Samsung dramatically has upped its SSD game by offering the two things that buyers are looking for -- performance and increased reliability.
It's pretty hard to make storage exciting any more, but Samsung's managed that with its new 860 EVO V-NAND line of SSDs.
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The 860 EVO builds on the success of the 850 EVO, the world's first consumer SSDs to make use of V-NAND 3-bit MLC technology, and the update brings with it 64-cell layer V-NAND and an all-new MJX controller.
One of the reasons why it's hard to get excited about SSDs, especially when it comes to performance, is that manufacturers have pretty much saturated the bandwidth offered by the SATA 3.0 standard of 600 MB/s (remember, the SATA 3.0 standard is a decade old). Despite this, Samsung has worked hard to remove the data speed bumps that were found in the 850 EVO to deliver a product that is faster -- albeit only a little bit faster.
Samsung has also worked to improve performance under sustained workloads, with the 860 EVO offering something in the region of a 50 percent boost performance under sustained write loads.
Another way that Samsung has been able to squeeze out more performance from the 860 EVO is by using Intelligent TurboWrite. TurboWrite was a feature that Samsung first introduced with the 840 EVO, and it boosted performance by creating a high-performance SLC write buffer in the SSD.
Intelligent TurboWrite, which debuted on the 960 EVO, took this further and allowed the drive to intelligently define an SLC buffer based on the data workload the drive was experiencing.
If we take a 250GB drive as an example, if the user data that needed writing to the drive was under 3GB, intelligent TurboWrite used the default TurboWrite buffer region on the drive, similar to that of the previous 850 EVO. However, if the user wanted to write more than 3 gigabytes, the 860 EVO can use an additional 9GB Intelligent TurboWrite region, increasing the total SLC buffer to 12GB.
While the performance improvements offered by the 860 EVO are only slightly better than its predecessor, one place where there is a huge difference between the two is endurance. A measure of endurance for storage is TBW (Total Bytes Written). Like a warranty, storage may easily exceed the listed TBW, but the TBW figure gives you an expectation of how long a drive should last.
And this is an area that Samsung has really worked on with the 860 EVO. A 2TB 850 EVO drive had a TBW of 300TB (which, over a five year warranty period works out at about 160GB per day), but the 860 EVO raises this by eight-fold to a whopping 1,200TB (or something in the region of 650GB per day over the warranty period).
This massive increase in TBW makes it perfect for those who regularly churn through huge amounts of data.
The 860 EVO series is offered in three flavors:
Performance and endurance is identical for all three form factors.
The benchmark testing I've carried out on the 860 EVO shows it to be ever so slightly faster than the 850 EVO, but in reality it's impossible for me to see a real-world difference between the two drives. However, the much improved overhead it offers in terms of endurance makes it compelling for those who work with lots of data (video and VR data come to mind).
If you're a data hog looking for performance and a high level of reliability, this drive is well worth taking a look at.