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Samsung's Hard Drives And More On Endurance

Tom's Hardware's AMA With Samsung, In Its Entirety
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Q. What happened to Samsung's mechanical hard drive division? I have a Samsung Spinpoint and it's held up very well after four years of owning it.

A. We are happy to hear you are having a good experience with Samsung's technology. Samsung now focuses on SSDs as the long term future of storage. The fastest hard drives in the world can give you ~400 IOPS. A consumer-based SSD can provide you up to 90,000 IOPS. Up to 225x faster IOPS than an enterprise-based HDD. In addition, there are no spinning parts in an SSD so you can sustain more bumps without worrying whether a mechanical part (head) hit the disc that's holding your data. When's the last time you dropped your cell phone thinking that you lost all your photos? Likely you were more concerned about your screen cracking. Now, think about dropping your HDD-based notebook. Chances are you were thinking about whether your data is still there. Switch to SSDs and remove that concern.

Computer seem to get slower after a year of use? Your data gets fragmented on your HDD and most people rarely defragment their drives anymore. Even if you do, it rarely helps much. As your registry gets full, more drivers, more programs need to load, your HDD is getting overloaded with bursts of read and write requests. With typical notebook-based HDDs producing ~100 IOPS, the HDD light on your notebook is likely blinking away when your computer seems unresponsive. This is because your HDD is bottlenecking your computer. If you are experiencing this, switching to a SSD will bring new life to your PC by removing the bottleneck created by your HDD. Next time your computer is lagging and you notice your HDD-light blinking rapidly or constantly illuminated, think about how a SSD can change your overall experience with your PC. Every person I have bumped into that has an SSD said they would never go back to an HDD.

Q. When will the Samsung SSD 840 Evo be released in Asia, and do you have any plan for PCIe SSD for PC in the near future? (I really don't want to wait until August 2014 :D )

A. If you send me your question on the Samsung 840 Evo SSD availability in Asia, I will send it to our retail division to answer: ssd@ssi.samsung.com.  We have announced the first PCIe-based PC SSD recently: Samsung XP941. This is a SATAe based SSD. This is already shipping to PC OEMs so that they can ship products based on this technology later this year.  http://www.tomshardware.com/news/Samsung-XP941-SSD-Ultrabook-PCIe,23107.html

Q. SSD is the hottest tech right now and the speeds are amazing. I have been reading about MRAM based technologies for over a decade but the capacities have remained rather small and very expensive. The idea of a SSD like device with near infinite erase/write cycles is the holy grail of data storage.  When do you think MRAM or SST-MRAM might finally become mainstream? 5, 10, 15 years?

A. There are many exciting technologies that have extreme endurance characteristics. It is extremely hard to predict future markets based on these new technologies. With that being said, endurance isn't or shouldn't be really brought up as a major concern for SSD adoption. It is a characteristic that exists on NAND Flash, but wear-out characteristics exist in almost every product that exists:

  • Sole's on shoes
  • Buttons on your phone
  • Battery on your phone
  • Even DRAM has a limit of how many writes you can do (a very big one)

The point is that there is a performance/endurance rating for almost everything. The key is to ensure system designers are designing in the right ratings into their products (e.g., SSDs) that is solving a given problem. There are many types of SSDs and many types of NAND Flash (3-bit MLC, 2-bit MLC, 2-bit Enterprise MLC, SLC). Original PC-based SSDs were based off of SLC-based Flash which offers much higher endurance ratings than 3-bit MLC. However, it is rare to find a SSD storage device that is based off of SLC. The reason is quite simple: cost; and SLC provided way more endurance than was needed by the majority of consumers. If the needs of the customer can be met by a more cost-effective solution then it would make sense to explore those alternatives. What has happened in the PC SSD space is it went from SLC to 2-bit MLC, and now to 3-bit MLC. There are even Enterprise solutions that are based off of 2-bit MLC; Think about that for a second. Enterprise-based solutions that need to endure a massive amount of writes are using the same technology that's used in a majority of PC's. 3-bit MLC is a great fit for PC-based solutions and at the capacity points that consumers have moved to, and are moving to, endurance is less and less of a concern no matter which NAND Flash technology is used.

As you pointed out, endurance is something that is there but the vendors making the SSDs must consider the markets they are targeting and pick the right technology that's best for the consumer. If you are a power user and are writing extreme amounts of data to your drive (e.g., over 40GB's per day, or overwriting the entire contents of your drive every day) then you would likely need to consider endurance a little more. For the 99% of the market that doesn't do that, endurance should be the last thing on their mind.

