high tech roadshow

Samsung Unveils New SSD 840 Series

Samsung Electronics announced its new lineup of high-performance SSDs designed for use in personal computers. The new series supporting SATA 6.0 gigabit-per-second (Gb/s) interface comes in two tracks; one for general computing purposes and another, an advanced lineup dubbed ‘PRO’ for serious users.

Samsung’s tiered offering for professional and general user environments provides consumers a broader choice of SSDs to best suit their personal requirements.
The unrivaled performance of Samsung’s SSDs lies in its MDX controller, which delivers superior performance, high reliability and sustainability that are among the product’s proprietary features. The premium class 840 PRO provides 100,000 input/ output per second (IOPS) for random read and 90,000 IOPS for random write*. Benchmark test** on the overall system performance unveiled a three-fold advancement when applying the 840 PRO in place of a conventional hard disk drive.

With prices plummeting further every week, it's a great time to invest in solid-state storage. Although the market seems flooded with SSD options, there are really only a few relevant controllers used today, and they come from SandForce, Marvell and Samsung.
The second-generation SandForce SF-2281 is probably best known for its use in the OCZ Vertex 3 and offers respectable performance, but it's not without shortcomings. SandForce isn't exactly synonymous with reliability, with many SF-2281 drives having stability issues early on. Additionally, Intel recently discovered that the controller can't handle AES-256 encryption -- an issue that runs deep enough that it can't be solved with a firmware update.
For its latest enthusiast drive, the Vertex 4, OCZ claimed to have used its own in-house Indilinx Everest 2 controller, but this turned out to be a rebadged Marvell chip -- presumably the 88SS91874, though this is yet unconfirmed. If that's true, it shouldn't necessarily be cause for concern as the 88SS91874 has proven to be fast and reliable in drives such as the Crucial m4, which we've tested extensively and still recommend as a viable solution.
Outside the realm of SandForce and Marvell, you have Samsung, whose 470 and 830 Series have been manufactured entirely in-house, including the controller, memory and cache. The latter drive launched last September with Samsung's MCX controller (S4LJ204X01-Y040) and has remained a solid option in terms of speed, reliability and affordability -- especially with the recent price drops, which have placed the 256GB 830 at only $0.76 per gigabyte, a minor and well justified $0.06 premium over the Vertex 3.
While the 830 Series and many of its year-old peers may still be attractive, Samsung is ready to move on to bigger and better things. As such, the company has announced a fresh lineup this week, including a new flagship offering, the SSD 840 Pro, which is said to refine the 830 Series' firmware with faster random and sustained performance as well as improved reliability.
Alongside its new drives, Samsung is also releasing its Magician 4.0 software that provides SSD 840 Pro users with an interesting feature called user-configurable over-provisioning, which reserves 7 to 24% of the SSD's storage for functions such as creating pre-erased, ready-to-use memory blocks. This lets users choose what's most important to them: speed or capacity.
Since most SSD competitors use the same rehashed components, Samsung has been in a unique position to shake things up over the last few years, and it's done a fine job. We had nearly no expectations for 2010's 470 Series, but we were pleasantly surprised when it dominated our performance charts. Last year's 830 Series gave a repeat performance, so we can only hope the same of the 840 Pro.

Samsung SSD 840 Pro

Samsung will offer four versions of the 840 Pro including 64GB, 128GB, 256GB and 512GB models. The 256GB and 512GB modules claim a 540MB/s read and 450MB/s write performance, which is slightly faster than the previous-generation 830 Series' rates of 520MB/s and 400MB/s.
The new drive has been fitted with Samsung's latest MDX controller (S4LN021X01-8030), a triple-core ARM-based chip that supports SATA 6Gb/s and can be paired with the latest 20nm NAND flash memory.
According to Samsung, the 840 Pro's MDX controller provides superior multi-tasking results under heavy I/O loads and provide steadier performance on more tasks. Based on an ARM Cortex R4 (300MHz) processor, the three cores can execute multiple instructions at once, allowing, for example, one to be used for reading data, one for writing data and another for optimization.
Our 512GB review unit carried Samsung NAND flash memory labeled K9PHGY8U7A-CCK0, which is fabricated using 2y-nm tech. There are eight chips with each IC having a massive 64GB density. The drive weighs 62.5 grams and measures 100 x 69.85 x 7mm, which is thin enough to fit in most modern ultraportable systems.
Although all SSDs are power conservative, Samsung boasts that its drives are particularly so. At idle Samsung claims, all four models use 0.042 watts and a mere 0.068 watts when active, whereas most other drives use 2 to 4 watts of power when active.
Samsung claims a MTBF of 1.5 million hours and a 1500G shock resistance -- typical estimates for SSDs -- and the 840 Pro is backed by a limited five-year warranty.

How We Test, System Specs

Along with an array of flash drives, we've included the Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000.C 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM hard drive for comparison's sake. Other SSDs tested have controllers such as the SandForce SF-2281, JMicron JMF616, Intel PC29AS218A, Marvell 88SS9174, Toshiba TC58NCF618GBT and Samsung S3C29MAX01. Our testing suite consists of four synthetic benchmark programs and our own file copying and load time tests.
As you likely know, while manufacturers claim impressive peak I/O performance out of the box, this performance can diminish over time. Unlike a conventional hard drive, any write operation made to an SSD is a two-step process: a data block must be erased and then written to. Obviously if the drive is new and unused there will be nothing to erase and therefore the first step can be bypassed, but this only happens once unless the drive is trimmed.
Considering this, we'll test how much performance you can expect to lose from each SSD over time. We'll examine all drives in their clean unused state, and then run the HD Tach full benchmark several times to fill the entire drive. This simulates heavy usage and clearly indicates how performance will be affected after normal long-term use.
All drives in this roundup support the Windows 7 TRIM function, which is meant to counteract these negative effects.
Test System Specs
  • Intel Core i7-3960X (LGA2011)
  • x4 4GB DDR3-1600 G.Skill (CAS 8-8-8-20)
  • Asrock X79 Extreme11 (Intel X79)
  • OCZ ZX Series (1250w)
  • Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000.C 1TB (3Gb/s)
  • Western Digital Velociraptor 1TB (3Gb/s)
  • OCZ Vertex 4 256GB (6Gb/s)
  • OCZ Agility 4 256GB (6Gb/s)
  • OCZ Octane 512GB (6Gb/s)
  • Kingston HyperX 3K 240GB (6Gb/s)
  • Kingston HyperX 240GB (6Gb/s)
  • Kingston SSDNow V+200 240GB (6Gb/s)
  • Crucial m4 256GB (6Gb/s)
  • Crucial v4 256GB (3Gb/s)
  • Intel SSD 520 Series 240GB (6Gb/s)
  • Intel SSD 510 Series 120GB (6Gb/s)
  • Intel SSD 320 Series 300GB (3Gb/s)
  • Samsung SSD 840 Pro 512GB (6Gb/s)
  • Samsung SSD 830 512GB (6Gb/s)
  • Asus GeForce GTX 680 (2048MB)
  • Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 (64-bit)
  • Nvidia Forceware 306.23

keep up with the newest technologies and contemplate about how these will be used in the future. On this blog I'll share my thoughts about the future of technology, based on the high Tech Road Show Blog inventions of today.
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