Friday, September 1st 2017

New Wave of M.2 SSDs With Phison E8 NVMe PCIe x2 Controllers to Hit Next Month

Phison has been working hard towards bringing to market a new, budget SSD controller in the form of its Phison E8 solution. The controller was designed with the purpose to try and dethrone Intel's 600p solutions from the budget, entry-level NVMe options, through offering increased performance at the same affordable prices. To do this, and so as to decrease power consumption, Phison opted for a PCIe 2x support for the E8 - this means the company is trading burst performance for decreased power consumption. E8-based SSDs are expected in capacities of 128 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB, and 1 TB, with prices lower than the current 600p and Phison's own E7-based products like the MyDigitalSSD BPX.

The Phison E8 controller should still offer plenty of increased performance over a typical HDD, and has been designed to work with 3D NAND technology. even with the firmware in its non-final stages, Tom's Hardware is reporting that the Phison E8's performance is already higher than Intel's 600p and WD's Black PCIe solutions. As we all know, though, firmware optimizations are paramount to SSD controllers' performance, so we can only expect these performance numbers to go up. All in all, it seems we'll have yet another low-cost NVMe SSD solution in the market, though desktop users will likely opt for a PCIe 4x solution, since that environment doesn't care about power consumption as much as a mobile solution would.
Source: Tom's Hardware
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22 Comments on New Wave of M.2 SSDs With Phison E8 NVMe PCIe x2 Controllers to Hit Next Month

#1
bug
Surefire way of detecting when an SSD is on the bottom of the barrel: the best the announcement can come up with is that it's faster than a HDD.
Posted on Reply
#2
LordAlu
Slight grammar mistake for you Raevenlord:
To do this, and to decrease power consumption so as to decrease power consumption
Should probably just read "To do this, and to decrease power consumption" :)

On topic, these should be good drives for laptops. Somewhat increased performance is one thing, but anything to eek out some more battery life is very welcome.
Posted on Reply
#3
dj-electric
Phison - because meh.

That should be their slogan
Posted on Reply
#4
Raevenlord
News Editor
"LordAlu said:
Slight grammar mistake for you Raevenlord:


Should probably just read "To do this, and to decrease power consumption" :)

On topic, these should be good drives for laptops. Somewhat increased performance is one thing, but anything to eek out some more battery life is very welcome.
It just meant that they were able to reduce power consumption by a factor of two :p

Thanks for the heads-up, I changed my mind on how to write the sentence halfway.
Posted on Reply
#5
bug
"Dj-ElectriC said:
Phison - because meh.

That should be their slogan
Nothing wrong with a cheap alternative. The only problem is, Phison powered SSDs aren't significantly cheaper than a good Samsung or Crucial drive.
Posted on Reply
#6
silentbogo
"LordAlu said:
Should probably just read "To do this, and to decrease power consumption" :)
I think it was correct: with Phison is really-really focused on bringing down power consumption, just like they are on bringing down power consumption :roll:

"bug said:
Nothing wrong with a cheap alternative. The only problem is, Phison powered SSDs aren't significantly cheaper than a good Samsung or Crucial drive.
I'm not concerned with price (especially when partners pick up the design), I'm more worried about potential performance hiccups and longevity.
I hate phison (already on subconscious level), but if they manage to make it significantly cheaper than 600p and at least as fast as my XP941 - I'll be their #1 fan no matter what others say.:banghead:
Posted on Reply
#7
Tsukiyomi91
Phison controllers & PCIe x2 speeds... why... == a shame it's not utilizing x4 speeds like most PCIe driven M.2 SSDs out there in the market.
Posted on Reply
#8
bug
"Tsukiyomi91 said:
Phison controllers & PCIe x2 speeds... why... == a shame it's not utilizing x4 speeds like most PCIe driven M.2 SSDs out there in the market.
W-T-H?

