Samsung’s Hybrid 990 EVO SSD announced — world's first hybrid PCIe 4.0 x4 and 5.0 x2 SSD

(Image credit: Samsung)

Details of Samsung’s 990 EVO, the world's first hybrid PCIe interface SSD, were inadvertently posted earlier this month. Now Samsung has made the drive official as it launches it as part of its vaunted EVO SSD line. This drive stands out with hybrid functionality, running in either the x4 PCIe 4.0 or x2 PCIe 5.0 modes, a first for an M.2 SSD. The bandwidth remains the same in both cases, with performance up to 5,000 / 4,200 MB/s for sequential read/write throughput and 700K/800K random read/write IOPS.

This positions it as a budget drive competing against the likes of the Teamgroup MP44L or popular WD Black SN770, but the 990 EVO has the advantage of an efficient 5nm controller and Samsung’s refined 133-Layer V6P TLC NAND flash.

As noted, the 990 EVO can run in either PCIe 4.0 x4 or 5.0 x2 mode. Samsung says the new hybrid design with a PCIe 5.0 x2 interface, an oddity with any consumer SSD, is designed "to meet current computing needs while anticipating future requirements." That doesn't give us an entirely clear reasoning behind the new feature, but it hints that future platforms may be designed specifically to leverage the slimmer PCIe 5.0 x2 interface. 

In the case of future platforms, Samsung says that running with just two lanes of 5.0 would result in no performance loss compared to the PCIe 4.0 x4 interface and perhaps some improvement in power efficiency. This combination and single-sided design should make this SSD a good pick for laptops or the PS5.

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CategorySamsung SSD 990 EVO
InterfacePCIe Gen 4.0 x4 / 5.0 x2 NVMe 2.0
Form FactorM.2 (2280)
Storage MemorySamsung V-NAND 3-TLC
ControllerSamsung In-house Controller
Capacity 1TB, 2TB
Sequential Read/Write SpeedUp to 5,000 MB/s, Up to 4,200 MB/s
Random Read/Write Speed (QD32)Up to 680K IOPS, 800K IOPS
Up to 700K IOPS, 800K IOPS
Management SoftwareSamsung Magician Software
Data EncryptionAES 256-bit Full Disk Encryption, TCG/Opal V2.0,
Encrypted Drive (IEEE1667)
Total Bytes Written600TB,1200TB
WarrantyFive-year Limited Warranty

However, Samsung’s MSRP for the drive challenges the budget moniker. At launch, the drive is expected to run $124.99 and $209.99 for the 1TB and 2TB models, respectively. We suspect the street prices will be significantly lower, as with the 4TB 990 Pro launch, despite the imminent risk of skyrocketing SSD prices.

The drive has the normal five-year, 600TB of writes per TB capacity warranty and is supported by Samsung’s excellent Magician and Data Migration software. It also supports encryption. On the hardware end, the drive is using a new version of Samsung’s V6 TLC NAND flash, the earlier of which was used on the 980 Pro, a drive plagued by issues. Improvements to the flash I/O speed allow the 990 EVO to hit 5 GB/s efficiently. Samsung has also used earlier-generation flash on its T9 portable SSD, which, in part, may be in response to NAND flash industry woes.

The 990 EVO’s performance and design make it feel more like a successor to the 980 than the 970 EVO or 970 EVO Plus. The lack of DRAM and its less-than-maximum PCIe 4.0 performance may be disappointing to enthusiasts, but the 980 Pro and 990 Pro already fill that space. This drive also doesn't compete directly with the Crucial T500 or Lexar NM790 but rather seems aimed at providing a sufficiently high level of performance with excellent efficiency. We’ll have to see if this analysis aligns with reality in our upcoming review. 

Shane Downing
Freelance Reviewer

Shane Downing is a Freelance Reviewer for Tom’s Hardware US, covering consumer storage hardware.

  • mdd1963
    Given it's hobbled performance, it's a slight 'stain' on the EVO moniker IMO....
  • jonathan1683
    amazing another low capacity ssd
  • 8086
    Hybrid is just another trendy 21st century buzzword that makes people go ooh-ahh with out even thinking about what it really is. Hybrid everything is the future, they tell me!