Today has been a busy day for Samsung's SSD department with three releases/announcements. With three different topics, I've separated this article into three, so let's begin with the hardware.

Samsung SSD 840 EVO mSATA

Samsung has been making mSATA SSDs for a couple of years but until now they've only been available to OEMs. The 840 EVO mSATA is Samsung's first retail mSATA SSD and like its 2.5" sibling, it's based on Samsung's own MEX controller and 19nm TLC NAND. Feature wise the EVO mSATA is similar to the regular EVO and supports both RAPID and TurboWrite. 

Samsung SSD 840 EVO mSATA Specifications
Capacities (GB) 120, 250, 500, 1000
Controller Samsung MEX
NAND 19nm Samsung Toggle-Mode TLC NAND
Sequential Read Up to 540MB/s
Sequential Write Up to 520MB/s
4KB Random Read 98K IOPS
4KB Random Write 90K IOPS

The part that's really interesting in the EVO mSATA is the fact that it's available in capacities of up to 1TB. To date the biggest mSATA SSDs we've seen have been 512GB (Crucial M500 and Samsung's OEM SSDs), although most mSATA solutions have maxed out at 256GB. The limitation has been due to the fact that the mSATA spec supports only four NAND dies as there isn't space for more. To achieve a capacity of 1TB with only four NAND packages, Samsung has done something we've not seen before: There are sixteen 128Gb (16GB) NAND dies per package. We've only seen up to eight dies per package before, so it'll be interesting to see what Samsung has done in terms of technology to double the amount of dies per package. My hypothesis is that instead of connecting each die separately to the package, the dies are now connected to each other in some way. The problem with high amount of dies per package has been the length of the interconnect for the dies on the top, but by connecting the dies to each other that is less of an issue. A start-up (can't remember the name, unfortunately) showed a technology like that at last year's Flash Memory Summit, so I'm eager to find out if Samsung has done something similar.

Update: I found the start-up, it's called HLNAND and they have a 16-die package.

The drive will be available later this month but pricing is to be announced. We are already waiting for our review sample to arrive and will put it through our regular tests once we receive it.

RAPID for SSD 840 Pro

When the EVO was released in September this year, one of the new features it brought was RAPID (Real-time Accelerated Processing of I/O Data). RAPID uses some of the system's RAM to buffer reads and writes to enable higher performance (check our review for deeper explanation and benchmarks) but in the beginning it was only available for the 840 EVO. Now, with the introduction of Samsung SSD Magician 4.3 (download here), RAPID is also available for the 840 Pro.

eDrive for SSD 840 EVO

Back when the 840 EVO was launched, Samsung promised that support for Windows 8's eDrive (hardware based encryption, click here to read more) would be coming shortly after the release via firmware update. It took Samsung a bit longer than expected but firmware EXT0BB6Q is now available and it brings support for TCG Opal 2.0 and IEEE 1667 (the required standards for eDrive). The update is available through Samsung's SSD Magician software but if you prefer the good old ISO update method, click here to get the ISO file. 

Source: Samsung Press Release

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  • A5 - Monday, December 9, 2013 - link

    For Windows 8+, it should detect the HW encryption when you turn on BitLocker.

    I don't know about Linux.
  • r3loaded - Monday, December 9, 2013 - link

    Tried that, wouldn't let me continue as I don't have a TPM chip. There seems to be very little documentation on what is clearly the most seamless, highest performance method of achieving full disk encryption.
  • InsaneScientist - Monday, December 9, 2013 - link

    Open the group policy editor (gpedit.msc > Ctrl + Shift + Enter to run as Admin)
    Go to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Bit Locker Drive Encryption > Operating System Drives

    Open the "Require additional authentication at startup" policy.
    Enable the policy and check the box (under options) that says "Allow BitLocker without a compatible TPM"

    Click OK, quit the group policy editor, and attempt to enable BitLocker again. It should work. :)
    Note: as mentioned in the help info for that policy, if you want to require both a USB key and a password, you will have to configure BitLocker using manage-bde (command line) instead of the GUI wizard available through Control Panel.
  • LS1 - Thursday, December 19, 2013 - link

    Has anyone been able to get eDrive working right with the EVO yet? I gave it a shot and I believe I meet all the system requirements (UEFI with CSM disabled and Secure Boot enabled, Windows 8.1 Pro, BitLocker, etc.) but it still asks me if I want to encrypt only the used space or the entire drive (it shouldn't ask that if it's using eDrive from what I've read). Tried this on a Lenovo K410 Desktop without a TPM chip and on Lenovo ThinkPad T430 with a TPM chip without any luck...if it doesn't work on the business line T series ThinkPad then I don't know what will work or what I might be doing wrong?
  • LS1 - Tuesday, December 24, 2013 - link

    Finally got eDrive to work on the Samsung EVO but I had to install the Samsung Magician software and enable "Encrypted Drive" which instructed me to perform a secure erase and a clean install of Windows 8 which I did and it but I had to make sure the EVO was #1 on the boot order in UEFI/BIOS and also had to run "bcdboot %systemdrive%\Windows" from the Windows command prompt since I kept getting BitLocker errors saying "element not found". After it's done however the same problem as the Crucial M500 exists where the ATA security set is disabled and one CANNOT perform a Secure Erase on the drive and the Samsung Magician software doesn't allow you to set "Encrypted Drive" back to "Ready to be Enabled" or "Disabled".
  • Compudoc00 - Tuesday, August 19, 2014 - link

    I did the Secure Erase/Bitlocker thing on my Samsung 840 EVO and drive was self-encrypting using TPM. But then I updated a bunch of Fujitsu T904 drivers and now Bitlocker says it's not encrypted (including using the manage-bde -status command) even though when I boot I have to enter a Bitlocker Pin and Magician says Encrypted Drive=Enabled. I had set the Bitlocker group policy to require a Pin. Is it possible that the drive is no longer encrypted and the Pin is doing nothing other than satisfying the policy?
  • Kristian Vättö - Monday, December 9, 2013 - link

    You can't enable the encryption via Magician, the firmware update simply provides the support for it. In Windows 8, all you have to do is turn on BitLocker but in Windows 7 you have to use third party software. I'm not sure about Linux though.
  • extide - Monday, December 9, 2013 - link

    So... 1TB in 4 chips, that means in a 2.5 SSD with 8 chips on each side, you could have 4TB! That is double what you can get in the largest 2.5" HDD (which wont even fit in most laptops, being that it is 15mm tall!)
  • MrSpadge - Monday, December 9, 2013 - link

    To be fair, Seagate recently announced a Spinpoint 2 TB 2.5" HDD with 3 platters at 9.5 mm height. Yet flash obviously can "easily" surpass even this density (many more than 16 packages could fit into 2.5 ", 9.5 mm high, just need to use controller with more channels or more controllers). Obviously the cost advantage of HDD remains.. and shrinks in relevance.
  • hojnikb - Monday, December 9, 2013 - link

    Good luck finding a controller, than can handle so much flash though.

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