NVMe PCIe Gen 4 SSD Controller Performance Comparison

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At present, the manufacturers on the market that can manufacture PCIe Gen 4 SSD controllers, Except that Samsung and SanDisk (WD) belong to the main controller "self-produced and self-used",The rest of the brands have launched their own solutions for storage manufacturers to use.These vendors include Phison, Innogrit, SMI, Marvell, and more.

The first batch of PCIe 4.0 M.2 SSDs to be launched in 2019 all use the Phison PCIe 4.0 M.2 SSD solution. In addition to the inability to fully utilize the PCIe 4.0×4 bandwidth, the 28nm process also results in relatively high power consumption and heat generation high.

Today, the PCIe 4.0 M.2 SSD solution has entered the second generation. For example, the Seagate FireCuda 530 adopts the new Phison second-generation master PS5018-E18, which uses an advanced 12nm process to reduce power consumption and achieve the highest continuous read and write speed, They are 7300MB/s and 6900MB/s respectively.
ADATA XPG GAMMIX S70 uses SMI's SM2264, which also uses an advanced 12nm process to reduce power consumption. The continuous read speed can reach 7400MB/s, the continuous write speed can reach 6800MB/s, and the random read and write speed can reach 1,000,000 IOPS.

WD Back SN850 adopts the main control of its own Sandisk, the model is SanDisk 20-82-10034, adopts 16nm process, provides sequential read and write performance of up to 7000MB/s and 5300MB/s, and random read performance of 1,000,000 IOPS, This is also a high-performance Gen 4 SSD controller.

And the Elpis master control like Samsung 980PRO even uses 8nm process, which is better than TSMC's 12mm process, better performance, and naturally greatly reduced heat generation.

The following is a comparison table of several major PCIe 4.0 SSD Controllers in the current market, which can help you to have a deeper understanding of the performance of the current PCIe 4.0 SSD, and have a better judgment when choosing to buy an SSD.



Samsung Elpis, high-end positioning, strong performance
As a leader in the storage industry, Samsung Storage is currently a well-known brand in the industry. The only two PCIe Gen 4 SSDs currently on sale—Samsung 980 PRO and Samsung 980 PRO heat sink versions use their own Elpis master control, and its OEM version PM9A1 also adopts this master control scheme.


Regarding the Elpis master controller of Samsung 980 PRO, it adopts PCIe 4.0 x4 channel and NVMe 1.3c protocol, and supports built-in LPDDR4 cache, the number of I/O queues is upgraded from 32 bits to 128 bits, and it can process more than 8 million commands at the same time . The Elpis master can theoretically support sequential read performance of 7000MB/s, sequential write performance of 5000MB/s, and random read performance of 1,000,000 IOPS, which is at the top level in the industry.


SanDisk: the solid backing of Western Digital
Since the first generation of black disks, Western Digital's SSDs began to use the main control chip developed by itself. After WD Black launched the SN850, Western Digital's second-generation self-developed SSD main control was used. The SN850 uses its own SanDisk main controller, the model is SanDisk 20-82-10034. It adopts the 16nm process, combined with the sequential read and write performance of SN850 7000MB/s and 5300MB/s, and the random read performance of 1,000,000 IOPS, so This is a Gen 4 SSD controller targeting high-end performance.



Recently, Western Digital also launched another Gen 4 SSD, the WD Black SN770. The main controller adopts DRAM-Less design, so the package area is much smaller. In terms of read and write performance, the SN770 has a sequential read speed of 5150MB/s, a sequential write speed of 4900MB/s, and a random read performance of 740,000 IOPS. It is an SSD master chip with mid-to-high-end performance.


Huirong Technology (SMI): High-end main control equipped with Cortex-R8 core
Huirong's storage solution has been widely used by NAND manufacturers and OEM SSD manufacturers, and is currently the number one manufacturer in terms of shipments of SSD main control chips. In October 2020, Huirong Technology launched three PCIe Gen4 SSD controllers, SM2264, SM2267, and SM2267XT, all of which are equipped with Huirong's exclusive Error Code Error Correction (ECC) technology, data path and EMI protection. Meet the high-efficiency and stable requirements required by storage devices.


SM2264 is positioned as a high-end main control chip. It adopts an advanced 12nm process to reduce power consumption. It is equipped with 4 Cortex-A8 cores and has high-speed multi-threading processing capabilities. It can meet the needs of mixed workload operations, and supports 8 NAND channels. The continuous read speed can reach 7400MB/s, the continuous write speed can reach 6800MB/s, and the random read and write speed can reach 1,000,000 IOPS.
SM2267 and SM2267XT are two entry-level main control chips with four NAND channels, with a continuous read speed of 3900MB/s and a continuous write speed of 3500MB/s. The SM2267 supports DRAM cache, while the SM2267XT is a DRAM-Less design. It achieves high-performance random read and write capabilities through HMB technology, meeting the design requirements of small-size SSDs.


