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Samsung 845DC PRO Enterprise SSD Review

Samsung 845DC PRO Enterprise SSD Review

Samsung's 845DC PRO wields the power of 3D V-NAND, as they continue to expand their branded SSD portfolio. Read on as Paul tells us about this unique SSD.

@paulyalcorn
Published Wed, Aug 27 2014 1:01 PM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:33 PM CDT
Rating: 96%Manufacturer: Samsung

Introduction

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Samsung enterprise SSDs have an established history in the OEM space, but recently Samsung has begun a concerted push into the broader market with branded enterprise SSD products. Samsung's first salvo began with the value-oriented 845DC EVO we recently evaluated.

Now, Samsung brings another cutting-edge NAND technology into play with the deployment of the first branded 3D NAND (V-NAND) SSD in the datacenter. The 845DC PRO features Samsung's first generation 24-layer V-NAND. V-NAND is 3D NAND that achieves better density, performance, endurance, and power consumption, via vertical stacking of the NAND cells, and CTF technology. This runs counter to the established norm of increasing density through NAND shrinks, and for good reason. Shrinks provide more density, but actually reduce endurance. Readers can take a deeper look at Vertical-NAND (V-NAND) in this Samsung whitepaper.

The addition of the 845DC PRO gives Samsung a dual-pronged attack that addresses both ends of the workload spectrum. The DC EVO addresses read-centric applications such as content delivery networks and web servers. Additionally, the DC PRO addresses workloads with heavier write workloads, such as application and database servers.

The 845DC PRO comes in 400GB and 800 GB capacities. It offers expected performance metrics from a SATA SSD, with the exception of the 4K random write speed, where it is well above the rest of the field. The 845DC PRO sports an impressive sustained 4k random write speed of 51,000 IOPS for the 800GB model, and 50,000 IOPS for the 400GB we are testing today. The 845DC PRO also weighs in with a healthy 4k random read speed of 92,000 IOPS. The SSD also provides up to 530/460 MB/s sequential read/write speeds.

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The 845DC PRO features much lower power consumption than competing solutions due to the unique architecture of 3D V-NAND, and inherently features robust endurance due to the larger lithography. The 845DC PRO delivers up to 10 DWPD (Drive Writes per Day) of endurance during the warranty period, or up to 7.3 PB for the 400GB, and 14 PB for the 800GB Model. While V-NAND may be a relatively new technology in the public eye, it has actually been through rigorous quality cycles, and deployment in production environments for a lengthy period. The 845DC PRO utilizes the proven and reliable MDX controller with the 24-layer V-NAND.

Samsung addresses quality concerns with tantalum power capacitors, end-to-end data protection, a two million hour MTBF, and a one per 10E17 UBER rating. The 845DC PRO is also backed by a five-year warranty. Samsung shocked even the most optimistic of analysts with the quick cadence of V-NAND product launches, and such speedy development is partly due to their vertical integration. The use of their own controllers provides Samsung with a tangible advantage in time to market with new NAND technologies, such as V-NAND and TLC NAND.

Samsung has also focused on delivering consistent performance, with 99.9% of 4k I/O at QD32 served in 0.6ms for read, and 5ms for write operations. Samsung also highlights their focus on providing predictable performance by providing in-depth latency targets for their SSDs. The 845DC EVO with TLC held up well in our testing; let's see how 3D V-NAND holds up in comparison to planar (2D) NAND SSDs.

PRICING: You can find the Samsung 845DC PRO SSD for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing, but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.

United States: The 400GB Samsung 845DC PRO SSD retails for $1,069.00 at Amazon, and the 800GB Samsung 845DC PRO SSD retails for $1,900.00 at Amazon.

Samsung 845DC EVO Internals and Specifications

Samsung 845DC EVO Internals

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The Samsung 845DC PRO comes in a 2.5" form factor with a 7mm z-height in the typical Samsung motif.

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Going back to a larger 30nm lithography on V-NAND brings the benefit of lower programing voltages. 3D V-NAND features lower power draw, which we will be testing in the following pages. Lower power requirements also provide the additional benefit of lowering heat output. The SSD case does not feature any of the thermal pads we are accustomed to seeing in class-leading SSDs, which is likely due to the lower power consumption. The 845DC PRO also features Dynamic Thermal Guard, which throttles the SSD if deployed in an environment above the temperature specifications of the drive.

