Phison about future SSDs: active cooling, L4 cache, high power consumption

Currently, Phison has on the market for consumer SSD models mainly the E18 controller, which is also used on the brand new Kingston KC3000 for PCIe 4.0. But now we want to talk about the future of SSD, as outlined by CTO Sebastien Jean, and it is the upcoming controllers for PCIe 5.0, 6.0 and even 7.0.

Of course, SSDs for PCIe 5.0 will be the first to follow, to be available to customers next year, but of course this may not be the case for ordinary consumers yet. But the company already has a good overview of what other products will be for even faster versions of PCIe, the development of a new SSD controller design takes 16 to 18 months, but the development of relevant technologies begins two or three years earlier. In other words, we are already working on products that will not see the light of day until 2026.

But what can we expect from SSD for PCIe 5.0? It will be throughput at the level of one DDR4-2133 channel, ie about 14 GB / s, which will be enough for such storage to be used even as an L4 cache. Today, processors normally have L3 cache shared by several or all processor cores in the position of LLC (Last-Level Cache), ie L4 according to Phison’s ideas would no longer be part of the processor and the question is whether AMD or Intel wants to use and label it at all. After all, in the memory hierarchy, it is common that the higher the cache level, the lower the performance, but the higher the capacity. However, the SSD cache would not do this, as it will definitely not be faster than RAM (and especially DDR5), so we can take this statement with a grain of salt.

In the future, however, SSD performance will continue to grow, although Jean expects that in the case of PCIe 7.0, the number of lines can be reduced from the usual 4 to 2, but even that will suffice. APIs such as MS DirectStorage should also play an important role at that time, ie simply hardware-accelerated processing of read data, so that their influx of fast SSDs does not overwhelm the main processor.

In terms of power consumption and cooling, Phison recommends using a heatsink for SSD manufacturers for PCIe 4.0, but in the case of PCIe 5.0 controllers, this will be a necessity, so active cooling is at stake. After all, SSDs for PCIe 5.0 should already have an average heat output of around 14W, and in the next generation this value will immediately double. And it’s hard to imagine a small and elegant cooling M.2 card generating 28 W of waste heat, so it would probably be necessary to use a heatpipe to dissipate heat aside. This is one of the reasons why new interfaces and new slots are already being developed to enable SSD operation at approx. 50 ° C so that the 80 ° C limit is not exceeded, as such temperatures are no longer good for NAND Flash memories.

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Source: Svět hardware by www.svethardware.cz.

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