Update: Samsung Announces 990 EVO SSD, Energy-Efficiency with Dual-Mode PCIe Gen4 x4 and Gen5 x2by Ganesh T S on January 23, 2024 3:30 PM EST
After Samsung's earlier product page snafu, the company is officially launching their next-generation mainstream client SSD today. The 990 EVO will be available in both 1TB and 2TB capacities, and offers an interesting mix of both PCIe Gen 5 and PCIe Gen 4 support by allowing up to 2 lanes of PCIe connectivity at Gen 5 speeds, or up to 4 lanes at Gen 4 and below.
The release of the 990 EVO marks the return of the EVO SSD brand after it was quietly put aside during the 980 generation, when Samsung's sole non-PRO drive was the vanilla 980 SSD. Consequently, Samsung's own performance comparisons for the new drive are against the most recent EVO, the 970 EVO Plus, though similar to how the vanilla 980 was effectively the 970 EVO successor, in many ways this is the successor to the 980.
The drives are available immediately from Samsung. The company has set the retail prices of the drives at $125 for the 1TB model, and $210 for the 2TB. These are stiff prices for a drive debuting in the highly-competitive mainstream SSD market, though admittedly not unusual for a Samsung drive launch.
Our original story (with updated technical specifications) follows as below:
Originally Published: 01/09/2024
Samsung's launch of the 990 EVO M.2 2280 SSD appears to be imminent, as official product pages with specifications went live in certain regions a few days back before getting pulled down.
The most interesting aspect the 990 EVO is not the claimed speeds, but the fact that it can operate in either Gen 4 or Gen 5 modes with different number of lanes. The recently launched mobile platforms from both AMD and Intel use Gen 4 lanes for the storage subsystem. However, with progress in technology it is inevitable that this will move to Gen 5 in the future. In the meanwhile, thermal constraints in mobile systems may prevent notebook manufacturers from going in for desktop Gen 5 speeds (8 - 14 GBps). An attractive option for such cases would be to move to a two-lane Gen 5 implementation that would help in retaining the same Gen 4 x4 bandwidth capability, but cut down on the BOM cost by reducing the number of pins / lane count on the host side. It appears that Samsung's 990 EVO is a platform designed with such a scenario in mind.
PCIe PHYs / controllers have backward compatibility, and the 990 EVO's SSD controller incorporates a 4-lane Gen 5 controller and PHY. During the training phase with the host, both the link bandwidth and lane count can be negotiated. It appears that the SSD is configured to advertise Gen 5 speeds to the host if only two lanes are active.
Samsung appears to be marketing only 1TB and 2TB capacities of the 990 EVO. Based on the product photos online, the models appear to be single-sided units (making them compatible with a wider variety of mobile platforms). The flash packages appear to be 1TB each, and the EVO moniker / advertisement of Host Memory Buffer support / controller package markings in the product photos points to a DRAM-less SSD controller - the Piccolo S4LY022. The quoted performance numbers appear low for a 176L / 236L V-NAND product. TechPowerUp believes that these SSDs are using an updated V6 (133L, termed V6 Prime) with better efficiency and yields compared to the regular V6.
|Samsung 990 EVO Specifications
|Samsung S4LY022 Piccolo
|Samsung Updated 6th Gen. V-NAND (133L 3D TLC)
|Single-Sided M.2-2280, PCIe 4.0 x4 / 5.0 x2, NVMe 2.0
|Random Read IOPS
|Random Write IOPS
|TCG Opal Encryption
Samsung is also touting much-improved power efficiency, with transfer rates being 2 - 3x per Watt compared to the 970 EVO. The Piccolo controller's 5nm fabrication process and the V6 Prime's efficiency improvements have a significant say in that aspect.
Pricing and concrete launch dates for the 990 EVO are not available yet. The delta in specifications for the 1TB and 2TB models will be updated in the table above once the drives are officially announced. The 1TB model is priced at $125 and the 2TB version at $210. Both SKUs are available for purchase today.