Samsung started to ship its PM1633a SSD with 15.36 TB capacity to select customers in March and recently it began to supply the drive to select resellers as well. The enterprise-class SSD is now offered by two U.S.-based retailers and can be purchased for ~$10,000, which makes it one of the world’s most expensive commercial solid-state drives. Meanwhile, Samsung officially expanded its PM1633a family of SSDs with many lower-capacity models and has begun to ship the 7.68 TB version to at least one reseller.

The Samsung PM1633a drives are based on the company’s third-generation 256 Gb TLC 3D V-NAND memory chips introduced last year. Samsung stacks 16 of such ICs to form a single 512 GB package and then uses 32 of them to build its flagship 15.36 TB SSD, leaving about 1 TB of NAND flash for overprovisioning. Typically, high-capacity SSDs do not provide very high performance, because of peculiarities of their internal architecture and limitations of contemporary controllers (which cannot simultaneously access many high-density chips, or multiple controllers in a RAID-0 stripe configuration). To speed up its most spacious PM1633a drive, Samsung had to develop a new proprietary controller that can concurrently access large amounts of high-density NAND flash with the help of a special firmware. For its flagship PM1633a 15.36 TB SSD, the manufacturer declares sequential read performance up to 1200 MB/s as well as sequential write performance up to 900 MB/s using the SAS-12Gbps interface. As for random read and write operations, the 15.36 TB SSD can deliver up to 195,000 and 31,000 IOPS respectively (which is slightly lower than the company advertised back in March).

When Samsung announced its PM1633a SSD earlier this year, it only introduced one model with 15.36 TB capacity. Since then, the company has officially expanded the PM1633a family with 480 GB, 960 GB, 1.92 TB, 3.84 TB and 7.68 TB models (see flyer for details). The expansion of the lineup demonstrates Samsung’s confidence that its third-generation V-NAND TLC memory is reliable enough for enterprise usage scenarios. In fact, the PM1633a series consists of six SKUs, whereas the PM1633 family based on the second-gen 32-layer V-NAND includes only four configurations (up to 3.8 TB capacity, but they are faster than the PM1633a). Both lineups are aimed at enterprise storage applications with SAS 12Gbps interface.

Samsung PM1633a SSD General Specifications
Capacity 480 GB, 960 GB, 1.92 TB, 3.84 TB, 7.68 TB, 15.36 TB
Controller Samsung proprietary controller
NAND Samsung's 256 Gb 48-layer TLC NAND
DRAM Cache up to 16 GB DDR3 SDRAM (15.36 TB model)
Sequential Read 1200 MB/s
Sequential Write 900 MB/s
Random Read up to 195,000 IOPS (15.36 TB model)
Random Write up to 31,000 IOPS (15.36 TB model)
Power Consumption (active/idle) 11W/4.5W (15.36 TB model)
MTBF 2,000,000 hours
Endurance 1 DWPD (Drive Writes Per Day)
Power Loss Protection Based on tantalum capacitors
Warranty 5 Years
Interface and Form-Factor 2.5"/15mm SAS-12 Gbps (15.36 TB model)

Back in March, Samsung only began to ship its PM1633a to select clients. We suspect that these clients are those that run large cloud data centers, and require such drives to run their specific workloads. Now,the manufacturer has started to ship its flagship SAS SSD to a broader range of customers. For example, the Samsung PM1633a 15.36 TB drive (MZILS15THMLS) is now offered by CDW for $10,311.99 as well as by SHI for $9,690 on preorder. Both retailers ask to contact them for actual availability, depending on when stock is available (which is not surprising, given the price of the SSD as well as its very special positioning). In addition, CDW also offers the PM1633a 7.68 TB (MZILS7T6HMLS) drive for $5,729.99, which ships within 11–13 days.

