Samsung Goes 3D with Memory

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Storage is something every computer user always needs―whether you prefer a bulky drive with high capacity or a slimmed-down drive built for speed and performance is a matter of personal preference and  need―and storage now runs the gamut from SD and microSD flash memory cards to 30TB NAS servers. It was only a short time ago that storage was limited to traditional platter hard drives, until the mandate for smaller, faster, and better storage was issued to all tech manufacturers. Along came mobile devices, with less room for bulky hard drives, and suddenly everyone was eyeing the space that traditional storage devices were taking in their product as the one area that could be reduced. Smaller, faster, better became paired with a cry for cheaper, more reliable and energy-efficient storage. That was a lot of mandating in such a short period of time.

Somewhere in that hectic landscape are SSD drives. “Solid-state drives” is now a household phrase, and almost everyone who uses a computer has heard of them. They offer distinct advantages over traditional hard drives, including faster speeds, less heat production, and a lower failure rate. Spindle drives used to have the advantage with capacity, but SSDs now boast much higher capacity potential than only a year ago. A 1TB SSD is now not uncommon―a couple of years ago, it was thought to be a pipe dream.

Pipe dream or not, SSDs are now as desirable as higher RAM and faster processors in new PC builds.  When considering a notebook or desktop, the inclusion of an SSD is often a selling point. Samsung knows that, and has introduced a line called the 850 Pro Series in capacities of 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB. They all have a 2.5" form factor, and all use the SATA III 6 Gbps interface. The Samsung 850 series also offers a slight advantage over the competitors, namely, it’s one of the first SSDs to use 3D V-NAND flash.

Briefly, NAND flash is non-volatile storage that does not require power to retain data, unlike magnetic storage devices, such as hard disks, which use opposing platters as one of their components to read and write to a disk. NAND storage, however, has a finite number of write cycles, and can wear out. NAND also accesses data faster than the spinning disks of a hard drive can, and is layered horizontally.

Samsung’s 3D VNAND flash configures the memory slightly differently. The V in V-NAND stands for vertical―the cell arrays are stacked in vertical positions, breaking the barrier of traditional 24-layer horizontal (2D) V-NAND. This vertical stacking allows for more endurance on the read/write spectrum of the disk and higher memory capacities, while giving you an SSD that will last longer and consume 20% less power.

How big a speed boost are we talking about here? Up to 550 MB/s sequential read speeds and up to 520 MB/s sequential write speeds. The random read speed is up to 100,000 IOPS (input/output operations per second), which is a good indicator of how the drive will perform when plugging through everyday tasks. If you’re thinking of tweaking your system for speed, you can start right here.

As far as endurance claims, Samsung states that the 850 Series is built to handle a minimum of 150 Terabytes Written (TBW) over the lifetime of the drive, which equates to a 40GB daily read/write workload over a 10-year period. That’s twice the endurance rating of the previous model, the Samsung 840 Pro, which was rated at 73 TBW over the lifetime of the drive.

If you are thinking of integrating this drive into a new system, Samsung helps out with its One Stop Install Navigator. From installation, it’s three clicks to set up your drive and migrate all your data and applications. The drives also include Samsung Magician Software, which can help you maintain and monitor your SSDs health, including OS optimization for those of you struggling with Windows 8.1 or Mavericks settings, and help you maximize your disk’s potential. You can also run tests to benchmark your disk speed―mostly for bragging rights. If you need an even bigger boost of speed, you can activate the Samsung RAPID mode, which uses unused DRAM PC memory as a cache, which can give you almost twice the performance.

Samsung also uses Dynamic Thermal Guard to protect your drive from heating problems. It’s a fail-safe that will put the brakes on a drive that is overheating, and drop the temperature to a safe and workable level. But with the advanced power efficiency of this drive, you may never see that feature in use. The 850 PRO utilizes the Device Sleep mode (popular in Ultrabooks), which only consumes 2 milliwats (2mw) of power in its ultra-low power state. Add the low-power DDR2 cache memory, which uses 30 percent less power when active and up to 93 percent less power when idle than typical DDR2 or DDR3 memory, and you have a drive that seemingly takes care of itself.

Other features of the drive include extended data security. The drive is configured with SED (Self Encrypting Drive) technology. SED tech uses a circuit built into the drive to encrypt all data automatically. When you power the system up, the BIOS sees a “mimic” disk first, which contains read-only software. You won’t be able to access the “real” drive until you provide a KEK (key encryption key), which is provided by the user during setup. The beauty of SED is that it all works outside of the memory or operating system of the computer, making the data nearly unhackable. All encryption takes place within the controller, and since the key is outside of those parameters, it cannot be easily accessed by outside forces. There is also AES-256 bit hardware-based disk encryption for everyone else, and a quick erase feature called Crypto Erase, which can wipe data or the whole drive completely.

System builders now have a standard to which they can measure their internal storage needs. Consumers looking for a quick speed boost to their system will be floored by these new drives. Everyone else can rest assured that a sturdier, more reliable and higher-capacity SSD is now on the market.

Samsung 128GB 850 PRO Series SATA 2.5" SSD Samsung 256GB 850 PRO Series SATA 2.5" SSD Samsung 512GB 850 PRO Series SATA 2.5" SSD Samsung 1TB 850 PRO Series SATA 2.5" SSD
128 GB 256 GB 512 GB 1 TB
SATA III SATA III SATA III SATA III
2.5"  2.5"  2.5"  2.5" 
Height: 7mm Height: 7mm Height: 7mm Height: 7mm
4th Generation MEX controller 4th Generation MEX controller 4th Generation MEX controller 4th Generation MEX controller
Up to 550 MB/s Up to 550 MB/s Up to 550 MB/s Up to 550 MB/s
Up to 470 MB/s Up to 520 MB/s Up to 520 MB/s Up to 520 MB/s
Random Read: Up to 100,000  Random Read: Up to 100,000  Random Read: Up to 100,000  Random Read: Up to 100,000 
Random Write: Up to 90,000 Random Write: Up to 90,000 Random Write: Up to 90,000 Random Write: Up to 90,000
32 to 158°F / 0 to 70°C 32 to 158°F / 0 to 70°C 32 to 158°F / 0 to 70°C 32 to 158°F / 0 to 70°C
3.9 x 2.8 x 0.3" / 10.0 x 7.0 x 0.7 cm 3.9 x 2.8 x 0.3" / 10.0 x 7.0 x 0.7 cm 3.9 x 2.8 x 0.3" / 10.0 x 7.0 x 0.7 cm 3.9 x 2.8 x 0.3" / 10.0 x 7.0 x 0.7 cm
.14 lb / 63.5 g .14 lb / 63.5 g .14 lb / 63.5 g .14 lb / 63.5 g
10-Year Limited 10-Year Limited 10-Year Limited 10-Year Limited

Data Migration and Drive Management Software

Data Migration and Drive Management Software

Data Migration and Drive Management Software

Data Migration and Drive Management Software

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