At the 2015 Samsung SSD Global Summit, Samsung has introduced its latest SSD product, the 950 PRO SSD. This new storage product will come only in the M2 form-factor which allows its use in select thin laptops in addition. There’s also support for PCIe 3.0 which ensures optimum drive performance. The good news is that the performance improvement is mind-boggling.
Already in service with the Samsung 850 PRO SSD, V-NAND (Vertical NAND) is a denser type of memory that relies on a 3D silicon design. The main goal is to increase the storage capacity per square millimeter, and it worked beautifully, so Samsung continues to build on this technology. Fundamentally, V-NAND is an all-around win when compared to traditional NAND memory technology. It offers a 2X performance boost, reduces power consumption by 50% and prolong the lifetime of the memory products by up to 10X (theoretically).
PCIe 3.0 + NVMe
Once it is established that the basic building block is fast, accessing it becomes critical. For a long time, SSDs have been using legacy disk protocols like SATA. Huge gains were made in terms of seek time and random access because of the disappearance of physical reading heads. However, the bandwidth was limited by legacy protocols and buses.
SSDs are so fast that PCIe Gen. 3 X4 (PCI Express), the bus traditionally used for graphics cards, has become the preferred connector for ultra-fast IO systems. The new Samsung 950 PRO SSD supports PCIe 3.0, but also supports NVMe (NVM Express), a combination that was previously dominated by Intel’s SSD products. Consumers will be the winner of increased competition in that market segment. NVM stands for Non-Volatile Memory.
NVMe is a software protocol designed to procure maximum performance from SSD sub-systems connected via PCIe. It’s a standard written with modern storage and CPUs in mind. It relies on concurrency and multithreading to ensure peak performance by using resources simultaneously whenever is possible.
Older standard like SATA or AHCI were written with the assumption that a mechanical drive would ultimately limit the throughput. This is no longer true, obviously.
Performance: out of this world
The theoretical performance bump is huge. On paper, Samsung’s new SSD is 4.5X and 2.8X faster in read/write speeds (sequential performance), when compared to the 850 SSD PRO, which was last year’s top product.
The numbers are confirmed by running the CrystalMark synthetic disk speed benchmark.
PCMark7 and PCMark Vantage numbers further confirm the real-world performance. With scores of 16103 and 294518, the 950 PRO SSD goes well beyond the 850 PRO scores of 8222 and 92468 respectively. compare this with your favorite SSD drive’s scores and you should be pleasantly surprised.
The 950 PRO SSD will be launched in 256GB ($199.99) and 512GB ($349.99) versions. We’re not sure what the theoretical performance of the 256GB model is (probably the same), but we do know that the 512GB version should top 2500/1500 MB/s in read/write performance and 300k/110k IOPS (read/write)
Samsung hasn’t provided much detail beyond this, but we expect this new 950 PRO SSD to support Samsung software like RAPID (RAM cache), Dynamic thermal guard, Samsung Data Migration (handy to clone an old SSD) and Magician, a management interface that provides key SSD health information and makes firmware updates easy. Samsung has confirmed that the new Magician version is pretty much ready to go.
The importance of good SSD tools should not be underestimated, and if you want to learn more, I urge you to read our Samsung 850 PRO 256GB review, which will give you an excellent lay of the land, while we’re working on the 950 PRO SSD review.