Samsung SSD 980 Pro Review: Blazing Fast PCIe 4.0 Storage
Samsung SSD 980 Pro: Super-Fast PCI Express 4 NVMe Storage
The Samsung SSD 980 Pro series of solid state drives not only support the PCI Express 4.0 interface, but they are outfitted with a completely new controller, Samsung’s latest NAND flash, enhanced cooling, and a revamped TurboWrite cache. All told, the Samsung SSD 980 Pros should be faster and more reliable than previous-gen drives. Although their endurance ratings look good, we won’t know for certain how their reliability stacks up until the drives have been out in the wild for a while. Given Samsung’s track record though, we’re not concerned. We can find out how the drives perform, however. First up, some specs, a quick tour, and then we’ll dig into some numbers...
The Samsung SSD 980 Pro series of M.2 solid state drives will initially be offered in three capacities, 250GB, 512GB and 1TB. A larger, 2TB model is coming down the pipeline as well, and is slated to arrive before the end of the year. What you see pictured below are the 250GB and 1TB models.
the 970 Pros are rated for, but should still be plenty for the overwhelming majority of consumer workloads.
As mentioned, the Samsung SSD 980 Pro series features Samsung’s latest V-NAND flash memory. To be specific, the drives are equipped with 6th generation, 1xx-layer (up to 136 layer) TLC V-NAND flash with 3D charge trap flash (CTF) cells. This 6th generation V-NAND offers up to 10% lower latency for reads and writes and up to 15% lower power than previous-generation V-NAND.
The drives are also outfitted with a brand-new controller, dubbed Elpis. In addition to the aforementioned native PCI Express 4.0 interface, the new Elpis controller supports 4x the number of maximum queues as the Phoenix controller used on the 970 series (32 vs. 128). And the Elpis controller is manufactured on a leading-edge 8nm process.
Like previous-gen EVO-branded drives, the Samsung SSD 980 Pros feature TurboWrite technology. TurboWrite uses a portion of the NAND as an SLC write buffer, which results in improved write performance, as long as the buffer isn’t exhausted. With these drives, however, Samsung has tweaked the algorithm and TurboWrite capacities.
Like previous-gen drives, the TurboWrite buffer dynamically adjusts in size based on the workload. With the 250GB model, for example, the TurboWrite buffer can be as large as 45GB if the drive has enough unused capacity, which is much larger than the 970 EVO series. The 1TB drive’s TurboWrite buffer can scale as large 108GB. The larger TurboWrite buffers in the 980 Pro series give them the ability to maintain maximum write performance 92% longer than the 970 EVO Plus series.
TurboWrite will allow the Samsung SSD 980 Pro drives to perform very well in the vast majority of consumer-class workloads. As you can see in the screen-capture above (taken from HD Tune using both the 250Gb and 1TB drives), writes are fastest when the TurboWrite buffer is being utilized, but once it is exhausted, write performance either tapers off or becomes somewhat more erratic.
Samsung warranties the SSD 980 Pro series drives for 5 years, which is in-line with previous-gen offerings. Anecdotally, in all of the years we have been evaluating Samsung SSDs, we have yet to have one fail. Every one of the Samsung drives we have on hand, including much older SATA-based solutions, is still functioning normally.
Samsung SSD 980 Pro Benchmarks
Under each test condition, the SSDs tested here were installed as secondary volumes in our testbed, with a separate drive used for the OS and benchmark installations. Our testbed's motherboard was updated with the latest BIOS available at the time of publication. The SSDs were secure erased prior to testing (when applicable), and left blank without partitions for some tests, while others required them to be partitioned and formatted, as is the case with the ATTO, PCMark, and CrystalDiskMark tests. Windows firewall, automatic updates, and screen savers were all disabled before testing and Windows 10 Quiet Hours / Focus Assist was enabled.
Video Card -
|AMD Threadripper 3990X
MSI TRX40 Creator
GeForce RTX 2080 Ti
32GB G.SKILL DDR4-3200
Integrated on board
Corsair MP600 (OS Drive)
Samsung SSD 980 Pro (1TB, 250GB)
Gigabyte Aorus NVMe PCIe 4 (2TB)
Samsung SSD 970 Pro (512GB)
Chipset Drivers -
|Windows 10 Pro x64 (2004)
HD Tune v5.75
CrystalDiskMark v7 x64
PCMark 10 Quick Storage Bench
In the following tables, we're showing two sets of access patterns; a custom Workstation pattern, with an 8K transfer size, consisting of 80% reads (20% writes) and 80% random (20% sequential) access and a 4K access pattern with a 4K transfer size, comprised of 67% reads (33% writes) and 100% random access. Queue depths from 1 to 32 were tested...
All of the drives we tested are somewhat tightly grouped here, save for the Gigabyte Aorus Gen4 NVMe SSD, which pulls out in front at the higher queue depths. The Samsung SSD 980 Pro 1TB drive does the best at QD1, however, which is where the vast majority of consumer workloads reside.
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 64MB 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.
In ATTO's read and write bandwidth tests, the Samsung SSD 980 Pro drives clearly lead the pack in terms of peak reads. The drives find their stride around the 128K mark and then pull away. The 1TB 980 Pro also leads the pack in write performance.
The Samsung SSD 980 Pro 250GB drive and 970 Pro offered similar IO performance in these tests, but the 1TB 980 Pro trailed with the lower transfer sizes, which is surprising. Still, the Samsung drives were significantly faster than the other PCIe Gen 4 drive here.
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 non-compressible 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.