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.  

SM961 128GB
SM961 256GBSM961 512GBSM961 1TB
Samsung Polaris
Samsung PolarisSamsung PolarisSamsung Polaris
Samsung LPDDR3
Samsung LPDDR3Samsung LPDDR3Samsung LPDDR3
Samsung MLC V-NAND
Samsung MLC V-NANDSamsung MLC V-NANDSamsung MLC V-NAND
Sequential Read
3100 MB/s
3100 MB/s3200 MB/s
3200 MB/s
Sequential Write
700 MB/s
1400 MB/s
1700 MB/s
1800 MB/s
Random Read
330,000 IOPS
330,000 IOPS
330,000 IOPS
450,000 IOPS
Random Write
170,000 IOPS
280,000 IOPS
300,000 IOPS
320,000 IOPS
Varies By Reseller
Varies By Reseller
3-Years From RamCity
Varies By Reseller
3-Years From RamCity
Varies By Reseller
3-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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  • 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?