Samsung Employs its V-NAND Tech for Gaming NVMe SSD
Designed for gaming and creative applications, Samsung’s new SSD leverages its latest V-NAND technology.
Among the computing applications enjoyed by the everyday consumer, gaming is one of the most popular and also one of the most computationally intensive. For this reason, many of the advances in computing that come along in the news are focused on gaming, where innovation in products like GPUs and memory technology is driving improved performance.
This week, Samsung has continued that trend with the release of a new family of NVMe solid-state drives (SSDs) that is optimized for gaming and creative applications.
Optimized for gaming, the 990 PRO is an NVMe SSD based on PCIe 4.0. Image used courtesy of Samsung
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the underlying technologies as well as the details of Samsung’s new SSD.
V-NAND Uses Vertical Dimension
For most SSD technologies, the memory architecture of choice is NAND flash, which is physically small as well as offers extremely fast write speeds. However, historically flash memory solutions were designed to store data in a two-dimensional structure, where NAND flash chips were laid out horizontally next to each other and scaled out in either width or length. chips were scaled and laid onto flat surfaces.
This trend continued for a number of decades until recently the 2D architecture has started to reach some significant limitations that are preventing further scaling. Specifically, as the distance between NAND cells decreases, current leakages on the transistors also increases. For this reason, NAND flash manufacturers have been limited in traditional scaling, unable to go much lower than 13 nm without sacrificing performance.
2D planar NAND vs. 3D V-NAND. Image used courtesy of Samsung
To resolve this issue, Samsung invented what it calls vertical-NAND (V-NAND) flash memory. Unlike traditional 2D NAND architecture, V-NAND is a three-dimensional architecture in which NAND layers are stacked vertically on top of one another and connected in a layer-by-layer fashion. While many other companies use this technology today under different names (for instance, 3D NAND), Samsung claims to be the inventor and pioneer in the field.
Now, Samsung is preparing for mass production of its 8th generation of V-NAND, which features over 200 layers of stacked NAND cells and brings with it significant improvements in density, efficiency, and performance.
Samsung’s V-NAND-based 990 Pro SSD
Making use of its V-NAND technology, this week the release of a new family of NVMe SSDs based on PCIe 4.0. Called the 990 PRO SSD, the new product family is said to have been designed specifically for gaming and creative applications and comes with impressive specifications to this end.
Built on Samsung’s latest V-NAND technology, and closely coupled with a new proprietary memory controller, the 990 PRO series is said to offer the highest PCIe speed possible, achieving 7,450 MB/s sequential read speed out of the theoretical maximum of 8000 MB/s.
At the same time, the 990 PRO SSDs claim a 55% improvement in random performance over the previous generation offering. To quantify this, Samsung tells us that the 990 PRO achieves random read speeds up to 1,400K IOPS (I/O operations per second) and random write speeds up to 1,550K IOPS.
The 990 PRO family comes with a smart thermal solution. Image used courtesy of Samsung
As a whole, the family will feature a maximum capacity of 4 TB along with 4GB of LPDDR4 DRAM, and will be priced at $309 for the 2TB model. According to Samsung, in gaming-related tests of the 990 PRO, they found map loading times to be 4x faster than SATA SSD offerings and 28x faster than hard disk drive solutions. At the same time, the device claims a 50% improved performance per watt of the previous generation, claiming a 1,319 MB/W performance.