Samsung's First 1TB NVMe M.2 SSD: SM961 Shipping Next Week

Rod Bland, CEO and Upgrade Evangelist of RamCity, revealed that a shipment of Samsung SM961 1TB SSDs are en route to his company. The SM961 is faster than the previous generation SM951 and retail 950 Pro. The new OEM-targeted NVMe SSD uses a new controller that should produce less heat, a move aimed at reducing thermal throttle conditions. The Polaris controller boosts V-NAND performance up to 3,200 MB/s (sequential read) and up to 450,000 random read IOPS at queue depth 32.  

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ProductSM961 128GBSM961 256GBSM961 512GBSM961 1TB
ControllerSamsung PolarisSamsung PolarisSamsung PolarisSamsung Polaris
DRAMSamsung LPDDR3Samsung LPDDR3Samsung LPDDR3Samsung LPDDR3
FlashSamsung MLC V-NANDSamsung MLC V-NANDSamsung MLC V-NANDSamsung MLC V-NAND
Sequential Read3100 MB/s3100 MB/s3200 MB/s3200 MB/s
Sequential Write700 MB/s1400 MB/s1700 MB/s1800 MB/s
Random Read330,000 IOPS330,000 IOPS330,000 IOPS450,000 IOPS
Random Write170,000 IOPS280,000 IOPS300,000 IOPS320,000 IOPS
WarrantyVaries By ResellerVaries By Reseller3-Years From RamCityVaries By Reseller3-Years From RamCityVaries By Reseller3-Years From RamCity

The SM961 will ship in four capacity sizes, but we don't expect to see the small 128GB used outside of the OEM and system integrator market. RamCity plans to carry the 256GB, 512GB and 1TB drives. We learned the initial pricing details and found a presale page for the SM961 1TB.

The first thing that stands out to us is the pricing. The SM961 costs less than the Samsung 950 Pro 256GB and 512GB. The large 1TB model is unrivaled in the NVMe M.2 form factor. The drive sells for half of the price of Intel's SSD 750 1.2TB. The pricing listed above comes from RamCity and was listed in USD.

Samsung hasn't replied to our questions about the new Polaris controller nor the flash. We suspect the controller uses an 8-channel design and a new process node to reduce heat output to combat thermal throttling. We also expect the SM961 1TB to use 3rd generation V-NAND technology like the Samsung Portable SSD T3. Samsung's third-gen V-NAND stacks 48 layers high and doubles the density of previous 32-layer (Gen2) V-NAND flash.

We obtained the performance specifications for all four capacity sizes (see above). The SM961 is easily the fastest consumer SSD to ship, ever.

Chris Ramseyer is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware, covering Storage. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

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Chris Ramseyer
Chris Ramseyer is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews consumer storage.
  • CaedenV
    It is sad that the prospect of having larger faster storage is the only thing tempting me to build a new PC these days. But this (or something similar to it) will absolutely be what I put in my next build!
  • Bartendalot
    If these prices are correct, we. Are looking at a "shot across the bow" at Optane.

    Very good for consumers...
  • DrakeFS
    "Are looking at a "shot across the bow" at Optane"

    Is Optane even available to the public yet?
  • uglyduckling81
    Man I was hoping that price for 1TB would be for 2TB by now.
    I guess it's faster than previous gen SSD's so it attracts a premium.
    Does that transfer speed make any difference at all besides transferring between two of these SSDs?
  • mavikt
    Hopefully the 950 pro will get a bit cheaper, or will we see a new 960 pro consumer variant?!
    Ignorant about the fact, curiously looking it up, there still seem to be some bandwidth headroom with PCIe 3.0 x4 at 3.9GB/s, if Wikipedia is to be believed! Though, at this rate, interface bandwidth cap is soon upon us... but so is also PCI 4.0!
  • laststop311
    with this and a cheap 2TB ssd you can ditch hard drives altogether.
  • MRFS
    > interface bandwidth cap is soon upon us... but so is also PCI 4.0!

    PCIe 3.0 uses a 128b/130b "jumbo frame": 130 bits / 16 bytes = 8.125 bits per byte

    x4 PCIe 3.0 lanes @ 8 GHz / 8.125 bits per byte
    = 3.94 GB/second

    x4 PCIe 4.0 lanes @ 16 GHz / 8.125 bits per byte
    = 7.88 GB/second

    Intel should increase the number of lanes
    in their DMI link. Right now, a single NVMe M.2 SSD
    has exactly the same upstream bandwidth as the DMI 3.0 link.

    And/or, an NVMe RAID controller with x16 edge connector
    and 4 x U.2 ports would be excellent too, provided that
    it supported all modern RAID modes.
  • Samer1970
    excuse me , please When you talk about SSD price do it in Ratio of TBW .. see how much TBW per Dollar ...

    Intel P3700 SSD TBW is 7300 TB and double the price of the P750 but guess which is cheaper ?

    The P3700 is Cheaper cos The P750 TBW is ONLY 219TB TBW !!!!

    making the P3700 33 TIMES BETTER at double the price only ! 7300 TERA BYTE WRITES vs 219 !!!

    33 times ENDURANCE !

    yet you just mention the 750 in your Analysis.

    you dont even bother to mention the TBW , which is the LIFE of the SSD ..

    you CANT use SSD for movies and Huge Files and expect them to last much ! or heavy write / delete operations like Hard disks. here where the High TBW comes handy , I never Bought Low TBW SSD !!!

    yes you pay Double , but you write 33 TIMES MORE ! in case of Intel 3700 vs 750

    Samsung 950 pro is just 400 TBW by the way

    that is , you fill it 400 times , ONLY.

    The OEM 951 was ONY 75TB TBW !!!
  • CRamseyer
    I do not have TBW endurance ratings yet on these models. I've reached out to Samsung for clarification but they do not expect an answer from the South Korean engineers until tomorrow.
  • Samer1970
    18159301 said:
    I do not have TBW endurance ratings yet on these models. I've reached out to Samsung for clarification but they do not expect an answer from the South Korean engineers until tomorrow.

    Thanks !

    Please include TBW Analysis in your SSD reviews as well , not only the Performance.

    There is a Huge hidden cost people dont notice when They decide on which SSD drive is best to buy ..

    TBW per dollar is very Important if you delete files often , or use it for Large files.

    The Intel 3700 should be the popular one and not the 750 ... but most people dont notice !

    For example (to explain for readers) ,

    lets assume that you write 219 TB on intel 750 SSD in one year (all its TBW)

    The 3700 will work 33 years more (or until the internals fail) !!! the same use ! (7300 TB) !!!

    and just twice the price !!!

    TBW is very Important in Choosing . should be 25% points in Reviews .