Solid state drives M.2 is a hot topic of recent times. High-speed SSDs of this format are moving from the category of devices to the most demanding enthusiasts, which the price does not stop, into the segment of consumer devices that can be purchased by an increasing number of users. The leader of the flash drive market – the company Samsung – has to confirm its position not only by sales volumes, but also by the capabilities of devices offered under its own brand. Most recently, the manufacturer has proposed a new line of productive drives of the M.2 format – Samsung 970 EVO and Samsung 970 PRO. The 1 TB model from the consumer line has already visited our tests and we are ready to share our impressions.
Samsung 970 EVO series
If in the section M.2 NVMe PCI-E drives from the catalog hotline.ua make sorting devices by popularity, then at the top of the list will be models of the Samsung 960 EVO series. Presented at the end of 2016, SSD are popular, offering good performance at a reasonable price. However, the launch of a new series of productive SSD from Samsung as a whole did not become any surprise. The 960s are still more than level, but to refresh the line of devices, giving a new impetus and optimizing production, the company definitely will not hurt. Well, the owners of new devices should please the higher performance for the same or even lower price.
For the presented drives of the Samsung 970 PRO and 970 EVO rulers, a new 5-core controller Samsung Phoenix c with higher clock speeds is used, compared with those for the predecessor of Polaris. In this case, one dedicated kernel is used to connect the controller to the host system. Samsung Phoenix also provides full support for the new NVMe 1.3 protocol.
It's interesting that the EVO series uses a chip in the same configuration as for the PRO, without any functional simplifications. The main difference between the drives of the presented series is the flash memory chips. In the case of the Samsung 970 PRO, new 64-layer V-NAND MLC chips are used, while for the 970 EVO chips of the same generation are used, but with a three-bit V-NAND TLC cell architecture.
For storage, the LPDDR4 dynamic memory is used, and the volume of the buffer depends on the capacity of the SSD.
|Samsung 970 EVO|
|Interface||PCI Express 3.0 x4, NVMe 1.3|
|Form Factor||M.2 2280|
|Memory Type||Samsung V -NAND TLC (64 layers)|
|Capacity||250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB|
|Memory cache|| 250GB: 512MB LPDDR4
500 GB: 512 MB LPDDR4
1 TB: 1 GB LPDDR4
2 TB: 2 GB LPDDR4
|Scorios (1945)]        2 TB: 3500/2500 MB / s|
|The speed of random read / write ( QD 32)|| 250 GB: 200,000/350,000 IOPS
500 GB: 370,000/450,000 IOPS
1 TB: 500 000/450 000 IOPS
2 TB: 500 000/480 000 IOPS
|Sleeping mode||up to 30 mW|
|Power consumption under load (average / maximum)|| 250 GB: 5.4 / 9 W
500 GB: 5.7 / 10 W
1 TB: 6/10 W
2 TB: 6/10 W
|Technology support||TRIM , SMART, Device Sleep, Garbage Collection|
|Encryption||Class 0 (AES 256) TCG / Opal v2.0, MS eDrive (IEEE1667)|
|Programs||Magician Software for SSD|
|The total number of recorded data (TBW)|| 250 GB: 150 TB
500 GB: 300 TB
1 TB: 600 TB
2 TB: 1200 TB
|Warranty||5 years or until TBW is exhausted|
Like the Samsung 960 EVO, the Samsung 970 EVO line-up includes models with a capacity of 250 GB, 500 GB, 1 TB. In addition, in the new series, the manufacturer also offers a high-speed 2 TB SSD. Regardless of the volume, for all devices, a one-way layout is provided, with only a couple of flash chips, a controller and a DRAM buffer chip.
As for the claimed speed characteristics, we will see progress here. The speed of sequential reading has increased minimally – from 3200 to 3400 MB / c, but the maximum write speeds are noticeably increased. The largest increase in the model capacity of 1 TB – 2500 MB / s, instead of 1900 MB / s (32%) for the predecessor of the line of 960 EVO. With a 250 GB drive, the write speed remained unchanged at 1500 MB / s, while the 500 GB model increased by 11% from 1800 MB / s to 2000 MB / s. Owners of top-level 2 TB SSDs can also count on 3400/2500 MB / s.
Recall that in the case of flash memory drives with three-bit cells for such impressive results of the recording speed it is necessary to use SLC-caching. Record levels are achieved within this buffer, and after its exhaustion, the speed is set at the level that the TLC flash chips can in principle provide.
