Samsung SSD 950 PRO Solid State Drive Review
By Olin Coles
Full Disclosure: The product sample used in this article has been provided by Samsung.
Depending on your age, you might remember back to when storage drives connected to the motherboard by an IDE ribbon cable, ultimately capable of PATA transfers up to 133 MB/s. Later came the SATA interface capable of up to 6 Gb/s transfers, and which also introduced the feature-rich AHCI interface protocol. Today we have M.2, a next-generation connector designed specifically for solid state drives and capable of interfacing through the PCI Express bus. Along with this new connector arrives NVMe, a non-volatile memory protocol that outperforms AHCI for SSD transfers by enabling much higher input/output operations (IOPS) and nearly 400% faster performance.
In this article Benchmark Reviews tests the Samsung SSD 950 PRO, an M.2 solid state drive among the first to utilize the ultra-fast NVMe protocol, on both Intel X99 and Z170 platforms. Featuring Samsung’s second generation 32-layer MLC V-NAND, SSD 950 PRO M.2 is available in 256 GB and 512 GB storage capacities. The SSD 950 PRO utilizes Samsung’s UDX controller to deliver sequential read speeds up to 2500 MB/s and writes up to 1500 MB/s, while random read performance reaches up to 300,000 IOPS and write speeds up to 110,000 IOPS. Performance is further optimized with Samsung Magician software, and durability enhanced by the drive’s Dynamic Thermal Guard and AES 256-bit Full Disk Encryption. 950 PRO includes a 5-year limited warranty, and promises up to 400 terabytes written (TBW) for 512GB model.
There are a few things worth noting with the launch of SSD 950 PRO, beginning with the form factor. For obvious reasons Samsung sees a bright future in M.2, and namely NVMe, so you won’t see a SATA version of the SSD 950 PRO. You also won’t see Samsung using the term 3D V-NAND anymore, as they’ve re-branded the technology as simply V-NAND. Finally, Samsung’s 32-layer MLC V-NAND 128GB die will remain the flash technology used in 950 PRO until they reveal their 3rd-generation 48-layer technology later in 2016.
Bandwidth Speed vs Operational Performance
Solid State Drive performance revolves around two dynamics: bandwidth speed (MB/s) and operational performance I/O per second (IOPS). These two metrics work together, but one may be more important than the other depending on the workload. Consider this analogy: bandwidth determines how much cargo a ship can transport in one voyage, and operational IOPS performance is how fast that ship moves back and forth. By understanding this and applying it to SSD storage, there is a clear importance set on each variable depending on the task at hand.
For casual users, especially those with laptop or desktop computers that have been upgraded to use an SSD, the naturally quick response time is enough to automatically improve the user experience. Bandwidth speed is important, but only to the extent that operational performance meets the minimum needs of the system. If an SSD has a very high bandwidth speed but a low operational performance, it will take longer to load applications and boot the computer’s Operating System than another SSD that offers higher IOPS performance.
Samsung SSD 950 PRO Specifications
Courtesy Samsung (click to enlarge)