World's First PCIe 4.0 SSD Demo, Phison E16 Hits 4GB/s

Phison paired its new PCIe 4.0 SSD controller with 2TB of some of the world's fastest flash and demoed a drive pushing out an eye-popping 4GB/s.

The world of PCIe 4.0 is almost upon us, courtesy of AMD's new third-gen Ryzen 'Matisse' processors, but you can't buy any stupid-fast PCIe 4.0 devices, at least not yet. Phison looks to change that with its new E16 NVMe SSD controller. Phison sells its controllers openly to a wide range of SSD makers, so you'll see these controllers on a plethora of devices in the coming months.

Phison's demo SSD pulled down a blistering 4 GB/s of sequential read throughput and a beastly 4.2 GB/s of write performance during its live demo. The company is currently using Micron's 96-layer 3D flash but new E16-powered SSDs will hit the market with Toshiba's BiCS 4 flash. Phison expects the faster flash to push speeds up to 4.8/4.4 GB/s of read/write throughput.

That will push around big file transfers at a blistering pace, but the E16's random performance, which is most noticeable as snappy performance in the operating system and applications, weighs in north of 900,000 IOPS for both read and write workloads.

Phison's new PCIe 4.0 x4 SSD controller is so bleeding edge that the company doesn't have a motherboard it can show publicly that supports the faster standard. Instead, the company used a specialized PLDA Gen4HOST adapter card for the demo. The adapter converts the PCIe 3.0 x16 connection to a PCIe 4.0 x8 connection that allows the company to test PCIe 4.0 x4 bandwidth. No fears, though, as Phison has already certified its device as PCIe 4.0-compliant.

The PS5016-E16, as it's formally known, comes with a dual-core ARM controller paired with two of Phison's proprietary CO-X processor cores. The controller has eight addressable channels that can manage four flash packages apiece at 800 MT/s. The demo SSD was equipped with TLC flash, but Phison will also support QLC. Cheaper QLC flash isn't as endurance at TLC, but Phison's LDPC (Low-Density Parity Check) error correction will ensure that endurance is comparable to other devices.

SSDs have already begun to push the limits of the PCIe 3.0 x4 interface, so the step up to PCIe 4.0 will spur a new round of development that pushes SSD controller and flash development to the next level. Not to mention that it will allow you to fling files around at a record pace.

Phison says the SSDs will hit the market no later than Q3 2019.

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