The Samsung 990 Pro is expected to be the popular successor. 980 proThis is poised to be the fastest drive we’ve tested and SK Hynix Platinum P41 and the Western Digital (WD) SN850XInitially available in 1TB and 2TB for $169 and $289 respectively, the 990 Pro will also come in a 4TB model next year. The 990 Pro with a bare or RGB heatsink uses Samsung’s new Pascal controller and new V7 TLC NAND flash, a combination that makes it faster and more efficient.
The 990 Pro comes with other Samsung features such as software support and encryption options with the updated Magician application. This drive is designed to fit a wide range of devices, from desktops to laptops to PlayStation 5 (PS5) consoles. The 990 Pro is Samsung’s new top-end consumer PCIe 4 SSD, best SSD In terms of performance, and according to our tests, it does.
Samsung 990 Pro specs
|Price | With HS||$169.99 | $189.99||$289.99 | $309.99||none|
|form factor||M.2 2280||M.2 2280||M.2 2280|
|interface/protocol||PCIe 4.0 x 4||PCIe 4.0 x 4||PCIe 4.0 x 4|
|controller||samsung pascal||samsung pascal||samsung pascal|
|flash memory||176-layer V-NAND TLC||176-layer V-NAND TLC||176-layer V-NAND TLC|
|random read||Up to 1.2M||Up to 1.4M||Up to 1.4M|
|random write||up to 1.55 million||up to 1.55 million||up to 1.55 million|
|safety||TCG/Opal 2.0||TCG/Opal 2.0||TCG/Opal 2.0|
|Part number | With HS||MZ-V9P1T0BW | MZ-V9P1T0CW||MZ-V9P2T0BW | MZ-V9P2T0CW||MZ-V9P4T0BW | MZ-V9P4T0CW|
|Height | With HS||2.30mm | 8.20mm||2.30mm | 8.20mm||2.30mm | 8.20mm|
|guarantee||5 years||5 years||5 years|
The Samsung 990 Pro will come in 1 TB and 2 TB capacities at launch. 4TB model coming in 2023. It’s nice to see a higher capacity option from Samsung. The 990 Pro promises up to 7450/6900 MBps, sequential read and write, and up to 1.4 million/1.55 million read and write IOPS. It’s competitive and outperforms the previous generation 980 Pro in all respects, but promises higher numbers than the SK hynix Platinum P41 and WD SN850X.
The Samsung 990 Pro supports TCG Opal encryption (a feature not supported by many consumer SSDs) and offers 600 TB of guaranteed writes per TB of capacity. Endurance ratings follow the largely unrelated JEDEC JESD218 standard. In any case, the TBW rating is no exception, but should be sufficient for the drive’s intended use.
Samsung has taken a page out of the WD SN850X playbook to offer variants of each capacity with heatsinks and RGB. It looks like his 4TB model also has this option, which the SN850X didn’t have. So the Platinum P41 is probably a little less appealing due to the lack of heatsink variants. The Samsung 990 Pro heatsink complies with the PCI-SIG D8 standard. That means it’s less than 8.8mm tall and fits a variety of devices, including the PS5.
The Samsung 990 Pro will launch at $169.99 for 1TB and $289.99 for 2TB. The heatsink and RGB add an additional $20 to each price, which matches the premium of the SN850X. His one complaint we had about the SN850X was that its launch price was too high. This has changed significantly since then. Samsung also put a hefty suggested retail price on the launch of his T7 Shield, but the drive never actually sold at the launch price. Therefore, the 990 Pro is expected to be discounted. This is reasonable given the current actual prices of our direct competitors.
Samsung 990 Pro software and accessories
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Samsung released version 7.2 of its Magician storage software on October 4, ahead of the release of the 990 Pro. This software allowed him RGB control of the heatsink version of the drive. It also enables data migration and provides diagnostics, firmware updates, and driver updates. Other features such as PSID Revert to perform secure erase and unlock encrypted drives are also present.In general, Samsung’s SSD software for him is the industry standard.
The software also has a performance optimization panel that allows full performance mode. This is reminiscent of his WD’s original game mode, which effectively disabled low power states. In our tests, we benchmarked both with “full power mode” on and off.
Learn more about Samsung 990 Pro
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The 990 Pro has an extraordinary look with labels on both the front and back that provide basic drive information. A heat spreader back label helps reduce the load temperature. Under the top label are two NAND packages, a DRAM package, and a controller. The controller is nickel-plated for better heat dissipation, but the 990 Pro also uses Samsung’s Dynamic Thermal Guard (DTG) to improve thermal consistency. We saw this on the 980 Pro, but it’s also similar to the SN850X’s adaptive thermal management feature. The technology isn’t new, but it could be useful for gaming workloads.
