In the months leading up to CES, we spotted a press document that listed Samsung's award winners for the show. Among the various consumer electronics products stood the 850 Pro 4TB as the only SSD we didn't already know about. The MLC large-capacity prosumer model has long been rumored since the release of the 850 EVO 4TB with 3-bit per cell V-NAND flash technology. Well, CES came and went, but the 850 Pro 4TB never materialized. We reached out to Samsung for comment and received a reply.
Speaking through Allison+Partners, Samsung's North American PR agency, we received this response:
“As a result of the worldwide NAND shortage, Samsung is focused on allocating NAND to products where we see the greatest demand. We will let you know when further updates on the 850 PRO 4TB are available.”
On the surface, the response is exactly what we expected from the world's largest SSD manufacturer, but we quickly realized its true value. This is the first confirmation of a retail SSD release that has been delayed due to the NAND shortage. Several recent products have come to market in short supply, like the 960 Series, but none have been pushed completely off the shelf, as far as we know.
Rumor has it the early 960 Series products destined for consumer shoppers were scooped up by datacenters. The series, the Pro model in particular, delivers exceptional performance and endurance for a consumer SSD and rivals many of the existing enterprise-focused models shipping today. There was a lingering suspicion that the low volume at Newegg and Amazon were a combination of datacenter purchasing and supply-side troubles.
NAND flash technology is a vital component in everything from automobiles to children's toys, but NAND's success may become its greatest enemy as companies work to increase production through brute force (new factories) and product development (increased bits per square inch). The demand has simply grown faster than the technology can sustain.
The NAND shortage is starting to disrupt other memory technologies as the vacuum increases. Some companies have shifted some planned DRAM production line expansion to NAND. Analysts predict a looming DRAM shortage for 2017. This timeline falls directly during the peak of the NAND shortage. We expect to see PC prices increase throughout the year and the secondary markets to fall victim to rising prices, too.