Silicon Motion says it will debut its PCIe 5.0 SSD controller in 2022

nanoguy

Posts: 742   +12
Staff member
Why it matters: Silicon Motion is looking to cash in on the huge demand for fast storage in the enterprise space, so it's scrambling to be among the first companies to launch a PCIe 5.0 SSD controller. And while that may not mean much for consumers today, it signals that significantly faster SSDs might arrive a bit sooner than expected.

PCIe 4.0 has brought little performance improvement on the graphics card end, as we've shown through our testing using the GeForce RTX 3080 FE. However, it did lead to a new crop of NVMe solid state drives that offer incredibly fast read and write speeds, while some models like the Samsung 980 Pro can hit a blistering 7,000 MB per second.

On the eve of PCIe 4.0's arrival in 2019, the Peripheral Component Interconnect Special Interest Group (PCI-SIG) announced PCIe 5.0 and PCIe 6.0 specs, which looked like a peculiar decision. On the other hand, enterprise and industrial requirements are evolving so fast that these standards will no doubt coexist to serve a variety of applications.

Silicon Motion recently said that it would start sampling a new enterprise SSD controller that uses the PCIe 5.0 interface as soon as the second half of this year. The company plans to introduce server SSDs based on the new controller next year, which means consumer-grade PCIe 5.0 SSDs are potentially also in the pipeline.

Consumer PCIe 4.0 SSDs are plenty fast for most applications, but they're quickly saturating the theoretical maximum of 8 GB per second that a 4-lane connection can afford. PCIe 5.0 can effectively double that bandwidth, which is going to benefit machine learning and big data applications more than gaming or video editing, though Microsoft's DirectStorage API might change that in the near future.

Kioxia (formerly Toshiba Memory) is also working on enterprise-grade PCIe 5.0 SSDs based on its CM6 platform, and is already shipping engineering samples to its customers. At any rate, the soonest we might use a PCIe 5.0 SSD in a normal PC is whenever Intel will be able to ship its Alder Lake CPUs, which could be as soon as this year or early 2022.

Image credit: The SSD Review

Permalink to story.

 

bviktor

Posts: 379   +678
The theoretical maximum is actually 7880 MB/s so with these 7400 MB/s SSDs we're already nearing margin of error.
 

Thunder6230

Posts: 35   +24
I hope the pcie4 ssds gonna be cheap like the sata ones right now otherwise this will put a new pricerange in the world of ssds. they are still like gold
 

VitalyT

Posts: 5,497   +5,098
2022 is too far away still. With PCI-e 5.0 already being used in the server market, we can expect something sooner from Intel, as they promised.

In the meantime, we are expecting Sabrent to announce their new 16TB M.2 PCIe-4.0 drive any day now. It'll be interesting. Imagine being able to put together a very powerful rig, and use just a single SSD in it that will be enough for everything - from work to media storage.
 

gabelogan1324

Posts: 18   +11
2022 is too far away still. With PCI-e 5.0 already being used in the server market, we can expect something sooner from Intel, as they promised.

In the meantime, we are expecting Sabrent to announce their new 16TB M.2 PCIe-4.0 drive any day now. It'll be interesting. Imagine being able to put together a very powerful rig, and use just a single SSD in it that will be enough for everything - from work to media storage.
that would be NUTS and expensive at first, but awesome! I love how they announced 6.0 when we just got 4.0 lol
 

Mister_K

Posts: 2,059   +756
I am happy with 2.5 to 5GB/s just increase the quality and endurance a lot more. Having 5-10TB SSD with 2.5 to 5GB/s writes/reads 2500TBW to 5000TBW endurance would be fantastic!
 

Lionvibez

Posts: 2,260   +1,751
2022 is too far away still. With PCI-e 5.0 already being used in the server market, we can expect something sooner from Intel, as they promised.

In the meantime, we are expecting Sabrent to announce their new 16TB M.2 PCIe-4.0 drive any day now. It'll be interesting. Imagine being able to put together a very powerful rig, and use just a single SSD in it that will be enough for everything - from work to media storage.

They are only sampling to the enterprise and that's because they have workflows that will benefit from it consumers don't. Other than intel Alderlake platform expect a slower roll out of this on the consumer side.
 

dihartnell

Posts: 28   +20
The average consumer's typical workloads don't really take advantage of these amazing theoretical speeds. Consumers typically operate at low queue depth and are more random io than sequential. Personally, I don't think they are worth paying a premium for.
 

131dbl

Posts: 32   +8
The theoretical maximum is actually 7880 MB/s so with these 7400 MB/s SSDs we're already nearing margin of error.

True, but I find the statement:

"Consumer PCIe 4.0 SSDs are plenty fast for most applications, but they're quickly saturating the theoretical maximum of 8 GB"

a little bit disingenuous. To be clear, the different makers of NVMe drives and the different types of memory/controllers knew that PCIe gen4 was coming before consumers did, by quite a few months. The best they could put out until very recently wasn't much better than a gen3 NVMe drive. Right now, the only reason that the NEW NVMe drives can run as fast as they do is because of the cache they have, and the amount of cache they have is quite large. All the makers moved away from 2-bit storage for 1TB drives and up for instance. Well, 3 bit storage isn't very fast. Even a PCIe 2.0 X4 bus gives you all the speed you need for 3 bit storage.

You can go look at the reviews for the new 980 Pro and the new Rocket, and yes they're fast because of the cache they have. But, to go faster than what they already do means they would either have to go back to 2 bit storage so the cache can offload to storage faster, and the price shoots up, or they have a bit larger cache and the price goes up, if their cache will even exceed that near 8GB/s. The same is also going to be true with the WD SN850. All 3 of those drives use 3 bit storage and have a large cache.

So, I don't think for the consumer market NVMe drives are going to saturate PCIe 4.0 X4 within the next few years. The drives will be too expensive and most people won't buy them, which I know is the reason why Samsung abandoned 2 bit storage. The 970 Pro was just too expensive and people were buying up the Rocket or the SN750 if they wanted performance.

But yes for the server market gen5 would be beneficial when NVMe drives can actually exceed that speed.

But now the final point. Those speeds are for reading/writing a large file. Once you get to reading/writing smaller files, the best drives are NO WHERE NEAR PCIe gen4 X4 speeds. Even for servers, you really need IOPS to be as fast as possible, but more often than not reads/writes are not huge files. And for desktop, the need for anything greater than what NVMe gen4 X4 brings almost never comes up, if ever Almost anything you use an NVMe for doesn't exceed that capability and probably won't for years.
 
Last edited:

jpuroila

Posts: 323   +181
"However, it did lead to a new crop of NVMe solid state drives that offer incredibly fast read and write speeds, while some models like the Samsung 980 Pro can hit a blistering 7,000 MB per second."

Which... still brought little improvement for most people.