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Samsung SM843 Pro: Ultra Fast Data Center SSD
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Date: Mar 13, 2013
Section:Storage
Author: Marco Chiappetta
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Introduction and Specifications
We have taken a look at a few Samsung-built solid state drives over the years and found them all to be relatively strong performers in their respective product categories. If you’d like to check some out for yourself, you can find our coverage of the Samsung 830 Series SSD here and our coverage of the newer Samsung SSD 840 Series drive here.

Today we’re going to be looking at a somewhat different type of drive from Samsung, the SM843 Pro Data Series SSD. The SM843 is essentially the same drive as the consumer-targeted 840 Pro SSD, but with a specialized firmware that’s optimized for mainstream, ready-heavy data center applications and more over-provisioning of the NAND. We’ve got the full specifications of the drive below, followed by some pics of the product and its internals.

As cool as the internals look, it’s the Samsung SM843 Pro Data Series SSD’s performance that is really attractive. You’ll get to see what we mean by that on the pages ahead...

Samsung SM843 Pro Data Series
Specifications & Features
Form Factor 2.5 inches
Capacity 120/240/480 GB
Host Interface Serial ATA 3 (6 Gb/s)
MTBF 2,000,000 hours
Uncorrectable Bit Error Rate (UBER) 1x1017
Power Consumption (Active) 3.4 W
Power Consumption (Idle) 300 mW
Random Read Up to 70,000 IOPS
Random Writes Up to 11,500 IOPS
Random Terabytes Written (TBW)  Up to 1,060 TBW Up to 1 WPD*
Sequential Read Up to 530 MB/s
Sequential Writes Up to 420 MB/s
Sequential Terabytes Written (TBW) Up to 4,200 TBWUp to 5 WPD*
Physical Dimensions 100 x 70 x 7mm
Weight  56g
*WPD = Drive Writes Per Day for 5 Years

Externally, the Samsung SM843 Pro Data Series SSD looks much like any other solid state drive that conforms to the common 2.5” form factor, but with a 7mm Z-Height. The drive has a basic metal enclosure, with a simple texture and a single decal listing model and serial number information.

 

The drive you see pictured here is a 240GB model. It is rated for up to 530 MB/s and 420 MB/s sequential reads and writes, respectively, with write endurance of one full random or five full sequential drive writes per day for five years. If you’ve read about some other enterprise-targeted solid state drives, you’ll notice that write endurance number is somewhat low. The Micron P400m, for example, is rated for 10 full drive writes per day for five years. As such, Samsung recommends this drive for more read-heavy, main stream data center applications.

 

As you peek inside the drive, you’ll see every component is Samsung-made. In this 240GB drive, there is actually 256GB of 20nm MLC NAND, comprised of eight chips in total. There is also a 512MB DRAM cache and, of course, a Samsung MDX drive controller. The controller is an 8-channel design with three ARM Cortex-R4 cores running at 300MHz and a SATA 6Gbps interface.
 
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Test Setup, IOMeter 1.1 RC

Our Test Methods: 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 UEFI available as of press time and AHCI (or RAID) mode was enabled. The SSDs were secure erased before testing 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, ensured all temp and prefetch data was purged, and waited several minutes for drive activity to settle and for the system to reach an idle state 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)
Samsung SSD 843 (256GB)
OCZ Vertex 3 (200GB)
Corsair Force GT (240GB)
Crucial M4 (256GB)
OCZ Vector (256GB)
Micron RealSSD P400m (200GB)
Intel SSD DC S3700 (200GB)
OCZ Vertex 4 (256GB)

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 2012

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 reliable gauge for relative available throughput within a given storage solution. In addition there are certain higher-end workloads you can place on a drive with IOMeter, that you can't with most other storage benchmark tools available currently.

In the following tables, we're showing two sets of access patterns; our custom Workstation pattern, with an 8K transfer size, 80% reads (20% writes) and 80% random (20% sequential) access and another with 4K transfers, 100% random, 100% writes.

