Our quest to conquer the Samsung PM981, and get it in our hands, has led us down a long and winding road. We knew that Samsung would move away from the Pro / EVO product scheme; that's been rumored in some circles for a few months now. We were initially reluctant to post anything about it, but we have learned some information supporting, and later contradicting, this theory.
First let's look at the upcoming Samsung 850 SSD that will ship without the Pro or EVO surname. Above are the first pictures of this product ever published online. We don't have any performance details, but we'll know more soon, and we can give you some early tidbits. The new 850 will ship with a 3-year warranty instead of the 850 EVO's 5-year warranty (10 years for the 850 Pro). The 120GB capacity size has an endurance rating of 75 TBW.
At this time we don't know of any other capacity sizes in this series, but we'll continue to search for more information. This product reminds us of the 750 EVO series that will target entry-level builds from system integrators.
Samsung 860 Series 256GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB, And 4TB
We also found a reference to the upcoming Samsung 860 series. This came from the SATA-IO Integrators List that was updated on September 27 with the drive. The list refers to the drive as the 860 EVO, and that goes against the story of Samsung moving away from the EVO / Pro names.
The list shows five capacities for this series, 256GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB, and 4TB. All of those sizes were used in the 850 EVO, so you wouldn't assume these offer anything special except a controller and NAND update to 64-layers. That might be true, but later in the evening we spoke with an insider who led us down a different path: We were told to expect the Samsung 860 to be the company's first consumer QLC SSD.
If our information is accurate, the next generation EVO products could represent QLC technology and the non-EVO models could be code for TLC. At this point it's all speculation, but that's what makes being the cat more fun than being the mouse.
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TLC flash memory has adequate endurance for 95% of all users but I've read (here) that endurance lowers by a factor of 10 when you add an additional level to the memory. I'm concerned that QLC memory will have a limited user base due to the limited number of endurance cycles.
If the price-to-density ratio is right, QLC could be affordable enough to really put the hurt on HDDs for consumer bulk storage. I still haven't bought an SSD larger than 240GB, because the value just isn't there at the 500GB+ level (for me).
1TB is plenty of space for gaming home use. For the majority of people, it's more than you'll need for a long time.
Of course, there's a reason why Samsung produces SSDs that are larger. It seems like you're the kind of person who needs that extra oomph.
Looks interesting though.
I don't know if this will be true in the real world, but from what I've been hearing QLC will have about the same total data writes, just fewer write cycles. If it comes down to choosing between a 512GiB drive with 100TiB of writes or an 8TiB drive with 100TiB of writes, I know what I'll be choosing. Facebook was talking about this tech years ago saying they were looking at something like 25TiB drives with four write cycles.
I would probably stay away from QLC as a boot drive. I could see file systems being tweaked to never truly delete data.