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The Samsung 980 SSD Spotted: A DRAM-Less PCIe 3.0 x4 SSD

Samsung
(Image credit: Samsung)

A number of European retailers have started to list Samsung's yet-to-be-announced Samsung 980 (non-Pro) SSDs. Despite expectations, the new units are not inexpensive SSDs with a PCIe 4.0 x4 interface, but are rather unpretentious midrange PCIe 3.0 x4 drives that share some technologies with the flagship. 

The Samsung 980 SSDs come in 250GB, 500GB, and 1TB versions. The drives are based on the company's latest Pablo controller as well as 136-layer TLC V-NAND memory, just like the company's top-of-the-range 980 Pro drives. The controller supports AES 256-bit encryption as well as TCG/Opal IEEE 1667 coding, so the new SSDs can be used for aimed at enterprises, government agencies and other entities that require advanced security. The new M.2-2280 SSDs do not use any DRAM cache and are therefore cheaper to produce than Samsung's typical PCIe SSDs that usually come with a DRAM cache.

From sequential performance point of view, Samsung rates the new 980 drives for an up to 3,500 MB/s sequential read speed as well as an up to 3,000 MB/s sequential write speed. As for random performance, advanced versions of the Samsung 980 are claimed to be capable of up to 500,000 random reads (4KB, QD32) as well as up to 480,000 IOPS random writes (4KB, QD1).

(Image credit: Samsung)

Since the Samsung 980 SSDs feature a PCIe 3.0 x4 interface, unlike their 980 Pro counterparts, it is not surprising that the new drives are considerably slower when compared to the flagship products from Samsung (and other SSDs using a PCIe 4.0 x4 bus). What is surprising is that the new Samsung 980 SSDs are slower when compared to their predecessors, the Samsung 970 Evo Plus drives in such metrics as sequential write speed (3,000 MB/s vs. 3,300 MB/s), random read speed (500,000IOPS vs. 620,000 IOPS), and random write speed (480,000 IOPS vs. 560,000 IOPS).

Based on data from Geizhals.eu (via ComputerBase.de), Samsung's 980 250GB drive costs €70, the 500GB version is priced at €90, and the 1TB model carries a €150 price tag. Meanwhile, Samsung's 970 Evo Plus 250GB can be obtained for €54, the 500GB flavor is available for €74, whereas the 1TB version can be bought for €144.

Right now, Samsung's 980 SSDs do not really look competitive with its direct predecessors at the given prices, but we'll have to test them. But since the new drives are based on 136-layer TLC V-NAND and lack DRAM cache, it is possible that their manufacturing costs are lower than those of the 970 Evo, which will allow Samsung to lower prices of the 980 SSDs in the future.

European retailers intend to start sales of the Samsung 980 SSDs on March 30, 2021.

  • Co BIY
    Will I "feel" the difference between PCIe 4.0 drives and NVME PCIe 3.0 drives when operating the computer or will it only matter with large operations?

    Moving from HHD to Sata SSD is amazing. I slightly notice the speed of NVME drives over the SATA (also on better machines).

    I imagine there are diminishing returns.
    Reply
  • hotaru.hino
    Co BIY said:
    Will I "feel" the difference between PCIe 4.0 drives and NVME PCIe 3.0 drives when operating the computer or will it only matter with large operations?

    Moving from HHD to Sata SSD is amazing. I slightly notice the speed of NVME drives over the SATA (also on better machines).

    I imagine there are diminishing returns.
    It will only matter with things that move huge amounts of data constantly.
    Reply
  • USAFRet
    Co BIY said:
    Will I "feel" the difference between PCIe 4.0 drives and NVME PCIe 3.0 drives when operating the computer or will it only matter with large operations?
    4YoRKQy-UO4View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4YoRKQy-UO4

    V3AMz-xZ2VMView: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V3AMz-xZ2VM
    Reply
  • salgado18
    Co BIY said:
    Will I "feel" the difference between PCIe 4.0 drives and NVME PCIe 3.0 drives when operating the computer or will it only matter with large operations?

    Moving from HHD to Sata SSD is amazing. I slightly notice the speed of NVME drives over the SATA (also on better machines).

    I imagine there are diminishing returns.
    When using the computer for mundane things, it's not that different from an NVMe and a good SATA SSD. (I've seen both, and it's like that). I believe from 3.0 to 4.0 there won't be a meaninful difference.

    On large file copies, obviously, because it is tied to transfer speeds (read/write).

    On games, not yet, but almost. Cyberpunk already has lower city loading performance when moving if you are on a SATA drive compared to a mid-range NVMe. Sony only certifies third-party drives for the PS5 that reach 5,000 MB/s read speeds, which mean the games can expect a very fast drive. For example, you could have an RTX 3090, if your drive is not fast enough you could need to lower textures because asset loading can't keep up. That's in the future, but a nearer one every day.
    Reply
  • danlw
    salgado18 said:
    When using the computer for mundane things, it's not that different from an NVMe and a good SATA SSD. (I've seen both, and it's like that). I believe from 3.0 to 4.0 there won't be a meaninful difference.

    On large file copies, obviously, because it is tied to transfer speeds (read/write).

    On games, not yet, but almost. Cyberpunk already has lower city loading performance when moving if you are on a SATA drive compared to a mid-range NVMe. Sony only certifies third-party drives for the PS5 that reach 5,000 MB/s read speeds, which mean the games can expect a very fast drive. For example, you could have an RTX 3090, if your drive is not fast enough you could need to lower textures because asset loading can't keep up. That's in the future, but a nearer one every day.

    That's pretty much my understanding. Load times for most games today aren't affected much by the jump from SATA to NVME because they are coded to work with people gaming on potatoes with spinny disks.

    However, now that consoles are finally making the switch, SSDs will become more of a requirement rather than a recommendation. And so I would expect that games in the future will start to reveal the differences between SATA SSDs and NVME SSDs more and more as the requirement to support the painfully slow spinny disks starts to go away.

    I made the switch to SSD back in 2011 and never looked back. I was telling people years ago that if they weren't gaming on an SSD, they were wrong. Today I would say if somebody is still gaming on a spinny disk, they are woefully ignorant. The need for games to support spinny disks is holding us back, so everybody needs to get with the program and make the switch to SSD so that developers can stop being handcuffed by slow access times.

    Of course, spinny disks are still useful for bulk storage of things like movies and pictures. But for games, its times for SSD to be a requirement.
    Reply
  • Bublitz223
    Admin said:
    Samsung's 980 SSDs are almost here, but they are slower than Samsung's 970 Evo Plus.

    The Samsung 980 SSD Spotted: A DRAM-Less PCIe 3.0 x4 SSD-GarageBand : Read More.

    This may be a consideration for server or workstation loads, but it’ll be fine for most any home user. I have been using my machine a LOT as of late, since I’ve been working from home since March, plus I game and do photo editing on my machine. Probably in use 10 hours a day, plus it stays on 24/7. My current boot drive is a 970 EVO NVME 1TB, and I’ve written 27TB in 123 days of operation. At that rate, 600TB written will last me 7.5 years, which is way longer than I would expect any drive to last.
    Reply
  • BogdanH
    I think by now, most people realized SSD (SATA or NVMe) is the way to go -because performance difference between HDD and SSD is just too big and very noticeable. And I also think that it isn't worth for average PC user to pay extra price for PCIe 4.0 SSD.

    Yes, SSD prices have become kinda "reasonable".. still, they're are much higher than HDD prices (per capacity). And makers try to "invent" ways to keep them high -Samsung 980 NVMe seems to be a good example for that: advertise as premium and set the price between "pro" and "consumer".
    Reply