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The new Samsung SSD 960 Evo.

Dong Ngo/CNET

The Samsung SSD 850 Evo is one of the most popular solid-state drives (SSDs) on the market, and now there's a much faster upgrade for it, the 960 Evo that Samsung announced today. But this new drive can't literally take the place of its predecessor. It's available only in the new M.2 design, and not the traditional 2.5-inch SATA design.

M.2 is a new interface that uses the PCI Express standard, one that was once reserved only for video cards, to connect to a computer's main board. This interface allows for much higher bandwidth (currently up to 32 gigabits per second or 4,000 megabytes per second) compared to that of the existing SATA, which caps at just 6Gbps.

That said, M.2 is a new upcoming interface standard that's expected to replace SATA completely in the future. The fact Samsung doesn't offer an SATA version of the 960 Evo is a clear indication of this trend. To use an M.2 drive, your computer needs to have an M.2 slot or, for existing desktops, you will need a PCIe adapter.

Samsung says the new 960 Evo has a top read copy speed of up to 3,200MBps and a write speed of up to 1,900MBps. Its random access performance is upward of 380,000 input/output operations per second (IOPS), making it one of the fastest SSDs on the market.

It shares features with its older brother, however. The new drive, too, uses Samsung's 3D VNAND flash memory and also supports TurboWrite, a technique that uses a small amount of of high performance SLC flash memory as buffer to significantly increase write speed. It has a new five-core controller, four of which manage the NAND performance, with the last core dedicated to optimizing the communication between the host computer and controller. Like previous Samsung SSDs, the new drive also supports hardware encryption.

The new Samsung SSD 960 Evo is available in 250GB, 500GB and 1TB capacities for $129, $249 and $479 respectively. Pricing for the UK and Australia is yet to be announced, but those prices converted come out to £65/AU$170, £200/AU$330 and £385/AU$635, respectively.

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