In context: This week, Kioxia unveiled an industry-first PCIe 5 SSD for data centers. Advancements in PCIe technology are advancing pretty quickly, as consumers have only just started working with PCIe 4, and PCIe 6 is already visible on the horizon.

Kioxia unveiled its new E3.S SSDs this week. Specifications show not only that it is moving to PCIe 5 but also to a new form factor. The company didn't specify when the E3.S drives will be widely available, but select OEM customers can sample them now.

The drive's maximum capacity is 7.68 terabytes. In addition to PCIe 5, Kioxia optimized them for 2x PCIe lane performance. The company says the maximum read throughput is around 6.5GB/s with 1,050K random read IOPS. The read and write latencies are 75μs and 14μs, respectively. Kioxia claims that read latency is 17 percent lower than its PCIe 4 SSDs and 60 percent lower for write latency.

The E3.S series is also moving over to the Enterprise and Datacenter Standard Form Factor (EDSFF). Kioxia says that compared to the 2.5" form factor it used earlier, EDSFF will feature improved heat management, allow for higher power budgets, better signal integrity, and work with future data center architectures.

In September, Kioxia held a presentation detailing PCIe 5 and mentioned speeds of up to 14GB/s. However, it admitted that those wouldn't be replacing PCIe 4 anytime soon. Data centers are moving towards PCIe 5 even though consumers are just now upgrading to PCIe 4 SSDs for their home computers and PlayStation 5s. Current consumer software isn't really maxing out PCIe 4 speeds yet, as recent game benchmarks show. Even still, the final draft specification for PCIe 6 came out last month, laying the roadmap for PCIe even further in the future.