Report: 1TB Samsung SM961 NVMe SSD ships next week

— 10:03 AM on June 21, 2016

Tom's Hardware is reporting that Samsung's follow-up to the SM951 first-generation NVMe SSD will be shipping to OEMs next week. This is the SM961 that we first heard about back in March, so the timing is right. The new drive features Samsung's new Polaris controller (no relation to a certain GPU), and it comes in 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB NVMe models. The 1TB tier is a first for Samsung's NVMe drives.

  SM961 128GB SM961 256GB SM961 512GB SM961 1TB
Sequential read 3100 MB/s 3100 MB/s 3200 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
Pricing N/A $159 $280 $512

This information comes from a listing on Australian site RamCity, although the page has since been removed. To be clear, the pricing listed above is in US dollars. As we reported before,  the new controller is a five-core, 8-channel design. Tom's speculates that the chip is made on a new process node, and that it should suffer less throttling issues than previous-generation NVMe drives. The site also guesses that the SM961 uses third-generation V-NAND, which seems likely to us given the increased density.

Samsung's specified performance numbers for the drive are considerably higher than both the SM951 and the 950 Pro, but—assuming these numbers are legitimate—the real item of interest here is the pricing. At $0.50 per gigabyte, these drives are still pricey compared to SATA SSDs. Nevertheless, the price per gig is a decent step down from the 950 Pro, which still sells for $320 in its 512GB capacity at the time of this writing. In any case, more NVMe drives on the market is a good thing, and hopefully the competition among Samsung, Intel, and Toshiba will drive prices down soon.

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