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  • 4 Hide
    LonelyMan , August 2, 2013 9:58 PM
    I hope that in 4 to 5 years when I'll build a new desktop, I can buy a high-end sata ssd of 1tb for 300 or less. And I hope that Amd will offer competition to Intel when it comes to processors. And that Titan will be out hopefully.
  • -2 Hide
    smeezekitty , August 2, 2013 9:59 PM
    I don't care for how they refer to 3 bit per cell as MLC where TLC is generally reserved for that.
  • 1 Hide
    Someone Somewhere , August 2, 2013 11:43 PM
    Technically, 3 bpc is just as multi-level as 2bpc. Strictly speaking, SLC probably should be called MLC - there are two different charge levels for each cell. You can't store any data without multiple options.

    Some of their answers were somewhat evasive though...
  • 1 Hide
    smeezekitty , August 2, 2013 11:46 PM
    Honestly MLC (2 bit) should be DLC

    But it is still best not to break the currently accepted terminology.
  • 3 Hide
    Someone Somewhere , August 2, 2013 11:49 PM
    Actually, I'd argue that the whole 'level' thing is misleading. A TLC has 8 different voltage/charge levels.

    I'd support calling it 1bpc/SBC (or similar), 2bpc/DBC, etc. But keeping continuity is a good idea.
  • 0 Hide
    zodiacfml , August 3, 2013 12:01 AM
    at least, the guy explained the values of less enduring ssds but with capacity gains. he also reminded that desktop users rarely need more write endurance. a harddisk dies faster than a weak endurance ssd.
    i haven't experience an ssd yet due to various mobile options keeping me busy nowadays but I would definitely get an ssd soon.
  • 0 Hide
    Movieman420 , August 3, 2013 4:31 AM
    Absolutely no info regarding aftermarket pci-e drives. Ok, so they are shipping such solutions with oem pcs...95% of enthusiasts wouldn't touch a pre-built PC with a 10ft pole. They keep talking about their pci-e drive for lappys and again, it's an oem thing...don't get me wrong, their new pci-e drive looks great but as a desktop enthusiast, it's not a reality. Will Samsung be launching a pci-e line of drives for after market use? If they will be sticking to the m.2 form factor, will there be pci-e adapters for our PCs? Also, will there be an EVO 'Pro" ssd launched? These are questions I would have asked if I could have been there.
  • 0 Hide
    sire_angelus , August 3, 2013 2:41 PM
    What's the point of having an AMA if half the answers are out of topic with the questions?
  • 1 Hide
    lp231 , August 3, 2013 3:40 PM
    Hmm. I don't remember seeing this AMA on Tom's front page.
    Ah well...
  • 0 Hide
    m32 , August 4, 2013 1:12 AM
    lp231, I'm just like you. I didn't see it at all. I love Samsung ;) ! I kinda wish it was more than RAM and SSD talk, but I enjoyed reading this article. Thanks to Toms and the sponsors that participate in these "AMAs".
  • 1 Hide
    ssdpro , August 4, 2013 4:11 AM
    This is not what I expected. Some of those answers are barely connected to the question. This basically sums up Samsung. Top tier products but the consumer/customer relationship is non-existent. Based on my own experience with a half dozen Samsung SSDs, a dozen OCZ SSDs, and a half dozen Intel SSDs I wouldn't say any one of those are more or less reliable than the others. Samsung does have the weakest support by far so it is fitting that the apple doesn't fall far from the PR tree.
  • 0 Hide
    lp231 , August 5, 2013 8:35 AM
    Quote:
    lp231, I'm just like you. I didn't see it at all. I love Samsung ;) ! I kinda wish it was more than RAM and SSD talk, but I enjoyed reading this article. Thanks to Toms and the sponsors that participate in these "AMAs".


    Yep, Samsung doesn't just make ram and SSD, they make other products too. It would also be nice to know what else they do.
  • 0 Hide
    g00fysmiley , August 5, 2013 9:44 AM
    seems like it was all storage subject, would have loved to hear a more variety of topics from a company like samsung otherwise it should have been "ama about our ssd's"
  • 0 Hide
    ammaross , August 6, 2013 7:42 AM
    Shame the SSD marketeer was dodging and dismissing the HDD questions. Spinpoint drives were my personal favorite. Just because someone can get a 250GB SSD, doesn't mean they don't want an HDD to go along with it. I've got 4 Spinpoint drives, 2 Western Digital Green drives, and 2 Seagate drives (all +/- 2TB) in my computer ATM (mainly because my other WD and Seagate drives died, but not my Samsung ones). Yes, we understand he's super-excited and thinks the world should be flash, but spinning rust has its place too.