April 20, 2021


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The debut is the Peak: Samsung 980PRO PCIE4.0 SSD Test

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Starting from SATA3.0 era, Samsung has been working in the two fields of product experience and technical innovation. Since 840EVO started its glory way for Samsung SATA3.0 era, there came 850EVO, 860EVO and 750EVO. Samsung established the dominance of SATA3.0 era with the only end-to-end integration technology.

In the emerging industries, almost all the competitors want to replace them all the time, and this is still true in the SSD industry. In the face of industrial competition, only continuous technological innovation and product iteration can break the game.

Samsung 980 pro

In 2015, Samsung carried its first consumer NVMe products Samsung 950 pro, opened the SSD industry and made the birth of a golden age — NVMe era. It also means Samsung brand began to establish a more comprehensive and scientific system of products, namely the mainstream and professional two blocks, and then in 2018 it began to work on Samsung QVO series products (namely 860 QVO / 870 QVO, its high capacity and high performance), Samsung sequence formed officially. QVO series, aimed at entry-level players and provides greater capacity and higher cost performance; While the EVO line of products meets the needs of mainstream users, the PRO is geared toward a more professional and feverish core audience.

With the advent of NVMe era, more manufacturers have seen the value and future prospects of SSD industry, and the competition within the industry has also become intense. From main control to flash memory, and then to the overall solution, it seems that there are more competitors in each segment. Facing this situation, Samsung storage shows its technological accumulation and profound heritage as an old big factory. Almost every year, it releases a series of products such as 960PRO/EVO, 970PRO/EVO and the epochal 970EVO Plus.Among them, Samsung 970EVO Plus, which was officially launched in 2019, is undoubtedly the most shining one. Because of its performance, it has become the peak performance and benchmark of NVMe interface in PCIE3.0 era. It is not only the flag of PCIE3.0 era, but also the end of PCIE3.0 era and the birth of a new generation.

Therefore, today in 2020, we have ushered in the PCIE4.0 technology era, the change of times means the industry changes, and Samsung is still maintaining the glory road of PCIE3.0 era, and even SATA3.0 era. On September 22nd, 2020, Samsung officially launched its first PCIE4.0 consumer solid-state drive — Samsung 980PRO PCIE4.0 NVMe SSD.In fact, compared to Samsung’s launch of PCIE4.0 SSD in September 2020, many competitors have already launched PCIE4.0 storage products at the beginning of 2020 and even in 2019, which stole the “PCIE4.0 debut”.

So, Facing the situation of many competitive products are already in advance, what technical advantages and outstanding product upgrade does Samsung 980PRO PCIE4.0 SSD have?

Before the formal evaluation, the author briefly summarized the technology and product innovation of the new generation Samsung 980PRO PCIE4.0 SSD from multiple dimensions such as technology and application, and then all these will be discussed one by one.

Hardware innovation, support PCIe 4.0 Elpis new master, sixth generation V-Nand flash particle, downward compatible with PCIE3.0. Overall huge performance improvement, 7000MB/S continuous performance, 4K random performance compared to PCIE 3.0 nearly 80% performance improvement The trinity of intelligent heat dissipation mechanism, the second generation of intelligent TurboWrite mechanism innovative technology. 5 years limited warranty, Samsung magic disk and other after-sales experience upgrades. Without further comment, let’s take a look at the arrival of the new king of PCIE4.0.

01 Hardware upgrade: New Elpis master + the sixth generation V-Nand new flash drive compatible with PCIE3.0 downward

As usual, take a look at the inside and outside structure of the Samsung 980PRO PCIE4.0 SSD.

Given the current maturity of the SSD industry in terms of interface and form, the new Samsung 980PRO PCIE4.0 SSD continues the 970EVO Plus series design, standard NVMe protocol M.2 interface, and single-chip PCB design in terms of appearance and interface.Only on the external sticker, labeled “980PRO,” will you be aware that it is an updated SSD.

Compared with the same appearance and interface, Samsung 980PRO PCIE4.0 SSD is a “new start” in the internal core components, from the main control chip, to the flash memory particles, achieving a 100 percent, complete overhaul.

Full support for PCIE4.0 protocol Elpis new master

In the aspect of master control, Samsung’s new master control designed for PCIE4.0 protocol, Elpis master control is adopted. Elpis is derived from Greek. From the name of the main control, we can feel Samsung’s high hopes and expectations for this 980PRO PCIE4.0 SSD.

