A closer look at the Samsung 850 EVO hardware.
The Samsung 850 EVO mSATA. 500GB SSD is powered by Samsung’s
MGX SSD controller, coupled to 32 layer 3D V-NAND (TLC). The drive also
features a 512MB LPDDR3 cache buffer. The mSATA variant is available in 120GB,
250GB, 500GB, and 1000GB capacities, with the 1000GB version using the Samsung
MEX SSD controller, rather than the MGX controller found in the lower capacity
The Samsung 850 EVO M.2. 250GB SSD is powered by Samsung’s
MGX SSD controller, coupled to 32 layer 3D V-NAND (TLC). Like the mSATA
version, the 850 EVO 250GB M.2. SSD also features a 512MB LPDDR3 cache. The
Samsung 850 EVO M.2., although an M.2. device, is SATA 6Gbps compliant. This
means the M.2. versions are able to utilise Intel RST technology.
Turbo write is a feature found on the Samsung 850 EVO series
of SSDs. On the 850 EVO SSDs, a given amount of NAND acts as a high performance
write buffer. On the 120GB, and 250GB models, 9GB of TLC NAND is set aside for
this purpose. The high performance buffer is actually emulated SLC NAND,
therefore the actual size of the SLC buffer is 3GB on the 120GB, and 250GB 850
The 500GB, and 1000GB variants of the 850 EVO have 6GB, and
12GB, of emulated SLC NAND respectively. SLC NAND is much faster to program
compared to TLC NAND, giving much higher performance.
When the 850 EVO is idle, the Turbo write buffer is
transferred over to the normal NAND, thus freeing the emulated SLC NAND for
DATA encryption and protection
The Samsung 850 EVO series is a self encryption based
solution, which is compliant with TCG-OPAL 2.0.
Specifications common to both form factors.
Drive maintenance features
For Windows 7 and Windows 8 users, and some distributions of
Linux, the Samsung 850 EVO series SSD supports ATA TRIM to keep the NAND clean.
The Samsung 850 EVO series also has advanced garbage collection to clean the
NAND during drive idle periods.
Samsung SSD Magician
The SSD Magician software allows the user to maintain the
SSD, and has the following features.
- Disk drive: Brings up useful information about the
SSD, including its health status and how much data has been written to the
- System info: Allows the user to see system and
- Performance Benchmark: Performs a very basic
benchmark on the SSD.
- Performance optimization: Performs a manual TRIM of
- OS Optimization: Allows operating system features
that can affect SSD performance, to be switched on or off.
- Firmware Update: Allows the firmware to be updated.
- Secure Erase: Sends a Secure Erase command to the
SSD, clearing all NAND and returning the SSD back to its default factory
- Over Provisioning: Allows the user to set aside a
given amount of NAND as a manual over provisioning area.
- SSD authenticity test: Checks to make sure
that the SSD is a genuine Samsung SSD.
- Enable Rapid mode: Enables the ‘Rapid mode’ cache
Data migration software is also available as a download from
Samsung, which allows you to easily migrate your existing system installation
over to your new SSD.
At the time of writing this article, the current version
of Samsung Magician (4.5) does not support the mSATA or M.2. SSDs. Version 4.6
of Magician should be available at product launch towards the end of March 2015,
where all the features above will be available.
Let’s head to the next page where we take a look at our
testing methods and the review PC….