In the first sighting on a Ryzen 7000 system outside of AMD's own demos, Phison today showed off its PCIe 5.0 SSD controller dishing out slightly more than 10 GBps of throughput on a Zen 4-powered system at the 2022 Flash Memory Summit.
Phison has partnered with AMD and Micron for the launch of its PS5026-E26 SSD controller, more commonly known as the E26, and those drives will come to retail in September. Given that AMD has said PCIe 5.0 SSDs will be available in time for its Zen 4 launch, it appears the pieces will be in place for the Ryzen 7000 launch that's rumored to occur on September 15.
Phison's test system consists of a six-core, twelve-thread AMD processor on a developmental motherboard that obviously has the PCIe 5.0 interface up and running. Unfortunately, Phison won't share any details about the system or test platform, although we gleaned that the chip has the 100-000000593-20_Y codename. We can see a fan on the VRMs and two sticks of DDR5 on the system, but closer inspection isn't allowed — what we can see is what we get.
We've already seen the E26 controller hit up to 12GB/s of throughput and provide up to 1.3 / 1.1 million random read/write IOPS in previous demos, but this sample finds the E26 paired with Micron's new 232-Layer B58R TLC flash, a first, so it is still in the tuning stage.
Micron says its new 232-Layer TLC flash provides twice the write bandwidth and 75% higher read bandwidth than its previous version. But the move to a six-plane architecture (from four planes) means that companies like Phison will have to tune their SSD controllers accordingly. For now, this flash runs at 1600 MT/s, but it will eventually reach up to 2000 MT/s.
Here we can see 10 GB/s of read/write throughput on the AMD test system, but Phison reminds us that this configuration is still in the developmental phase. The company plans for up to 12 / 11 GB/s of sequential read/write throughput and 1.5 / 2 million random read/write IOPS when the final drives arrive on the market.
Phison is also preparing its I/O+ firmware to optimize SSDs for DirectStorage workloads, which we recently tested with a PCIe 4.0 SSD. Naturally, PCIe 5.0's higher sequential performance will be great for Microsoft's DirectStorage because it relies heavily upon read throughput to reduce game loading times to roughly a second.
AMD also says Ryzen 7000 will support Smart Access Storage (SAS), which appears to be a slightly tweaked version of DirectStorage that's built on the same APIs. Given Phison and AMD's close collaboration, we expect the company's SSDs to support AMD's SAS.
A close-up pic of the SSD shows the standard M.2 2280 form factor, meaning it has the standard 22mm width. A new 25mm-wide form factor was recently added to the NVMe spec, ostensibly for PCIe 5.0 SSDs. But Phison tells us that it doesn't have any plans to create wider form factors for its E26-powered drives. You can also see that the demo SSD doesn't have an affixed heatsink, but Phison says one will be required for the best performance.
A constellation of third-party SSDs will use Phison's E26 PCIe 5.0 SSD controllers. That will come in handy for Zen 4 Ryzen 7000 systems — AMD claims a 60% performance gain in sequential read workloads with PCIe 5.0 SSDs. The first E26-powered drives arrive in September.