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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  • psc - Monday, December 9, 2013 - link

    I would like to know what the firmware upgrade adds with the statement "Optimizing TurboWrite algorithm" (from the firmware download page) ? Speed, endurance or both ?
  • Alexvrb - Monday, December 9, 2013 - link

    I prefer others to be guinea pigs for firmware offering performance enhancements, myself. :D Although Samsung retail firmware is generally very good. I've only heard of a reliability issue with pre-release firmware.

    I've got an 840 Evo, it's a really good entry level drive. If I really hammered my drive with writes, or kept it for much longer, I'd get a Pro. But I'll probably be replacing it with a ~500GB model in a couple years so it's more than adequate. :-D
  • skiboysteve - Monday, December 9, 2013 - link

    I wish their samsung magician software worked for their OEM drives. I got the new XPS 15 haswell from Dell with the Samsung SM841 in it, 512GB mSATA drive... and their magician software says it detected a "SAMSUNG" drive but to use the magician software I need a SAMSUNG drive. Fail.
  • thralloforcus - Monday, December 9, 2013 - link

    Would RAPID work if my Samsung 840 Pros are in a RAID 0 array through an LSI 9265-8i? I'm guessing not..
  • fokka - Monday, December 9, 2013 - link

    why not try it out and tell us? i've got embarassingly little experience with raid (read: none), but as long as the firmware is up to date and samsung magician recognizes the drives as 840 pros (or evos) i'd like to think that rapid should be available.
  • silenceisgolden - Monday, December 9, 2013 - link

    Check out Tweaktown's channel, I think they interviewed that startup which is doing the die interconnects.
  • Kristian Vättö - Tuesday, December 10, 2013 - link

    I found it now, it's HLNAND.
  • Eddie A - Tuesday, December 10, 2013 - link

    With the new RAPID feature for the 840 Pro, the new benchmarks on my 256GB 840 Pro are incredible:

    Samsung Magician benchmark:
    Seq Read = 1280 MB/s
    Seq Write = 1083 MB/s
    Random Read (IOPS) = 140773
    Randon Write (IOPS) = 100251

    CrystalDiskMark benchmark:
    Seq Read = 1896 MB/s
    Seq Write = 6195 MB/s
    512K Read = 1882 MB/s
    512K Write = 5970 MB/s
    4K Read = 357.0 MB/s
    4K Write = 551.7 MB/s
    4K QD32 Read = 634.3 MB/s
    4K QD32 Write = 473.3 MB/s

    My AHCI Controller is Intel 7 Series C216 v12.5.0.1066 running on 64-bit Windows 7 Ultimate with an Intel Core i7-3770 3.4Ghz processor and 16GB RAM.
  • DIYEyal - Tuesday, December 10, 2013 - link

    Although RAPID is an awesome technology, we are not going to get such a big difference because the difference between MLC flash and SLC is much smaller than the difference between TLC and SLC, also SATA is still a bottleneck.. Still nice update and I'm all for it, although we can pretty much give an accurate assumptions about what the performance is going to be like (I bet the maximum dedicated SLC will be higher because on an MLC there are more cells than in TLC for the same amount of storage.
    What a nice bonus!
  • hojnikb - Monday, December 16, 2013 - link

    dude, RAPID is a tottaly different tech, than what you're describing.
    This is TurboWrite and 840pro ain't getting that.

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