Samsung 970 PRO M.2 512GB NVMe SSD review

Memory (DDR4/DDR5) and Storage (SSD/NVMe) 368 Page 2 of 21 Published by


Specifications & Features

Samsung SSD 970 Pro Specifications & Features

Samsung is to offer three versions of the new 970 Pro, the 250 GB, 500GB and 1TB models. The 970 PRO series will come with 3D MLC NAND flash memory from Samsung's latest revision V-NAND node (64-layers vertically stacked NAND). The PRO series will be fitted with V-NAND written as 2bit per cell.

So what is V-NAND? 

V-NAND is a physically vertical NAND cell stacking not to be confused with chip stacking in a multi-chip package. In V-NAND, NAND layers, not chips, are stacked in a single IC. The good news is continued cost reduction, smaller die sizes and more capacity per NAND chip. Also, installed NAND toolsets in the wafer fabs can, for the most part, be reused, thereby extending the useful life of fab equipment. Current V-NAND stacks have 64 cell layers vertically over one another, rather than decreasing cell dimensions to fit onto a fixed horizontal space, resulting in higher density and better performance with a smaller footprint. With the M.2 form factor SSDs, more consumers with desktops or ultra-thin PCs can benefit from best-in-class performance and reliability of the technology. We started at 32-layers, the 960 series was 48-layers, this year's 970 series has 64-layers. And sure, R&D on 96-layers already on its way. 


Samsung refers to this as MLC VNAND, however, for the EVO it really is TLC but the conundrum here is that Triple-level cells (TLC) and future quad-level cells (QLC) are 'versions' of MLC memory, which can store 3 and 4 bits per cell, respectively. Note that due to the convention, the name "multi-level cell" is sometimes used specifically to refer to the "two-level cell", which is slightly confusing. Overall, the memories are named as follows:

  1. SLC (1 bit per cell) - fastest, highest cost
  2. MLC (2 bits per cell)
  3. TLC (3 bits per cell)
  4. QLC (4 bits per cell) - slowest, least cost

What is NVMe?

NVMe is also known as Non-Volatile Memory Express or the Non-Volatile Memory Host Controller Interface Specification. The idea behind NVMe is to improve the storage stack by optimizing the way an application accesses a Flash device. NVMe cuts corners by removing components within the I/O path like that good old-fashioned RAID controller. To be able to make use of the new NVMe based devices inside your PC you have to have a proper driver installed, this can be downloaded at the Samsung website. This enables NVMe devices to function within the existing operating system I/O stack protocol. On the next page, we'll talk a little more about NVMe. But let's have a quick peek at the key specifications of the new 970 series:

  970 Pro (1TB)
970 EVO (1TB)
960 Pro (1TB)
960 EVO (1TB)
950 Pro (1TB) 850 Pro (1TB)
Form Factor M.2 2280 M.2 2280 M.2 2280 M.2 2280 M.2 2280 2.5" SATA
Controller Samsung Phoenix Samsung Phoenix Samsung Polaris Samsung Polaris Samsung UBX Samsung MEX
Interface PCIe 3.0 x4 PCIe 3.0 x4 PCIe 3.0 x4 PCIe 3.0 x4 PCIe 3.0 x4 SATA III
Protocol NVMe 1.3 NVMe 1.3 NVMe 1.2 NVMe 1.2 NVMe AHCI
DRAM (up-to) 2GB LP DDR3 1GB LP DDR3 1GB LP DDR3 1GB LP DDR3 512MB 512MB
NAND Samsung V-NAND 64-layer 2bit MLC Samsung V-NAND 64-layer 3bit MLC Samsung V-NAND 48-layer 128Gbit MLC Samsung V-NAND 3bit MLC  Samsung V-NAND 32-layer 128Gbit MLC Samsung V-NAND 32-layer 86Gbit MLC
Sequential Read 3,400MB/s 3,500MB/s 3,500MB/s 3,200MB/s 2,500MB/s 550MB/s
Sequential Write 2,700MB/s 2,500MB/s 2,100MB/s 1,900MB/s 1,500MB/s 520MB/s
4KB Random Read (QD32) 500K IOPS 500K IOPS 440K IOPS 380K IOPS 300K IOPS 100K IOPS
4KB Random Write (QD32) 500K IOPS 480K IOPS 360K IOPS 360K IOPS 110K IOPS 90K IOPS
Power 5.7W (burst)
5.2 W (average)
5mW  (idle)
7.3W (burst)
5.2W (average)
40mW  (idle)
7.3W (burst)
5.2W (average)
40mW  (idle)
7.3W (burst)
5.5W (average)
40mW  (idle)
7.0W (burst)
5.7W (average)
1.7W (idle)
3.3W (read)
3.0W (write)
0.4W (idle)
Encryption AES-256, TCG Opal 2.0 AES-256, TCG Opal 2.0 AES-256, TCG Opal 2.0 AES-256, TCG Opal 2.0 AES-256, TCG Opal 2.0 AES-256, TCG Opal 2.0
Endurance 1200 TB 600 TB 600TB 400TB 400TB 300TB
Warranty 5 Year 3 Year 5 Year 3 Year 5 Year 10 Year
Launch Date April 2018 April 2018 October 2016 November 2016 October 2015 Summer 2014


Please keep in kind that the specs listed above are for the 1TB model. Smaller models will have slightly lower reads and writes. Granted reads wise, it's not hugely faster over the 960 series though. Writes wise you'll see a nice improvement alright, especially sustained and 4K IOPS. You'll notice a new glossy metal shielded controller, that's done to prevent the SSD from throttling, Samsung now applies a Nickel-coated controller. The nickel coating helps reduces overheating and thus throttling. Both the Evo and Pro models will receive a 5-year warranty, or your maximum TBW value (whichever one comes first).

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