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Samsung SSD 830 Series Preview
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Date: Sep 23, 2011
Section:Storage
Author: Marco Chiappetta
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Introduction and Specifications

It was back in December of last year that we took a look at the Samsung SSD 470 Series solid state drive. Unlike the vast majority of other SSDs on the market at the time that used third-party controllers from SandForce or Indilinx (among others), the Samsung SSD 470 featured nothing but Samsung-built components. The Samsung SSD 470 series was / is a SATA II drive with a Samsung controller, Samsung DRAM cache, and Samsung MLC NAND flash memory. When we tested the drive, we found it to be a fairly good performer, but it wasn’t quite on the level of the higher-end drives available at the time, like the SandForce-based OCZ Vertex 2, for example.

Although they haven’t been breakout-hits with enthusiasts, Samsung’s solid state drives have been quite successful due to strong relationships with a number of OEMs, including Apple. With the release of their new SSD 830 Series Solid State Drives, however, Samsung seems poised to make some inroads with enthusiasts as well.

We’ve had a Samsung SSD 830 Series drive humming along in the lab for a little while now and have been impressed by the drive’s behavior and performance. They won’t be available for a few more weeks and pricing isn’t finalized just yet, but we’ve got the rest of the story on tap for you in the pages ahead. As you’ll see, the 830 Series puts on quite a show...

 
The Samsung SSD 830 Series, Top and Bottom Views

Samsung SSD 830 Series SATA III MLC Solid State Drive
Specifications & Features


Like its SSD 470 Series predecessors, the Samsung SSD 830 Series drives are all Samsung, through and through. The drives use the 2.5” form factor that’s become common with modern desktop SSDs, but the Z-Height is only 7mm to accommodate some of the newer thin-and-light notebooks on the market (or coming soon). The drive’s enclosure is mostly brushed aluminum with a black-tone, with a plastic lid that snaps down over the top. And other than the drive’s capacity nestled in the orange block in the corner, only a large Samsung logo adorns the top of the drive. The bottom has a sticker with serial and model numbers details, etc.

  
Samsung S4LJ204X01-Y040 Controller, K4T2G314QF DDR2 SDRAM, and K9PFGY8U7A-KCL0 DDR Toggle NAND

Opening up the enclosure reveals the elegantly arranged components within. The Samsung SSD 830 Series drives features a relatively clean looking PCB, with all of its components arranged on a single side. The back-side of the PCB is completely devoid of any components and features only a few traces strewn about.

   
Samsung SSD 830 Series PCB, Top and Bottom Views

The particular drive you see here is a 256GB model, with eight 32GB Samsung 2xnm Toggle DDR NAND flash memory chips, 256MB of Samsung DDR2 SDRAM cache memory, and a new Samsung Controller. The Samsung S4LJ204X01-Y040 controller used in the SSD 830 Series features a 3-ARM core design with support for SATA III 6Gb/s interface speeds. The drive also sports firmware optimized for sustained performance with what Samsung calls “specially-engineered wear-leveling and garbage collection algorithms” that should result in excellent long-term reliability as well.

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Test Setup, IOMeter 1.1 RC and SANDRA

Our Test Methodologies: Under each test condition, the Solid State Drives tested here were installed as secondary volumes in our testbed, with a standard spinning hard disk for the OS and benchmark installations. Out testbed's motherboard was updated with the latest BIOS available as of press time and AHCI mode was enabled. The SSDs were secure erased and left blank without partitions wherever possible, unless a test required them to be partitioned and formatted, as was the case with our ATTO, PCMark 7, and CrystalDiskMark benchmark tests. Windows firewall, automatic updates and screen savers were all disabled before testing. In all test runs, we rebooted the system and waited several minutes for drive activity to settle before invoking a test.

