The most interesting aspect of the 980 PRO – in this author’s opinion – is the adoption of the design methodology previously reserved for Samsung’s consumer EVO SSD lineup. Gone is the 2-bit MLC, with 3-bit NAND (usually called TLC, but referred to as 3-bit MLC in Samsung’s documentation for the 980 PRO) finding its way into a PRO drive for the first time.
Along with this change to TLC comes the inclusion of SLC caching, with the new TurboWrite 2.0 implemented here offering larger, dynamically-allocated areas compared to the 970 EVO, in addition to static SLC cache. The controller is new, of course, with Samsung’s own 8nm Elpis controller making use of both the above-mentioned 6th gen V-NAND 3-bit MLC and between 512MB and 2GB of LPDDR4 DRAM cache memory, depending on drive capacity.
Samsung is releasing the 980 PRO in 250GB, 500GB, and 1TB capacities, with a 2TB variant on the way as well. As to pricing, the 980 PRO MSRPs start at $89.99 for the 250GB model, $149.99 for the 500GB model, and $229.99 for the 1TB model (2TB pricing/availability TBA).
Overall this is an impressive entry into the PCI-E 4.0 realm for Samsung, with the move to 3-bit NAND, however logical, a little disappointing for a product with the PRO name. We’re living in a TLC/QLC world now, and Samsung’s adoption of 3-bit NAND for their flagship likely signals the end of 2-bit MLC in consumer drives.