Samsung's booth at CES 2020 includes our first look at their next flagship consumer SSD, the 980 PRO M.2 NVMe SSD. This would appear to be Samsung's first client/consumer SSD to support PCIe 4.0, which has until now only been rolled out to their high-end enterprise drives.

Since this just a low-key preview instead of a formal announcement with a press release, information is limited. The exhibit shows only sequential performance numbers: 6500 MB/s reads, 5000 MB/s writes. That's a bit better than what we currently see with PCIe 4.0 drives using the Phison E16 controller, but by the end of this year we should start seeing the Phison E18 and other controllers offering sequential speeds around 7GB/s, so the 980 PRO may have little or no time to set throughput records for the consumer SSD market.

The available capacities will range from 250GB to 1TB, which strongly indicates that Samsung us still using 2-bit MLC for the PRO line rather than switching to 3-bit TLC NAND flash as the rest of the industry has done for their flagships. The fate of Samsung's flagship SSD product line was a bit unclear when Samsung updated the 970 EVO with new NAND as the 970 EVO Plus but did not introduce an accompanying 970 PRO Plus.

Samsung was unable to locate any employees at their sprawling "booth" who could answer our technical questions, so we don't have confirmation of which generation of V-NAND this uses (probably the 5th gen. 92L), nor do we have any details on the controller. We also don't have a timeline for retail availability. UPDATE: Samsung says to expect more information in Q2 of this year.

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  • nandnandnand - Tuesday, January 7, 2020 - link

    Is this the magical component PC gamers will have to buy to keep up with the next-gen consoles? Reply
  • Billy Tallis - Tuesday, January 7, 2020 - link

    No. If the new consoles have any storage-related magic, it'll be software, not hardware. Reply
  • Frenetic Pony - Tuesday, January 7, 2020 - link

    Oh, good thing Samsung literally had an "Upcoming high speed SSD used for the PS5" teased only a few weeks ago, and the chief designer of the PS5 announced it was using a new high end NVME SSD last year. Glad you're keeping up with things and not anyone else though. Reply
  • Billy Tallis - Tuesday, January 7, 2020 - link

    There's no realistic interpretation of the leaks and hints about the upcoming consoles that should lead you to believe they'll use something like the 980 PRO. Samsung might have been able to score a design win for a console, but definitely not with a MLC drive. Reply
  • DemonHD - Sunday, April 19, 2020 - link

    Why? What's so bad with MLC drive? I don't know anything about it. Can you explain pls? Reply
  • bagehi - Friday, May 8, 2020 - link

    MLC (multi-level cell) is longer lasting, faster, but less dense than TLC (triple-level cell) which is longer lasting, noticeably faster, but less dense than QLC (quad-level cell). Density drives the price, so QLC is likely to be used in inexpensive consumer applications, such as a gaming console. MLC is the best we can get outside a data-center, which would be using MLC or possibly the holy grail that is SLC (single-level cell). Simply cost is the factor. A MLC drive of a size that will hold multiple next gen games will cost as much as a current gen console. So, unless consoles are going to double in price, they will have the cheaper, QLC (likely) SSDs. Reply
  • DnaAngel - Thursday, April 23, 2020 - link

    Not only that, a $400 console isn't going to have a $500 SSD lol. Reply
  • Storris - Sunday, May 17, 2020 - link

    this aged well... Reply
  • Storris - Sunday, May 17, 2020 - link

    Do these comments need clarification at all, knowing what we now know? Reply
  • mode_13h - Tuesday, January 7, 2020 - link

    There were some hints that people interpreted to mean they'd have PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSDs.

    However, if that's the case, they'll probably use lower-end, DRAM-less controllers.
    Reply

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