Phison: Complete lineup, full coverage of high-end, high-end and low-end Gen4 controllers
Another master control manufacturer, Phison, was in the limelight in the early days of PCIe Gen 4 SSD, because the industry's first consumer-grade PCIe Gen 4x4 SSD master chip, PS5016-E16, was launched by Phison, and Gen 4 SSD was born. The initial products basically adopted this scheme.
PS5016-E16 is built on 28nm process, adopts dual-core Cortex-R5 processor, has 8 NAND channels and 32 CE, supports DDR4 cache, is equipped with Phison’s fourth-generation LDPC ECC error correction engine, and integrates complete data path protection Features. In terms of performance, the sequential read speed is 5000MB/s, the sequential write speed is 4400MB/s, and the random read performance can reach 720,000 IOPS.



Although the PS5016-E16 helped Phison quickly occupy the Gen 4 SSD market, there is still room for further improvement in its performance and power consumption, so Phison launched the PS5018-E18 master controller a year later, which was successfully used in high-end PCIe A place in Gen 4 SSDs.


Compared with PS5016-E16, PS5018-E18 is upgraded to 12nm process technology, the processor is upgraded to 3 cores, the flash memory channel rate is increased to 1200MT/s, the sequential read speed is 7400MB/s, and the sequential write speed is 7000 MB/s , the random read performance reached 1,000,000 IOPS. Performance is really on par with high-end Gen 4 SSDs.
In addition to two high-performance master control solutions, Phison also launched a lower-positioned mainstream model PS5019-E19T, which adopts DRAM-Less design, with a sequential read speed of 3700MB/s and a sequential write speed of 3000MB/s, retaining the fourth Generation LDPC ECC error correction engine and integrated complete data path protection function, this controller will be widely used in entry-level Gen 4 SSD in the later stage.


Marvell: Three compact, low-power SSD controllers
Marvell launched three PCIe Gen 4 SSD master controllers at a time in 2019, the models are 88SS1321, 88SS1322, 88SS1323. 88SS1321 is Marvell's storage solution for small-size SSDs, and it is also the highest positioned among the three master solutions. The minimum support is to the size specification of M.2-2230 double-sided particles. Using 12nm process technology, it is equipped with a three-core Cortex-R5 processor and supports PCIe 4.0 x4 channels and NVMe 1.4 protocol. Can be equipped with up to 8GB DRAM cache, or DRAM-Less no cache design.
The performance of the 88SS1321 in terms of transmission speed is not very good. The sequential read speed is 3900MB/s, the sequential write speed is 3300MB/s, and the 4K random read and write speed is 690,000 IOPS. However, the power consumption control of this main controller is indeed quite good. Marvell officially stated that the power consumption is less than 2W at the rate of PCIe 4.0 x4, and the power consumption in the deep sleep state is only 1mW.


The lower-positioned 88SS1322 and 88SS1323 masters use a DRAM-Less no-cache design, so a more compact package area can be achieved. At the same time, with the help of the host memory buffer technology (HMB), it can achieve entry-level Gen 4 read and write performance.


Yingren Technology: New Dark Horse
Yingren Technology is a semiconductor design company from Shanghai, China. It was founded by a team led by former Marvell CTO Wu Zining. Since the mass production of consumer-grade memory chips in 2018, it has quickly entered the storage market. At present, Yingren Technology has launched three PCIe Gen 4 SSD master controllers, namely IG5236, IG5220 and IG5221.


IG5236 is a high-end SSD main control chip. It is built with 12nm process technology. The peak power consumption of the main control is only 3W. The external DRAM cache design has 8 NAND channels. The highest sequential read and write performance of the main control can reach 7400MB/ s and 6700MB/s, the random read performance reaches 1,000,000 IOPS, and the performance is at the first echelon level, which is on a par with the high-end Gen 4 SSD master controllers on the market. Currently, there are many high-end Gen 4 SSDs using this master controller chip.
In addition, IG5236 adopts a variety of data encryption and protection mechanisms including national secret standards SM2/3/4, AES, SHA, end-to-end data protection, and officially claims to have reached the highest level of security performance.
IG5220 and IG5221 are mid-to-high-end SSD master control models. The IG5220 is a DRAM-Less design with a maximum design capacity of 4TB, while the IG5221 can have an external DRAM cache with a maximum design capacity of 8TB, ​​It also uses a 12nm process, There are two sequences in terms of performance, The read and write performance is both 5100 MB/s and 5000 MB/s, and the random read performance reaches 800,000 IOPS.
At present, mainstream Gen 4 SSDs from manufacturers including HP and ADATA are known to use the IG5220 master control solution.




Technological development promotes technological progress, and now the Gen 4 SSD master control solution has developed relatively maturely. Up to now, 6 semiconductor manufacturers have launched 16 Gen 4-based SSD master control solutions, covering high-end, mid-to-high-end, mainstream Gen 4 SSD level.
At present, the mainstream models of SSD master controllers of various manufacturers have started mass production, and it may not be far from the mass distribution? You must know that the SSD master control of PCIe Gen 5 has been taped out, and if Gen 4 SSD does not speed up its pace, the menacing "back wave" will catch up.


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2022年5月18日 18:03