[:en]Does the World Want Premium SATA SSDs?[:]

[:en]Does the World Want Premium SATA SSDs?[:]


Samsung has dominated the SSD marketplace for a really very long time, and each new client SSD mannequin the corporate introduces is noteworthy. The newest product to achieve the cabinets is the brand new vary of 870 EVO SSDs, constructing on a decade-long legacy of SATA SSDs. We now have examined the 1 TB and 4 TB fashions from this new product household.

Pushing for SATA

Samsung is among the few firms nonetheless placing important effort into SATA SSDs and releasing new client SATA fashions. As PC OEMs have overwhelmingly switched to utilizing NVMe SSDs in new techniques, even on the smaller capacities, the shopper/client SATA SSD market now exists nearly totally for the sake of DIY system builders and aftermarket upgrades on older techniques. Most main client SSD manufacturers have both stopped updating their SATA fashions, or determined to quietly replace parts with out the fanfare of a brand new mannequin launch. Then there are firms creating odd-ball fashions, similar to a 15.36 TB design. Both approach, we do not get many new client SATA SSDs in for assessment today.

(It’s value noting that the enterprise SATA SSD market has seen considerably extra in the way in which of seen exercise, as a result of the longer product lifetimes in that market and the upper revenue margins give SATA SSDs extra of an extended tail of business relevance.)

Regardless of this market shift, Samsung continues to be targeted on a SATA product line, though even Samsung is exhibiting lowered curiosity in SATA. It took over six months from the discharge of the QLC-based 870 QVO for its TLC-based 870 EVO sibling to reach, and there is nonetheless no signal of an MLC-based 870 PRO mannequin (or some other MLC SSDs from Samsung primarily based on something newer than their 64-layer 3D NAND). Moreover, the brand new 870 EVO now not caters to both mSATA and M.2 SATA type components, focusing solely on 2.5-inch drives. The mSATA model of the 860 EVO disappeared from the market final yr, however the M.2 SATA model continues to be available and has tracked market worth developments as a lot as Samsung’s drives ever do. It’s kind of of a shock that they are dropping M.2 SATA this quickly given how lengthy Samsung supported mSATA.

Given the roughly three-year cadence Samsung has set for his or her SATA SSD updates, the 870 era may be the final.

Samsung 870 EVO Specs
Capability 250 GB 500 GB 1 TB 2 TB 4 TB
Type Issue 2.5″ 7mm SATA
Controller Samsung MKX
NAND Flash Samsung 512Gbit 128L 3D TLC
Sequential Learn 560 MB/s
SLC 530 MB/s
TLC 300 MB/s 530 MB/s
QD32 98k IOPS
QD1 13k IOPS
QD32 88k IOPS
QD1 36k IOPS
Burst 3.5 W 4.0 W 4.5 W 5.0 W
Common 2.2 W 2.5 W
Idle 30 mW 35 mW
Guarantee 5 years
Write Endurance 150 TB
0.3 DWPD
300 TB
0.3 DWPD
600 TB
0.3 DWPD
1200 TB
0.3 DWPD
2400 TB
0.3 DWPD
Launch MSRP $39.99

We’re seeing the same old upgrades within the spec desk for the 870 EVO in comparison with the 860 EVO from 2018. The controller is now Samsung’s MKX, a minor iterative replace to the 860’s MJX. The NAND flash reminiscence is a extra important leap: the 870 EVO is utilizing Samsung’s 128-layer 3D TLC, first seen on the 980 PRO. Extra particularly, our 1TB and 4TB 870 EVO samples are utilizing the 512Gbit dies that had been launched on the 2TB 980 PRO, a mannequin that arrived a lot later than the smaller capacities constructed round 256Gbit dies. The previous Samsung 860 EVO launched with Samsung’s 64L 3D NAND, they usually seem to have passed over their 92L era with their TLC SATA drives.

