Enlarge / You’ll be able to’t see the half quantity which distinguishes the newer, slower drive from the older, sooner one on the field—you could test the PN discipline within the prime heart of the label on the drive itself.

Jim Salter

Not too long ago, main SSD distributors Essential and Western Digital have each been caught swapping out TLC NAND of their shopper SSDs for cheaper however a lot lower-performance, lower-endurance QLC NAND. Samsung seems to be becoming a member of them within the part-swapping nook of disgrace immediately, due to Chinese language Youtuber 潮玩客, who documented a brand new model of the Samsung 970 Evo Plus utilizing an inferior drive controller.

Though the consumer-facing mannequin variety of the drives didn’t change—it was a 970 Evo Plus final yr, and it is nonetheless a 970 Evo Plus now—the producer half quantity did. Sadly, the producer half quantity is not seen on the field the SSD is available in—so far as we have been in a position to decide, it is solely proven on a small label on the drive itself.

Falling off the write cliff

We examined the 970 Evo Plus (alongside the 980, and the older 970 Professional) in March, clocking it at write speeds of 1,600+ MiB/sec on 1MiB workloads. Our benchmarking was carried out with he outdated model, half quantity MZVLB1T0HBLR. The newer model—half quantity MZVL21T0HBLU—is significantly slower. In keeping with 潮玩客’s check outcomes, the newer model solely manages 830MiB/sec—half the efficiency of the unique.

It appears seemingly that Samsung, like Western Digital, hoped the half swap would go unnoticed as a result of the tip end result was “ok.” Beneath most mild utilization workloads, a consumer would possibly by no means discover the brand new half quantity’s decrease efficiency—as a result of like almost all trendy SSDs, the 970 Evo Plus encompasses a SLC write cache that is a lot sooner than its important storage NAND, and the brand new half’s efficiency drop does not change into obvious till after the cache is exhausted.

潮玩客 first examined the outdated and new 970 Evo Plus drives utilizing CrystalDiskMark, and the drives appeared near-identical. However that is as a result of CrystalDiskMark by default makes use of a really small 1GiB check dimension, which clearly just isn’t sufficient to exhaust both drive’s write cache. (We at Ars incessantly use CrystalDiskMark—however we choose bigger check sizes, for exactly this cause.)

In longer exams, each drives lower sharply in efficiency as cache fills, which is anticipated. However whereas the older drive retains almost two-thirds of its unique efficiency, the newer model craters to lower than a 3rd. We are able to see this impact not solely in synthetic benchmarks, but additionally in giant file copies, as seen in 潮玩客’s later exams.

The controller is the perpetrator

Ironically, Samsung's own store page for the 970 Evo Plus clearly displays the missing Phoenix controller.
Enlarge / Satirically, Samsung’s personal retailer web page for the 970 Evo Plus clearly shows the lacking Phoenix controller.

The perfect information for impacted 970 Evo Plus house owners is that they need to “solely” be taking an enormous efficiency hit, and not using a corresponding lower in write endurance. That is as a result of in contrast to Essential and Western Digital’s part-swaps, Samsung did not drop from TLC flash to QLC—it simply swapped out the controller.

The older, higher-performing drives have a Phoenix controller and the newer, lower-performing drives use one made by Elpis. Tom’s {Hardware} factors out that Samsung is already identified to be dealing with controller shortages, with its personal Texa controller factories having been idle since February.

Though Samsung’s half swap will seemingly have a decrease direct buyer affect than Western Digital’s or Essential’s, it is nonetheless disappointing that the corporate is pulling this with out informing the general public. Finally, we’re speaking about two variations of the identical mannequin with considerably totally different parts and a drastic discount in efficiency, with little or no means for a buyer to identify the distinction—and pandemic or no pandemic, that is simply not okay.

潮玩客’s unique video is right here—however you will not get probably the most out of it except your Mandarin is considerably higher than mine.

Itemizing picture by Samsung

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