Phison Ushers in a New Era of SSDs with PCIe 5.0: E26 Max14um and E31T Controllers

Last month, Phison began discussing its innovative E26 Max14um controller and a series of mainstream components, which recently came into the spotlight at CES 2024. These new drives are set to enhance some of the best SSDs in the upcoming year, though specific details are still under embargo. This comprehensive review explores the new and upcoming controllers Phison showcased at CES 2024, including the E26 Max14um, the mainstream E31T PCIe 5.0 controller, the E27T PCIe 4.0 controller, and the U21 USB 4 controller.

Jan 17, 2024 - 04:24
Jan 18, 2024 - 04:25
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Phison Ushers in a New Era of SSDs with PCIe 5.0: E26 Max14um and E31T Controllers

The Phison E26 Controller: Leading the Charge in PCIe 5.0 M.2 SSDs

The Phison E26 controller is a notable presence in the consumer SSD market, being the only currently shipping solution for PCIe 5.0 M.2 SSDs. It powers a range of high-profile SSDs, including the Crucial T700 (and T700 4TB), Corsair MP700, Adata Legend 970, Inland TD510, Gigabyte Gen5 10000 and Gen5 12000, Nextorage NN5Pro and NE5N, and Seagate FireCuda 540. The E26 Max14um version of this controller has been optimized to reduce power usage slightly, enabling it to achieve read speeds of over 14 GB/s when paired with Micron's 2400 MT/s 232-layer TLC NAND.

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Upcoming Drives Based on the E26 Max14um Controller

Numerous companies are preparing to launch new drives using the improved E26 Max14um controller. Thanks to firmware adjustments, earlier issues with these drives are expected to be resolved. While active cooling remains necessary, and the drives are not ideally suited for laptops due to their idle power usage of around 2.5~2.9 watts, they represent the pinnacle of consumer SSD performance. The upcoming months should see a variety of drive models hitting the market, all based on the same core hardware but differing slightly in cooling and other features.

Key Specifications of the E26 Max14um Controller

The E26 Max14um controller boasts impressive specifications, including up to eight channels with 32-chip enable and a dual CPU architecture featuring two ARM Cortex-R5 processors. It supports both TLC and QLC NAND with speeds up to 2400 MT/s and is compatible with DDR4 and LPDDR4 memory. In terms of security, it offers AES256, SHA512, RSA-4096, and TCG OPAL hardware encryption. The controller achieves current read speeds of over 14,000 MB/s, writes of 12,000 MB/s, up to 1,500K 4K random read IOPS, and up to 2,000 4K random write IOPS.

Limitations and Future Potential of the E26 Controller

While the E26 controller could theoretically achieve even faster speeds, it currently faces limitations due to the power constraints of the M.2 slot. This restriction is the primary reason why write speeds of 14,000 MB/s are not yet achievable. A reference drive for testing is in hand, and a detailed preview of the Max14um with full test results will be shared shortly, providing deeper insights into its capabilities and performance.

Conclusion: Phison's Role in Advancing SSD Technology

Phison's showcase of its new controllers at CES 2024, particularly the E26 Max14um and E31T, marks a significant step forward in SSD technology. These controllers are not only setting new standards in speed and performance but also paving the way for a wide range of consumer and enterprise SSD applications. As the market anticipates the release of drives based on these controllers, Phison continues to solidify its position as a leader in the SSD industry, pushing the boundaries of what's possible in storage technology.