Samsung doesn't have an "Optane Killer" with the 983 ZET products, but that's not what the company needs to provide customers. When companies buy servers at scale, they purchase packages and not individual components. The packages include the hardware, software, and sometimes even the setup/configuration. The 983 ZET Z-NAND SSD is just another piece in the puzzle.
When we look at the puzzle, we see a strong lineup. The ZET SSDs work with other Samsung products like the 983 DCT, 883 DCT, and 860 DCT. There are very few instances when a company would deploy servers full of 983 ZET SSDs. I suspect most servers would use a software-defined storage system with the 983 ZET sitting at the top of the pyramid with 883 DCT SATA SSDs (2.5", 7mm) on the downward slope for data with less frequent access.
When you look at the 983 ZET in that context, it becomes clear that Samsung didn't need a one-to-one Optane competitor, it just needed a lower latency product to fill the gap between system memory and flash. That's where the majority of sales will come from.
The 983 ZET is a channel product also, and this is where the series has to compete directly with the Intel Optane DC P4800X. These are one-off or smaller volume systems built by a system administrator for smaller businesses. These customers will shop at the component level with barebones servers from Supermicro, for example. The server comes with the chassis, motherboard, and power supply. Components like CPUs, system memory, and storage are optional.
Samsung has a price advantage in this arena with 983 ZET. The 480GB drive sells for $999.99 at CDW, and that doubles to $1999.99 for the 960GB model. The 375GB Intel DC P4800X that we included in the test today sells for $1214.99, also at CDW, and moves to $2679.99 for the 750GB model.
The Intel DC P4800X does have a form factor advantage. The Optane drives ship in both add-in card and 2.5" (15mm) form factors. We learned at Flash Memory Summit last year the add-in card form factor is less attractive to customers with the emergence of "NF1 / NGSFF" style SSDs designed for 1U pizza box servers.
Last updated: Nov 15, 2019 at 01:16 pm CST
The Bottom Line: The 983 ZET isn't the perfect answer to Intel's Optane class products but it's a great start to fill the gap between DRAM and 3-bit per cell flash.
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