HotHardware Test System
Intel Core i7 and SSD Powered

Processor -

Motherboard -


Video Card -

Memory -

Audio -

Hard Drives -

 

Hardware Used:
Intel Core i7-2600K

Asus P8Z6-V Pro
(Z68 Chipset, AHCI Enabled)

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 285

4GB Kingston DDR3-1600

Integrated on board

WD Raptor 150GB (OS Drive)
Samsung SSD 830 (256GB)
OCZ Vertex 3 MaxIOPs (240GB)
Corsair Force GT (120GB)
Corsair Force 3 Series (128GB)
Patriot Wildfire (120GB)
Crucial M4 (256)

OS -
Chipset Drivers -
DirectX -

Video Drivers
-


Relevant Software:
Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 x64
Intel 9.2.0.1030, iRST 10.5.1027
DirectX 11

NVIDIA GeForce 275.33

Benchmarks Used:
IOMeter 1.1.0 RC
HD Tune v4.61
ATTO v2.47
AS SSD
CrystalDiskMark v3.01 x64
PCMark 7
SiSoftware Sandra 2011

IOMeter
I/O Subsystem Measurement Tool

As we've noted in previous SSD articles, though IOMeter is clearly a well-respected industry standard drive benchmark, we're not completely comfortable with it for testing SSDs. The fact of the matter is, though our actual results with IOMeter appear to scale properly, it is debatable whether or not certain access patterns, as they are presented to and measured on an SSD, actually provide a valid example of real-world performance for the average end user. That said, we do think IOMeter is a gauge for relative available throughput with a given storage solution. In addition there are certain higher-end workloads you can place on a drive with IOMeter, that you really can't with most other benchmark tools available currently.

In the following tables, we're showing two sets of access patterns; our Workstation pattern, with an 8K transfer size, 80% reads (20% writes) and 80% random (20% sequential) access and IOMeter's default access pattern of 2K transfers, 67% reads (34% writes) and 100% random access.

 

The Samsung SSD 830 Series was a stellar performer according to IOMeter, with the two access patterns that were used. The drive clearly outpaced all of the competing drives by a wide margin in every category except CPU utilization.

SiSoft SANDRA 2011
Synthetic HDD Benchmarking

Next we ran SiSoft SANDRA, the the System ANalyzer, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant. Here, we used the Physical Disk test suite and provided the results from our comparison SSDs. The benchmarks were run without formatting and read and write performance metrics are detailed below.

In the SiSoft SANDRA Physical Disk benchmark, the Samsung SSD 830 Series drive put up some very good numbers, but it couldn't quite catch any of the SandForce SF-2200-based drives in terms of writes, although reads were competitive.

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ATTO Disk Benchmark
ATTO is another "quick and dirty" type of disk benchmark that measures transfer speeds across a specific volume length. It measures raw transfer rates for both reads and writes and graphs them out in an easily interpreted chart. We chose .5kb through 8192kb transfer sizes and a queue depth of 6 over a total max volume length of 256MB. ATTO's workloads are sequential in nature and measure raw bandwidth, rather than I/O response time, access latency, etc. This test was performed on blank, formatted drives with default NTFS partitions in Windows 7 x64.

ATTO Disk Benchmark
More Information Here: http://bit.ly/btuV6w

With transfer sizes between 4K and 256K, the Samsung SSD 830 Series drive offered the best Read throughput of the bunch, and remained competitive with all of the other drives as transfer sizes increased all the way up to 8MB. The Samsung SSD 830 Series drive's write performance was very good, but it ultimately falls short of the mark set by the SandForce-based drives.

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HD Tune Benchmarks
EFD Software's HD Tune is described on the company's web site as such: "HD Tune is a hard disk utility with many functions. It can be used to measure the drive's performance, scan for errors, check the health status (S.M.A.R.T.), securely erase all data and much more." The latest version of the benchmark added temperature statistics and improved support for SSDs, among a few other updates and fixes.

HD Tune v4.61
More Info Here: http://www.hdtune.com







According to HD Tune, the Samsung SSD 830 Series drive is the best performer all around. In this series of tests, the Samsung SSD 830 Series drive offers the best Read and Write throughput, access times, and Burst rates, although CPU Utilization is high during Read operations versus the other drives.

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CrystalDiskMark Benchmarks

CrystalDiskMark is a synthetic benchmark that tests both sequential and random small and mid-sized file transfers. It provides a quick look at best and worst case scenarios with regard to SSD performance, best case being larger sequential transfers and worse case being small, random transfers.

CrystalDiskMark Benchmarks
Synthetic File Transfer Tests





In the CrystalDiskMark benchmarks, the Samsung SSD 830 Series offered the best sustained performance and remained competitive with the other drives throughout. Perhaps the most interesting result is in the 4K QD32 test, where the Samsung SSD 830 Series simply blows past all of the other drives in terms of Read throughout. Although its 4K random write performance continues to somewhat trail the SandForce-based drives.

