Samsung's new SZ985 Z-NAND SSD brings the fight to Intel Optane

Is Z-NAND enough to take on Optane?

Samsung's new SZ985 Z-NAND SSD brings the fight to Intel Optane

Samsung's new SZ985 Z-NAND SSD brings the fight to Intel Optane

Samsung has officially released some performance information about their new Z-NAND powered SZ985 series SSD, a specialised product that is designed to counteract one of the biggest emerging bottlenecks in the storage world, memory latency.  

While this problem is mostly seen in the enterprise space, it is clear that this latency hurdle needs to be passed to bring storage forward, not only allowing more data to be transferred in a given time but to allow these storage mediums to respond to commands faster, allowing data to be delivered in a more timely manner and speed up system performance. 

Intel's new Optane/Xpoint memory is designed to tackle this memory latency problem, as well as provide high levels of SSD performance at low queue depths, though Samsung's new Z-NAND is designed to tackle some of these same issued while basing their product in existing, cheaper to produce NAND technology, aiming to achieve great performance at a lower price than an Optane device. 

With their Z-NAND-powered SZ985 SSD, Samsung boasts that they can achieve 3.2GB/s of both sequential read and write performance and achieve throughput of 750,000/170,000 random read/write IOPS, both of which are impressive performance numbers for a NAND-based SSD. 

What is more impressive is Samsung's reduced latency with Z-NAND, which has been achieved both with Z-NAND itself and with changes to their memory controller design. Samsung says that they have reduced latency by as much as 5.5x when compared to other NVMe SSDs, which allows data to be delivered much faster.  


The first storage device based on Samsung’s Z-NAND technology is the SZ985 — an “ultra-low latency” flash storage drive. The Samsung SZ985 Z-NAND SSD shares the fundamental structure of Samsung’s V-NAND — the industry’s leading 3D flash production technology. It offers a unique circuit design and controller, which together serve to maximize performance. The SZ985 provides 5.5 times lower latency than today’s leading NVMe SSDs. Available in an 800GB capacity, the drive has been designed with proven NAND technology for improved reliability, exceptional scalability and greater cost-efficiency. This pioneering generation of Z-SSD’s can easily be considered the optimal storage solution for latency sensitive, I/O-intensive applications.

Samsung's new SZ985 Z-NAND SSD brings the fight to Intel Optane

 (Table from Tom's Hardware)

The key to Samsung's success with Z-NAND will be in their ability to offer similar levels of performance to Intel's Optane storage devices while offering a much lower price, making Intel's Optane storage devices look a lot less attractive. 

While Optane still offers the better specifications in terms of latency and write IOPS, Intel has an uphill struggle, as most storage-intensive workloads are designed for modern SSDs, which are not designed with all the advantages of Optane in mind. This means that Samsung's Z-NAND devices are even more likely to offer similar increases in performance as Optane, giving Samsung a price/performance advantage. 

Samsung's new Z-NAND tech offers large increases in performance in an extremely economical way, leveraging existing technology in a new way rather than creating a whole new storage medium. While Optane/XPoint is still the superior technology on paper, Z-NAND offers Samsung with an opportunity to hamper XPoint ambitions, while securing themselves as the storage leader when it comes to NAND-based devices. 

Those who are interested can read Samsung's official Z-NAND datasheet here

You can join the discussion on Samsung's new SZ985 SSD with Z-NAND memory on the OC3D Forums.  

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Most Recent Comments

18-11-2017, 11:39:10

Some pretty insane numbers thereQuote

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