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Four 128GB packages of first-generation Samsung 3D V-NAND populate the top of the PCB. The top of the PCB also has extra pads for the four additional packages required for the 800GB model. Fifteen Tantalum power capacitors that ring the rear of the PCB protect the 512MB of LPDDR2 cache memory on the 400GB model, and 1GB of DRAM on the 800GB model. These capacitors flush data in transit to the NAND in the event of host power loss.

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The eight-channel Samsung S4LN021X01-8030 controller, more commonly known as the MDX, is a 300MHz Cortex R4-based ARM controller. The tri-core controller is designed and manufactured by Samsung. The MDX is featured in several other Samsung SSDs, and has a long record of reliability.

Samsung 845DC PRO Specifications

Samsung releases in-depth latency, and QoS performance metrics. The pre-production model we are testing features DXV80X3Q firmware.

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Test System and Methodology

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Our approach to storage testing targets long-term performance with a high level of granularity. Many testing methods record peak and average measurements during the test period. These average values give a basic understanding of performance, but fall short in providing the clearest view possible of I/O QoS (Quality of Service).

While under load, all storage solutions deliver variable levels of performance. 'Average' results do little to indicate performance variability experienced during actual deployment. The degree of variability is especially pertinent, as many applications can hang, or lag as they wait for I/O requests to complete. While this fluctuation is normal, the degree of variability is what separates enterprise storage solutions from typical, client-side hardware.

Providing ongoing measurements from our workloads with one-second reporting intervals illustrates product differentiation in relation to I/O QOS. Scatter charts give readers a basic understanding of I/O latency distribution, without directly observing numerous graphs. This testing methodology illustrates performance variability, and includes average measurements during the measurement window.

IOPS data that ignores latency is useless. Consistent latency is the goal of every storage solution, and measurements such as Maximum Latency only illuminate the single longest I/O received during testing. This can be misleading, as a single 'outlying I/O' can skew the view of an otherwise superb solution. Standard Deviation measurements consider latency distribution, but do not always effectively illustrate I/O distribution with enough granularity to provide a clear picture of system performance. We utilize high-granularity I/O latency charts to illuminate performance during our test runs.

Our testing regimen follows SNIA principles to ensure consistent, repeatable testing, and utilizes multi-threaded workloads found in typical production environments. We measure power consumption during precondition runs. This provides measurements in time-based fashion, with results for every second, to illuminate the behavior of power consumption in steady state conditions. We also present IOPS-to-watts measurements to highlight efficiency.

The Intel DC S3700 is 200GB, the M500DC and the 845DC EVO are 480GB, and the 845DC PRO has 400GB of capacity. The SSDs are tested over their full LBA range to highlight performance at maximum utilization. The first page of results will provide the 'key' to understanding and interpreting our test methodology.

Benchmarks - 4k Random Read/Write

4k Random Read/Write

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We precondition the 480GB Samsung 845DC PRO for 9,000 seconds, or two and a half hours, receiving performance reports every second. We plot this data to illustrate the drives' descent into steady state.

This dual-axis chart consists of 18,000 data points, with the IOPS on the left, and the latency on the right. The red dots signify IOPS, and the grey dots are latency measurements during the test. We place latency data in a logarithmic scale to bring it into comparison range. The lines through the data scatter are the average during the test. This type of testing presents standard deviation and maximum/minimum I/O in a visual manner.

Note that the IOPS and latency figures are nearly mirror images of each other. This illustrated high-granularity testing can give our readers a good feel for latency distribution by viewing IOPS at one-second intervals. This should be in mind when viewing our test results below. This downward slope of performance only occurs during the first few hours of use, and we present precondition results only to confirm steady state convergence.

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Each level tested includes 300 data points (five minutes of one second reports) to illustrate performance variability. The line for each OIO depth represents the average speed reported during the five-minute interval. 4k random speed measurements are an important metric when comparing drive performance, as the hardest type of file access for any storage solution to master is small-file random. 4k random performance is a heavily marketed figure, and is one of the most sought-after performance specifications.

