Samsung SM863 & PM863 SSD Review (960GB)

TEST SETUP AND METHODOLOGY

In testing all enterprise drives we focus on long term stability. In doing so, we stress products not only to their maximum rates, but also with workloads suited to enterprise environments. We use many off-the-shelf tests to determine performance, but we also have specialized tests to explore specific behaviors we encounter. With enterprise drives, you will see that we do not focus on many consumer level use-cases.

When testing SSDs, the drive is purged and then preconditioned into a steady state before capturing its performance results. We also disable all write caching on the DUT, this ensures consistent results that are complaint with SNIA standards. Our hope is that we present tangible results that provide relevant information to the buying public.

Sean Enterprise Test Bench Urban T81

SYSTEM COMPONENTS

PC CHASSIS: Thermaltake Urban T81
MOTHERBOARD: ASRock X99 WS-E
CPU: Intel Xeon E5-2690 v3
CPU COOLER: Thermaltake Water 3.0 Ultimate
POWER SUPPLY: Thermaltake Toughpower 1500W Gold
GRAPHICS: MSI GT 720
SYSTEM COOLING: be quiet! Silent Wings 2
MEMORY: Crucial Ballistix Sport DDR4 2400MHz
STORAGE: Crucial MX200 500GB
OS: Windows Server 2012 R2
IRST DRIVER: 13.1.0.1058
PM863 FIRMWARE: GXT3003Q
SM863 FIRMWARE:  GXM1003Q

This Test Bench build was the result of some great relationships and purchase; our appreciation goes to those who jumped in specifically to help the cause. Key contributors to this build are our friends at ASRock for the motherboard and CPU, be quiet! for the cooling fans, and Thermaltake for the case. We have detailed all components in the table below and they are all linked should you wish to make a duplicate of our system as so many seem to do, or check out the price of any single component. As always, we appreciate your support in any purchase through our links!

SNIA TESTING

The Storage Networking Industry Association has an entire industry accepted performance test specification for solid state storage devices. Some of the tests are complicated to perform, but they allow us to look at some important performance metrics in a standard, objective way.

Samsung PM863 960GB Av IOPS vs Block Size Bar Samsung SM863 960GB Av IOPS vs Block Size Bar

SNIA’s Performance Test Specification (PTS) includes IOPS testing, but it is much more comprehensive than just running 4KB writes with Iometer. SNIA testing is more like a marathon than a sprint. In total, there are 25 rounds of tests, each lasting 56 minutes. Each round consists of 8 different block sizes (512 bytes through 1MB) and 7 different access patterns (100% reads to 100% writes). After 25 rounds are finished (just a bit longer than 23 hours), we record the average performance of 4 rounds after we enter steady state.

  • Purge: Secure Erase, Format Unit, or vender specific
  • Preconditioning: 2x capacity fill with 128K sequential writes
  • Each round is composed of .5K, 4K, 8K, 16K, 32K, 64K, 128K, and 1MB accesses
  • Each access size is run at 100%, 95%, 65%, 50%, 35%, 5%, and 0% Read/Write Mixes, each for one minute.
  • The test is composed of 25 rounds (one round takes 56 minutes, 25 rounds = 1,400 minutes)

Samsung PM863 960GB Av IOPS vs Block Size Surface Samsung SM863 960GB Av IOPS vs Block Size Surface

Unlike our other performance tests, the SNIA tests only last for a relatively short period of time each (1 minute), but they cover many more access patterns and transfer sizes. All tests were done at a QD of 32. Looking at 100% read performance we can see that both drives deliver nearly identical results, reaching 97K. However, once each reach mixed workloads the SM863 starts to shine. At a 50/50 4K write workload the SM863 out performs the PM863 by about 14K IOPS. Then once at 100% write the SM863 is nearly 10K IOPS higher at 28K IOPS. Overall, both perform well here and transition nicely from 100% read to 0% read.

LATENCY

To specifically measure latency, we use a series of 512b, 4K, and 8K measurements. At each block size, latency is measured for 100% read, 65% read/35% write, and 100% write/0% read mixes.

Samsung PM863 960GB Av Lat QD32Samsung SM863 960GB Av Lat QD32Both the PM863 and SM863 performed very well in our average latency testing. Looking at the results we can see that compared to our previous results with the Samsung 845DC EVO the PM863 has improved quite a bit with good reductions in average latency across the board. The SM863 shows better performance than the PM863 naturally, but for the most part is behind the 800GB Samsung 845DC Pro we reviewed last year.

Samsung PM863 960GB Max Lat QD32 Samsung SM863 960GB Max Lat QD32

In terms of max latency, both drives again show very good performance. These results are much better than many other enterprise SATA SSDs we have reviewed in the past. You can really see how well Samsung’s engineers are able to keep a tight QoS with their firmware algorithms.

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