At CES, Samsung displayed a variety of new SSD solutions, including PM863 and SM863, the company's new SATA 6Gbps enterprise drives. At the time Samsung was only sampling its key OEM customers, but with today's announcement Samsung is making the drives available through its retail channel in early August.

The PM863 and SM863 are based on Samsung's in-house "Mercury" controller, but unfortunately I don't have any additional details on the controller architecture itself. I'm guessing it's a derivative of the client-grade controllers utilizing ARM Cortex R4, but I'll have to wait for Samsung's reply before I know for sure.

Samsung PM863 Specifications
Capacity 120GB 240GB 480GB 960GB 1.92TB 3.84TB
Controller Samsung "Mercury"
NAND Samsung 32-layer 128Gbit TLC V-NAND
Sequential Read 380MB/s 520MB/s 525MB/s 520MB/s 510MB/s 540MB/s
Sequential Write 125MB/s 245MB/s 460MB/s 475MB/s 475MB/s 480MB/s
4KB Random Read 86K IOPS 99K IOPS 99K IOPS 99K IOPS 99K IOPS 99K IOPS
4KB Random Write 5K IOPS 10K IOPS 17K IOPS 18K IOPS 18K IOPS 18K IOPS
Read Power 2.4W 2.7W 2.9W 2.9W 3.0W 3.0W
Write Power 2.1W 2.7W 3.8W 3.8W 4.0W 4.1W
Endurance 170TB 350TB 700TB 1,400TB 2,800TB 5,600TB
MSRP $125 $160 $290 $550 $1100 $2200
Warranty Three years

The PM863 is the successor to Samsung's 845DC EVO line and makes the switch to more durable and performant 3D V-NAND. As you will find out in our Micron M510DC review tomorrow, the 845DC is actually a very good and consistent drive despite using TLC NAND, so I'm very intrigued to see how Samsung has been able to improve performance with V-NAND. At least random write performance sees a good 40-50% upgrade and the endurance is now ~1.3 drive writes per day, whereas the 845DC EVO offered only 0.35 DWPD. 

In addition to V-NAND, the other major upgrade in the PM863 is the addition of 1.92TB and 3.84TB capacities. Higher capacities allow for further cost savings by reducing the number of racks needed to achieve a specific capacity and in terms of drive prices alone the higher capacities offer more competitive cost per gigabyte. 4TB-class SSD itself isn't record breaking as SanDisk has been selling its Optimus Max for quite some time already, but the PM863 is a 2.5" 7mm product built on a single PCB, whereas SanDisk's is 15mm thick and needs multiple PCBs, giving Samsung a substantial cost advantage.

Samsung SM863 Specifications
Capacity 120GB 240GB 480GB 960GB 1.92TB
Controller Samsung "Mercury"
NAND Samsung 32-layer MLC V-NAND
Sequential Read 500MB/s 520MB/s 520MB/s 520MB/s 520MB/s
Sequential Write 460MB/s 485MB/s 485MB/s 485MB/s 485MB/s
4KB Random Read 97K IOPS 97K IOPS 97K IOPS 97K IOPS 97K IOPS
4KB Random Write 12K IOPS 20K IOPS 26K IOPS 28K IOPS 29K IOPS
Read Power 2.2W 2.2W 2.2W 2.2W 2.4W
Write Power 2.5W 2.7W 2.8W 2.9W 3.1W
Endurance 770TB 1,540TB 3,080TB 6,160TB 12,320TB
MSRP $140 $180 $330 $870 $1260
Warranty Five years

Whereas the PM863 succeeds the 845DC EVO, the SM863 is here to supersede the high-end PRO version. The 845DC PRO already made the switch to 3D V-NAND, but the SM863 upgrades the NAND from the first generation 24-layer to the latest 32-layer design for increased cost efficiency. I'm suspecting this is the same 86Gbit die that's used in the 850 PRO, but the 2TB 850 PRO appears to use a new 128Gbit die, so at this point I'm unsure about the exact NAND used in the SM863. I'll keep pinging Samsung for an answer, though.

The SM863 actually provides lower random write performance than the 845DC PRO, which is due to the reduced default over-provisioning as the SM863 only has 12% compared to 28% in the 845DC PRO. That said, the over-provisioning is user-configurable (Samsung even mentions that in the press release), so applications that require higher random write performance may increase the over-provisioning for higher performance. Endurance wise the SM863 is rated at about 3.5 DWPD for five years, which is again less than the 845DC PRO's 10 DWPD but additional over-provisioning will increase that.

Due to the more durable MLC V-NAND, the SM863 is mostly aimed for write-intensive applications that includes use cases such as online transaction processing (OLTP) and financial services, whereas the PM863 is targeted at read and mixed IO workloads, such as media streaming. Both feature tantalum capacitors for full power loss protection and support end-to-end data protection. The pricing of both drives seems fairly competitive because the PM863 only carries a ~10% premium over the 850 PRO, and the SM863 carries another 10% premium over the PM863. We look forward to getting the new drives in for review and putting them through our new 2015 Enterprise SSD Suite, so stay tuned!

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  • eek2121 - Wednesday, July 22, 2015 - link

    Samsung is releasing 2 TB 850 evo drives before the end of the year.
  • eek2121 - Wednesday, July 22, 2015 - link

    the 2 tb version will be $799 or less ($799 is msrp)
  • iwod - Monday, July 20, 2015 - link

    I guess the price doesn't need to match the HDD at TB Range, once the lower end of HDD and SSD collide ( which is now or soon ), most will switch to SSD.
    We have over 150 office computer and none, not a single one of them uses more then a 100GB. The average is around 50 - 60GB. And for home uses I guess the average jumps to 150GB - 200GB with Games.

    So Once the 256GB drops below $100 retail price i guess we will see a massive shift in OEM and Retail. There is no longer any reason to use HDD apart from Photos / Video and Backup.
  • Demon-Xanth - Tuesday, July 21, 2015 - link

    256gb for $90ish can be had all day long already.
  • creed3020 - Tuesday, July 21, 2015 - link

    At my workplace the trend is now the same as your describe. Most users didn't have anywhere near 100GB of disk usage so all new PC builds come with a 120GB Kingston SSD as opposed to a mechanical 500GB HDD.

    The change is performance is excellent. The Kingston SSD is no top dog in terms of benchmarks but dances circles around the HDD.

    Knowing how many desktops that get refreshed every year, means that we're purchasing a lot less HDDs. This trend has been enabled by the exact fact that these sub 200GB SSDs are around the same price in volume as a mechanical disk drive. So the premium performance is worth it vs. the cost savings of a smaller HDD.
  • Wulfera - Monday, July 20, 2015 - link

    Considering SanDisk's 4TB Optimus MAX goes for $6,000 this is a steal!
  • xstylus - Monday, July 20, 2015 - link

    I don't care. Take my money!
  • bigboxes - Monday, July 20, 2015 - link

    I really wish we could vote on posts here!

  • nandnandnand - Monday, July 20, 2015 - link

    V-NAND is the savior of NAND. Vertical may be the savior of computing in general. Long live the layers. Bring us 1024 layers.
  • willis936 - Monday, July 20, 2015 - link

    Memory is low complexity and low power. Processors are harder to do stacked. Once you get the fabrication process down you say "oh shit, this thing is going to melt if I turn it on". Heat, as always, is the issue.

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