Phison's PS5021-E21T Controller to Enable 5000 MBps Entry-Level SSDs

(Image credit: Phison)

Phison has announced its new controller for entry-level SSDs featuring a PCIe 4.0 x4 interface. The new PS5021-E21T controller supports the latest types of 3D NAND memory with a 1600 MT/s interface and promises to offer a sequential read speed of up to 5000 MBps. Meanwhile, the chip is made using an advanced process technology and is very small, which generally translates into lower costs and smaller drive designs.  

The Phison PS5021-E21T is a DRAM-less quad-channel controller that supports a PCIe 4.0 x4 interface, the NVMe 1.4 protocol as well as various types of 3D TLC and 3D QLC NAND flash memory featuring a Toggle 4.0 or ONFi 4.2 interface with an up to 1600 MT/s transfer rate.  

Phison's latest chip allows SSD makers to build entry-level drives featuring sequential read/write speeds of up to 5000/4500 MBps, as well as random read/write speeds of up to 780K/800K IOPS, which is in line with the performance provided by previous-gen PCIe 4.0 drives based on Phison's PS5016-E16 controller. Obviously, modern high-end SSDs powered by the PS5018-E18 are much faster, with up to 7400/7000 MB/s of sequential read/write throughput, as well as up to 1,000,000 random read/write IOPS.

(Image credit: Phison)

The PS5021-E21T controller supports Phison's 4th generation LDPC ECC, end-to-end data path protection as well as Smart ECC 2.0 (RAID ECC) technology. In addition, the controller supports all the advanced security and encryption features, such as TCG OPAL2.0/Pyrite, AES256, SHA512, and RSA4096.

(Image credit: Phison)

Since Phison has developed SSD for Microsoft's Xbox Series X game console, all of its modern controllers support the DirectStorage technology on the hardware level. However, to fully enable it, several system-wide features have to be supported as well, which is one of the reasons why neither Phison nor other makers of SSD controllers are talking about its support right now. 

Phison plans to use one of TSMC's 12 nm-class process technologies to minimize die size, costs, and power consumption of the PS5021-E21T controller. The company says that a 4 TB M.2-2280/2230 SSD that uses Micron's 176-layer N48R 3D QLC memory will only consume about 4.6W on average and less than 2mW in PS4/L1.2 low power mode. 

(Image credit: Phison)

Meanwhile, the PS5021-E21T comes in a 198-ball FCCSP package that measures 7.5 × 12 mm and allows developers of soldered-down storage subsystems to tangibly lower their footprints on the motherboard. 

Since Phison only gave a sneak peek at the PS5021-E21T controller during CES 2021 – the company did not disclose when it expects its customers to start using the chip. Since drive makers do not usually tend to adopt entry-level SSD processors as soon as they can, we don't expect PS5021-E21T-based products to show earlier than late 2021, in the best-case scenario.             

Anton Shilov
Contributing Writer

Anton Shilov is a contributing writer at Tom’s Hardware. Over the past couple of decades, he has covered everything from CPUs and GPUs to supercomputers and from modern process technologies and latest fab tools to high-tech industry trends.