The Samsung SSDs blow past the competition with 85,334 IOPS for the 845DC Pro and 85,155 IOPS for 845DC EVO, at 256 OIO (Outstanding I/O). The Micron M500DC averages 56,259 IOPS, and the Intel DC S3700 averages 76,301 IOPS. Both Samsung SSDs deliver dominating performance in 100% random read environments. The performance is close enough between the two that the 845DC PRO obscures the EVO's results.

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Our Latency v IOPS charts compare the amount of performance attained from each solution at specific latency measurements. Many applications have specific latency requirements, and for those familiar with application SLA requirements, these charts present relevant metrics in an easy to read manner.

The 845DC family leads convincingly with the lowest latency during 4k random read activity. The 845's deliver 85,000 IOPS at .5ms, while the DC S3700 provides 76,000 IOPS, and the M500 DC provides 56,000 IOPS.

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Garbage collection routines are more pronounced in heavy write workloads, leading to performance variability.

The 845DC PRO leads convincingly with an average of 49,996 IOPS at 256 OIO. The DC S3700 provides 13,841 IOPS, and the Micron M500DC comes in second with 39,089 IOPS. The TLC-powered EVO trails by a large margin with 14,504 IOPS.

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The 845DC EVO experiences some turbulence under heavy load at 256 OIO, but the 845DC PRO dominates this test with a tight band of consistent latency. The 845DC PRO delivers tremendous performance at 2ms -well above competing SSDs.

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Our write percentage testing illustrates the varying performance of each solution with mixed workloads. The 100% column to the right is a pure 4k write workload, and 0% represents a pure 4k read workload.

The mixed workload tests are dominated by the 845DC PRO, which provides leading performance in every mixture.

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We record power consumption measurements during our precondition run. We calculate the stated average results after the device has settled into steady state during the last five minutes of the test.

The 845DC PRO features by far the lowest power consumption with a 4k write workload at 3.09 watts, the 845DC EVO measures in at 3.55 watts, the M500DC averages 4.09 watts, and the DC S3700 averages 3.72 watts during the measurement window.

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IOPS-to-watts measurements are generated from data recorded during our precondition run, and the stated average is from the last five minutes of the test.

The 845DC PRO easily leads with an average of 16,160 IOPS per watt, the 845DC EVO averages 3,973 IOPS per watt, the M500DC averages 9,545 IOPS per watt, and the DC S3700 averages 8,930 IOPS per watt.

Benchmarks - 8k Random Read/Write

8k Random Read/Write

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Many server workloads rely heavily upon 8k performance, and we include this as a standard with each evaluation. Many of our server workloads also test 8k performance with various mixed read/write distributions.

The average 8K random read speed of the 845DC PRO is 51,584 IOPS, the 845DC EVO actually leads with 52,731 IOPS, the Intel DC S3700 measures 45,423 IOPS, and the Micron M500DC scores 48,034 IOPS at 256 OIO. The 845DC family continues to deliver impressive read speed.

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All four SSDs exhibit a tight latency range during the 8K random read test, and a smaller variance between results compared to the 4k testing.

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The M500DC takes the lead with an average of 23,852 IOPS at 256 OIO. However, this is a bit misleading; the 845DC PRO has a much tighter performance profile, and leads the majority of the test. The DC S3700 delivers a consistent average of 17,263 IOPS. The 845DC EVO scores last with 7,112 IOPS. We give the 845DC PRO the overall lead in this test, but the M500DC is also fantastic, and beats the DC S3700 at a much lower price point.

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The 845DC PRO and M500DC separate themselves from the pack with great latency performance, delivering roughly 24,000 IOPS at 5ms.

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The 845DC PRO delivers solid performance in this test. It leads the majority of read/write mixtures with a nice, consistent distribution.

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Power consumption for the 845DC PRO averages an outstanding 3.04 watts, the 845DC EVO averages 3.54 watts, the M500DC averages 4.77 watts, and the DC S3700 averages 3.96 watts.