The Samsung 990 Pro has a new controller Pascal as the successor to Elpis on the 980 Pro. Pascal is manufactured on Samsung’s 8nm process node and is still ARM-based. Although on the surface it doesn’t look like much difference between the controllers, Pascal’s performance specs are significantly higher. Samsung says this is due to optimized NAND data paths through “hardware automation technology” and faster processing times through “caching algorithms.” When asked about the changes, Samsung said the architecture is intended for more effective low-power mode coverage and can take advantage of read caching.
Hardware automation includes the storage data path, which is the data flow from the host interface to flash. As SSDs scale up to higher levels of parallelism with more complex addressing, IOPS bottlenecks start to occur. Hardware automation helps solve these problems, and also provides power savings that become more important as drives get faster. One example is hardware accelerated flash map management. This can improve IOPS versus software managing the Flash Translation Layer (FTL), which translates between physical and logical memory addresses. I/O queues and data transfers also benefit from faster speeds. Apart from this, improvements in firmware concurrency also improve garbage collection/scheduling, similar to Phison’s I/O+ firmware.
Volatile memory like SRAM is used by the controller to cache mapping information and buffer and commit data to non-volatile NAND flash, thus optimizing algorithms to improve overall performance You can. Write performance often benefits more from such advancements, but changes may also be relevant to DirectStorage. Some manufacturers such as Solidigm have also decided to introduce a form of caching that keeps certain data in cache via its dedicated NVMe driver. In that case, knowledge of the type of data and how it is used (metadata) can improve performance through intelligent caching. Samsung didn’t elaborate on what “read cache” means, but it’s not uncommon for him to keep some hot data on the pSLC to improve future reads.
A typical caching algorithm is Least Recently Used (LRU), where recently accessed data is removed from the full cache first. Such algorithms are constrained when they do not consider spatial locality, i.e. knowledge of neighboring or nearby memory locations. More complex algorithms inevitably increase FTL overhead and can create performance bottlenecks. Certain improvements in the controller can improve maximum IOPS by offloading or automating some of this work. This may result in lower latency in general, but the full benefit is unlikely to be realized on consumer devices.
Samsung has certainly made progress with their controllers, but other components are more familiar.The memory or DRAM is Samsung’s LPDDR4, which is used in many SSD products. This saves a little more power than traditional DDR. This module is 2GB in size, matching 2TB of flash in an ideal ratio. The 1TB model is expected to be 1GB. The power components are also Samsung standard. Compared to the 980 Pro, the promised power savings are expected to come from the new flash and controller optimizations.
The flash package is labeled K9DVGY8JRD-DCK0, which indicates it is Samsung’s 176-layer TLC NAND. On the 2TB SKU, this flash has his 512Gb die denoted by a ‘V’, while on his upcoming 4TB he may need a 1Tb ‘X’ die. This is V7 of Samsung’s V-NAND nomenclature, explored in detail at ISSCC 2021. Samsung showed off its 8th generation TLC at this year’s ISSCC, but recent trends in the flash market have seen manufacturers generally fall into a holding pattern when it comes to production. of upper layer flash. In any case, this is the first time we’ve seen this flash which is a direct upgrade to the V6 128 layer TLC found in the 980 Pro.
Samsung has made many improvements in this generation of flash. Most important is the use of a 4-plane design and a Cell-on-Periphery (COP) implementation. More planes means more parallelism which at least translates to higher bandwidth. COP is similar to Micron’s CMOS-under-Array (CUA), but this is the first time Samsung has utilized such technology. This includes keeping the control circuitry away from the peripherals or sides of the array. This greatly improves power efficiency and also reduces die surface area by placing the peripheral circuitry below the data cell array.
Placing this circuit below the array caused some problems for Samsung which they solved using an innovative capacitor design. As a result, less surface area is required and power delivery is improved. Samsung also uses a dual scheme termination approach that improves power efficiency when full I/O speed is not required. This should help support Samsung’s claim that using a low-power-aware architecture has improved power efficiency.
Samsung is the only manufacturer that has been able to avoid string stacking, which is the use of multiple NAND array decks with higher flash layer counts. That approach has a lot of challenges, but it also doesn’t have to deal with fusion decks. Etching too many layers can increase the aspect ratio and, among other things, the level of voltage threshold deviation between cells in different layers. Using more layers in the same space effectively reduces cell capacity, which can also impact performance and durability.
Samsung’s solution introduces an additional latch (a type of dynamic buffer similar to the page buffer) to solve this problem. The extra data is utilized in bit and wordline forcing schemes to generate sophisticated cell charge. Basically there is an extra verification stage to keep the bit values tighter. The maker could simply keep adding more decks (theoretically he could reach 800+ layers with that method), but it’s not without its own challenges. Samsung instead determined that 176-layer NAND offered the best balance of performance and power efficiency.
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