Samsung has finally announced its long-awaited 980 PRO NVMe M.2 SSDs, which offer sequential read speeds of up to 7,000 MB/s and write speeds of up to 5,000 MB/s thanks to their blazing-fast PCIe 4.0 interface. Coming in 2TB, 1 TB, 500 GB, and 250 GB flavors, the drives also feature nickel-coated controllers and heat spreader labels to tame higher temperatures.

You can check out the official store listings for Samsung’s 980 PRO NVMe M.2 SSDs here. The 250 GB version will cost $89.99, but we’re not sure what the MSRPs of the higher capacities are. Additionally, the 2 TB model may not be available until the end of the year.

Key Specifications

CategorySamsung SSD 980 PRO
InterfacePCIe 4.0 x4, NVMe 1.3c
Form FactorM.2 (2280)
Storage MemorySamsung 1xx-layer V-NAND 3-bit MLC
ControllerSamsung Elpis Controller
DRAM   1GB LPDDR4 (1TB)
512MB LPDDR4 (500GB, 250GB)
Capacity41TB, 500GB, 250GB
Sequential Read/Write SpeedUp to 7,000 MB/s, Up to 5,000 MB/s
Random Read/Write Speed
(QD32)
Up to 1,000K IOPS, 1,000K IOPS
Management SoftwareSamsung Magician Software
Data EncryptionAES 256-bit Full Disk Encryption, TCG/Opal V2.0,
Encrypted Drive (IEEE1667)
Total Bytes Written600TB (1TB) 300TB (500GB) 150TB (250GB)
Warranty5Five-year Limited Warranty6

Original Press Release:

Samsung Electronics, the world leader in advanced memory technology, today unveiled the company’s first consumer PCIe 4.0 NVMe solid state drive (SSD) – the Samsung SSD 980 PRO. The new 980 PRO is designed for professionals and consumers who want cutting-edge performance in their high-end PCs, workstations and game consoles.

“Over the years, Samsung has continuously challenged the limits of high-speed flash memory storage solutions,” said Dr. Mike Mang, vice president of Memory Brand Product Biz at Samsung Electronics. “The new 980 PRO SSD reflects our continuing commitment to delivering exceptional products consumers have come to expect from Samsung.”

Optimized for handling data-intensive applications, the 980 PRO is ideal for consumers and professionals who work with 4K and 8K contents, and play graphics-heavy games. All the key components, including the custom Elpis controller, V-NAND and DRAM, are completely designed in-house to deliver the full potential of PCIe 4.0. This allows the 980 PRO to provide sequential read and write speeds of up to 7,000 MB/s and 5,000 MB/s respectively, as well as random read and write speeds of up to 1,000K IOPS, making it up to two times faster than PCIe 3.0 SSDs and up to 12.7 times faster than SATA SSDs.

In addition to enhanced performance, the 980 PRO comes with outstanding thermal control solutions for improved reliability. While most of today’s high-performance NVMe SSDs rely on external copper heatsinks to diffuse heat, Samsung’s 980 PRO employs a nickel coating on the controller as well as a heat spreader label on the back side of the SSD for efficient thermal management. These innovative heat-dissipating functions also allow the drive to maintain its compact and slim M.2 form factor. Samsung’s Dynamic Thermal Guard technology further ensures that the drive’s temperature stays at the optimal level, minimizing performance fluctuations over the long haul.

The Samsung SSD 980 PRO comes in 1TB, 500GB and 250GB models, and will be available worldwide starting this month, while the 2TB capacity model will be available by the end of this year. The 980 PRO’s manufacturer’s suggested retail prices start at $89.99 for the 250GB model. For more information, including warranty details, please visit samsung.com/SSD or samsungssd.com.

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11 Comments

  1. "Historically, the PRO line of SSDs use some of Samsung’s fastest and most durable NAND available – this is what gives the products the PRO name. This time around, Samsung is changing things to help expand its Pro line customer base – Samsung is abandoning the use of the two bit per cell (MLC) memory that has been the hallmark of the PRO product lines, and with the 980 PRO, Samsung is finally switching to three bit per cell (TLC) NAND flash memory. This change is not unprecedented: Samsung has been almost completely alone in their continued use of 2-bit MLC NAND. By comparison, the rest of the SSD industry (consumer and enterprise) has moved from MLC to TLC, even on the leading edge designs.

    The historical reasoning for choosing MLC NAND over TLC NAND has always boiled down to two main factors: MLC tends to be faster, and it has higher write endurance."

    "In many ways, this drive could have easily been labeled the 980 EVO as a replacement for the 970 EVO Plus. Along with switching to TLC NAND, Samsung has cut the write endurance ratings in half to 0.3 DWPD and dropped the usable capacities down to the typical TLC/EVO levels of 250/500/1000 GB instead of 256/512/1024 GB."

    "The Elpis controller is their second to feature a metal heatspreader on the controller package. This is the third generation of drives to use copper foil in the label on the back of the drive as an additional heatspreader."

