Samsung announced today that it has begun production of a new, mind-blowing 30TB SSD. This is a marked departure from previous eras, when the steady advance of storage capacity was driven exclusively by magnetic media and spinning disks. Companies have demonstrated high-capacity NAND flash storage for years, but nobody else has come close to Samsung’s 30TB drive. And now, to prove it’s not a gimmick, Samsung is launching it in several market segments.
The new PM1643 — that’s the official moniker, as opposed to the Samsung Enormous Porn, Gaming, Word Document Depository — uses Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) for an interface rather than a standard SATA connection. Unfortunately, motherboards with SAS are few and far between in the consumer market. If you can find one of these and can actually afford to buy it, it may make more sense to buy an add-in card that provides internal SAS connections rather than buying a new motherboard or external enclosure. All three of these options are available, however.
Samsung was able to push all the way up to 30TB by leveraging several technological advancements. First, TLC NAND has apparently matured enough that the company feels confident it can deploy it to even the highest-end workstation drives. That’s a significant improvements from where we were a few years ago, when the Samsung 840 EVO had such problems.
The Korean manufacturer used 3-bit TLC NAND to build a 512Gb NAND IC (integrated circuit). Each of these ICs contains 64 layers of NAND. Samsung then stacked them 16 deep to create a 1TB NAND package. Slap 30 of them into a single 2.5-inch drive and you’ve got your 30TB of storage. Of course, that’s probably not exactly true, since Samsung would’ve had to include an impressive amount of additional storage blocks to ensure the SSD could cope with individual block failure over a long period of time.
This 30TB drive also contains 40GB of DDR4 connected in ten stacks of 4GB each using TSVs (through silicon vias). Again, that’s an enormous advance on previous NAND drives, which don’t typically offer more DRAM than is likely in your system.
Samsung estimates that the drive can provide 400,000 IOPS of random read performance and 50,000 IOPS of random write performance. Sequential read/write speeds are 2,100MB/s and 1,700MB/s respectively. Samsung has also announced it intends to offer a full set of SKUs as the year goes on: 800GB, 960GB, 1.92TB, 3.84TB, 7.68TB, and 15.36TB drives are all expected.
There’s no word on pricing yet, which suggests if you have to ask, you can’t afford it. And neither can we. Alternately, these may be products Samsung only ships to OEMs, as opposed to having any kind of channel presence. Still, enterprise capabilities and hardware have a long history of trickling into the mainstream technology segment. If Samsung thinks it can scale this technology down while still offering a performance boost compared with products like the 960 Pro, we’d expect the company to do it sooner rather than later.
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