Samsung 980 NVMe SSD Linux Performance
Written by Michael Larabel in Storage on 26 March 2021. Page 1 of 3. 39 Comments

Earlier this month Samsung announced the 980 (non-PRO) NVMe solid-state driver offering a combination of speed and affordability for consumers. Many Linux readers have been curious about this Samsung 980 DRAM-less SSD so here are some initial benchmarks of it. Overall, it's been working out well under Linux.

The Samsung 980 SSD offers good performance at a lower price than the Samsung 980 PRO and other more premium solid-state drives. By doing away with the DRAM is one of the cost savings. The Samsung 980 leverages Host Memory Buffer (HMB) usage and new sixth-generation VNAND in helping to overcome the lack of DRAM and its usage of TLC memory. The Samsung 980 is also a PCIe 3.0 drive, not PCIe 4.0. The Samsung 980 uses a Pablo controller. The 1TB Samsung 980 NVMe SSD drive launched at $129 USD, the 500GB version for just $69, and the 250GB version for $49.

The Samsung 980 1TB NVMe SSD is rated for sequential reads up to 3500MB/s, sequential writes up to 3000MB/s, random 4K reads up to 500K IOPS, and random writes up to 480K IOPS. The Samsung 980 series remains backed by a five-year warranty.

While Samsung doesn't supply us with any review samples for Linux testing, I ended up purchasing the Samsung 980 1TB for Linux testing given the number of Phoronix (Premium) readers that inquired about seeing the performance of this new Samsung solid-state drive. From my testing so far it's been good and working out well under Linux.

In particular, the Samsung 980 (non-PRO) continues working out better for me than the Samsung 980 PRO. Some will recall that past Linux testing with the Samsung 980 PRO found it to be poor in some workloads. This didn't end up being a defective drive but was reproduced on three Samsung 980 PRO SSDs. I've also seen others on Reddit and a Phoronix message report similarly lower than expected performance out of the Samsung 980 PRO under Linux. The exact cause remains to be figured out but even moving to the latest Samsung 980 PRO firmware hasn't helped the situation nor with TRIM enabled or not, I/O scheduler, and other tweaks.

Making things more odd about the situation, I've also been testing the Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus the past few months and it's been suffering from a similar fate to the Samsung 980 PRO on Linux with particularly poor performance in select I/O workloads. The cause though again not figured out yet and Sabrent is still investigating. This is while the Rocket 4 (non-Plus) performs great on Linux as do other PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSDs like the WD_BLACK SN850 and others on the very same systems/tests/etc.

In any case, the Samsung 980 NVMe SSD has been working out well for me and not exhibiting any issues like those other recent SSDs on Linux. For those curious about its performance on Linux, I fired up some benchmarks under Ubuntu 20.10 with Linux 5.12 against a few other NVMe SSDs I had on hand including the 1TB Corsair Force MP600, 1TB Sabrent Rocket 4.0, Samsung 970 EVO 500GB, Samsung 970 EVO Plus 250GB, 500GB WD_BLACK SN750, and 1TB WD_BLACK SN850. All the solid-state drives were tested freshly formatted with EXT4.


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