Final Words

The 4TB Samsung 850 EVO set new highs for a few performance sub-tests, but ultimately the only important record it breaks is for its storage capacity. On that front it is without equal in the consumer market and even among enterprise SATA drives higher capacities are only available from drives that are more than 7mm thick.

Samsung's new 256Gb 48-layer V-NAND chips made it straightforward for them to create this product, but it doesn't quite seem necessary. We were already quite impressed with their 2TB drives, and they still don't face any serious competition. The 4TB 850 EVO is a stark illustration of Samsung's seemingly insurmountable lead in the marketplace, but it is far too expensive for any ordinary desktop or NAS use. There simply aren't many consumers who can afford this much SSD, but if you're a consumer with the budget for 4TB of SSD storage the 850 EVO can deliver it in a single 2.5" drive with none of the complexity of RAID. The drive may also be very welcome in the professional video space, but the relatively low write endurance rating of 300TB (75 total drive writes) could scare off those customers.

Putting aside the concerns about the suitability of this drive for today's market, it is a good sign for the future. Samsung is finally putting their new generation of 3D NAND on shelves in large quantities. As promised it doesn't seem to bring any new performance issues, but a SATA drive can't really prove that conclusively. The improvements to power efficiency are modest but real and every bit of that will be welcome as the 48-layer V-NAND finds its way into the rest of the product line. It is hard to tell whether the new V-NAND will be pushing prices much lower in the short term, but it looks like it will at least be competitive with what's already out there. Samsung is well positioned to continue their dominance for another round.

The 4TB 850 EVO also gives us another light push towards a future where mechanical hard drives are gone from the consumer market. Building a SSD that can entirely displace hard drives is now possible using controllers and DRAM that are cheap commodity parts. (SSDs larger than 4TB could be made using two controllers plus a RAID controller at the cost of some peak performance, a technique used by drives like the 2TB Mushkin Reactor TC.) The per-GB price of NAND flash is the only front on which SSDs still need to improve; SSDs have far surpassed mechanical hard drives in performance and power consumption and have caught up in terms of capacity and density.

The performance of the 4TB 850 EVO also makes it clear that there is even less need for a 4TB 850 Pro. An MLC counterpart simply isn't needed to reach the highest speeds that can be expected of a SATA drive, because 3D TLC drive done right and in such abundant capacity is plenty fast. The only reason Samsung should bother shipping a 4TB 850 Pro is if they're going to give it a vastly higher write endurance rating for a small price premium. Otherwise, they should save that new 3D MLC for the PCIe drives.

ATTO, AS-SSD & Idle Power Consumption
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  • Eden-K121D - Monday, July 11, 2016 - link

    Too Expensive. $999 would have been a sweet spot and a potential option for me
  • Zak - Monday, July 11, 2016 - link

    The price will come down. Eventually.
  • Ratman6161 - Monday, July 11, 2016 - link

    Doesn't really mater if the price goes down, its still a niche product. The EVO's are great general purpose desktop drives. But the people who need a general purpose desktop drive, mostly don't need 4TB and would not buy one at $500 let alone at $1500. In my case, I've got a 250GB Evo and a 1 TB spinning disk for storage of music, pictures, video etc. So I guess a cheap enough 2 TB SSD could work for me just because it would be marginally easier to not have two separate chunks of storage to deal with...but thats just a marginal increase in convienience. The stuff I have on a spinning disk doesn't really need the performance of an SSD anyway.

    I know, now someone will jump in with "well I sure need that 4 TB" but I still say that isn't the norm. I really don't believe they will sell very many of these compared to the 1 TB and below even if the price comes down.
  • Meteor2 - Monday, July 11, 2016 - link

    I don't need it. But it's exciting to see this progress in SSDs. It'll take a while but mass production will bring the price/size ratio down.
  • Impulses - Monday, July 11, 2016 - link

    OTOH lack of competition will probably counter that to an extent... But I'm glad it exists too, if nothing else it might mean more sales on the 2TB. :p
  • leexgx - Sunday, August 7, 2016 - link

    was so funny when i clicked on 25% OP, but really the extra OP is really only needed for places where your writing constantly as normally the drive is Trimmed (most SSD/HDDs life is read then write, unless in a server setup that does lots of writes) the drives normal hidden OP is what 400-500MB ?
  • beginner99 - Tuesday, July 12, 2016 - link

    Agree. This shows that HDDs are here to stay for another decade. The same for 4 TB in form of a HDD can be had for about $130. So that 1/10th of the SSD price and as you said for media files, you don't need an SSD at all.
  • Impulses - Wednesday, July 13, 2016 - link

    Another decade? That seems like a stretch unless you're hoarding BD tips and the like... A decade ago we didn't even have SSDs.
  • joex4444 - Tuesday, July 19, 2016 - link

    If you have 4TB of stuff to store and it's mostly media that is accessed infrequently, it would only make sense to buy a 4TB SSD over a 4TB HDD if the prices are comparable. We've technically had SSDs for decades, it's just that they used to be in the millions of dollars per drive rather than $100 or so. Exactly how production will change to make 4TB drives cheaper isn't clear. It could be that we've already reached the lowest price per GB and all that remains is to have that scale linearly. This would mean that if 250GB drives cost $60, then a 4TB drive should cost 16 times that, or $960. Maybe some kind of discount could bring it into the $750 range, but in order to get down to $130 we need significant changes. That would put a 250GB drive on the order of $25.
  • JimmiG - Wednesday, July 13, 2016 - link

    Of course it's not "needed" right now, but it's nice to see progress. The 6 GB HDD I used in my Pentium system was plenty at the time - I didn't "need" those fancy new 20 GB drives...

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