Samsung Ready to Reassert SSD Leadership With Soon-to-be-released SM961, PM961, 960 PRO and EVO SSDs

Samsung has pretty much been the industry leader when it comes to SSDs for the last several years.  Micron and Intel have recently started producing their own SSDs featuring their own 3D NAND, which began to close the gap between themselves and Samsung as far as top-performing SSDs.  Samsung, ever the innovator, has moved to pull back ahead with its latest upcoming SSD offerings that feature their newest 48-layer V-NAND and an updated Polaris controller.

Samsung SSD Comparison Chart pcperimage credit:

The first two new models are the SM961 and PM961, which appear to be intended as OEM versions of the Samsung ‘PRO’ and ‘EVO’ retail product series.  The SM961 will utilize MLC flash, and the PM961 will utilize TLC flash (with SLC TurboWrite cache ?).  RamCity is reportedly already offering the SM961 for pre-order.  RamCity is listing capacity points of 256GB, 512GB and 1TB.  Pricing, which often changes quickly after official release, is showing to be a good bit below that of comparable capacity 950 PRO retail equivalents.

SM961 pcperimage credit:

The stated performance specifications are certainly impressive, and would represent a significant (25-50%) gain in almost all performance metrics thanks to the new 48-layer V-NAND and the newest Polaris controller.  Although the specs of OEM and retail versions of the same basic drive can differ, it would seem to make good business sense for any manufacturer such as Samsung to use the same basic drive to create OEM and retail versions that are basically identical, except for possible OEM-specific firmware versions, such as reducing write speeds a tad in order to prolong battery life in portable computing devices.

48-layer V-NAND pcperimage credit:

Also reportedly in the upcoming product pipeline are 960 PRO and 960 EVO models.  While many awaited a 1TB version of the 950 PRO series, it would appear that Samsung has chosen to instead utilize the new 48-layer V-NAND to make a 1TB version as the 960 PRO.  A logical extension of this would be a 960 EVO, which would represent Samsung’s first retail M.2 PCIe 3.0 X 4 SSD utilizing TLC NAND.  One would expect a price point similar to that of the 850 EVO, yet with a significant performance boost via the faster PCIe interface.

Samsung logo clear backgroundIt took a while for SATA III 6Gb/s SSDs to get to the point of saturating the SATA interface performance-wise, and Samsung’s latest 48-layer V-NAND, combined with the improved Polaris controller and its ability to expand channel bandwidth, could create SSDs that begin to now saturate even the PCIe interface.  Samsung prides itself on being the industry leader, and they are certainly not resting on their laurels or previous wins and successes.  Watch for upcoming updates and reviews of these latest Samsung SSDs as review samples become available and they begin to hit the market.


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    Can someone explain to me what is a 2.5″ NVME ?! What’s the connector type?

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      NVME is a communication protocol between the ssd and the system.

      It offers reduced latency and overhead as it is designed from ground up for flash storage unlike AHCI.

      The hardware connection has nothing to do with it, but as of now only m.2 and Pcie types of storage devices seem to use it.

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    Nuno: Requires a different connector than a standard SATA data/power connection:
    See the second picture down:

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    the 4TB EVO for $1499.99 is up for preorder on the samsung website,click link.

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      This is all about PCI-E 3.0 M2 slot drives, not the much slower SATA III 6Gb/sec interface drives. The drive you are referring to is only 15% of the speed of the SM961.

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    State of Affairs

    As an owner of a 512GB 950 Pro, I have been rather disappointed in Samsung’s follow-through on their SSD products. I am referring to a firmware update to enable AES encryption on my 950 Pro, which is installed in my Dell laptop. This feature is touted on in the features section of the 950 Pro on Samsung’s website. But 9 months later, still no firmware. Samsung’s technical support has no clue when it will be released (if ever). Moreover, they have no interest in inquiring on my behalf.

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      Yeah,where is the FW update. ETA from Samsung would be nice!

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        Laurens Pluijmaekers

        I am also dissapointed by this. Today, I checked again and I found this following statement in the revised 1.2 june 2016 data sheet at
        †† The plan to provide a firmware update to enable TCG/OPAL and IEEE1667 has been put on hold due to the currently very
        restricted availability of commercial security software.

        It still mentions that it offers AES 256-bit for User Data Encryption, but the way I understand is that TCG’s OPAL is the specification that Windows Bitlocker and Samsung use for Self Encrypting Drives / Hardware encryption, see for example

        So we don’t actually have or will get this “AES 256-bit for User Data Encryption”. I am not going to switch to the Class 0 BIOS alternative as I understand that’s too easy to bypass. So unluckily I will also have to stick to software encryption and using Windows Bitlocker (although VeraCrypt would also be a nice software encryption alternative). It sucks as it was indeed the main reason for getting the 950 Pro as there are other similarly fast drives such as the Samsung SM951.

        Generally I hope that manufacturers get this thing straight and also properly documented (which is not the case right now). Purchased 4 Samsung in a row in the last few years but will definitely be hesitant to purchase a Samsung again with their promised features.

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        Seriously! They have repeatedly stated that capability and now they just back down. The drive was not cheap!

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        I appreciate your response. But I fail to see where software is an issue. A TCG/Opal-compliant drive should encrypt and de-encrypt data completely independent of the motherboard, the operating system, and any installed software. Maybe Samsung should pick up the phone and call Seagate. Seagate offers mechanical SEDs that are TCG/Opal-compliant. Seagate obviously gets their SEDs to work without software. I don’t think Samsung is being completely straight or honest with their answer.

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        Laurens Pluijmaekers

        Sure. But I didn’t write the Samsung statement (as in original author), nor am I defending it.

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        I think my post came across different than I intended. I was actually not trying to criticize you. Instead, I was making a more general comment directed at Samsung. Thank you, though, for a follow-up explanation of your perspective!

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    Guys, I didn’t get the ” While many awaited a 1TB version of the 950 PRO series”…. well this one exists for long time, right ? If it has 32 or 48 layers, that’s not important from customer’s perspective. Performance is all the same, give or take penny here and there – differences measurable only in benchmarks.

    Well, there is 2TB 950Pro already in the wild.

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