The price of Samsung’s PM1633a 15.36 TB SSD may seem excessive, but for large cloud data centers (which always try to maximize their storage capacity) as well as mission-critical storage applications such drives make a lot of sense. For example, Supermicro has 2U machines that can fit in 48 SAS3/12G storage devices (1, 2). Each of such servers can store 737.28 TB of data (if fully populated with Samsung’s 15.36 TB SSDs), whereas storage capacity of a 42U cabinet featuring 21 of such servers will be 15482 TB (15.4 PB). By contrast, a standard 42U storage rack featuring 360 3.5” 10 TB hard drives can store around 3600 TB. Moreover, given very high sequential and random read/write performance of the PM1633a, just one such device can substitute many 10K or 15K mission-critical HDDs (each of which can cost $400 – $700). Hence, there will be numerous customers interested in buying the Samsung PM1633a 15.36 TB for its price-point.

Sources: Samsung, CDW (via PC World), SHI.

Other Reading:

The Samsung 850 EVO 4TB SSD Review
Samsung's 850 EVO 4TB Now Available at $1500



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  • CaedenV - Saturday, July 30, 2016 - link

    I have 12TB in my home server spread across 7 3TB drives in a RAID array... 2 of these in RAID1 would provide the same amount of storage, plus redundancy, and only take 1 HDD worth of physical space and a ridiculously small fraction of the power... granted all that density and power sipping comes at a price, but I can't wait for it to come down!
  • sna1970 - Saturday, July 30, 2016 - link

    $6k for 7 tera ? since when making chips for a drive is seven times more expensive than making 10 cores cpu ? this is theft ..
  • Kristian Vättö - Saturday, July 30, 2016 - link

    There are 256 32GB dies in the 7.68TB PM1633. With each die being 99mm^2, that eats quite a bit more wafer area than a single 10-core CPU.
  • nirwander - Saturday, July 30, 2016 - link

    This is definitely not 'one of the world’s most expensive commercial solid-state drives'. Look at some ssd parts in high-end storage arrays - they easily charge twice as much (and this is w/o license cost).
  • FunBunny2 - Saturday, July 30, 2016 - link

    -- Look at some ssd parts in high-end storage arrays - they easily charge twice as much

    or not... since such devices are sold like horses in the 19th century -- haggle a bit, then haggle a bit more. there is no true list price, and actual price will be the result of power balance betwixt buyer and seller.
  • LordanSS - Saturday, July 30, 2016 - link

    Perhaps, but these ones support one full DWPD... that's way beyond the ballpark of the 4TB EVOs, as awesome as they may be.

    And as for RAID-0 on SSDs, it's been a while (years) but I've read articles on people doing this and unless they have some really high-end RAID card solution, even though the sequential reads may improve, random reads can actually suffer as common controllers can't handle that many IOPS.
  • qap - Sunday, July 31, 2016 - link

    No, its not beyond EVOs (at least not that extremely conservative 1 DWPD). 1 DWPD for 5 years means only ~1825 write cycles which is exactly what google will answer if you ask for "samsung 850 evo p/e cycles" (answer is actually "Observed Number of P/E Cycles 1,987"). And that's expected - they are using the same NAND chips.
    Difference is in controller and its firmware and also one would assume they use cherry-picked dies for business customers.
  • Kristian Vättö - Sunday, July 31, 2016 - link

    The number of P/E cycles isn't the same as endurance. TBW and DWPD figures take write amplification into account, which is typically much higher in enterprise workloads than consumer. In addition, TBW and DWPD figures are the warranty figures - the drive may be usable for longer but it's no longer covered by the warranty.
  • qap - Sunday, July 31, 2016 - link

    Yes, there is some write amplification, but the point is, they are using same dies (perhaps better samples, but that's all). On the side note - i'm not so sure as you are, that drive write is the same thing as host write (what you are describing).
  • smilingcrow - Saturday, July 30, 2016 - link

    Considering that 4x 850 EVO 4TB SATA drives have a RRP of ~$6,000 this doesn't seem that expensive.

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