It's explained right in the article why they went with PCIe x2. A single PCIe 3.0 lane can carry almost 1GB/s, why exactly would you need x4?
Posted on Reply
#9
silentbogo
"Tsukiyomi91 said:
Phison controllers & PCIe x2 speeds... why...
Why not? My XP941 is using PCI-e 2.0 x4, which is exactly the same bandwidth as PCI-e 3.0 x2 (~1.6GB/s effective). \
My PC boot time is around ~15s, given that I haven't reinstalled windows in over a year and went through several update cycles, from 1507 to Creators Update. Wake from sleep is near instant.
So, from the end-user perspective using NVME as boot drive - it's not much different from current-gen 960 Evo or Pro.
PCIe x2 may suffer from slower random access times, but in a typical usage scenario it won't make much difference.
Posted on Reply
#11
DeathtoGnomes
if this can get x4 performance at x2 that means we can cram double the number drives into the system.
Posted on Reply
#12
OSdevr
I must be missing something here, SATA 3 easily has enough bandwidth for this thing. I thought the main point of these NVMe drives was to overcome that bottleneck (even if they are smaller). Anyone mind explaining?
Posted on Reply
#13
dj-electric
"bug said:
Nothing wrong with a cheap alternative. The only problem is, Phison powered SSDs aren't significantly cheaper than a good Samsung or Crucial drive.
You know why? because of NAND prices. If i buy a drive, and invest my hard earned money, i'm going to buy a samsung.
Posted on Reply
#14
silentbogo
"OSdevr said:
I must be missing something here, SATA 3 easily has enough bandwidth for this thing. I thought the main point of these NVMe drives was to overcome that bottleneck (even if they are smaller). Anyone mind explaining?
SATA-II won't. It has a max theoretical throughput of 3Gbit/s, which is 375MB/s in dream worlds with fluffy pandas and unicorns(~275 max in reality).
Same goes for SATA-III drives: there are no drives which even get close to a theoretical 750MB/s throughput, and the ones that get over 500MB/s usually cost about as much as low/mid NVME.
Also, that number is a combined result from PCMark 8 Storage Test, which includes a variety of mixed workloads. Even Samsung 850 Pro gets somewhere near 300MB/s total throughput, and that's one of the fastest SATA-III SSDs on the market.
So, basically it's about 25% faster than 850EVO, and given the context, hopefully it will cost less than 600p (e.g. definitely cheaper than Samsung SATA SSDs in terms of $/GB)

@Raevenlord, there is also an upcoming E12 and S12 controller series. E12 definitely looks interesting from the performance perspective.
Posted on Reply
#15
OSdevr
"silentbogo said:
SATA3 won't. It has a max theoretical throughput of 3Gbit/s, which is 375MB/s in dream worlds with fluffy pandas and unicorns(~275 max in reality).
Same goes for SATA-III drives: there are no drives which even get close to a theoretical 750MB/s throughput, and the ones that get over 500MB/s usually cost about as much as low/mid NVME.
Also, that number is a combined result from PCMark 8 Storage Test, which includes a variety of mixed workloads. Even Samsung 850 Pro gets somewhere near 300MB/s total throughput, and that's one of the fastest SATA-III SSDs on the market.
So, basically it's about 25% faster than 850EVO, and given the context, hopefully it will cost less than 600p (e.g. definitely cheaper than Samsung SATA SSDs in terms of $/GB)

@Raevenlord, there is also an upcoming E12 and S12 controller series. E12 definitely looks interesting from the performance perspective.
SATA 3 is 6 Gbits/s. SATA 2 is 3Gbits/s.
Posted on Reply
#16
silentbogo
"OSdevr said:
SATA 3 is 6 Gbits/s. SATA 2 is 3Gbits/s.
I meant SATA 3Gbit/s in the first sentence (SATA-II). Fixed
Posted on Reply
#17
bug
"OSdevr said:
I must be missing something here, SATA 3 easily has enough bandwidth for this thing. I thought the main point of these NVMe drives was to overcome that bottleneck (even if they are smaller). Anyone mind explaining?
You're mixing things up. SATA and PCIe are interfaces/buses. AHCI and NVMe are protocols (well, not exactly, but close). As such, you don't want to compare SATA with NVMe.
SATA3 indeed has enough bandwidth for virtually any consumer SSD. But NVMe is supposed to have a lower overhead and help when issuing many commands in a short time span. It was hoped to work wonders for 4k random reads at QD1, but in practice it brings a 20% improvement (or less). Which isn't bad, but it's not exactly what was hoped for.
Posted on Reply
#18
OSdevr
"bug said:
You're mixing things up. SATA and PCIe are interfaces/buses. AHCI and NVMe are protocols (well, not exactly, but close). As such, you don't want to compare SATA with NVMe.
SATA3 indeed has enough bandwidth for virtually any consumer SSD. But NVMe is supposed to have a lower overhead and help when issuing many commands in a short time span. It was hoped to work wonders for 4k random reads at QD1, but in practice it brings a 20% improvement (or less). Which isn't bad, but it's not exactly what was hoped for.
Thanks, that explains a LOT now :)

