Samsung 960 EVO vs 950 PRO M.2 NVMe SSD - FLIR thermal video of VMware vSphere 6.5 Windows 10 VM cloning

Posted by Paul Braren on Jan 3 2017 (updated on Jan 5 2017) in
  • Storage
  • Virtualization
  • It sure took a while, but the first Samsung 960 PRO and EVO shipments to US customers finally arrived the third week of December, that long saga unfolded here. So far, it's looking good! But why should only I have all the fun, as I performed my first set of confidence-building tests. I wanted to see how it acts under load, when compared with my year-old Samsung 950 PRO.

    This video doesn't focus on benchmarking or speed comparisons, so no stopwatch is shown. What happened was that I ran into some cloning issues, and these resulted in a confusing uncut video, along with some confusing VM names. So I instead just kept the footage that really highlights the temperatures climbing during intense and sustained VMFS 6 operations like cloning. When you compare the 512GB 950 PRO with the 1TB 960 EVO, temperatures seem to be decreased a bit, but are still quite concentrated into one small area. That area is the drive controller, despite the copper heat-spreading sticker on the back intended to mitigate this a bit. Not sure if that picture would change substantially, had I had adequate airflow across the drives. This mild form of M.2 torture was intentional, given the PC cover was off.

    Preliminary Results

    • 950 PRO goes from 148°F/64°C at idle to 175°F/79°C during sustained activity
    • 960 EVO goes from 128°F/53°C at idle to 166°F/74°C during sustained activity

    I did not control for the mix of reads versus writes during this particular set of first impression tests, but repeated clone operations off camera yielded similar results.

    You'll also see the many-years-old transient problem rear its head:
    The operation is not allowed in the current connection state of the host.

    This was actually the very first time I've seen this on VMware vSphere 6.5. Thankfully, my old workaround from way back in the 5.1 days still worked.

    This video features the use of OPS1E for iOS (on an iPhone 6 Plus), to handle basic VM operations done for the demo:

    See also my detailed OPS1E reviewed here. It's pricey, but worth it. Very capable, and actually more responsive/faster than any PC or Mac app roughly equivalent GUI. Kind of amazing how snappy it performs, see for yourself at this spot in the video.

    Closing thoughts

    There was an early-adopter glitch some TinkerTry visitors reported and quickly worked around, explained below. I'm hoping a future BIOS upgrade will resolve this.

    As Allyn Malventano predicted, my Samsung 960 EVO does seem it runs cooler at idle and under load. Future tests will let me determine whether this drive can lay flat on a Xeon D's M.2 slot on the motherboard and still not throttle under sustained abuse, even with the chassis fan at default speeds, rather than the max fan speed that was needed for the 950 PRO. This is only an issue for benchmarking, I have extremly rarely seen throttling slow down my day-to-day VMware VMFS operations after a year of ownership and abuse, and when it does strike, I only lose about 30% off the top speeds, still way faster than any SATA3 SSD.

    Not sure I'll have time to run the full set of benchmarks that I ran on the 950 PRO, but that's OK, I'm already happy I've doubled my capacity and reduced temperatures, and the speed seems to be keeping up with or exceeding my 950 PRO during my informal testing under VMware vSphere/ESXi 6.5.


    Samsung 960 EVO 1TB M.2 NVMe - unboxing & FLIR thermal testing during VMware 6.5 Win 10 VM cloning

    See also at TinkerTry

    How to fix Samsung 960 PRO/EVO M.2 NVMe drive disappearance after any Supermicro Xeon D BIOS change