Samsung 990 Evo Magically Appears on Magician Software Support Page

Samsung 990 Pro SSD
(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Samsung accidentally added an unreleased and unannounced SSD — the 990 Evo — to the Samsung Magician's requirement page (spotted by ComputerBase). The apparent slip-up seems to confirm that the company is indeed making a mainstream version of the 990 Pro, which would be the first Evo drive since the 970 Evo Plus.

This isn't the first we've heard of the 990 Evo: a year ago the 990 Evo SSD name made an appearance in the PCI SIG database, with four listings (two featuring PCIe Gen 5 support and two with Gen 4 support). The listed specs should be taken with a grain of salt, but the listings themselves seem to suggest Samsung has been thinking about a 990 Evo SSD for at least a year.

990 Evo Appearance on PCI SIG Database

(Image credit: PCI SIG)

It's been a while since the last NVMe Evo drive launched, so it's difficult to predict exactly how Samsung plans to nerf the alleged 990 Evo to prevent it from competing with the current 990 Pro — which now comes in a 4TB model. In the past, Samsung differentiated its Evo series drives by utilizing lower-capacity, yet higher-performing, NAND flash chips in its Pro SSDs. A good example of this can be seen with the 970 Pro, which sports MLC NAND flash, making it one of the fastest Gen 3 drives ever made. The 970 Evo, on the other hand, features TLC NAND flash — which offers lower performance but is cheaper to produce.

But this strategy won't work for the 990 Evo, because the 980 Pro and 990 Pro now use TLC NAND flash (albeit, much faster TLC NAND flash). Samsung could technically create a 990 Evo with slower QLC NAND (like the 870 QVO) and compensate with a really good DRAM and SLC/MLC caching solution, but this seems unlikely given the fact that the entry-level Samsung 980 (non-Evo) features TLC NAND flash.

Samsung could go down one of two routes, depending on how expensive their latest 176-layer V-NAND flash is to make. One route involves incorporating Samsung's older 128-layer flash into the 990 Evo to reduce performance, while adding NAND flash to boost performance. This would essentially turn it into a DRAM-cached variant of the Samsung 980. Alternatively, Samsung could equip its latest 176-layer V-Layer V-NAND TLC onto the 990 Evo — just like the 990 Pro — but nerf the drive's caching capabilities.

Either way, it seems like we'll be seeing a Samsung 990 Evo in some form in the near future. SSD prices are expected to go up soon, and we wouldn't be surprised if the 990 Evo launches around that time — so Samsung can remain competitive in the lower echelons of the SSD market.

Aaron Klotz
Freelance News Writer

Aaron Klotz is a freelance writer for Tom’s Hardware US, covering news topics related to computer hardware such as CPUs, and graphics cards.

  • AgentBirdnest
    Alternatively, Samsung could equip its latest 176-layer V-Layer V-NAND TLC onto the 990 Evo — just like the 990 Pro — but nerf the drive's caching capabilities.
    I think this is the most likely option.
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but using the latest flash would allow them to make a 4TB drive. Get rid of the caching to make it a slower but more affordable option than the $350 990 Pro 4TB. I think a lot of people would go for that. I see a lot of people here on the forum who want capacity over speed (myself included.)
  • Amdlova
    Samsung need to enter in new pci 5 age... the 990 and 980 plagued firmware make the drivers cheap and undesirable. 990 evo 1tb will bellow 60us market push to same level of a WD 770