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The 845DC PRO leads again with 7,680 IOPS per watt, the M500DC averages 4,877 IOPS per watt, the 845DC EVO averages 1,994 IOPS, and the DC S3700 averages 4,328 IOPS per watt.

Benchmarks - 128k Sequential Read/Write

128k Sequential Read/Write

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128k sequential speed reflects the maximum sequential throughput of the SSD. Surprisingly, the 845DC EVO leads again with an average of 526 MB/s at 256 OIO, followed by the 845DC PRO with 495 MB/s. The Micron M500DC features the lowest sequential performance specifications of the lineup and averages 417 MB/s, while the Intel DC S3700 delivers an average of 474 MB/s.

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The 845DC EVO provides the lowest overall latency. The DC S3700 nearly matches the 845DC PRO under heavy workloads.

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Sequential write workload performance is important in replication tasks, database logging, and content delivery applications. The 845DC PRO averages 472 MB/s, the 845DC EVO averages 427 MB/s, the M500DC averages 388 MB/s, and the DC S3700 scores 360 MB/s.

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The 845DC PRO delivers the lowest latency during the measurement window.

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The 845DC PRO delivers a surprising resilience to mixed sequential workloads. The M500DC provides stout resistance, but only wins two of eleven mixtures.

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The 845DC PRO obliterates the rest of the field with an amazing 2.85 watts, the 845 DC EVO averages 4.14 watts, the M500DC averages 5.24 watts, and the DC S3700 averages 4.28 watts.

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The 845DC PRO easily dominates this test with 165 MB/s per watt, the 845DC EVO averages 99 MB/s per watt, the M500DC averages 73 MB/s per watt, and the DC S3700 averages 82 MB/s per watt.

Benchmarks - Database/OLTP and Web Server

Database/OLTP

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This test consists of Database and On-Line Transaction Processing (OLTP) workloads. OLTP is the processing of transactions such as credit cards and high frequency trading in the financial sector. Databases are the bread and butter of many enterprise deployments. These demanding 8k random workloads with a 66 percent read and 33 percent write distribution bring even the best solutions down to Earth.

The Samsung 845DC PRO averages 34,610 IOPS, followed closely by the DC S3700 with 32,820 IOPS within a tighter performance envelope. The 845DC EVO has a very consistent average of 19,678 IOPS at 256 OIO, and the Micron M500DC averages 21,133 IOPS with significant variability.

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The drives separate themselves into two classes with the two drives with lower write endurance, the Micron M500DC and the 845DC EVO, to the left.

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The 845DC PRO averages a mere 2.39 watts, the 845DC EVO averages 3.55 watts, the M500DC averages 2.76 watts, and the DC S3700 averages 3.30 watts.

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The 845DC PRO averages 14,474 IOPS per watt, the 845DC EVO averages 5,465 IOPS per watt, the M500DC averages 7,676 IOPS per watt, and the DC S3700 averages 10,629 IOPS per watt.

Web Server

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The Web Server workload is read-only with a wide range of file sizes. Web servers are responsible for generating content users view over the Internet, much like the very page you are reading. The speed of the underlying storage system has a massive impact on the speed and responsiveness of the server hosting the website.

The 845DC EVO leverages its excellent performance in pure read environments to deliver an impressive 28,054 IOPS at 256 OIO. The 845DC PRO follows with 26,474 IOPS. The M500DC averages 18,650 IOPS, falling to the DC S3700 average of 24,551 IOPS.

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The 845DC PRO continues the power-sipping trend with 2.97 watts, the 845DC EVO averages 3.55 watts, the M500DC averages 3.21 watts, and the DC S3700 requires 3.85 watts during the fileserver workload.

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The 845DC PRO averages 4,326 IOPS per watt, the 845DC EVO scores M500DC scores 1,965 IOPS per watt, and the DC S3700 scores 2,096 IOPS per watt.

Benchmarks - Email Server

Email Server

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The Email Server workload is a demanding 8K test with a 50% read and 50% write distribution. This application is indicative of performance during heavy write workloads.

The 845DC PRO dominates this test with 33,555 IOPS at 256 OIO, the 845DC EVO averages 14,041 IOPS, the Micron M500DC averages 15,403 IOPS, and the Intel DC S3700 takes second place with an average of 29,354 IOPS at 256 OIO.

