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Samsung SSD 840 EVO 250GB & 1TB Drives Tested
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Date: Aug 14, 2013
Section:Storage
Author: Marco Chiappetta
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Introduction and Specifications

Samsung has been aggressively bolstering its solid state drive line-up for the last couple of years. While some of Samsung’s earliest drives may not have particularly stood-out versus the competition at the time, the company’s 830 series and more recently the 840 series of solid state drives—especially the 840 Pro--have been excellent, both in terms of value and overall performance in their target markets.

Today we’re going to give you a taste of a couple of Samsung’s latest consumer-class solid state drives in the just-announced the 840 EVO series of products. As the name suggests, the SSD 840 EVO series of drives are an evolution of the Samsung 840 series. These drives use the latest TLC NAND flash to come out of Samsung’s fab, along with an updated controller, and also feature some interesting software that can significantly impact performance as well. Take a look at the specifications for the new Samsung SSD 840 series of drives below and then strap yourself in as we take a look at one of the more interesting solid state drives to come across our test bench in quite a while...

Samsung SSD 840 EVO Series
Specifications & Features
Usage Application  Client PCs* 
Capacity  120GB, 250GB, 500GB, 750GB and 1TB 
Dimensions (L* W* H)  100 x 69.85 x 6.8 (mm) 
Interface  SATA 6Gb/s (compatible with SATA 3Gb/s and SATA 1.5Gb/s) 
Form Factor  2.5-inch 
Controller  Samsung MEX controller 
NAND Flash Memory  1x nm Samsung Toggle DDR 2.0 NAND Flash Memory (400Mbps) 
DRAM Cache Memory  256MB (120GB) or 512MB(250GB&500GB) or 1GB (750&1TB) LPDDR2 
Performance Sequential Read: Max. 540 MB/s 
Sequential Write: Max. 520 MB/s (250GB/500GB/750GB/1TB), 410 MB/s (120GB) 
4KB Random Read (QD1): Max. 10,000 IOPS
4KB Random Write(QD1): Max. 33,000 IOPS
4KB Random Read(QD32): Max. 98,000 IOPS (500GB/750GB/1TB), 97,000 IOPS (250GB), 94,000 IOPS (120GB)
4KB Random Write(QD32): Max. 90,000 IOPS (500GB/750GB/1TB), 66,000 IOPS (250GB), 35,000 IOPS (120GB)
TRIM Support  Yes (Requires OS Support) 
Garbage Collection  Yes 
S.M.A.R.T  Yes 
Encryption  AES 256-bit Full Disk Encryption (FDE)
PSID printed in SSD label 
Weight  Max. 53g (1TB) 
Reliability  MTBF: 1.5 million hours 
Power Consumption  Average :100mW*** (Typical) Idle : 45mW (Typical, DIPM ON) 
Temperature Operating: 0°C to 70°C
Non-Operating: -55°C to 95°C 
Humidity  5% to 95%, non-condensing 
Vibration  Operating: Random: 2.17Grms (7~800Hz) 
Non-Operating:  Random: 3.08Grms (7~800Hz) 
Shock  1500G & 0.5ms (Half sine) 
Warranty
Price:
3 years limited
120GB at $109.99 and 250GB at $189.99 currently


If you really spent the time to go through the specifications listed here, you’ll no doubt have noticed that Samsung will be offering drives in the 840 EVO series with capacities ranging from 120GB all the way up to a whopping 1TB. Like other SSDs, performance varies between the different capacities, but overall the 840 EVO series is poised to offer class-leading performance, if Samsung’s numbers hold true in the real-world, of course. Rest assured, we’ll be finding out shortly.

Along with all of those different capacities, Samsung will also be offering various retail products targeting different market segments. There will be standalone drives in all capacities offered for desktop users and for mobile users, Samsung will be offering kits that include migrations software, a USB adapter, and 7mm to 9mm shim as well. All of the actual drives used in the desktop and mobile variants, however, will be similar—it’s only the bundled accessories that will be different.
 