On the technical level, the new Elpis master adopts the brand new 8nm manufacturing process developed by Samsung, fully supports PCIE4.0 protocol, and can meet the requirements of the next generation development and computing, etc. The new Elpis master supports 128 queues for parallel work and 128 I/O queues for data processing synchronously.Compared with the Phoenix master control of the previous generation, the number of queues (32 queues) has increased by about 400%. According to the data provided by Samsung, a single queue contains more than 64,000 command sets, which means that 128 queues inside the master control of Samsung Elpis can synchronously process up to more than 8 million commands. This performance is sufficient to meet the most demanding data storage requirements of most users, and will also meet the SSD master performance requirements in the PCIE4.0 era.

•The sixth generation of V-Nand flash particles

In terms of flash memory particles, as the TOP brand in the global flash memory industry, Samsung has always been at the leading level in the technology of flash memory particles. It is precisely based on the huge advantages in the research and development of flash memory particles that Samsung’s SSD storage products can always maintain the dominant position in the industry.

In 2013 Samsung launched the first 3D stacked which is the Samsung V-NAND technology. From then Samsung has been leading the world in technical research and development and application of 3D stack. Until 2018, when the tech is applied on Samsung EVO 970 Plus products of the fifth generation of 9x layer V-NAND, Samsung has achieved the technique of five iterations, from the early generation of 32 V-NAND to five generation 9x layer. Samsung SSD storage capacity of single die realized multiplication, the performance also has achieved the double;

Entering PCIE4.0 era, in order to further meet users’ demand for performance and capacity, Samsung again introduced a new of the sixth generation V-NAND particles. According to official introduction, the sixth generation V-NAND particles on the process technology, make full use of the Samsung original “channel hole etching technology, through the establishment of a composed of more than 100- layer conductive chip stack, and then from top to bottom vertical perforation, form a uniform three-dimensional charge trap flash (CTF) unit, so as to realize, in 9x layer based on the single stack structure increased about 40% of the storage unit.It is well known that NAND flash chips are more prone to errors and read delays as the stack height in each cell area increases. To overcome these limitations, Samsung has adopted a speed-optimized circuit design that enables faster data transmission than the fifth-generation V-NAND, with a write operation of less than 450 microseconds (s) and a read operation of less than 45s. Compared with the previous generation product, the performance is improved by more than 10% while the power consumption is reduced by more than 15%.

With the improvement of flash memory capacity per unit, the Samsung 980PRO PCIE4.0 SSD with 1TB capacity only needs two flash particles to provide users with up to 1TB storage capacity.

•Downward compatibility PCIE3.0 is more adaptable

From the birth of technology to the full popularization and implementation, it often takes time to precipitation. In view of the fact that there are still a large number of PCIE3.0 products on the market, Samsung 980PRO took compatibility into consideration at the beginning of its development.

The 8nm Elpis master chip is perfectly compatible with PCIE3.0 and performs even better than the dominant PCIE3.0 generation of the 970EVO Plus and 970PRO.

According to the official data, under PCIE3.0 bandwidth, the maximum continuous read performance of Samsung 980PRO reaches 3500MB/S, basically the same as that of 970EVO Plus. In terms of maximum continuous write performance, it reached 3450MB/S, surpassing even the Official testing level of the Samsung 970EVO Plus.In terms of 4K random performance, Samsung 980PRO, with its master control chip in the new manufacturing process and the upgraded sixth generation V-NAND flash memory particles, has the maximum random read capacity of 690K IOPS (1TB capacity), far exceeding the performance of 600K IOPS of Samsung 970EVO Plus.

The significance of downward compatibility with PCIE3.0 is that, on the one hand, it enables more users to enjoy the brand-new experience brought by the new master particle on the old platform. On the other hand, it can unconsciously improve the popularization of PCIE4.0 products, so that the technology can better and faster serve ordinary users.

02 overall huge performance improvements: continuous performance of 7000MB/S approximates PCIE4.0 peak

The PCIE4.0 doubled the bandwidth of the PCIE3.0 from 8Gb/s to 16Gb/s, which enabled SSDS to leap from 3XXXMB/s to 7XXXMB/s. However, in fact, other PCIE4.0 SSDS before Samsung 980PRO PCIE4.0 SSD could only be read at 5000MB/s, which was far from the true performance under PCIE4.0.

What about the performance of Samsung 980PRO PCIE4.0 SSD?

Below, we will conduct theoretical performance tests from three dimensions, including continuous performance, 4K random performance and comprehensive performance, to explore the specific performance of Samsung 980PRO PCIE4.0 SSD under the new master control particles.

•Continuous performance: first time over 7000MB/S

In the continuous performance test, three software, such as CrystalDiskMark, ATTO and Txbench, were used for comparative test to verify the final test result.