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The 845DC PRO takes a comfortable lead in latency performance during this test.

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The 845DC PRO averages 2.74 watts, the 845DC EVO averages 3.54 watts, the M500DC averages 2.66 watts, and the DC S3700 averages 3.72 watts.

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The 845DC PRO averages 12,318 IOPS per watt, the 845DC EVO averages 3,815 IOPS per watt, the M500DC averages 5,806 IOPS per watt, and the DC S3700 scores 9,077 IOPS per watt.

Final Thoughts

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Samsung is no stranger to launching disruptive new NAND technologies. They led the way with 3-bit MLC (TLC) for the datacenter, and built upon that with their 3D V-NAND offering. Samsung's in-depth knowledge of their own NAND, DRAM, and SSD controllers provides a benefit beyond component cost and profit margins. A SSD controller is a very small percentage of the BOM (Build of Materials) cost, but the ability to develop new components and rapidly adjust firmware is a benefit that grants Samsung a time to market advantage.

The 845DC PRO is built from the time-tested MDX controller, and first generation 24-layer V-NAND. 32-layer V-NAND products are shipping to the client segment, and we expect to see those next year for the datacenter. We also expect to see the next-gen MEX controller next year, after quality cycles have had time to run their course. Samsung has quite the one-two punch with the 845DC PRO and 845DC EVO. Both provide stout read performance, but those looking for more write performance and endurance will be better served with the 845DC PRO.

V-NAND is revolutionary in many aspects. Samsung's Charge Trap Flash (CTF) technology uses less power to store a charge than the old Charge Pump Device (CPD) approach. Stepping back to a larger process also reduces the amount of voltage required to program a cell, speeding page program times and lowering voltage requirements. This enables the exceptionally low power consumption we noted in our testing. The 845DC PRO led across the board by a huge margin in our power and efficiency tests, easily providing the best power measurements of any SSD we have tested.

The larger cell size, and more efficient CTF technology, provides V-NAND's enhanced endurance. This allows the use of 'standard' 3D NAND instead of eMLC, and requires less overprovisioning to hit endurance targets. The 845DC PRO serves up a big helping of endurance with a robust ten DWPD. A two million hour MTBF, one per 10E17 UBER rating, end-to-end data protection, and power loss protection covers the bases for a reliable enterprise SSD.

The 845DC PRO outperformed the competition in nearly every aspect of our performance testing. The 845DC PRO led in all pure random read/write workloads, and even continued the dominance in every one of our mixed random workloads. Surprisingly, the only SSD to challenge the 845DC PRO in read performance was its value-conscious sibling, the 845DC EVO.

The 845DC PRO also provided robust performance in our sequential testing and server workloads. Overall, the 845DC PRO outperforms the normal expectations of any flagship-class enterprise SSD, and does so at a reasonable price point. Prices fluctuate, but the 845DC PRO is hovering around $2 per GB with the Intel DC S3700. With similar endurance and data protection characteristics, the tiebreaker comes from the 845DC PRO's faster performance, and insanely low power consumption. The M500DC provides great performance for its low price of roughly $1.20 per GB, making it a serious competitor to the PRO and EVO.

With a hefty endurance threshold, low power consumption, leading performance, robust data protection features, and a five-year warranty, the 845DC PRO hits the grand slam, winning the TweakTown Editor's Choice Award for the high endurance SATA segment.

PRICING: You can find the Samsung 845DC PRO SSD for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing, but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.

United States: The 400GB Samsung 845DC PRO SSD retails for $1,069.00 at Amazon, and the 800GB Samsung 845DC PRO SSD retails for $1,900.00 at Amazon.

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The quest for benchmark world records led Paul further and further down the overclocking rabbit hole. SSDs and RAID controllers were a big part of that equation, allowing him to push performance to the bleeding edge. Finding the fastest and most extreme storage solutions led to experience with a myriad of high-end enterprise devices. Soon testing SSDs and Enterprise RAID controllers at the limits of their performance became Paul's real passion, one that is carried out through writing articles and reviews.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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