Samsung's first wave of attack into the enterprise comes in the form of the SM843 we tested today. To understand the genius in the performance of the SM843 we must fully understand the intended market for this SSD.
It is important to keep these test results in perspective and note that this is a varied test pool of SSDs. We have a high-end SAS SSD, two mainstream usage SATA SSDS, and the SM843, which falls into the moderate-usage model for SSDs. Bear in mind that the price structure of the SM843 is significantly lower than the competing drives, and provides a performance vs. price advantage in moderate workload and read-centric applications. In most scenarios, these SSDs would not compete directly, and the SM843's solid performance in comparison to higher priced alternatives leads to our choice of awarding this SSD with the Performance Award.
Surprisingly, the main competition for the SM843 will be with consumer SSDs. We are witnessing heavy implementation of consumer SSDs into datacenter applications. The large price advantages to these rip-and-replace deployments is very enticing for some, but many times can end in high failure rates and data loss.
Competing in the value market can be brutal, and Samsung does have some distinct advantages in this respect. The ability to provide a solution built from scratch in their own facilities delivers an advantage in pricing margins, and delivering this SSD at near-consumer price levels will help Samsung move large quantities of units.
Samsung's SM846 forgoes expensive features commonly observed in enterprise class SSDs. The notable lack of power fail protection is not necessary when competing with consumer SSDs and the exclusion of this feature will help Samsung compete aggressively with pricing.
The SM843 features massive similarities to Samsung's consumer hardware, but has its own firmware revision. Details are scant into any advantages that this firmware would hold for data protection over consumer products.
The SM843 performed well in our power testing with an overall low power consumption threshold. The write speeds that we observed during our testing were among the lowest in the test filed. These low write speeds could significantly increase with the inclusion of more overprovisioning.
One area that we feel that Samsung can also improve is the TBW rating of the SSD. There are many solutions available from a variety of vendors that offer budget-conscious SSDs with higher endurance specifications. The SM843 features a relatively small amount of overprovisioning compared to the competition, and this shows up in the endurance specifications.
The answer to the relatively low endurance (in comparison to other products) and lackluster write speed can be addressed through pricing. Keeping a low price threshold will provide enough cost savings per gigabyte to allow users to manually implement extra overprovisioning to help address performance concerns. This does blur the cost advantage of utilizing a low price solution, but provides users with the ability to scale the overprovisioning with their intended workload.
The Samsung SM843 is a solid performer, with the exception of scattered latency with small file random access. It performs particularly well with sequential workloads, but does lack some of the luster of other full featured products. While the increase in endurance compared to previous Samsung SSDs is impressive, there are other large players, and other upstarts, offering better endurance characteristics.
The SM843 seems destined to compete with consumer SSDs pressed into service in datacenter environments. The success of this product will be driven by Samsung's ability to leverage their 'foundry advantage' and deliver cutthroat pricing.
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