CES 2020: ADATA Preparing Three PCIe 4.0 Consumer SSDs

Among a mountain of new product announcements at CES, ADATA previewed three upcoming high-end consumer SSDs supporting PCIe 4.0. These will launch under their XPG gaming-oriented brand, and will serve to complement or replace the existing XPG Gammix S50, which ADATA’s current PCIe 4.0 SSD based on the Phison E16 controller. The E16 launched last summer and is so far the only consumer PCIe 4.0 SSD controller shipping in retail SSDs. Phison’s own E18 follow-up controller is expected to arrive around Q3, but before then we’ll see other competitors start to deliver their own PCIe 4.0 SSD controllers.

ADATA tries out SSD controllers from almost everyone in the market, but their most popular SSDs in recent years rely on Silicon Motion controllers. The SM2262 and SM2262EN controllers are used in ADATA’s best-performing PCIe 3.0 SSDs. For PCIe 4.0, Silicon Motion will replace those with the high-end SM2264 8-channel controller and the more mainstream SM2267 4-channel controller. Thanks to supporting much faster NAND interface speeds, the SM2267 should be able to offer performance comparable to current-generation 8-channel controllers, which means most of the extra bandwidth provided by the upgrade to PCIe 4.0 will go unused by the SM2267. Still, at 4GB/s for sequential reads, 3GB/s for sequential writes, and 400k IOPS for random IO, this is not by any measure a low-end solution. ADATA will be using the SM2267 in the XPG Pearl.

ADATA’s drive using the Silicon Motion SM2264 will be the XPG Indigo. This should hit 7GB/s for sequential reads, more or less saturating the PCIe 4.0 x4 interface. Sequential writes will be a bit slower at around 6GB/s, and random IO speeds will get up to 700k IOPS.

Lastly and perhaps most interesting is the XPG Sage, one of a handful of upcoming products using the Rainier controller from newcomer Innogrit. This is currently promising the highest performance: 7GB/s reads, 6.1GB/s writes, and 1M IOPS for random IO. Those minor increases in top-line performance numbers relative to the XPG Indigo won’t matter to real-world consumer usage, and whether the Sage or Indigo is the better overall performer may come down to which controller architecture offers better performance at low queue depths.

The release dates for ADATA’s upcoming PCIe 4.0 SSDs have not been set, and it’s not yet clear whether the Innogrit or Silicon Motion solutions will be ready to ship first. Of the three new drives, only the Innogrit-based Sage was featured in live demos at ADATA’s CES 2020 exhibit. It appears unlikely that any of them will ship until around Computex (June) at the earliest. All three drives are currently planned to be offered in capacities up to 4TB using 96L TLC NAND—but for at least the Sage, ADATA hasn’t decided whether to use Toshiba or Micron TLC.