Samsung launched a radical shift in solid-state storage with its 3D V-NAND technology, which the Korean electronics giant developed for a decade before beginning mass production last year. To date, drives using the technique -- which involves stacking flash memory chips vertically (32 layers in all) instead of the horizontal layout of conventional NAND flash -- have been geared towards enterprise applications and workstations.
Long promised, the day when 3D V-NAND would reach consumer SSDs has finally arrived with the launch of Samsung's SSD 850 Evo family. The new technology promises enhanced endurance and lower costs, the latter of which is borne out by the competitive price of the new drives. While not dirt cheap, the 850 Evo's starting price of $100 for a 120GB version is certainly not much more than traditional SSDs. Also in the series are 250GB, 500GB, and 1TB flavors for $150, $270, and $500, respectively.
Samsung promises sequential read speeds of up to 540MB/s and sequential writes to 520MB/s from 850 Evo drives. It claims a mean time between failures (MTBF) of 1.5 million hours and includes a 5-year warranty, which is only half the length of the SSD 850 Pro warranty, however. Nonetheless, the company says that the new Evo SSDs can last up to 75TB of writes for the 120GB or 250GB versions, or 150TB for the two higher capacities. Given recent testing of SSD reliability, you shouldn't be concerned with these units failing anytime soon.
Beyond the consumer version's shorter warranty, our sister site CNET had one major issue with the new 850 Evo in its review. The bundled Samsung Magician software that is necessary for certain features like RAPID mode, which uses system RAM to help boost performance, only works with Windows, meaning that those who want to upgrade their Macs or Linux-based PCs will miss out on some of the drive's capabilities. In fact, CNET's benchmark testing indicates that RAPID mode helps the 850 Evo speed along close to the SSD 850's performance.
The 850 Evo drives are expected to reach stores later this month. Samsung is promising to extend the family with 3D V-NAND drives in the mSATA and M.2 form factors next year.