Introduction

Samsung has been making steady progress in becoming one of the major players in the consumer SSD market. Even before the SSD 470, Samsung was a major player in the industry with their mostly OEM SSDs, but this took a dramatic change when the SSD 830 was released. Samsung never really marketed the SSD 470, even though it was a reasonable competitor back at its launch. The SSD 830 was Samsung’s first SSD that really received media and consumer attention, and for good reason: it was one of the best consumer SSDs on the market.

With the 840 and 840 Pro, Samsung took a big step forward in marketing. Instead of hosting a regular press release and providing reviewers with the drives, Samsung flew around 70 media representatives from all around the world to Seoul, South Korea for their Global SSD Summit. Samsung spent two days talking about their new drives, including several live demos and presentations on Samsung’s future plans. For the first time, Samsung also opened the doors of one their NAND manufacturing plants to media and we were allowed to meet with some of their engineers in person and ask questions about their NAND and SSDs.

We have already reviewed the 840 Pro, but Samsung did not sample the regular 840 until the Summit. I started testing the 840 right after I got back from Seoul and I was able to provide you with some preliminary benchmarks shortly after, but today we’re back with the full review.

When we finally got the specifications for the SSD 840, I understood why Samsung was reluctant to share too many details about the drive before its launch: the Samsung SSD 840 is the first consumer SSD to utilize 3-bit-per-cell MLC NAND (aka TLC). Before we delve into the actual SSD 840, let's take a closer look at how NAND works and how TLC compares to SLC and MLC.

A TLC Refresher
POST A COMMENT

85 Comments

View All Comments

  • name99 - Tuesday, October 09, 2012 - link

    "I think Kristian should have made this all more clear because too many people don't bother to actually read stuff and just look at charts."

    Kristian is not the problem.
    There is a bizarre fraction of the world of tech "enthusiasts" who are convinced that every change in the world is a conspiracy to screw them over.

    These people have been obsessing about the supposed fragility of flash memory from day one. We have YEARS of real world experience with these devices but it means nothing to them. We haven't been screwed yet, but with TLC it's coming, I tell you.
    The same people spent years insisting that non-replacable batteries were a disaster waiting to happen.
    Fifteen years ago they were whining about the iMac not including a floppy drive, for the past few years they have been whining about recent computers not including an optical drive.
    A few weeks ago we saw the exact same thing regarding Apple's new Lightning connector.

    The thing you have to remember about these people is
    - evidence means NOTHING. you can tell them all the figures you want, about .1% failure rates, or minuscule return rates or whatever. None of that counts against their gut feeling that this won't work, or even better an anecdote that some guy some somewhere had a problem.
    - they have NO sense of history. Even if they lived through these transitions before, they cannot see how changes in 2000 are relevant to changes in 2012.
    - they will NEVER admit that they were wrong. The best you can possibly get out of them is a grudging acceptance that, yeah, Apple was right to get rid of floppy disks, but they did it too soon.

    In other words these are fools that are best ignored. They have zero knowledge of history, zero knowledge of the market, zero knowledge of the technology --- and the grandiose opinions that come from not actually knowing any pesky details or facts.
    Reply
  • piiman - Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - link

    Then stick with Intel not because they last longer but they have a great warranty.(5 years) My drive went bad at about 3.5 years and Intel replaced it no questions asked and did it very quickly. I sent it in and had a new one 2 days after they received my old one. great service! Reply
  • GTRagnarok - Monday, October 08, 2012 - link

    This is assuming a very exaggerated amplification of 10x. Reply
  • Kristian Vättö - Monday, October 08, 2012 - link

    Keep in mind that it's an estimation based on the example numbers. 10x write amplification is fairly high for consumer workloads, most usually have something between 1-3x (though it gets a big bigger when taking wear leveling efficiency into account). Either way, we played safe and used 10x.

    Furthermore, the reported P/E cycle counts are the minimums. You have to be conservative when doing endurance ratings because every single die you sell must be able to achieve that. Hence it's completely possible (and even likely) that TLC can do more than 1,000 P/E cycles. It may be 1,500 or 3,000, I don't know; but 1,000 is the minimum. There is a Samsung 830 at XtremeSystems (had to remove the link as our system thought it was spam, LOL) that has lasted for more than 3,000TiBs, which would translate to over 10,000 P/E cycles (supposedly, that NAND is rated at 3,000 cycles).

    Of course, as mentioned at the end of the review, the 840 is something you would recommend to a light user (think about your parents or grandparents for instance), whereas the 840 Pro is the drive for heavier users. Those users are not writing a lot (heck, they may not use their system for days!), hence the endurance is not an issue.
    Reply
  • A5 - Monday, October 08, 2012 - link

    Ah. I didn't know the 10x WA number was exceedingly conservative. Nevermind, then. Reply
  • TheinsanegamerN - Friday, July 05, 2013 - link

    3.5 years is considering you are writing 36.5 GB of data a day. if the computer it is sitting in is mostly used for online work of document editing, youll get far more. the laptop would probably die long before the ssd did.
    also, this only apples to the tls ssds. mlc ssds last 3 times longer, so the 840 pro would be better for a computer kept longer than 3 years.
    Reply
  • Vepsa - Monday, October 08, 2012 - link

    Might just be able to convince the wife that this is the way to go for her computer and my computer. Reply
  • CaedenV - Monday, October 08, 2012 - link

    That is how I did it. My wife's old 80GB system drive died a bit over a year ago, and it was one of those issues of $75 for a decent HDD, or $100 for an SSD that would be 'big enough' for her as a system drive (60GB at the time). So I spent the extra $25, and it made her ~5 year old Core2Duo machine faster (for day-to-day workloads) than my brand new i7 monster that I had just build (but was still using traditional HDD at the time).

    I eventually got so frustrated by the performance difference that I ended up finally getting one for myself, and then after my birthday came then I spent my fun money on a 2nd one for RAID0. It did not make a huge performance increase (I mean it was faster in benchmarks, but doubling the speed of instant is still instant lol), but it did allow me to have enough space to load all my programs on the SSD instead of being divided between the SSD and HDD.
    Reply
  • AndersLund - Sunday, November 25, 2012 - link

    Notice, that setting up a RAID with your SSD might hinder the OS to see the SSDs as SSD and not sending TRIM commands to the disks. My first (and current) gamer system consists of two Intel 80 GB SSD in a RAID0 setup, but the OS (and Intel's toolbox) does not recognize them as SSD. Reply
  • mayankleoboy1 - Monday, October 08, 2012 - link

    Samsung is known to release only a few firmware updates (unlike SF).
    But due to the somewhat quirky nature of TLC NAND, do you expect Samsung to release a newer firmware , with maybe better read performance , or better TRIM support ?
    Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now