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AS-SSD Compression Test

Next up we ran the Compression Benchmark built-into AS SSD, an SSD specific benchmark being developed by Alex Intelligent Software. This test is interesting because it uses a mix of compressible and incompressible data and outputs both Read and Write throughput of the drive. We only graphed a small fraction of the data (1% compressible, 50% compressible, and 100% compressible), but the trend is representative of the benchmark’s complete results.

AS SSD Compression Benchmark
Bring Your Translator: http://bit.ly/aRx11n

The Samsung SSD 830 Series drive's performance doesn't change with compressible or incompressible data, as it does with the SandForce-based drives. As we've seen in a few other tests, the 830 Series drive's Read performance is among the best in this test. Its Write performance is also the best with incompressible data, but it falls behind the SandForce-based drives with highly compressible data.

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PCMark 7 Storage Benchmarks
We really like PCMark 7's Secondary Storage benchmark module for its pseudo real-world application measurement approach to testing. PCMark 7 offers a trace-based measurement of system response times under various scripted workloads of traditional client / desktop system operation. From simple application start-up performance, to data streaming from a drive in a game engine, and video editing with Windows Movie Maker, we feel more comfortable that these tests reasonably illustrate the performance profile of SSDs in an end-user / consumer PC usage model, more so than a purely synthetic transfer test.

Futuremark's PCMark 7 Secondary Storage
http://www.futuremark.com

The Samsung SSD 830 Series drive put up the second best overall storage score in the PCMark 7 Storage benchmark, besting all drives with the exception of the OCZ Vertex 3 MaxIOPS edition. If we tunnel deeper and look at the individual test results, it's also a very tight finish with the Samsung SSD 830 Series trailing the OCZ drive by the smallest of margins in most tests. Where the Samsung drive pulls ahead, the deltas are similarly tiny.

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Our Summary and Conclusion

Performance Summary: The Samsung SSD 830 Series solid state drive offered top end performance throughout all of our testing. Overall, drives based on SandForce’s SF-2200 series controllers (when paired to synchronous NAND flash memory), like the OCZ Vertex 3 MaxIOPS or Corsair Force GT, offer somewhat better performance due to superior write characteristics in many workloads with excellent read throughput. However, the Samsung SSD 830 Series drive offered the best Read performance of the group more often than not, due to best-of-class random reads throughput.  Its performance also remains consistent with compressible or incompressible data, and under heavier workloads the drive excels, as is evident in our IOMeter and CrystalDiskMark QD32 benchmarks. Although, CPU utilization ended up relatively high in light of competing drives in the tests where the SSD 830 Series leads.


Samsung SSD 830 Series Drives Will Be Offered in 64GB, 128GB, 256GB and 512GB Capacities

Samsung SSD 830 Series drives should be available in mid-October, with capacities ranging from 64GB to 512GB. As we mentioned, pricing isn’t available just yet, but when they do ship, we expect prices to be similar to the current SSD 470 Series drives. We should also point out that Samsung SSD 830 Series products are going to ship with both desktop and laptop installation kits to facilitate end-user upgrades. The desktop kit will include SATA data and power cables, screws, and a 2.5” to 3.5” adapter bracket. And the laptop kit will have a SATA to USB adapter cable and a mounting spacer so that laptops with more common 9.5mm drive bays can accommodate the SSD 830 Series’ slimmer 7mm profile. In addition to the installation kits, the drives will include a full version of Norton Ghost 15.0 as well, along with a copy of Samsung’s SSD Magician software which can be used to maintain, update, benchmark, and secure erase the drive.

Until we see official pricing and get a better feel for the Samsung SSD 830 Series over a longer period of time (we’ve only had the drive for a few days) we’ll hold off on passing judgment, but our initial impression of the drive is excellent. If pricing is competitive and long-term reliability ends up being as good as Samsung’s previous-generation, the Samsung SSD 830 Series is sure to be a hit. Let’s just hope Apple doesn’t scoop them all up for their next-gen Macs and we enthusiasts can get our hands on them when the time comes.

  • Strong Performance
  • Slim Profile
  • 2xnm DDR Toggle NAND
  • SATA III Interface

 

  • Not Available Yet
  • Pricing Uncertain At The Moment



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