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The Samsung SSD 840 EVO

Externally, there’s not much to see in regards to Samsung SSD 840 EVO series drives. They conform to the same 2.5-inch form factor as most other consumer-class solid state drives and feature a basic, brushed metal enclosure with Samsung’s logo, an 840 EVO emblazoned on the top, and serial number and other identifying information on the bottom.

The drives feature a 7mm Z-Height, though as we mentioned earlier, shims to beef up the drive to 9mm for some mobile platforms will also be offered.

The 840 EVO series enclosures are secured using a trio of pentalobe screws, which are more obscure than the typical Torx or even Hex screws used on most other drives. Should you have the necessary tools to open one of these babies up, however, you’d see that even these relatively svelte 7mm, 2.5” enclosure are way bigger than they need to be.



 

The guts of the two drives you see pictured here are for the 250GB and 1TB versions. As you can see, the PCB for the 250GB drive barely fills 1/3 of the enclosure. And the 1TB is not all that much bigger.

Both of the drives feature an updated, triple-core Samsung MEX controller, which operates at 400MHz. The controller is fundamentally similar to the triple-core MDX controller used in the original 840 series, though the MDX controller operated at only 300MHz. The 840 EVO’s MEX controller has also been updated to support the SATA 3.1 spec, which incorporates a few new features, like support for queued TRIM commands, for example.

Along with the new controller, all of the Samsung 840 EVO series drives feature some LPDDR2-1066 DRAM cache memory. The 120GB drive sports 256MB of cache, the 250GB and 500GB drive have 512MB of cache, and the 750GB and 1TB drives have 1GB of cache. All of the Samsung 840 EVO drives are also outfitted with 19nm TLC NAND flash memory of varying capacities. The 250GB drive features two pieces of NAND (128GB, each), while the 1TB drive has 8 pieces (128GB, each). If you do the math, however, you’ll file that both drives leave roughly 9% of the NAND capacity for over-provisioning, which is typical of many current SSDs.


TurboWrite In Action

In addition to using a bleeding edge 19nm manufacturing process, Samsung has also dedicated a small portion of the TLC NAND to act like an SLC write buffer—Samsung calls the feature TurboWrite. This allows the TLC NAND to perform more like a MLC drive for writes, as long as the buffer isn’t exhausted. On the 250GB drive, about the TurboWrite buffer is about 3GB; that number increases to 12GB on the 1TB drive.

TurboWrite should allow the 840 EVO series to perform very well in the vast majority of consumer-class workloads. As you can see in the screencap above (taken from HD Tune using the 1TB drive), writes are much faster when the TurboWrite buffer is being utilized, and then taper off.

Another interesting feature of the Samsung SSD 840 EVO series is dubbed RAPID. RAPID is an acronym for Real-Time Accelerated Processing of I/O Data. It is a feature of Samsung’s Magician software (v4.2 or newer) that can speed up the drive significantly and can be enabled with a single-click (followed by a reboot).

Samsung acquired NVELO a while back, which was a company known for its SSD caching technology. NVELO’s software was used to accelerate hard drive transfers by buffering the most commonly accessed bits of data from the hard drive onto a faster SSD. Well, RAPID works in a similar manner, but in the case of the Samsung 840 EVO series of drives, RAPID caches the most commonly accessed bits of data on the SSD into faster system memory. The size of the cache will dynamically adjust based on available system resources, and it follows the cache flush commands of the OS, so the risk of losing data due to an unexpected power outage isn’t much higher than a typical system using write buffering. The algorithms for RAPID are specifically tuned for solid state transfers, however, and are far more effective than any current-gen OS cache.
 

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Test Setup, IOMeter 1.1 RC

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 (or RAID) mode was enabled. The SSDs were secure erased prior to testing, and left blank without partitions for some tests, while others required them to be partitioned and formatted, as is 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)
OCZ Vertex 3 (200GB)
Corsair Force GT (240GB)
Crucial M4 (256GB)
Samsung 840 EVO (250GB, 1TB)
Intel SSD 520 (240GB)
OCZ Vertex 4 (256GB)
SanDisk Extreme II (480GB)

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 an'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 IOMeter's default access pattern of 2K transfers, 67% reads (34% writes) and 100% random access.