All of the drives offered consistent performance in the 4K random write test, with the Micron P400m finishing between the Intel and OCZ drives. Samsung's latest enterprise SSD, however, pulled way ahead of everything else. In our custom workstation test, the Intel drive jumps out to a big lead, with the Samsung and OCZ Vector drives mixing it up for second.

In terms of bandwidth with the two access patters we tested in IOMeter, the Intel and Samsung drives lead the other drives and trade victories. The Samsung drive offered the best 4K random performance, while Intel's drive took the lead in the 8K/80/80 test.

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SiSoft SANDRA 2012
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.

SiSoft SANDRA 2012: Physical Disk Test
Synthetic Disk Benchmarking

 

The Samsung SM843 jumped out to a big lead in the light-duty SiSoft SANDRA physical disk test. Reads were well ahead of the other drives we tested and writes were among the best as well.
 

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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

 

Once the transfer size hit about the 64K mark, all of the highest performing drives we tested were fairly tightly grouped in both the Read and Write tests. The Samsung SM843, however, had a clear lead over the other drives with smaller transfer sizes.
 

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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







The Samsung SM843 offered excellent performance according to HD Tune. The drive's sequential transfer performance was among the best we've seen and access times were consistently low.
 

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CrystalDiskMark Benchmarks

CrystalDiskMark is a synthetic benchmark that tests both sequential and random small and mid-sized file transfers using incompressible data. 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







The Samsung SM843 lead the pack in three out of the four CrystalDiskMark benchmarks, falling victim to the Intel SSD 520 only in the 4K transfer test. Once the queue depth was increased to 32, however, the Samsung drive pulled ahead of the pack by a wide margin.
 

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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 compressibility of the data being transferred has no affect on the Samsung SM843's performance in AS-SSD's read and write tests. Regardless of the data type, the Samsun SM843 led the pack here.
 

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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 SM843 put up the best score we have seen to-date in the PCMark 7 secondary storage benchmark. Across the board, the SM843 offered the highest transfer rates in the individual tests, which resulted in the highest overall score of the bunch. The SM843 bested the second place finisher by about 3.7% here.
 

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Our Summary and Conclusion

Performance Summary: The Samsung SM843 Pro Data Center Series solid state drive is one of, if not the highest-performing SSDs we have ever tested. Although the SM843 didn't lead in every benchmark, more often than not the drive outpaced all of the others we tested, sometimes by large margins. The SM843 excelled with small file transfers and large sequential transfers, and its performance is unaffected by the compressibility of the data being transferred. Performance at high queue depths was also strong and access times were consistently low.


The Samsung SM843 Pro Data Center Series SSD

The Samsung SM843 Pro Data Center Series SSD is clearly a strong performer, but there are a couple of things that prevent it from being an all-around, solid recommendation for data center applications. First, the drive's write endurance is somewhat lower than some other recently released solid state drives targeted at the enterprise. The Samsung SM843 also lacks any sort of power loss protection, which is an important feature to help prevent data loss or corruption in the event of a power outage. Those two things may not be deal breakers for many of you, especially since consumer-class drives that also lack those features are increasing in popularity for less critical, read-heavy applications, which is the target market for the SM843.

We also have to take issue with Samsung over the pricing of the SM843, or more specifically, the total lack of pricing information available to us. When we asked for the most up-to-date pricing data available for the drive in preparation for this review, we were told, "Samsung’s SM843 is a value-priced solid state drive marketed to OEMs that is designed for data center applications with moderate ‘write’ workloads. Specific pricing varies based on contractual arrangements and market conditions.” That's all well and good, but it doesn't help us with any real data to see just how competitive (or not) the drive is priced versus competing offerings. If we had pricing data, and it was in-line with competing drives, the Samsung SM843 Pro Data Center Series would undeniably be award-worthy based on its excellent performance. Without solid pricing information though, we can't say for sure.

  • Excellent Performance
  • Strong Performance with Small File Transfers
  • Unaffected By Compressibility of Data
  • No Pricing Info Available
  • No Power Loss Protection



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