At CES 2021, Phison gave us the same old updates on their SSD controller roadmap. Probably the most important new merchandise coming this yr are a pair of USB flash drive controllers for high-end moveable SSDs, designed to compete towards present options that mix a USB to NVMe bridge chip with a typical NVMe SSD controller. Phison can also be planning to introduce a brand new entry-level DRAMless NVMe SSD controller later this yr.
Phison U17 and U18 USB 3.2 SSD Controllers
For moveable SSDs, Phison is introducing the U17 and U18 controllers. The U17 makes use of a USB 3.2 Gen 2×1 (10Gb/s) host interface and a two-channel NAND interface operating at as much as 1200 MT/s. The U18 doubles these: USB 3.2 Gen2x2 (20Gb/s) and a four-channel NAND interface. The efficiency specs might look lackluster in comparison with Phison’s NVMe SSD controllers, however they’re fairly near saturating what their respective USB host interfaces can deal with, and efficiency can be aggressive with NVMe+USB bridge primarily based moveable SSDs. Nonetheless, the U17 and U18 could have a big energy effectivity benefit, decrease price and smaller PCB footprint than present moveable SSDs. Phison may also be offering TCG Opal encryption assist on the U18, enabling a stage of safety they are saying is not possible to realize with NVMe+USB bridge options.
|Phison USB 3.2 SSD Controller Comparsion|
|Host Interface||USB 3.2 Gen2x1||USB 3.2 Gen2x2|
|NAND Interface||2ch, 1200 MT/s||4ch, 1200 MT/s|
|Max Capability||1 TB||4 TB|
|Error Correction||4th Gen LDPC|
|TCG Opal Help||No||Sure|
|Sequential Learn||1000 MB/s||1900 MB/s|
|Sequential Write||800 MB/s||1700 MB/s|
|4KB Random Learn (TLC)||185 MB/s||260 MB/s|
|4KB Random Write (TLC)||260 MB/s||330 MB/s|
Phison expects to complete qualification of the U17 and U18 controllers later this month. We’re hoping to get a efficiency preview shortly thereafter by testing their reference designs, and retail merchandise needs to be exhibiting up inside the subsequent a number of months.
Phison E21T: Low-Finish NVMe Strikes to 12nm
For NVMe SSDs, the one new controller Phison is speaking about this yr is the E21T, their newest DRAMless NVMe controller. This can be a follow-up to the E19T controller, which has seen little or no use in retail client SSDs however has truly been outselling their high-end E16 PCIe 4.0 controller resulting from robust demand from OEMs (particularly from an unnamed buyer with a very fashionable gaming product). With the E21T, Phison is lastly transferring this product phase from 28nm to 12nm fabrication, which permits for efficiency and energy enhancements of about 25% in comparison with the E19T. The essential structure hasn’t modified a lot for the E21T: it is nonetheless a 4-channel controller managed by a single ARM core plus Phison’s proprietary coprocessors. Efficiency has elevated considerably, with peak throughput now rivaling the high-end E16 controller (although real-world efficiency on heavy workloads should be slower as a result of downsides of a DRAMless controller design).
Phison is planning to begin sampling the E21T to prospects round June of this yr with mass manufacturing ramping up in This fall—round once we ought to begin seeing PCIe 4.0 SSDs catching on with pocket book OEMs. A lot of the drives utilizing the E21T will in all probability pair it with QLC NAND, and Phison has efficiency projections for what we will count on when utilizing Micron’s 176L QLC.
|Phison E21T QLC SSD Efficiency Projections|
|Capability||512 GB||1 TB||2 TB||4 TB|
|Kind Issue, Interface||M.2 2280, PCIe 4.0 x4|
|NAND Flash||Micron 176L 3D QLC|
|Sequential Learn||4.5 GB/s||4.8 GB/s|
|Sequential Write||1.65 GB/s||3.3 GB/s||4.5 GB/s|
|Random Learn IOPS (4kB)||250k||500k||780k|
|Random Write IOPS (4kB)||350k||700k||800k|
It is possible that lots of the product strains at the moment utilizing the E16 controller with QLC NAND will swap over to utilizing the E21T in future generations, because the DRAMless E21T can be a less expensive general resolution. Nonetheless, the 4TB limitation can be a difficulty for the handful of corporations which have already began delivery 8TB QLC SSDs. These 8TB M.2 SSDs at the moment use the E12 controller and its PCIe 4.0 successors are usually not accessible in a reduced-size bundle just like the E12S variant. So 8TB PCIe 4.0 SSDs will in all probability need to push the bounds of NAND packaging by stacking 16 dies per bundle in an effort to depart sufficient PCB house for an E16 or E18 controller plus DRAM.
|Phison NVMe SSD Controller Comparsion|
|Market Phase||Mainstream Shopper||Excessive-Finish Shopper|
|28nm||12nm||28 nm||12 nm|
|CPU Cores||1x Cortex R5||1x Cortex R5||1x Cortex R5||2x Cortex R5||3x Cortex R5|
|Error Correction||4th Gen LDPC||third Gen LDPC||4th Gen LDPC|
|Host Interface||PCIe 3.0 x4||PCIe 4.0 x4||PCIe 3.0 x4||PCIe 4.0 x4|
|NVMe Model||NVMe 1.3||NVMe 1.4||NVMe 1.3||NVMe 1.4|
|NAND Channels, Interface Pace||4 ch,
|Max Capability||2 TB||2 TB||4 TB||16 TB||16 TB||16 TB|
|Sequential Learn||2.5 GB/s||3.75 GB/s||5.0 GB/s||3.4 GB/s||5.0 GB/s||7.4 GB/s|
|Sequential Write||2.1 GB/s||3.75 GB/s||4.5 GB/s||3.2 GB/s||4.4 GB/s||7.0 GB/s|
|4KB Random Learn IOPS||350k||440k||780k||700k||750k||1M IOPS|
|4KB Random Write IOPS||450k||500k||800k||600k||750k||1M IOPS|
|Controller Energy||1.2 W||1.6 W||2.1 W||2.6 W||3.0 W|
|Sampling||Q2 2019||This fall 2019||Q3 2021||Q2 2018||Q1 2019||Q1 2020|
|This fall 2019||Q1 2020?||This fall 2021?||This fall 2018||Q3 2019||This fall 2020|
For prime-end NVMe SSDs, Phison’s E18 lastly began delivery in late 2020. Phison is fairly happy with this controller, and makes a lot of the truth that they’re the one ones up to now hitting at the very least 7GB/s for each reads and writes. Phison plans for the E18 to be their final flagship PCIe 4.0 controller; they’re already trying ahead to PCIe 5.0, and the E18 will stay their high of the road controller for in all probability one other two years. This does not imply Phison is totally finished with the E18. They’re nonetheless engaged on firmware tuning, particularly round thermal administration and attempting to squeeze out slightly bit extra efficiency at low queue depths. There may also be persevering with firmware updates to assist newer generations of 3D NAND flash reminiscence. Present E18 drives are utilizing Micron 96L TLC, however Micron has began manufacturing of their 176L NAND. Phison expects to complete qualification with that NAND in March, so a second spherical of E18 drives ought to begin arriving in April with 10-15% efficiency enhancements.
Phison’s older E13T controller can also be nonetheless round as a low-cost and low-power resolution for entry-level NVMe functions. It is significantly in style as a controller built-in into BGA SSDs, the place it helps displace eMMC storage is units like Chromebooks, tablets, and perhaps even some smartphones.
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