The first SSD with 96-layer NAND

The first SSD with 96-layer NAND

Samsung 970 EVO Plus NVMe M.2 SSD 250 GB detailed review

Samsung just refreshed their EVO line of SSDs with the introduction of the new Samsung 970 EVO Plus NVMe M.2 SSD. While multiple OEMs have been demonstrating 96-layer 3D NAND memory (WD, Toshiba and SK Hynix) for nearly a year, Samsung is said to be the first to market with the new chips. The Samsung 970 EVO Plus comes in 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB SKUs. The 2 TB SKU is coming later this year, in April. We’re reviewing the 250GB SKU today, so write speeds will be slower than the higher capacity SKUs. Nevertheless, here’s how it went.

Samsung 970 EVO Plus NVMe M.2 SSD Specifications

The specifications for all currently available SKUs can be found below. Details regarding the 2 TB SKU coming in April will be available much closer to launch. The 96-layer NAND we see in the Samsung 970 EVO Plus was announced last October. The Samsung Phoenix Controller is the same one we saw with the Samsung 970 EVO. However, the firmware has been modified to take full advantage of the new NAND chips.































Samsung 970 EVO Plus Specifications

Capacity

250GB

500 GB

1TB

interface

PCIe Gen 3.0 x4, NVMe 1.3

form factor

M.2 (2280) single sided

controller

Samsung Phoenix Controller

LPDDR4 DRAM

512MB

512MB

1GB

NAND flash

Samsung 96-layer 3D TLC

SLC cache min

4GB

4GB

6GB

SLC Cache Max

13GB

22GB

42 GB

Sequential Read

3500MB/s

3500MB/s

3500MB/s

Sequential writing

2300MB/s

3200MB/s

3300MB/s

Sequential writing

400MB/s

900MB/s

1700MB/s

4KB random read

QD1

17k IOPS

19k IOPS

19k IOPS

4KB random write

QD1

60k IOPS

60k IOPS

60k IOPS

4KB random read

QD32

250k IOPS

480k IOPS

600k IOPS

4KB random write

QD32

550k IOPS

550k IOPS

550k IOPS

Current

Read

5.0 W

5.5 W

5.5 W

To write

4.2 W

5.8W

6.0W

Inactive

30 mW

30 mW

30 mW

L1.2 Inactive

5 mW

5 mW

5 mW

encryption

AES 256, TCG Opal 2.0, IEEE 1667

Guarantee

5 years

5 years

5 years

MTBF

1.5 million hours

Write stamina

150TB

300TB

600TB

SLC cache

0.3 DWPD

0.3 DWPD

0.3 DWPD

Price (MSRP) (INR)

6479

9359

17999

Price per GB (INR)

25.92

18.72

18.00

This does mean that we will go for PCIe 3.0 for the 970 EVO Plus. It’s not like this SSD will exceed the bandwidth of the PCIe 3.0 standard, so there’s no need to move to PCIe 4.0. Unless, of course, there are other perks like latency improvements that boost performance. However, Samsung’s enterprise portfolio will see the move from PCIe 3.0 to PCIe 4.0.

You might be wondering why we don’t see a 96-layer NAND in the form of a PRO series SSD? Well, the Samsung PRO series usually uses the more durable MLC nand and as of now they are working on the second generation Z-NAND which is more likely to end up in the PRO series. We have no information on when that will be launched. With the TLC based SSDs offering 3500MB/s read speeds, we are very interested to see what the next generation PRO SSDs have to offer.

Performance

Samsung provided the 250 GB SKU, which is the lowest SKU and most sought after in the market. Unfortunately, all other brands tend to offer the best SKU, which is generally 960GB or 1TB for our benchmarks. This puts the new Samsung 970 EVO Plus behind in our benchmarks. We believe that the 1TB SKU of the 970 EVO Plus would perform much better, as is the case with all SSDs.

Our test rig has been upgraded to keep up with the times and new Windows releases. This means that all of our legacy scores are not comparable, especially considering that CPU performance has increased by a significant margin. This is what we’re running right now.

Processor – Intel Core i9 9900K
CPU Cooler – Corsair H115i RGB PLATINUM
Motherboard – ASUS ROG MAXIMUS X HERO
RAM – 2x 8GB G.Skill Trident Z Royal 3200MHz
SSD – Corsair MP510
Power Supply – Corsair HX1050

We’ll start by running a mixed workload that’s more like what an SSD would encounter on a daily basis. We see that the older Samsung 970 EVO delivers much better performance in mixed workloads of randomized read and write runs.

Random execution

Here we see that the Samsung 970 EVO Plus 250GB is comparable to the other drives currently on the market. Bursty workloads generally have similar numbers for all controllers. There is always the generational improvement. Here the read speeds are around 50 MB/s, while the write speeds were comparable to the older 970 EVO 1TB.

In sustained 4K workloads with short queues, the performance of the 970 Evo Plus doubles compared to the previous workload. However, the older 970 EVO 1TB is better with faster write speeds.

Sequential execution

This is where the 250 GB SKU’s capacity handicap rears its ugly head. We see that the 970 EVO Plus has the fastest read speeds of the competition, but has about half the write performance. The only other drive to share in his business is Intel’s 760p. Bursty workloads are a bit forgiving and won’t give you the absolute max you’re capable of. That’s where the next chart comes in.

Due to the reading speeds of the Samsung 970 EVO Plus, it is clearly ahead of the competition. Write speeds are handicapped again, but not the worst of them all. Looking at the 970 EVO 1TB and the Corsair MP510, we can only assume that write speeds would exceed 2000MB/s on the 1TB SKU.

Energy consumption

The Samsung 970 EVO Plus consumes a lot of power while running, as is the case with most high-performance drives. Phison-based SSDs tend to be more conservative, but performance often drops as well. Newer Phison-based SSDs change this for the better. In terms of idle power consumption, the 970 EVO Plus matches its predecessor, the 970 EVO.

Samsung 970 EVO Plus verdict

Because this isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison due to the significant difference in capacity, it’s hard for us to see the benefit that the 96-layer 3D NAND brings to the table. All our benchmarks are run with 1TB or 2TB SSDs, while the unit sent to us by Samsung was a 250GB SKU, putting it at a disadvantage. Despite its obvious handicap, the 970 EVO Plus matches its predecessor in certain benchmarks, especially when it comes to read speeds. With regard to write speeds, we can’t say for sure. At Rs.25/GB, the Samsung 970 EVO Plus is a good mid-range SSD.

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