As with the predecessors, the manufacturer uses the Intelligent TurboWrite dynamic caching technology for the 970 EVO. In this case, in addition to the constant part of the buffer (4-6 GB) located in the spare area, the unused storage capacity can also be used to cache the record. The size of the dynamic part will depend on the free space on the SSD and can be up to 9 GB for a 250 GB model, up to 18 GB for 500 GB, up to 36 GB for a 1 TB storage and up to 72 GB for 2 TB.
If continuous the data stream exceeds the specified volumes, then in the future information is recorded at the speed available to the flash memory chips and used architecture: 250 GB – 300 MB / s, 500 GB – 600 MB / s, 1 TB – 1200 MB / s, 2 TB – 1250 MB / s. Samsung 960 EVO also had the same indicators.
At the same time, the manufacturer managed to noticeably increase the performance of the new SSDs while working with 4K-blocks with the increased depth of the request queue. For the 1 TB model, 500,000/450,000 IOPS were declared for read / write operations, whereas the predecessor of the same volume offered up to 380,000/360,000 IOPS. With single requests (4K, QD1) the performance has not changed much – 15 000/50 000 IOPS, against 14 000/50 000 IOPS for Samsung 960 EVO.
For all SSD rulers of Samsung 970 PRO / EVO by 50% the guaranteed amount of recorded data (TBW) is increased. In addition, the EVO model now also has the same 5-year manufacturer's warranty as the PRO series. Absolutely right move Samsung, yet SSD line EVO often have to compete with drives for which manufacturers offer 5 years warranty.
For data transmission Samsung 970 EVO uses PCI Express 3.0 bus. To expand the SSD potential, the drive needs to be installed in a M.2 x4 slot with a peak bandwidth of up to 32 Gb / s.
Samsung 970 EVO 1 TB (MZ-V7E1T0BW)
We have a 1 TB drive tested. The device is delivered in a cardboard box with a large name of the series on the front panel and an artistic photo of the device.
The drive is additionally packed in a spectacular protective case with a transparent top cover that securely locks the device. That's like a trifle, which does not affect the capabilities of SSD in any way, but it feels that it was important for the manufacturer to evoke some emotions already at the first contact with the device. And it turned out.
Only a paper brochure with installation instructions and warranty conditions is offered with the drive.
As we already mentioned, all Samsung 970 EVO drives have a one-way layout and a black textolite base mask. On the front panel there are a couple of flash memory chips, a caching chip and a controller. All elements cover a protective sticker with basic information about the device. The SSD is made in the most popular M.2 2280 format with the M-key connector.
If you take a closer look, you can see on the controller chip a thin metal plate. A nickel-plated radiator should improve the cooling of the chip. For powerful M.2 drive controllers, additional heat removal is often very desirable, obviously Phoenix is no exception here.
An additional sticker is also provided on the reverse side. The foil sticker has an additional copper layer for uniform heat distribution.
A similar technique was used by the manufacturer for the previous generation drives. If we see such a solution in the new SSD, it's obvious that such a trick justifies itself.
The Magician utility is offered to service and check the status of the drive. The application is well known to the owners of SSD from Samsung. It is customary to put it as an example, as an example of software support for solid carriers. Indeed, utilities are intuitive, intuitive, and does not require any preparation.
First of all, you can check for a fresh firmware and, if necessary, update the microcode. Those interested can assess SMART performance, and those worried about the resource of their SSD can learn about the total amount of data already recorded and make sure that the guaranteed capacity (TBW) is not enough for another year.
Samsung Magician also allows you to allocate a spare area, create a bootable drive to completely erase the data from the SSD, and also configure the encryption parameters.
One of the available options is the express test of the drive's performance. Of course, to make far-reaching conclusions on its results is not worth it, but we were still curious to get the first performance evaluation of Samsung 970 EVO 1 TB. As you can see, linear transfers 3533/2413 MB / c almost perfectly coincide with the declared ones. Performance of work with arbitrary reading / writing at the level of 287 000/256 000 IOPS. This is lower than the announced values, however, the proposed test does not provide any details, and as it usually does, all the capabilities of SSD are revealed with the increase in the depth of the query queue and the high concurrency of operations. To obtain this information, we use specialized applications.
The ATTO utility registers the practically declared speed indicators when working with large blocks.
Both versions of CrystalDiskMark agree that the maximum read / write speeds of the drive can reach 3560 / 2510 MB / s. The speed of work with random 4K blocks and the minimum queue of requests can be about 50 MB / s on read operations and about 180 MB / s when writing.
Based on the results of AS SSD tests, we see linear transfers at the level of 3000/2400 MB / s , while the utility is more optimistic about the capabilities of SSD to read small blocks (up to 58 MB / s) and demonstrates slightly more modest results on the record – 152 MB / s.