The new Samsung SSD 840 EVO series of drives led the pack according to IOMeter and the two access patterns we used for testing. The 1TB drive in particular finished well ahead of any of the other drives we tested, though the 250GB was no slouch in its own right.

In terms of total data transferred, the Samsung SSD 840 EVO series drives also outpaced every other drive we tested. And once again, the 1TB drive took the top spot overall.
 

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SANDRA and ATTO Disk Benchmark

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
Synthetic HDD Benchmarking

According to SiSoft SANDRA's physical disk benchmark, the two Samsung SSD 840 EVO series drives we tested were faster than any competing drive.  We should also point out that we tested the drives with RAPID enabled here as well and saw write transfer speeds in the 500MB to 4GB per second range--yes, that's supposed to be GB there. We didn't see any increase in read performance, however.

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

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.

The Samsung SSD 840 EVO series of drives once again offered class-leading performance according to the ATTO disk benchmark. Regardless of the transfer size, the EVO drives finished at, or at least very near, the top of the heap.

Enabling RAPID mode resulted in performance that was all over the map, depending on the transfer size and scope of the benchmark. Here's what ATTO reported for the 1TB drive using ATTO's default settings.
 

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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





Once again, we see the Samsung SSD 840 EVO series drives putting up best-of-class scores. Please note that numbers with RAPID enabled are also located in the graphs above.  You'll notice that enabling RAPID resulted in modest increases is write performance, and big gains in access time, though CPU utilization went up a bit.
 

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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

At this point, we're probably starting to sound like a broken record, but once again, according to CrystalDiskMark, the Samsung SSD 840 EVO series of drives are top performers, regardless of the specific test. From 4K transfers at high queue-depths to large sequential transfers, the Samsung SSD 840 EVO series led the pack.

We didn't include RAPID scores in the graphs above, because they would have skewed the results significantly. Here's what you can expect to see using CrystalDIskMark's default settings over a small span of the drive.
 

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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

Regardless of the type of data used, the Samsung SSD 840 EVO series of drives offers consistent performance. There is no drop-off in write performance as the data become more incompressible, unlike the SandForce based drives featured here.

And this is what happens to the 1TB drives performance if RAPID is enabled.  As you can see, transfer speeds are all over the map. Of course, this data isn't necessarily representative of real-world performance because of the synthetic nature of the benchmark.  We've included strictly for reference purposes.
 
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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

Whether RAPID mode is enabled or not, the two Samsung SSD 840 EVO series drives we tested put up some of the best scores we have seen in the PCMark 7 storage benchmark to date.

As you can see, enabling RAPID mode results in a modest performance boost across the board, though its in the Starting Applications test that the biggest boost in performance is observed.
 
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Our Summary and Conclusion

Performance Summary: Samsung’s new SSD 840 EVO series of solid state drives performed extremely well throughout our entire battery of benchmarks. Whether using synthetic benchmarks, trace-based tests, or highly-compressible or incompressible data, the Samsung SSD 840 EVO series of drives put up class-leading numbers. The 1TB drive offered better write performance overall versus the 250GB drive, though that was to be expected.


The Samsung SSD 840 EVO

Samsung’s SSD 840 EVO series of solid state drives should be available in the next few days at prices starting at $109 for the 120GB model. More specifically, the MSRPs for the entire range of drives, in capacities of 120GB to 1TB is as follows:

As you can see, the cost per gigabyte of Samsung’s SSD 840 EVO series of drives decreases as capacities increase. So, the larger drive you can afford, the better deal it is. And in light of current competing drives, the EVO series is right in-line and competitive.

In terms of their performance, the SSD 840 EVO series of drives are clearly very attractive options. We can’t definitively speak to their long-term reliability since they haven’t even hit the market yet, but based on past experience with Samsung’s drives, we don’t expect any surprises. Samsung is also offering a 3-year warranty on the drives, which is also in-line with the competition. If you're in the market for a new solid state drive, the Samsung SSD 840 EVO series should be on your short list, especially if you've got the coin for one of the larger capacities in the line-up.

  • Great Performance
  • RAPID Mode Option
  • Competitively Priced
  • Not Available Just Yet
  • TLC NAND Not As Durable as True MLC



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