Phison E12 Enthusiast SSD Breaks Cover

LAS VEGAS, NV -- The PS5012-E12 is Phison's first enthusiast-class high-performance NVMe SSD. The new controller made its world debut at the Phison suite with both Micron B16A (256Gbit 64-layer TLC) and Toshiba BiCS FLASH. The Taiwan-based company wanted to make a strong showing with this product designed for both consumer and enterprise use. We were told to expect both M.2 and U.2 form factors.

The quad-core controller features up to 8 CE over 8 channels. Combined with 512Gb die coming in the second half of 2018, the controller can address up to 8TB of flash. The E12 comes from TSMC's fab and on a 28nm process that reduces power consumption and heat output compared to products built on an older node.

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ProductPhison PS5012-E12
ProcessTSMC 28nm
CE32 (Up to 8TB)
Interface / ProtocolPCIe 3.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3
Hardware EncryptionYes (TCG Opal / Pyrite)
Sequential Read3,200 MB/s
Sequential Write (Up To)3,000 MB/s
Random Read600,000 IOPS
Random Write (Up To)600,000 IOPS

Phison tells us to expect consumer M.2 2280 single and double-sided models in the coming months and U.2 enterprise products later in the year. The company doesn't sell products to end users but instead builds solutions for others to turn into retail products. The third-parties set pricing, so we don't know where the E12-based SSDs will land on the pricing scale. We suspect E12 models will sell for a premium based on the number of channels, low-density parity check ECC, and the 28nm process.

The E12 specification sheet shows 3,200 MB/s reads and 3,000 sequential writes. That's already 960 Pro territory but the random 600,000 IOPS claimed would be a first for a consumer SSD. That's 50,000 IOPS more than Intel's Optane SSD 900P at queue depth 128.

64-Layer Showdown

The E12 demo delivered our first look at Toshiba's BiCS FLASH against Micron's second generation 3D technology using 64-layers attached to the same controller. We don't want to read too much into the results but it's fair to say Micron has caught up to Toshiba with its sophomore 3D product.

We look forward to seeing final retail designs coming to market this year and what flash fabless companies will chose based on pricing and performance.

Chris Ramseyer
Chris Ramseyer is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews consumer storage.