Here are very interesting indicators of working with 4K with a large depth of queries. If you present the data as a total number of I / O operations, you can observe about 460 000 IOPS for reading and writing. Very impressive figures, even taking into account that the declared figure for reading is still 10% higher. Similar values could not be obtained even during the test Samsung 960 PRO 1 TB.
An optional built-in test with copying passes on hurray, the indicators are excellent.
An unbelievably 15,000 points in the Anvil's Storage test is also an impressive result for the consumer drive. Such a final result was obtained primarily due to good linear transfers and generally decent performance with 4K units. At the same time, we can see that with the QD16 the full potential of the SSD is not disclosed, we need an even deeper queue of requests.
SSD capability testing is not complete without a complex test of PCMark 8 drives emulating the behavior of drives while working with a set of popular applications. As a general result, with a total throughput of 578 MB / s, the drive can be classified as top-end solution.
To add a competitive effect during the evaluation of actual indicators, we also added the results of several more drives to the diagrams. The top position is the record holder in these disciplines – Samsung 960 PRO 1 TB. Another participant will be Kingston KC1000 480 GB, also a very high-speed model based on the Phison PS5007-E7 controller and planar MLC memory with two-bit cells. "Honor of the uniform" SATA-drives will be trusted to protect the recent novelty – Samsung 860 EVO 1 TB, which also proved worthy in the class of 2.5 "devices based on V-NAND TLC.
In the compound tests, the first position for Samsung 960 PRO 1 TB. Rival here with him, perhaps, only the novelty of the Samsung 970 PRO series.
Samsung 970 EVO 1 TB often looks preferable to the Kingston KC1000 based on MLC. To show similar performance, the latter needs additional cooling, since the Phison PS5007-E7 controller is very warm. At the same time, the results of the Samsung 970 EVO 1 TB are obtained without additional heat dissipation.
The performance of the M.2 NVMe PCI-E and SATA drives once again demonstrates that in terms of performance they belong to fundamentally different classes of devices.  Evaluating the capabilities of the Samsung 970 EVO 1 TB, we were also curious to check the behavior of the drive during the linear loads. The AIDA64 test showed that the speed of consecutive reading of large blocks is slightly higher than 3000 MB / s. The graph is an almost perfect flat line and it took only 10.5 minutes to read the entire drive.
It's more interesting to estimate the speed of a long sequential recording. Speed drives M.2 often barely endure "marathon distances". The resulting graph requires further explanation. As you can see, at the start, the recording speed is 2400 MB / c. At this level, the performance is held exactly until the SSD suffices the dedicated SLC cache. In the case of the terabyte Samsung 970 EVO, this is an impressive 42 GB (6 GB + 36 GB). If this volume was not enough to continuously record the necessary data, then in the future the information is written directly to the memory chips without the help of a buffer. As we can see, in this case, the speed decreased to about 1200 MB / s, which corresponds to the promised indicators.
The similar rate supported the drive to about 70% of the SSD filling, after which it is possible to observe a situational return of the indicators to the level of 2300 MB / s and record about 20 GB of data at this speed. Despite the continuity of the process, in all likelihood, the drive managed to clear the buffer and restore the speed indicators for a while. However, after such a burst followed by a decrease in the recording speed, and by the nature of the graph it can be assumed that after a sharp spurt the controller reached the boundary temperature and began to reduce the performance in order to avoid overheating. Yes, this effect is affected by all high-speed drives M.2 and Samsung 970 EVO here is no exception. However, even in the worst case scenario, the losses are minimal – SSD write speed did not drop below 1000 MB / s. And here that it is possible to note especially, so it is temperature firmness Samsung 970 EVO. Protection against overheating during linear continuous recording has worked after filling 70-75% of the volume of the accumulator.
The temperature regime is another area of special interest in the tests of M.2 drives. The high-speed SSD controllers are noticeably heated under load, reducing the performance to avoid chip overheating.
In the stand-by mode, the temperature of the Samsung 970 EVO on the open bench was about 40C.
After a long session with sequential data recording, the temperature of the Samsung Phoenix controller is 81-83 degrees. To warm the chip to this state it is necessary to create a serious long load, and loss of productivity during trotting is not critical, but the temperature question is still relevant for high-speed drives. In the case of the Samsung 970 EVO, a miniature nickel plated plate on the controller and a foil sticker that are elements of the Dynamic Thermal Guard overheat protection technology help delay the approach of the boundary values.
Samsung's new series drives will soon be available in Ukraine. The approximate retail price of the model Samsung 970 EVO 1 TB (MZ-V7E1T0BW) – 11 599 UAH.
The expected cost of devices of other volumes and drives of the line Samsung 970 PRO.
Detailed specifications of all SSDs are available on the manufacturer's website.