The SM961 is Samsung's latest high-end client PCIe SSD for OEMs, but as with its SM951 and XP941 predecessors there will be distributors selling the SM961 online to consumers. Unlike retail SSD products like the Samsung 950 Pro, OEM SSDs don't get an official launch date or MSRP. Instead we bring you RamCity's expectations for how the SM961 will be making a splash.

The 1TB SM961 has entered the supply chain and retailers like RamCity expect to begin shipments to consumers this week. RamCity is listing it for AUD$703.99 and Overclockers UK is listing it for £429.95. After accounting for taxes and exchange rates, RamCity's estimate for US pricing is around $521. Overclockers UK has also listed their prices for the 512GB and 256GB models with the same expected ship date as the 1TB, but RamCity was unable to confirm when they will have those capacities. Neither retailer has anything to share with regards to the 128GB capacity.

M.2 PCIe SSD Price Comparison
  128GB 256GB 512GB 1024GB
Samsung 950 Pro N/A $180.89 (71¢/GB) $319.99 (63¢/GB) MIA
Samsung SM951 (AHCI) $107.59 (84¢/GB) $167.99 (66¢/GB) $289.60 (57¢/GB) N/A
Samsung SM951 (NVMe) $99.99 (78¢/GB) $158.53 (62¢/GB) $259.99 (51¢/GB) N/A
Toshiba OCZ RD400 M.2 $119.99 (94¢/GB) $174.99 (68¢/GB) $309.99 (61¢/GB) $769.99 (75¢/GB)
Samsung SM961 (estimated) ? $159.00 (62¢/GB) $280.00 (55¢/GB) $521.00 (51¢/GB)

The SM961 will arrive with prices on par with the best deals currently available for the SM951. This means it will undercut retail competition like the Samsung 950 Pro and Toshiba OCZ RD400 significantly: $15-20 for the 256GB drives and $30-40 for the 512GB drives. The 1TB SM961 will slice a third off the price of the 1TB RD400.

Much of that price difference is due to the differences between OEM and retail products, rather than savings on manufacturing costs. It's unlikely that Samsung's new higher-performing Polaris controller is cheaper than the UBX controller used in the 950 Pro and SM951. The 3D NAND used on the SM961 is either the same second generation 32-layer V-NAND used in the 850 Pro and 950 Pro, or the third generation 48-layer V-NAND that is behind schedule in its rollout to existing product lines. So while the SM961 is a big technological improvement over the SM951, it probably isn't saving Samsung any money.

The 950 Pro comes with a 5 year warranty from Samsung and is supported by their custom NVMe drivers and SSD Magician utility, while the OEM drives don't get the software support and the only warranty is what the retailer offers. RamCity lists a 3-year warranty for the SM961 while Overclockers UK lists a 2-year warranty. It's hard to justify paying $40 more at the 512GB level for a better warranty on a slower drive.

It is a safe bet that the new Polaris controller in the SM961 will be released in a proper retail successor to the 950 Pro, but Samsung may be waiting until they can deliver it with newer 3D NAND, just as the 950 Pro's 3D NAND was a step up from the 16nm planar MLC used on the SM951. Until then, the 950 Pro will be in a tough spot without a significant price cut, particularly with enthusiast buyers who know where to source the SM961. Meanwhile this also calls into question whether Samsung will be adhering to their initial plans for a 1TB 950 Pro. The release of the SM961 means that the Polaris controller will be available before the 950 Pro could adopt Samsung's 48-layer V-NAND, so it remains to be seen whether Samsung will still want to go ahead and pair up next-generation V-NAND with an older controller.

Source: RamCity

POST A COMMENT

50 Comments

View All Comments

  • fera79 - Wednesday, June 22, 2016 - link

    Is it possible to produce using current technology 2 TB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD's? Reply
  • Billy Tallis - Wednesday, June 22, 2016 - link

    With 128Gb NAND dies and a practical stacking limit of 16 dies per package, 2TB requires 8 packages. SanDisk managed to put four flash packages on a single-sided M.2 for the X400, but using a SATA controller that comes in a pretty small package. Existing PCIe controllers wouldn't be able to fit the DRAM alongside in the 22mm width of a M.2 module, and stacking the DRAM on the controller would make thermal problems much worse. Putting four packages on each side of an M.2 drive would also make for a pretty expensive PCB and would make it hard to stay within the height limit. So we're close, but it's not going to happen until 256Gb or larger 3D NAND chips are available in suitable quantities and prices, and single-sided 2TB M.2 PCIe won't be possible with any combination of chips due to be available this year except maybe using Micron's 384Gb 3D TLC. Reply
  • fera79 - Wednesday, June 22, 2016 - link

    Thanks for clarifying this for me, Billy. Samsung introduced its 2nd generation V-NAND (32-layer 3-bit MLC V-NAND) chips in August 2014, and launched its 3rd generation V-NAND (48-layer 3-bit MLC V-NAND) chips in just one year. Do you suppose they might release the 4th generation in the next two years? Reply
  • Zizy - Wednesday, June 22, 2016 - link

    Samsung announced (or released already, not sure) BGA 512GB SSD. Was mentioned here as well. 4 of those just barely fit on a single M.2 side with a tiny (and likely slow-ish) controller. So, you can manage 4TB if you fill both sides.
    Not sure about height limitation though.

