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Samsung’s stick-shaped ‘960’ SSDs can make your desktop or laptop crazy fast

On Wednesday, Samsung announced the upcoming launch of two new storage products — the 960 Pro and the 960 Evo — that are aimed at boosting the performance and speed of ultrathin notebooks and desktops. These storage devices are stick-shaped solid-state drives (SSDs) that slide into to a small slot on the motherboard instead of the typical SATA connector used by hard drives and 2.5-inch solid-state drives. The new drives should be great for PC gaming, data analytics, rendering 4K video, and more intense applications.

Samsung’s new drives are based on V-NAND, a type of memory that stacks storage cells vertically rather than horizontally, as is the case with traditional storage memory. Each memory chip is capable of playing host to 48 layers (floors) of memory cells (apartments). In turn, each cell is connected to the neighboring cell above it and below through a cylindrical channel. Stacking essentially increases the capacity of a storage device beyond the capabilities of the same storage device using horizontal memory.

Related: Samsung enters GPU tech licensing talks with AMD and Nvidia

As revealed during Samsung’s Global SSD Summit, the Pro model consists of four flash memory chips while the Evo only sports two. The local memory the Evo uses for temporarily working with files is a visible “package” on the drive’s surface, whereas the Pro’s memory package is integrated into its controller package. Samsung calls this latter design “package-on-package,” and future Evo storage devices may move to this design to provide more storage capacity.

The two M.2-class drives connect to a small PCI Express Generation 3 x 4 slot that supports the Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) interface, which is a specification for accessing storage media like the 960 Pro and the 960 Evo. This enables low latency and higher bandwidth, increasing the performance of the PC by allowing the storage devices to keep up with the processing speed of the CPU. System load times are incredibly fast and files seemingly open in the blink of an eye.

The two drives stay rather cool thanks to what Samsung calls Dynamic Drive Guard. Their controller uses 10 percent less power than previous models, and the drives also use a label that includes a copper layer, which distributes the heat across most of the surface area. This helps reduce thermal throttling, a safeguard the PC’s motherboard activates by lowering the speed of a processor when it begins to overheat.

Here are the general specs and price of each 960 Series SSD:

960 PRO

512GB 1TB 2TB
Sequential Read Speed 3,500MB/s 3,500MB/s 3,500MB/s
Sequential Write Speed 2,100MB/s 2,100MB/s 2,100MB/s
Random Read Performance 330,000 IOPS 440,000 IOPS 440,000 IOPS
Random Write Performance 330,000 IOPS 360,000 IOPS 360,000 IOPS
Price $330 $630 $1,300

960 EVO

250GB 500GB 1TB
Sequential Read Speed 3,200MB/s 3,200MB/s 3,200MB/s
Sequential Write Speed 1,500MB/s 1,800MB/s 1,900MB/s
Random Read Performance 330,000 IOPS 330,000 IOPS 380,000 IOPS
Random Write Performance 300,000 IOPS 330,000 IOPS 360,000 IOPS
Price $130 $250 $480

In addition to introducing the 960 Pro and 960 Evo NVMe SSDs, the company is also making available a revamped version of its Magician software. This is an SSD management utility designed specifically for Samsung’s products spanning the 470 Series, 750 Series, 830 Series, 840 Series, 850 Series, 950 Series, and the 960 Series. This version includes a new user interface to easily manage various settings on an installed Samsung SSD.

“We were proud to erect the NVMe era last year with the introduction of our 950 Pro SSD,” said Un-Soo Kim, senior vice president of Branded Product Marketing, Memory Business at Samsung Electronics. “Now, with the introduction of the NVMe 960 Pro and 960 Evo SSDs, Samsung is once again taking the next step in the multi-terabyte SSD technology and the storage revolution.”

The Samsung 960 Pro and 960 Evo SSDs will be made available worldwide in October.