L TLC)
  • Any Silicon Motion SM2262 PCIe 3.0 pressure, akin to Kingston KC2500
  • Diversified Flagships: WD Shaded SN750, Intel Optane 905P, SK hynix Gold P31

We’re additionally going so that you just can add in a PCIe 3.0 x8 accomplishing pressure, the Samsung PM1725a. The PM1725a is an intriguing change because it’s a 6.4TB excessive-finish accomplishing SSD that is about a years faded. It  has as remarkable PCIe bandwidth as unusual PCIe 4.0 x4 SSDs, but the PM1725a is tuned for accomplishing exhaust cases: its lack of SLC caching hurts peak write efficiency, but its read throughput is tranquil spectacular at over 6GB/s for sequential and over 1M IOPS for random reads. The downside is that it would require 20+ Watts to explain that more or much less efficiency. We are going to seek if the soar from PCIe 3.0×8 to PCIe4.0x4 of its hold makes it rate it.

As continually, comparisons in opposition to other drives will likely be made using our Bench utility.

Testing PCIe 4.0

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