CrystalDiskMark is a classic hard drive testing software, it can ensure the continuous, speaking, reading and writing, 512 KB, and 4 KB packet random read/write performance, as well as the Queue Depth (Queue the Depth) for 4 k random performance of 32 cases of regular testing, such as the Queue Settings, performance, and test data block are optimized choice, more in line with the current hard disk test requirements.In the CrystalDiskMark test, the Samsung 980PRO PCIE4.0 SSD delivered a stunning performance, with a maximum continuous read speed of 7099MB/S and a maximum continuous write speed of 5154MB/S, almost close to the extreme of PCIE4.0 bandwidth.

Then came the ATTO test. In the ATTO test, we used the new 4.0 version of ATTO to test. The advantage of ATTO is that it can simulate the daily actual working scenarios by testing data blocks of different dimensions, so as to better conform to the actual functions of the product and make the test results more meaningful.

In the ATTO test, the performance of Samsung 980PRO PCIE4.0 SSD was basically maintained at a high level under different data blocks. The maximum continuous read performance was also 7.04GB/S and the maximum write speed was 5.30GB/S, the same as CrystalDiskMark.

Finally, we will conduct continuous performance tests with Txbench, an old software that can perform memory performance tests from different queues and different data blocks.In the Txbench test, we can see that the Samsung 980PRO PCIE4.0 SSD has a maximum continuous read performance of 7078MB/S and a maximum continuous write performance of 4975MB/S.

CrystalDiskMark, ATTO, and Txbench have all been tested for continuous performance, and the Samsung 980PRO PCIE4.0 SSD has been shown to perform remarkably well, with a maximum continuous read and write performance of 7,000 MB/S and 5,000 MB/S respectively.

This continuous read and write performance is basically the best performance in the current PCIE4.0 era.

•4K random performance: Nearly 80% performance improvement compared to PCIE 3.0

The PCIE4.0 bandwidth upgrade didn’t just deliver a continuous performance boost, but the more critical 4K random performance aspect of the 980PRO PCIE4.0 SSD didn’t disappoint me.

In 4K random performance test, we used AS SSD for testing.In THE AS SSD test, we can see that the maximum random read IOPS value of 980PRO PCIE4.0 REACHED 664K IOPS and the maximum random write value reached 855K IOPS. Compared with the PCIE 3.0 era, the performance was improved by nearly 80%.

•Overall performance: PC Mark8 is amazing

In terms of overall performance, we used PC Mark8 for performance testing. The memory performance test built into PC MARK8 can accurately reflect the real performance of the storage product under various simulated daily loads.In the PC Mark8 test, the specific performance of post-processing, game loading, office scene and other subareas, as well as the final total score of 5072, compared with the PCIE3.0 era, 980PRO PCIE4.0 SSD also achieved nearly 20% improvement, with comprehensive performance improvement, which is an all-round application experience for ordinary users.

03 Innovative technology of triad enhanced heat dissipation mechanism and second-generation intelligent TurboWrite mechanism

In addition to the overall hardware innovation and accompanying performance explosion, Samsung 980PRO PCIE4.0 SSD has also realized many technical and experience innovations in its internal mechanism.

•Trinity enhanced heat dissipation mechanism

For those of you familiar with SSDS, it’s probably clear that when flash memory has been working for a long time, the rapid accumulation of heat can, on the one hand, cause the master control to drop in frequency and the transmission performance to decrease significantly. On the other hand, the long-term accumulation of large amounts of heat can accelerate the aging of the core components of SSDS. In particular, with the rapid increase of PCIE4.0 product performance, a large amount of heat superposition brought by the high-power consumption master exacerbates the performance degradation and product life aging.

In order to give full play to the performance of SSD and extend the life of the product, Samsung stores the SSD brand on the new 980PRO PCIE4.0 SSD, and designs a trinity enhanced cooling mechanism for the cooling function.The core of 980PRO PCIE4.0 SSD enhanced heat dissipation mechanism is copper foil heat dissipation label, nickel coating on Elpis controller, and advanced dynamic heat dissipation protection (DTG) technology. The comprehensive coverage from hardware to software enables 980PRO PCIE4.0 SSD to have better heat dissipation performance.

According to the official data provided by Samsung, the nickel coating on the Elpis controller was compared with the uncoated products in the normal working environment, and the average temperature difference between the two was 7℃. Copper foil heat dissipation label can delay the triggering time of DTG heat dissipation protection by nearly 30%. As far as the core of dynamic thermal protection (DTG) technology, is Samsung since developed a can monitor temperature solid-state drives products, and in order to provide early warning mechanism of overheating protection, its application in the Samsung brand store the flagship product, in a word, its core function is to set a threshold value of human, when SSD work the threshold temperature is reached, the dynamic thermal protection (DTG) technology will be triggered, reduce and reduce the working frequency of the master, until the temperature dropped to safety.

