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Samsung SM863 & PM863 SSD Review (960GB)

Samsung’s latest enterprise SATA device offerings come in the form of the PM863 and SM863 SSDs. Both come with Samsung’s latest 3D V-NAND technology and are developed for small and medium sized business with a large focus on QoS and value. The PM863 an entry level SSD targeted for read-intensive workloads such as content delivery, streaming, or web serving and replaces the 845DC EVO. The SM863 on the other hand, replaces the 845DC Pro and is a higher endurance and performance model targeted towards OLTP, email and database use cases.

Samsung SM863 & PM863 960GB Main

Now, what does the transition to their new 3D V-NAND entail? Well for starters lower power consumption and much different endurance and performance figures. The PM863 has much greater endurance than the 845DC EVO, at 1.3 DWPD! Also, performance is improved. The SM863 does not share these advantages however. In its case the total endurance is actually much lower than its predecessor, at a 3.5 DWPD rating versus 10 DWPD and the performance is lower. This decrease in endurance and performance is most likely due to less over provisioning, but users can manually configure these drives with more OP to increase endurance and performance. The SM863’s prices also reflect the now lower endurance.

Beyond changes in endurance figures, their 3D V-NAND allows them to increase each one’s capacity range, up to 3.84TB in the case of the PM863 and up to 1.92TB for the SM863. Now, let’s get on with the full specs and see how these drives really compare.

SPECIFICATIONS, PRICING, AND AVAILABILITY

The Samsung PM863 and SM863 are both 2.5″ 7mm form factor SATA 6Gb/s SSDs. The PM863 is available in capacities ranging from 120GB to 3.84TB. Read speeds are rated for up to 540MB/s while writes are rated for up to 480MB/s. In terms of IOPS the PM863 is rated for up to 99K IOPS read and 18K IOPS write. Endurance is improved over the 845DC EVO with endurance figures ranging from 170 TBW for the 120GB model to 5,600 TBW for the 3.84TB model. Calculated out the PM863 provides for 1.3 DWPD. The PM863 comes with a 3-year warranty.

Samsung PM863
Capacity120GB240GB480GB960GB1.92TB3.84TB
Sequential Read (MB/s)380520525520510540
Sequential Write (MB/s)125245460475475480
4K Random Read (IOPS)86K99K99K99K99K99K
4K Random Write (IOPS)5K10K17K18K18K18K
Endurance (TBW)/(DWPD)1703507001,4002,8005,600
Price$125$160$290$550$1,100$2,200

Next, the SM863 is available in capacities ranging from 120GB to 1.92TB. Read speeds are rated for up to 520MB/s while writes are rated for up to 485MB/s. In terms of IOPS the SM863 is rated for up to 99K IOPS read and 29K IOPS write. Besides the improved performance over the TLC 3D V-NAND PM863, the MLC 3D V-NAND SM863 has much greater endurance figures ranging from 770 TBW for the 120GB model to 12,320 TBW for the 1.92TB model. Calculated out the SM863 provides for 3.5 DWPD. The SM863 comes with a 5-year warranty.

Samsung SM863
Capacity120GB240GB480GB960GB1.92TB
Sequential Read (MB/s)500520520520520
Sequential Write (MB/s)460485485485485
4K Random Read (IOPS)97K97K97K97K99K
4K Random Write (IOPS)12K20K26K28K29K
Endurance (TBW)7701,5403,0806,16012,320
Price$140$180$330$640$1,260

These drives feature S.M.A.R.T. to allow the end user to monitor reliability indicators. They also feature an advanced ECC engine and end-to-end data protection to detect and remedy signal discrepancies in real time.  Samsung integrated tantalum capacitors in the design to provide power-loss protection so no data is lost or corrupted due to sudden power disconnections.  There is dynamic thermal guard protection which prevents the SSD from overheating by automatically controlling the speed of the CPU relative to the core temperature. By doing so the drives can throttle back performance to prevent a thermal shutdown. The operating temperature range is 0-70C and they have a MTBF reliability rating of 2 million hours.  Finally, their compatibility is listed for LSI, ATTO, and SuperMicro.

A CLOSER LOOK

The overall finish is similar to what we have seen with other Samsung drives. The casing is metal with a matte black finish. The branding is simplistic on the front and all important information is on the sticker on the backside.

Samsung SM863 & PM863 960GB FrontSamsung SM863 & PM863 960GB Back

Once dissembled we can see that they are very similar to each other. Both utilize a 3/4 sized PCB at the 960GB capacity.

Samsung SM863 & PM863 960GB Open

The PM863 is on the left and the SM863 is on the right. Both 960GB models utilizes a single DRAM chip, single controller and 8 NAND packages. We can also see the use of tantalum capacitors for power loss protection.

Samsung PM863 & SM863 960GB PCB Front Samsung PM863 & SM863 960GB PCB Back

The controller on each is Samsung’s Mercury controller. The part number is S4LP052X01-8030. This controller is actually the same controller utilized in the 2TB Samsung 850 EVO and Pro models we reviewed in July. It allows for more DRAM allocation for larger capacity drives over the old MEX and MDX controllers found in the 845DC EVO and Pro models.

Samsung PM863 960GB Controller, NAND, DRAM Samsung SM863 960GB Controller, NAND, DRAM

The DRAM cache buffer on these drives is of course Samsung’s very own LPDDR3. Both 960GB models have a single 1GB package.

The NAND on the other hand varies. The PM863 comes with 32-layer 128Gbit TLC 3D V-NAND while the SM863 comes with 32-layer MLC 3D V-NAND. Each package is 128GiB in capacity for a total of 1,024GiB for our 960GB samples, which means there is ~7% over provisioning. Once formatted the total user addressable space is 894GB in the OS.

  • DecksUpMySleeve

    It’s amazing that last year a slower 4TB drive went for $4,000, now for $2,200 you can do better.
    Nice thorough review btw.

  • Andrea Verocio

    Does the SM863 (all capacities) support opal 2.0 out of the box?

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