At the 2015 Samsung SSD Global Summit in Seoul, Korea, Samsung has taken the wraps off of its new 950 PRO SSD, an M.2 drive featuring the company's 3D V-NAND technology and utilising the Non-Volatile Memory Host Controller Interface Specification, better known as NVMe.

The 950 PRO is Samsung's first consumer ready M.2 drive with NVMe and 3D V-NAND technology. The company does already produce the SM951, but that is mainly an OEM SSD with both AHCI and NVMe versions, and it also does not feature V-NAND. There is also the M.2 version of the SSD 850 EVO, but that is a SATA/AHCI-based drive. The reason NVMe is important is that it's specifically designed for SSD technology and brings benefits not only to performance but to power saving as well, which is important for mobile users.

Available in two capacities, 256GB and 512GB, the 950 PRO utilises the M.2 2280 form factor with the M-key and features the PCI-E 3.0 x4 interface, which offers up to 32Gbps of theoretical bandwidth. M.2 is suitable for ultra-slim notebooks, as well as the latest generation Intel motherboards with the X99 and Z170 chipsets. Of course, other platforms can also utilise M.2 drives through a suitable PCI-E add-in card, though you'll need one of the latest platforms in order to boot from an NVMe SSD.

We suspect many of our readers will be pleased to note that the 950 PRO uses a black PCB; many M.2 drives so far have uses standard green PCBs, which aren't well suited to enthusiasts looking to colour match their components.

Samsung reveals 950 PRO SSD
Click to enlarge

'With the introduction of the 950 PRO using NVMe and PCIe, Samsung is able to provide our customers with the memory needed to handle the increased storage demands of tomorrow’s computing systems,' said Un-Soo Kim, Senior Vice President of Branded Memory, Memory Business at Samsung Electronics. 'Consumers and businesses alike can experience enterprise-quality performance and benefits such as speed, endurance and energy efficiency to support the most demanding applications. The 950 PRO is yet another example of a branded memory solution that continues to elevate our portfolio of products and reflects Samsung’s continued leadership in the memory industry.'

As with the SSD 850 PRO before it, the 950 PRO mainly targets professional and business users rather than mainstream clients. The ultra high performance and endurance are well-suited to CAD, data analysis and engineering simulation workloads, for example.

Random and sequential performance are both improved significantly compared to even the best SATA/AHCI devices. The 512GB 950 PRO, the fastest version, is capable of sequential read and write speeds of 2,500MB/sec and 1,500MB/sec respectively, and random read and write speeds of up to 300,000 and 110,000 IOPS respectively. For the 256GB model, we're looking at 2,200MB/sec and 900MB/sec for sequential reads and writes, and 270,000 and 100,000 IOPS for random reads and writes. These are very similar specifications to those of the SM951.

The 950 PRO utilises Samsung's second generation, 32-layer MLC V-NAND 128Gb dies and the company's triple core, eight-channel UBX controller, which was also used in the SM951. Tying it up is some Samsung DDR3L memory for cache purposes.

Other features include AES 256-bit encryption and Dynamic Thermal Guard. The drives are also fully compatible with the company's Magician software, which will be updated to version 4.8 next month. While there is a standard Windows NVMe driver for Windows 7 and above, Samsung will be producing a propietary driver of its own for improved performance. It also has plans to produce drivers for Linux and Windows Server.

Both drives ship with a five year limited warranty covering up to 200 TBW (terabytes written) for the 256GB or 400 TBW on the 512GB, which are increases compared to the SSD 850 PRO. The drives are due for retail availability in October 2015 with MSRPs of $199.99 (256GB) or $349.99 (512GB). With tax and shipping, we are estimating UK prices of around £160 and £280 including VAT, but will update you if proper UK MSRPs are supplied at the summit.
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