Samsung has introduced its new PM9A1 SSD that features a PCIe 4.0 x4 interface designed for OEMs, though these types of SSDs tend to filter out to retail over time. So far, the PM9A1 drive has been qualified by HP for its Z-branded machines, but it will be used more widely in the future. The product launch is important for DIY enthusiasts because eventually, this SSD will end up in retail selling at a bargain price.
The Samsung PM9A1 (opens in new tab) SSD is based on the company's proprietary Elpis controller and 6th Generation V-NAND memory (featuring a 3D TLC architecture), the same combination that powers the 980 Pro drive that's available in retail. The controller supports AES 256-bit encryption and TCG/Opal IEEE 1667 encryption, so the new drives can be adopted for PCs to be used by enterprises and government agencies that deal with sensitive information and require sophisticated security.
The PM9A1 lineup will top at 2TB, according to Samsung, so the family also likely includes a 250GB, 500GB, and 1TB model. Performance-wise, the PM9A1 is also similar to its retail-oriented 980 Pro counterpart. In particular, Samsung promises up to 7,000 MB/s of sequential read speed and up to 5,200 MB/s of sequential write speed, up to 1,000,000 random read IOPS (4 KB, QD32), and up to 850,000 random write IOPS (4 KB, QD32), which is actually a bit lower than that of the 980 Pro.
Samsung depicts its PM9A1 without any heat spreader (though the nickel coating on the controller somewhat acts like one), which is why its random write performance rating is a tad lower than that of its retail brother, which has a graphene heat spreader.
Unfortunately, Samsung does not publish all the specifications of its OEM-oriented drive, so we cannot compare its endurance rating or power consumption to the 980 Pro.
OEMs like HP and Samsung's own PC division will take advantage of the performance offered by the Samsung PM9A1. For DIYers, it's important because they will cost significantly less than the flagship Samsung 980 Pro drives when these drives show up at retailers like Amazon several weeks or months down the road.