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Samsung Announces 960 Evo and 960 Pro SSDs

Here at Samsung's SSD Global Summit in South Korea, the company has just officially unveiled their next generation of M.2 PCIe SSDs. The new 960 PRO SSD is the successor to the 950 PRO, launched at last year's Summit as Samsung's first M.2 PCIe SSD for the retail market. The new 960 EVO introduces a more affordable option based on TLC NAND flash.

Samsung's early M.2 PCIe SSDs were officially OEM-only products. The XP941 was one of the first PCIe SSDs designed for client computing use and used the AHCI protocol that is standard for SATA controllers rather than the newer NVMe protocol. The next generation consisted of the SM951 and PM951 SSDs, which adopted a new controller that supports PCIe 3.0 x4 operation and provides NVMe support as an option. The 950 PRO uses the same controller as the SM951 but introduced Samsung's 3D V-NAND to the product family for the first time.

The flagship Samsung 960 Pro is capable of sequential read and write speeds of up to 3500MB/s and 2100MB/s respectively, compared to the 950 Pro's maximum read and write speeds of 2500MB/s and 1500MB/s respectively, which applied to the 512GB model. All three 960 Pro models introduced - 512GB, 1TB, and 2TB - are capable of the same read/write speeds, a change compared to last year, when the lower capacity 950 Pro drives were slower as well. The new Pro drives are capable of hitting 440,000 and 360,000 input-output operations per second during random reads and writes respectively.

The Samsung 960 Evo series is a bit slower than the Pro, but thanks to the improved Intelligent TurboWrite technology, it packs significant improvements when compared to the Samsung 850 Evo. The 960 Evo is capable of sequential read speeds up to 3200MB/s, with sequential write speeds varying based on the capacity of the drive - up to 1500MB/s on the 250GB model, up to 1800MB/s on the 512GB model, and up to 1900MB/s on the 1TB model. The IOPS figures for the 960 Evo stand at 380,00 and 360,000 for random reads and writes respectively.

Samsung has taken several measures to reduce the incidence of thermal throttling with the 960s, resulting in the 960 PRO lasting 50% longer before throttling on a sequential read test (and due to the increased performance, it transfers more than twice the data before throttling). Most of the improvement comes from increased power efficiency, but in addition, the 960 PRO and EVO include a heatspreader of sorts on the back side. The adhesive label includes a thin layer of copper. One Samsung engineer estimated that this sticker accounts for about 30% of the improved thermal performance.

The Samsung 960 Pro starts at $329 (approximately Rs. 22,000) for the 512GB variant, while the 1TB variant is priced at $629 (approximately Rs. 42,100), and the top-of-the-line 2TB drive will be priced at $1299 (approximately Rs. 87,000) in the US. The Samsung 960 Evo will be available at $129 (approximately Rs. 8,600) for the 250GB model, $249 (approximately Rs. 16,700) for the 500GB model, and $479 (approximately Rs. 32,100) for the 1TB variant. The drives will start shipping in October in select markets, with an India launch expected later this year.