Samsung's been a busy body in the solid state drive market, and lest you thought the company would be content with its past successes and go into cruise control, think again. Just the opposite, Samsung's crazy-fast and delightfully capacious new 960 Pro and 960 Evo lines prove it's still very much interested in advancing the category.
Both come in the relatively newfangled gumstick sized M.2 form factor supporting the NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express) specification for fast speeds, high bandwidth, and low latency storage access. Where they differ is in the type of memory each one employs.
Similar to last year's 950 Pro line, the new 960 Pro series uses stacked 3D Vertical NAND (V-NAND) flash memory and a four lane PCIe 3.0 interface. The difference is that instead of 32-layer V-NAND, the 960 Pro uses 48-layer V-NAND, allowing for significantly more storage than last year's 950 Pro. According to Samsung, all three capacities—512GB, 1TB, and 2TB—can deliver up to 3,500MB/s of sequential read performance and up to 2,100MB/s of sequential writes.
The 512GB also features 512MB of DRAM cache and is rated to deliver up to 330,000 IOPS of 4K random read and write performance. DRAM cache is doubled to 1GB for the 1TB model, which bumps up 4K random read and write performance to 440,000 IOPS and 360,000 IOPS, respectively, while the 2TB model boasts 2GB of DRAM cache with the same read and write IOPS as the 1TB model.
To put those figures into perspective, the highest capacity (512GB) and fastest performing previous generation 950 Pro topped out at up to 2,500MB/s of sequential read, 1,500MB/s of sequential write, 300,000 IOPS of random read, and 110,000 IOPS of random write performance.
As for the 960 Evo, it also boasts a four lane PCIe 3.0 interface, but uses slower triple-level cell (TLC) memory chips and comes in 250GB, 500GB, and 1TB capacities. However, don't read slower to mean slow, because the 960 Evo line is anything but. All three capacities are rated to deliver up to 3,200MB/s of sequential read performance, also besting the previous generation 950 Pro.
Both the 250GB and 500GB models have 512MB of DRAM cache, while the 1TB model has 1GB. Samsung lists sequential writes of 1,500MB/s (250GB), 1,800MB/s (500GB), and 1,900MB/s (1TB). 4K random read performance is rated at 330,000 IOPS for the 250GB and 500GB models, and 380,000 IOPS for the 1TB drive. Writes are listed at 300,000 IOPS (250GB), 330,000 IOPS (500GB), and 360,000 IOPS (1TB).
Finally, let's talk price. MSRPs are as follows:
- 960 Pro 2TB: $1,299
- 960 Pro 1TB: $629
- 960 Pro 512GB: $329
- 960 Evo 1TB: 479
- 960 Evo 500GB: $249
- 960 Evo 250GB: $129
Even with all the new speed and enhanced technology, prices are coming down. The 950 Pro 512GB for example costs $349, and 1TB and 2TB capacities didn't exist. The 960 Evo meanwhile is the first 'budget' NVMe drive to hit the scene. It's still about twice the cost of a good SATA drive, but performance is much higher.
Samsung says the new drives will be available in October.