    Obviously talking about 2280, which is the usual m2 SSD size. 22110, which is also a part of specs and can be found on some boards, should easily fit 4 such chips for 2TB with place for a decent controller and whatnot.
    Reply
  • mercutio - Wednesday, June 22, 2016 - link

    i've found the 950 pro extremely slow. i really hope samsung will start doing a capacitor for write cache. normal workloads have low queue depths, and samsung's synchronous write speed is worse than normal ssd. even burst perforrmance seems worse than sm951 did... in linux 1073741824 bytes (1.1 GB, 1.0 GiB) copied, 1.02526 s, 1.0 GB/s

    in windows about 800mb/sec read. 4x pci-e 3...
    Reply
  • linster - Wednesday, June 22, 2016 - link

    Did you make sure firmware, NVMe drivers, and BIOS settings are up to date or correct? That read speed does look slow. Reply
  • mercutio - Thursday, June 23, 2016 - link

    Yeah checked everything. Tried googling, but lots of people using old motherboards clouding issue.

    Both Microsoft and Samsung NVMe drivers slow, disabled ASPM, high C states etc in BIOS, latest firmware of SSD, not sure about motherboard, but it was latest at the time. Last time I tried contacting Samsung about 10MB/sec read speeds on SSD they didn't do anything at all other than say speeds can be variable. Their support is beyond useless.
    Reply
  • cm2187 - Wednesday, June 22, 2016 - link

    Any 2TB m2 SSD on the radar? Reply
  • cptcolo - Saturday, July 30, 2016 - link

    I tested the Samsung PM961 1TB with the following results from Crystal Disk Mark. Very impressive, overall though it looks like the Intel 750 is better.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    CrystalDiskMark 5.1.2 x64 (C) 2007-2016 hiyohiyo
    Crystal Dew World : http://crystalmark.info/
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    * MB/s = 1,000,000 bytes/s [SATA/600 = 600,000,000 bytes/s]
    * KB = 1000 bytes, KiB = 1024 bytes

    Sequential Read (Q= 32,T= 1) : 2817.261 MB/s
    Sequential Write (Q= 32,T= 1) : 1246.530 MB/s
    Random Read 4KiB (Q= 32,T= 1) : 447.458 MB/s [109242.7 IOPS]
    Random Write 4KiB (Q= 32,T= 1) : 401.962 MB/s [ 98135.3 IOPS]
    Sequential Read (T= 1) : 1224.242 MB/s
    Sequential Write (T= 1) : 1145.173 MB/s
    Random Read 4KiB (Q= 1,T= 1) : 38.463 MB/s [ 9390.4 IOPS]
    Random Write 4KiB (Q= 1,T= 1) : 144.299 MB/s [ 35229.2 IOPS]

    Test : 1024 MiB [C: 14.3% (136.0/952.6 GiB)] (x5) [Interval=5 sec]
    Date : 2016/07/30 11:47:06
    OS : Windows 10 Professional [10.0 Build 10586] (x64)
    Samsung PM961 1TB (NVMe M.2)
    Reply
  • cptcolo - Saturday, July 30, 2016 - link

    I redid the test and increased the random thread count set up to 8 from 1 before (per recommendation). Results shown below. Results are closer to what I was expecting (esp the IOPS), but I think the Intel 750 is still slightly better. It will be interesting to see what the SM961 can do.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    CrystalDiskMark 5.1.2 x64 (C) 2007-2016 hiyohiyo
    Crystal Dew World : http://crystalmark.info/
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    * MB/s = 1,000,000 bytes/s [SATA/600 = 600,000,000 bytes/s]
    * KB = 1000 bytes, KiB = 1024 bytes

    Sequential Read (Q= 32,T= 1) : 2882.852 MB/s
    Sequential Write (Q= 32,T= 1) : 1260.938 MB/s
    Random Read 4KiB (Q= 32,T= 8) : 1137.597 MB/s [277733.6 IOPS]
    Random Write 4KiB (Q= 32,T= 8) : 912.272 MB/s [222722.7 IOPS]
    Sequential Read (T= 1) : 1239.127 MB/s
    Sequential Write (T= 1) : 1161.739 MB/s
    Random Read 4KiB (Q= 1,T= 1) : 39.088 MB/s [ 9543.0 IOPS]
    Random Write 4KiB (Q= 1,T= 1) : 144.358 MB/s [ 35243.7 IOPS]

    Test : 1024 MiB [C: 14.3% (136.0/952.6 GiB)] (x5) [Interval=5 sec]
    Date : 2016/07/30 12:37:07
    OS : Windows 10 Professional [10.0 Build 10586] (x64)
    Samsung PM961 1TB (NVMe M.2)
    Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now