PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSDs with speeds of up to 7,000MB/s read/write will arrive in the first half of 2020. As promised, Phison has announced its follow-up to the PS5016-E16 controller, the PS5018-E18, which will push speeds well in excess of current PCIe 3.0 capabilities when it launches Q2 of next year.
With the arrival of AMD Ryzen 3000 CPUs and X570 chipset platform, PC builders have the complete, unfettered PCIe 4.0 bandwidth available to them. This amounts to double the available bandwidth of the dominant PCIe 3.0 specification at 16GT/s. However, today’s only PCIe 4.0 controller, Phison’s PS5016-E16, maxes out just below 5,000MB/s, and, in our own experience with the PCIe 4.0 Corsair Force MP600, a little over 4,000MB/s in real-world testing.
But it’s only a question of improving controllers to reach more spectacular speeds, and Phison’s newly-announced PS5018-E18 (via Golem) could be one such upgraded controller. Rather than being built on the 28nm process, this controller will utilise TSMC’s 12nm process – the same one as Nvidia’s RTX 20-series graphics cards. That pure-play foundry sure does get around, huh.
The E18 will be able to hit towering speeds of 7,000MB/s in both read and write across four PCIe 4.0 lanes, and will be capable of running SSDs up to an 8TB capacity.
But that’s unlikely to make a huge impact during gaming. In our own testing, today’s PCIe 4.0 drives do very little for game load times, and it might be a little while before games make the most of the extra speed available to them. Nevertheless, for productivity and creative professionals shifting massive files around often, that extra speed could be a godsend.
Phison has also announced a low-power variant of its PCIe 4.0 controller, the PS5019-E19T, which will be available later this year. This is a datacentre-centric product and likely won’t appear in any SSDs that appeal to our gaming sensibilities, however.
But Phison doesn’t exist entirely in a vacuum, even if it has been the only company so far to push into the client market with PCIe 4.0, and we’re likely to see at least some competition in the client controller market as we head into 2020.