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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  • nathanddrews - Friday, July 29, 2016 - link

    Too bad I just bought a car instead. ;-)
  • ddriver - Saturday, July 30, 2016 - link

    For 6k you could get 4x4TB evos which will give you 16TB at 2gb/sec in raid 0. Not too shabby.
  • basroil - Sunday, July 31, 2016 - link

    "For 6k you could get 4x4TB evos which will give you 16TB at 2gb/sec in raid 0. Not too shabby."

    Except that a RAID card that supports that speed will cost you 6K by itself, and the whole thing will take up 4 bays. These drives are meant for businesses where the cost of the whole system is the biggest concern, not individual parts.
  • ddriver - Sunday, July 31, 2016 - link

    Try more like 0.6k for the controller card. And it should go without saying this solution is not a substitute in the context of enterprise, where you would probably be getting multiple of those drives, but for people looking to put plenty of fast SSD storage in their PCs it will get you the same capacity at better speed at half the cost.

    BTW if you take the PCBs out of the boxes you can actually fit 4 evos in the space this 15mm device occupies. You just need a very basic assembly to hold it together - 4 bolts 4 nuts and a few spacers. Works like a charm if you want to cram SSDs in tiny space, and since they are spaced apart and there is airflow around them, they actually work better than being in their boxes.
  • Morawka - Sunday, July 31, 2016 - link

    4 Evo's even in a "very basic assembly" just wont scale up. If you a consumer and you want that much storage and your only interested in 15TB, then yeah the evo's are probably your better bet. But these datacenters/server farms are all about scale. And the IT Arch's who decide what to buy like simplicity and warranty/power/performance
  • retrospooty - Sunday, July 31, 2016 - link

    Still, this is an enterprise class drive designed to go in servers. It's not for your home needs.
  • Lolimaster - Monday, August 1, 2016 - link

    You don't need to raid0 SSD's,

    You want high sequential for things like heavy video editing get a single pci-e nvme 1.5-3TB SSD
  • ddriver - Monday, August 1, 2016 - link

    Poor value, low capacity, no deal.
  • fanofanand - Tuesday, August 2, 2016 - link

    Poor value as defined by who? Certainly not for the datacenters that are snapping them up as fast as they can. Value to a business is VERY different than value to a consumer.
  • blackice85 - Friday, July 29, 2016 - link

    Oh man, I know it'll still be a few years minimum before we see drives anywhere near that capacity at regular consumer prices, but I can hardly wait.

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