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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  • ArtForz - Wednesday, July 22, 2015 - link

    They corrected it, it's listed at $640 now.
  • Wulfera - Monday, July 20, 2015 - link

    I agree that the price of the SM863 seems excellent. The extra warranty alone is worth the tiny price increase over the PM863, but you get faster speeds AND far better endurance?! All except for the 960GB SM863 vs PM863, that 63% increase is a blatant rip compared to the near price parity across the rest of the drive capacities...
  • marraco - Monday, July 20, 2015 - link

    Those, and other SSD drivers are clearly bottlenecked by the SATA limits.

    Many consumers do not have other choice than using SATA, so the manufacturers should write new drivers to use multiple SATA connectors to the same drive, to tap the wasted performance.

    There are newer, faster interfaces, but the lack of compelling advances in CPU power makes upgrading too expensive. An upgrade requires a new motherboard, CPU and memory, and the price asked is too much just to get marginal rise in CPU performance and some peripheral connectivity.

    So, there is a market with a large user base, and the need to differentiate tons of similarly performing SSD. The solution is cheap.
  • Folterknecht - Wednesday, July 22, 2015 - link

    That 's no real solution - afaik you ll run into the next bottleneck at around 1000 - 1200 MB/s (~2 SATA III SSDs) at the Southbridge (PCH) of modern day consumer platforms (Z68 - Z97).
    PCIe based NVMe is the way to go.
  • TheBeagle - Tuesday, July 21, 2015 - link

    Do any of these developments shed any light upon Samsung's intentions (or actual delivery) of a consumer version of the SM951 M.2 with NVMe format? The last reports I heard were not very encouraging with regard to the OEM version of the SM951 NVMe. However, a SM951 NVMe PCIe M.2 utilizing V-NAND chips and possibly a variant of the "Mercury" controller could be what I've been waiting for. Anyone have any reliable information on any of that? I have an ASUS X99-E WS motherboard that is in dire need of a 512GB M.2 2280 NVMe PCIe stick drive. Best regards to everyone. TheBeagle
  • AndrewJacksonZA - Tuesday, July 21, 2015 - link

    Typo: "As you will find out in our tomorrow's Micron M510DC review" --> "our tomorrow's"
  • Kristian Vättö - Wednesday, July 22, 2015 - link

    Thanks for the heads up, it's been fixed. Finnish doesn't always translate well to English...

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