It is under the comprehensive protection of hardware and software that 980PRO PCIE4.0 SSD can ensure the continuous reading and writing on a large scale under the high efficiency of reading and writing performance.

•Second generation intelligent TurboWrite mechanism of innovative technology

As for the intelligent TurboWrite mechanism, I believe we are even more familiar. The so-called intelligent TurboWrite mechanism, in fact, simulates the SLC working mechanism, establishes OP reserved space inside the SSD, and provides performance comparable to that of SLC particles, so as to meet the needs of ordinary users for extreme performance.

The new upgrade of intelligent TurboWrite2.0, can automatically identify the user’s workload, and specify the appropriate SLC buffer, that is to say, TurboWrite2.0 can intelligently identify the user’s current storage workload, according to the different load, dynamic adjustment of high-performance SLC write buffer ratio; In terms of cache capacity, it provides up to 5 times the buffer capacity compared to the original TurboWrite mechanism.

Specifically, the smart cache technology formed by fixed default space and smart area is adopted. For the 1TB model 980PRO PCIE4.0 SSD, Samsung is equipped with 6GB default cache area and 108GB dynamic smart cache area.

Below, we conducted a practical test of TurboWrite2.0 with HD Tune Pro.

We set the amount of write to the cache space of intelligent TurboWrite with the highest specification SSD over 1TB model 980PRO PCIE4.0 and observed the change curve of write performance. After a few minutes of testing, we obtained the following performance curve changes.

From the performance curve, we can see that within 0-114GB TurboWrite2.0 write interval, 980PRO PCIE4.0 SSD writes at a relatively high level. When the write volume exceeds 115GB, TurboWrite2.0 buffer is consumed, and the write speed of 980PRO PCIE4.0 SSD appears obvious withdrawal, basically maintaining at the level of 2000MB/S.

In fact, for most ordinary users, the single write volume is far less than the order of 100GB. TurboWrite2.0 can help users maintain high write performance all the time and reduce the overall flash cost by simulating SLC, which is very beneficial for manufacturers, users and the industry.

04 600TBW/5-year limited warranty, Samsung magic disk and other after-sales experience innovation and upgrade

The flash memory architecture derived from SSD products, SSD durability and aftermarket warranties have always been an important concern for users in addition to performance.

Based on the technology upgrade and durability of the sixth-generation V-NAND flash drives, Samsung 980PRO PCIE4.0 SSD 1TB capacity provides customers with up to 600TBW, or a 5-year limited warranty, which is almost the highest standard in the consumer SSD industry.

From the higher specifications of after-sales warranty can be seen, Samsung brand storage of the new generation of 980PRO PCIE4.0 SSD products confidence.

In addition to the hardcore sales, Samsung developed its management software to give users a better experience and management of its 980PRO PCIE4.0 SSD flagship products. The software will allow users to view key information such as the SSD’s model, temperature, firmware and interface, while performance test software will be built in to show the performance of the devices.

Samsung’s management software is easy to download and use, with the corresponding software going into the company’s official website and installed to automatically identify and manage the solid state hard disk in the computer.

05 The product is a star in today’s world

After experiencing Samsung 980PRO PCIE4.0 SSD for nearly a week, I suddenly remembered the answer given by the author and Mr. Liu Chengxin, director of Samsung. When discussing the progress of Samsung PCIE4.0 product: “Samsung’s new product must be the peak of its debut”.

The debut is the peak, arguably the best footnote to Samsung’s 980PRO PCIE4.0 SSD.

In terms of hardware innovation, Samsung has once again redefined the performance trend of PCIE4.0 era from the hardware dimension by supporting the new high-performance master control of 128 queue I/O processing and the sixth generation of V-NAND flash memory particles.Performance experience, Samsung has many firsts such as the first continuous read performance more than 7000MB/S and all highlight the Samsung 980PRO PCIE4.0 SSD powerful performance;

Finally, continued innovation in heat dissipation and TurboWrite, with its after-sales system with a five-year limited warranty and Samsung’s devoted work in management software, will come into his own.

Finally, about the price, in the author evaluation article online at the same time, Samsung also officially announced the sale price of 980PRO.

To tell the truth, when I first saw the price, I was quite more surprised. According to the official price, started price is only $89 for 250GB, only $149 for 500GB, and the mainstream of 1TB capacity price is only $349. Compared to the current mainstream PCIE3.0 and other competing goods PCIE4.0 price, I can only say this once, Samsung 980 pro is simply the price butcher.

Performance doubled, but the sale price is basically the same as the flagship product on the previous generation, can be expected is 980PRO on the shelves. It will inevitably cause a new wave of buying, especially strongly recommend to people who has a demand to buy.


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