EDIT: I believe this confusion is why I could never get SATA drives to work in my bootable experiments, let alone in a driver!
Posted on Reply
#19
Th3pwn3r
"silentbogo said:
Why not? My XP941 is using PCI-e 2.0 x4, which is exactly the same bandwidth as PCI-e 3.0 x2 (~1.6GB/s effective). \
My PC boot time is around ~15s, given that I haven't reinstalled windows in over a year and went through several update cycles, from 1507 to Creators Update. Wake from sleep is near instant.
So, from the end-user perspective using NVME as boot drive - it's not much different from current-gen 960 Evo or Pro.
PCIe x2 may suffer from slower random access times, but in a typical usage scenario it won't make much difference.
What drive do you have? Also, never encountered issues for booting off of that drive? Is heat significantly more than a normal SSD? I've been considering a switch for less wiring, drive cage removal and faster speeds.
Posted on Reply
#20
bonehead123
"Th3pwn3r said:
What drive do you have? Also, never encountered issues for booting off of that drive? Is heat significantly more than a normal SSD? I've been considering a switch for less wiring, drive cage removal and faster speeds.
Not speaking for silentbogo, but I have 2x 950Evo Pros, and NO problems whatsoever booting off of either one, and heat is not an issue. Both normally stay in the 28-38C range (depending on workload, some of which is pretty intense at times), but my case has mucho airflow too, so that definitely helps...

My main reasons for getting them was sppppeeeeeeed, and less clutter was an added bonus, since I removed all HDD cages and cables, and the SSD I have is mounted on the backplane of my case, on top of the optical drive cage, out of sight :)

But to stay on topic, there is NO way I will go back to x2 devices after enjoying the bandwidth that x4 gives me. Yes, its nice to have a lower-cost option available, but I don't do bottom-of- the-barrel builds, so ya'll can have them if ya wanna.....
Posted on Reply
#21
silentbogo
"Th3pwn3r said:
What drive do you have? Also, never encountered issues for booting off of that drive? Is heat significantly more than a normal SSD? I've been considering a switch for less wiring, drive cage removal and faster speeds.
I have an OEM version of Samsung XP941 128GB (probably an upgrade pull from a new laptop). I bought it used just to try it out, but so far I was so happy with it that an upgrade didn't even cross my mind.
So far I haven't encountered a single problem: it's installed as a boot drive on my MSI B150I motherboard, and the heat is not an issue, because this SSD is only used for OS and most frequently used software. Very low-intensity loads.
Most NVME SSDs throttle at 90C or higher, but in real-world consumer applications you won't see those loads (except maybe 3-pass zero formatting or maybe imaging an entire drive several times in a row). Mine stays cool to the touch all the time (can't read exact temps due to an old Samsung S.M.A.R.T. bug).
Speed has definitely improved a lot. I used to have several SSDs, from Kingston V300 and older Crucial drives, to the latest Sandisk X400, and I can tell you this: the transition from SATA to NVME is almost as noticeable as a transition from HDD to SATA SSD. I can't even imagine what kind of startup times to expect from a RAID array of two high-end PCIe 3.0 x4 drives....
Posted on Reply
#22
Th3pwn3r
"bonehead123 said:
Not speaking for silentbogo, but I have 2x 950Evo Pros, and NO problems whatsoever booting off of either one, and heat is not an issue. Both normally stay in the 28-38C range (depending on workload, some of which is pretty intense at times), but my case has mucho airflow too, so that definitely helps...

My main reasons for getting them was sppppeeeeeeed, and less clutter was an added bonus, since I removed all HDD cages and cables, and the SSD I have is mounted on the backplane of my case, on top of the optical drive cage, out of sight :)

But to stay on topic, there is NO way I will go back to x2 devices after enjoying the bandwidth that x4 gives me. Yes, its nice to have a lower-cost option available, but I don't do bottom-of- the-barrel builds, so ya'll can have them if ya wanna.....
"silentbogo said:
I have an OEM version of Samsung XP941 128GB (probably an upgrade pull from a new laptop). I bought it used just to try it out, but so far I was so happy with it that an upgrade didn't even cross my mind.
So far I haven't encountered a single problem: it's installed as a boot drive on my MSI B150I motherboard, and the heat is not an issue, because this SSD is only used for OS and most frequently used software. Very low-intensity loads.
Most NVME SSDs throttle at 90C or higher, but in real-world consumer applications you won't see those loads (except maybe 3-pass zero formatting or maybe imaging an entire drive several times in a row). Mine stays cool to the touch all the time (can't read exact temps due to an old Samsung S.M.A.R.T. bug).
Speed has definitely improved a lot. I used to have several SSDs, from Kingston V300 and older Crucial drives, to the latest Sandisk X400, and I can tell you this: the transition from SATA to NVME is almost as noticeable as a transition from HDD to SATA SSD. I can't even imagine what kind of startup times to expect from a RAID array of two high-end PCIe 3.0 x4 drives....
Thanks guys, definitely a push for me in the direction.
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