The world of PCIe Gen 5.0 SSDs is about to witness a game-changing innovation as Phison gears up to showcase its latest creation, the PS5031-E31T controller, at CES 2024. In a bid to tackle the challenges faced by Gen 5 drives, including high pricing and heat dissipation concerns, Phison’s new controller promises to deliver superior performance without the need for bulky active cooling solutions.
PCIe Gen 4 drives have solidified their position as a standard in high-end systems, leaving Gen 5 struggling to gain widespread adoption due to its higher cost and limited real-world benefits. One major hurdle has been the issue of excessive heat generated by these high-speed SSDs, making them impractical for use in compact systems, laptops, and handheld devices.
The PS5031-E31T stands out with its M.2 PCIe Gen 5 configuration, boasting a maximum sequential read and write speed of up to 10,800 MB/s. While this places it on the slower end compared to other Gen 5 drives, it still outpaces the theoretical maximum of PCIe 4.0 x4 speed limit, which is capped at 7,880 MB/s.
What sets this controller apart is its emphasis on lower power consumption, resulting in reduced heat production. Phison envisions that this innovative approach will eliminate the need for an active SSD cooler, paving the way for the integration of Gen 5 drives into smaller devices where space constraints make traditional cooling methods impractical.
Manufactured on TSMC’s 7nm process, the PS5031-E31T features a 4-channel configuration, ARM Coretex R5 CPU, AES 256 encryption, and Phison’s 7th Gen LDPC. Supporting a maximum capacity of up to 8TB and compatible with both 3D TLC and QLC NAND flash, this controller represents a leap forward in SSD technology.
In addition to the groundbreaking PS5031-E31T, Phison has introduced the PS5027-E27T, another low-power controller tailored for the 2230 form factor M.2 SSDs commonly found in handheld gaming devices like the Steam Deck. Operating on PCIe Gen 4 and built on TSMC’s 12nm process, this controller boasts a maximum sequential read performance of 7,400 MB/s and write performance of 6,700 MB/s.
Phison’s CES 2024 lineup also includes the PS5026-E26 Max14um Gen 5 SSD controller, a true performance beast capable of staggering read speeds exceeding 14,000 MB/s and writes surpassing 12,000 MB/s. However, this powerhouse comes with a caveat – it demands serious cooling, as demonstrated by Frore Systems’ AirJet Minis used in the test drive to prevent throttling.
Interestingly, Sabrent has teased the use of Phison’s E26 controller in its Rocket 5 Plus SSDs, set to debut at the Las Vegas show. The details of Sabrent’s cooling solution remain a mystery, adding an element of anticipation to the reveal.
While these advancements in cooling technology showcase the potential for improved Gen 5 SSD performance, the key question remains: will the adoption of Gen 5 drives increase, given the current pricing landscape and NAND production challenges? Despite the impressive technological strides, widespread acceptance may hinge on a reduction in prices, a prospect that appears unlikely in the face of existing production difficulties.
As tech enthusiasts eagerly await the CES 2024 showcase, Phison’s controllers stand as a testament to the industry’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of what is possible. Whether these innovations translate into broader market acceptance remains to be seen, but one thing is certain – the future of high-speed storage is evolving, and Phison is at the forefront of that evolution.