We know of several new SSD controllers slated for release in 2016, but the Phison PS5007-E7 is one of the most interesting. We first spotted the E7 at Computex, and it was already working well enough to run some performance tests. Phison has been fine-tuning the controller for 2D (1x, 1y, 1z) and next generation 3D NAND flash over the last several months.
This isn't the first time we've spotted a working sample, but as you can see, the Zotac R&D model looks production-ready. This version pairs the Phison PS5007-E7 controller with Toshiba's 15nm multi-level cell flash. The claimed performance is up to 2500 MB/s sequential read and 1,200 MB/s sequential write.
Zotac told us that this is the first and only model for a product that has yet to receive an official name. The drive just arrived from Hong Kong this morning, so it is a prototype. Upon arrival to Las Vegas, Zotac installed Windows and a few game demos on the drive. The game demos are running from the drive in the suite. This is the first time a public demo on an E7 ran with a real-world workload.
This is also the first time we've seen the E7 in a non-M.2 design outside of Phison's office. All of the other E7 proposed products took the shape of M.2 2280 and 22110 form factors. The Zotac drive is a true AIC (add-in card) like the Intel SSD 750. AIC cards allow the drive to use more PCB surface area to increase NAND flash parallelization and consume more power. This leads to higher performance for end users.
Zotac's primary business is gaming products. The company started out selling video cards exclusively, but it has expanded to other products like small form factor PCs and now solid-state drives. The future PCIe-based SSD takes on a gamer feel with large branding.
Zotac stated that the new drive could be ready as early as next month, but that contradicts what Phison has stated over the last few days. We don't expect to see a retail E7-based product until Computex in June or Flash Memory Summit in August.