    "After the PCIe 4 support and 8nm fab process, the next most important feature of the new Samsung Elpis is its support for 128 IO queues, up from 32 in the previous Phoenix controller. The most common use case for multiple IO queues on a NVMe SSD is for the OS to assign one queue per CPU core, so that no core-to-core synchronization is required for software to submit new IO commands to the SSD. Now that CPU core counts have grown well beyond 32, it makes sense for Samsung to support more queues…"

    "The 980 PRO does not advertise compliance with the latest NVMe 1.4 specification and instead claims compliance with version 1.3c, but this has basically no practical impact."

    "The 980 PRO is still constrained by the latency of NAND flash memory, even though Samsung’s 128L TLC is a bit faster than their 92L and 64L generations. The switch to offering much larger SLC cache sizes probably matters a lot more than the addition of PCIe Gen4 support, and the modest power efficiency improvements are overdue."

    "Samsung’s decision to use TLC NAND in the 980 PRO instead of the traditional MLC NAND for their PRO SSDs has raised some eyebrows, to say the least. Their PRO product line has long stood as one of the most premium options in the SSD market, and this change raises the question of whether the 980 PRO actually deserves that ‘PRO’ moniker. This drive could easily have been labeled the 980 EVO instead, and it would have been a great successor to that product line."

    "But that does leave a gaping hole in Samsung’s lineup where a more mainstream 980 EVO might go. Samsung probably wouldn’t release a QLC-based NVMe drive using the EVO suffix while they are still trying to establish their QVO branding in the SATA SSD market. But using QLC NAND isn’t the only way to make a more affordable mainstream alternative to the overkill that is the 980 EVO.

    My bet is that Samsung is considering releasing another PCIe Gen3 drive, or a PCIe Gen4 drive that is significantly slower, cheaper and more power efficient."

  2. Wd ssd blue is 104 for 1 tb.
    I did go from an ssd blue sata to m2 970 evo plus… Meh.. i wasn’t as impressed as going from hdd to ssd… ( To be very honest i don’t think i notice any difference whatsoever, and i just tell myself there is…. benchmarks do show the expected change from the cheap blue to the nicer 970)
  3. Wd ssd blue is 104 for 1 tb.
    I did go from an ssd blue sata to m2 970 evo plus… Meh.. i wasn’t as impressed as going from hdd to ssd… ( To be very honest i don’t think i notice any difference whatsoever, and i just tell myself there is…. benchmarks do show the expected change from the cheap blue to the nicer 970)

    My SN750 was $150. When you’re at these kinds of speeds the scale of time is so small that relatively significant percentage differences are not going to feel that different. The law of diminishing returns, and all that.

  4. I paid $195 for my Silicon Power 2TB Drive. It’s been perfectly fine for me. 0.30$ per GB is such a waste.
  5. And I’m over here just… not finding much utility in these drives for normal desktop usage, as well as for gaming. Even the QLC Intel 600p drives I have fly for desktop usage in an ultrabook, and for gaming in my desktop.

    I do understand that if I were running a database, doing significant amounts of video editing, or perhaps using the drive as tiered caching in a storage array, then maybe the nicer drives start to provide more value for their pricing.

  6. And I’m over here just… not finding much utility in these drives for normal desktop usage, as well as for gaming. Even the QLC Intel 600p drives I have fly for desktop usage in an ultrabook, and for gaming in my desktop.

    I do understand that if I were running a database, doing significant amounts of video editing, or perhaps using the drive as tiered caching in a storage array, then maybe the nicer drives start to provide more value for their pricing.

    Honestly it’s all about the user experience.

    SAS platter drives to SSD was a massive jump. If you’re still dealing with loading files and such from an older SAS drive and have a faster USB you use normally that gives you that high speed feel you’re probably wondering why.

    Going to High speed NVME 3.0×4 as a level of improvement akin to Platter to SSD… BUT… the actual margin was so different. Platter drive to SSD was a 10 second load time to a 3 second.. sometimes even more drastic but in practice over a 70% improvment in speed.

    Going from SSD to NVME 3.0×4 was as big of a bump but you were going from 3 second load times to .9 second load times. Still as much of an improvement but really in the scheme of things less meaningful.

    I haven’t played with the new pcie 4.0×4 drives at all. I can’t tell you if it’s another 1/3rd the load time. Lets say based on raw numbers it’s more like 2/3rds the load time. So your .9 second load time for regular use becomes .6 seconds. Is it worth while?

    For some the answer is yes.

    Now your statement about it being important for the enterprise. In reality if you’re running enterprise and need high speed you’ve been running at Nano second timing on your I/O requests for a few years now. The gain of going NVME as opposed to solid state has to be more about data density or local server in box load times like with a VSAN setup. If you’re running external storage connected via a multipath HBA setup then the gain of NVME isn’t all that great.

    The Enterprise is being sold on 32TB NVME drives from Samsung a couple years ago, but the price to density is more than many want to spend/risk.

    Just offering a bit of an opinion here. Do I like the idea of a 12 disk NVME PCIE 4.0×4 raid array for pure IOP’s? SURE. But from a risk to data and more importantly cost setup…. Ehhhh…. not so much. Those NVME drives would make an amazing fast cache. But beyond that… I don’t know. At least not yet.

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