After more than three years of ruling the consumer SATA SSD market, the Samsung 850 series is being replaced. The 850 PRO and 850 EVO that first brought 3D NAND flash memory to the consumer SSD market are being retired to make room for the new 860 PRO and 860 EVO SSDs. The new 860 drives are not revolutionary the way the 850s were, but instead represent continued evolution of Samsung's SSD technology.

The 850 series, while a rock of the SATA SSD market, has not remained unchanged from its introduction in 2014. In mid 2015, Samsung introduced 2TB models of the 850 PRO and 850 EVO, and inside the new models was an updated controller with support for enough LPDDR3 DRAM to manage 2TB of flash. In 2016, Samsung updated the entire 850 series to use their third-generation 48-layer 3D NAND. This new NAND didn't bring any significant performance changes, but because the capacity per die doubled, the available drive capacity options shifted: the 120GB and 128GB models were retired, and a 4TB 850 EVO was introduced. A 4TB 850 PRO was promised, but never shipped: disappointing yields from Samsung's 48L 3D NAND helped kick off an industry-wide shortage of NAND flash memory that drove prices way up and guaranteed a 4TB 850 PRO would nearly impossible to sell profitably.

Samsung 860 PRO Specifications
Capacity 256 GB 512 GB 1 TB 2 TB 4 TB
Form Factor 2.5" SATA 6 Gbps
Controller Samsung MJX
NAND Samsung 64-layer 3D MLC V-NAND
LPDDR4 DRAM 512 MB 1 GB 2 GB 4 GB
Sequential Read up to 560 MB/s
Sequential Write up to 530 MB/s
4KB Random Read  up to 100k IOPS
4KB Random Write  up to 90k IOPS
DevSleep Power 2.5 mW – 7 mW
Endurance 300 TBW 600 TBW 1200 TBW 2400 TBW 4800 TBW
Warranty 5 years
MSRP $139.99 (55¢/GB) $249.99 (49¢/GB) $479.99 (47¢/GB) $949.99 (46¢/GB) $1899.99 (46¢/GB)

The technological changes the 860 series brings are no bigger than what the 850 series has already undergone. The NAND flash memory is updated once again, this time to Samsung's 64-layer 3D NAND. The whole product line is moving over to the latest MJX SSD controller, and the DRAM used will now be LPDDR4. The 4TB PRO model is finally being released, but there are no further capacity increases coming at this time, and the entry level is still the same 250/256GB.

Looking at the numbers, the performance specifications are barely changed from the 850 series, and this is because the SATA interface hasn't gotten any faster since the 850 was introduced. The write endurance ratings have been simplified however: write endurance is now proportional to drive capacity even at the high end, and the 860 PRO's endurance is twice that of the 860 EVO's at each capacity point.

The most notable change is the reduction of the PRO's warranty period from the outstanding 10 years down to the same 5 years as the 860 EVO. The other big surprise is that there will be mSATA versions of the 860 EVO; this is the first major new mSATA SSD in a long time, as most product lines have abandoned it in favor of M.2 SATA. The 860 EVO will introduce a 2TB option to Samsung's M.2 SATA lineup.

Samsung 860 EVO Specifications
Capacity 250 GB 500 GB 1 TB 2 TB 4 TB
Interface 6 Gbps SATA
Form Factor 2.5", mSATA, M.2 2280 2.5"
Controller Samsung MJX
NAND Samsung 64-layer 3D TLC V-NAND
LPDDR4 DRAM 512 MB 1 GB 2 GB 4 GB
SLC Write Cache 12 GB 22 GB 42 GB 78 GB 78 GB
Sequential Read up to 560 MB/s
Sequential Write (SLC Cache) up to 520 MB/s
Sequential Write (TLC) 300 MB/s 300 MB/s 500 MB/s
4KB Random Read   up to 100k IOPS
4KB Random Write  up to 90k IOPS
DevSleep Power 2.5 mW – 7 mW
Endurance 150 TBW 300 TBW 600 TBW 1200 TBW 2400 TBW
Warranty 5 years
MSRP $94.99 (38¢/GB) $169.99 (34¢/GB) $329.99 (33¢/GB) $649.99 (32¢/GB) $1399.99 (35¢/GB)

For the first few years, the Samsung 850 PRO and 850 EVO were essentially unchallenged in the SATA SSD market. All of their most successful competitors were slower and cheaper, because nobody could match Samsung's performance. That changed in 2017 when several of Samsung's biggest competitors beat them to the introduction of 64L 3D NAND in the consumer SATA market. Drives like the Intel 545s, SanDisk Ultra3D and Crucial MX500 have renewed competition for mainstream consumer SSDs by matching or beating Samsung's performance while putting pressure on their pricing. Samsung's response is due. By keeping the MLC-based PRO tier while their competition is almost entirely switching to TLC NAND, Samsung will likely hold on to some performance crowns with their premium product, and they'll have the highest write endurance. But the more mainstream 860 EVO will have to fight for its place in the market.

Samsung's decision to keep the PRO tier around and based on MLC NAND signals that they will almost certainly do the same for their PCIe SSDs. Whatever they introduce as the successor to the 960 PRO will probably stand out from the crowd in a way that their premium SATA SSDs cannot. Samsung's NVMe SSD controllers still seem to be the fastest options, though competitors like Silicon Motion and Phison are starting to catch up.

Source: Samsung

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  • DavidCa - Tuesday, February 20, 2018 - link

    Best Comment Ever :D Reply
  • MrSpadge - Tuesday, January 23, 2018 - link

    Is 3 levels / bits not "multi level"?

    I know it's customary to use MLC for 2-bit cells, but it's actually not Samsungs fault that this inaccuracy became customary before people thought of TLC in SSDs. Had they called MLC "DLC" instead all would be fine and MLC could be anything >=2.
    Reply
  • Jessie00884230 - Tuesday, January 23, 2018 - link

    Explain multiplayer for me then. Multi is 2 or more. So playing a game that says multiplayer and notice it can do 4 players instead of 2 is misleading as well? Reply
  • Jessie00884230 - Tuesday, January 23, 2018 - link

    This has to be a troll lol cause if you're serious then we sure deserve trump as pressident. Reply
  • divertedpanda - Tuesday, January 23, 2018 - link

    I notice that for Samsung they list the DRAM specifications where as Crucial doesn't. Is there any official documents on what Crucial has for DRAM on say the MX500? Reply
  • Melisa - Wednesday, January 24, 2018 - link

    I am pretty much pleased with your good work. Reply
  • iwod - Wednesday, January 24, 2018 - link

    Will we see 500GB under $100 in 2019? Reply
  • vladx - Saturday, January 27, 2018 - link

    My 840 Evo is still kicking ass and at 90% wear leveling, there's literally no reason for me to switch to a 860 series. Reply
  • saketh_ravirala - Sunday, February 18, 2018 - link

    What is the main difference between 850 EVO and 860 EVO?
    If it is a upgraded version, then why is there a slight performance loss?
    If i get both for the same price, which one should i buy!!!
    Reply
  • jcwbnimble - Wednesday, February 21, 2018 - link

    I'd buy an 850 Evo only because it's a mature product. The 860 is the new product and will no doubt have an issue or two that will have to be addressed. Again, just my view on which one to buy.

    Now if you were going for the Pro models, I would definitely get an 850 since the warranty is 10 years versus the 5 year one for the 860 Pro.
    Reply

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