The efficiency specs are similar to the 860 EVO. Nearly all of these efficiency numbers are restricted both by the throughput of the SATA interface or the latency of the NAND itself, so a lot of the efficiency numbers are the identical throughout all the capability vary. The 250GB and 500GB fashions nonetheless have considerably decrease sequential write velocity after the SLC cache runs out, however this time we do not have official numbers on SLC cache sizes (however we now have examined that on this assessment). Then again, Samsung continues to be one of many few manufacturers to offer efficiency specs for queue depth 1 along with the excessive queue depth rankings.

Internally, the 870 EVO continues as an instance simply how ridiculously outsized the two.5″ type issue is for contemporary client storage. Even the 4TB mannequin’s PCB takes up only a fraction of the interior area, and the 1TB mannequin’s even smaller PCB has solely a handful of tiny parts for the ability regulation on its again facet—this might have simply been a single-sided board if Samsung wasn’t saving area for the additional flash on the 2TB mannequin.

1TB (Left) vs 4 TB (Proper)

The SATA Competitors: Exhausting to Decide

Fact be instructed, there aren’t that many new SATA SSDs in the marketplace. To place this into perspective, the newest SATA competitor we reviewed, the SK hynix’s Gold S31, was launched in 2019.

A part of that is right down to the shortage of give attention to the SATA market as talked about above, but in addition as a result of SSD distributors have taken to silently updating the {hardware} inside a product line with out altering the product quantity or asserting the change. Their argument is that so long as they’ll nonetheless obtain the identical efficiency listed within the specification sheet, and cling to the guarantee, the shopper should not have to fret about what is definitely contained in the product. 

We usually disapprove when SSD distributors silently swap out main parts with out renaming a product, as a result of altering the SSD controller or NAND flash can have a serious impression on a drive’s efficiency and energy effectivity. Sadly, this has lengthy been a typical follow for entry-level fashions, and some producers have tried it on extra upmarket fashions and been deservedly excoriated once they’re caught (eg. ADATA, with the SX8200 Professional).

Nonetheless, for mainstream SATA SSDs primarily based on TLC NAND and controllers with DRAM caches, there’s lots much less potential draw back for customers when the producer silently upgrades the NAND. The SATA interface imposes such a extreme efficiency bottleneck that it is unlikely new NAND would end in a slower drive. Switching to newer NAND with the next per-die capability might adversely have an effect on the smallest fashions in a product line, however the tendency has been for 120GB fashions to easily disappear as a substitute of being up to date—they usually aren’t missed. We’re dissatisfied that (for instance) Micron’s Essential MX500 is now delivery with at the very least 96-layer NAND moderately than the 64-layer NAND it launched with, and certain with Silicon Movement’s SM2259 controller that options improved error correction over the SM2258.

Newer NAND in current SATA fashions is way extra more likely to convey advantages to customers. Most throughput can not enhance, however latency and efficiency at decrease queue depths can nonetheless be improved marginally. Newer NAND additionally tends to convey energy effectivity enhancements, which signifies that upgrading the storage capability in a laptop computer that is a number of years outdated should not harm battery life despite the fact that bigger drives are usually extra power-hungry.

The opposite consider that is that we lately up to date our SSD check suite for 2021, which implies re-testing older drives for brand new efficiency numbers. In our SSD check suite 2021 article, we prioritized NVMe SSDs, as that’s the place the market is. We’re getting round to retesting the older SATA drives, though these take the longest time to finish – 24 hours for a quick 1 TB drive, as much as 100 hours or extra for a 4 TB drive, not together with the evaluation.

So whereas we’re a bit missing in SATA assessment samples that replicate the present state of the market, we do have a various choice of entry-level NVMe SSDs which were pushing into the SATA SSD worth bracket. These might not be viable options for some use circumstances (older techniques that do not assist NVMe, or knowledge hoarders that want plenty of multi-TB drives), however for any moderately latest client system with peculiar storage wants, these NVMe drives are actual rivals to SATA SSDs. That is the give attention to this assessment.

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