Phison and its partners have been absent from the high-end SSD market in the past couple of years. This is partly because its memory supplier, Toshiba, was somewhat late with its SSD-grade 3D NAND memory, but also partly due to its own product planning. Looking to put an end to this absence, this week the company has announced that it has initiated mass production and shipments of its latest PS5012-E12 controller, which is expected to bring Phison and its allies back to the high-end market segment.

The Phison PS5012-E12 controller features eight NAND channels with 32 CE targets, a DDR4/DDR3L interface for DRAM caching, and a PCIe 3.0 x4 interface. As for features, the chip supports the NVMe 1.3 protocol, LDPC-based error correction, a variety of encryption methods (AES-256, TCG Opal, TCG Pyrite), and a number of proprietary technologies to improve reliability and durability of SSDs. Notably, the controller is made using a 28 nm manufacturing technology, which is a very advanced fabrication process for SSD processors. This should ensure that it packs enough compute horsepower for proper ECC and signal processing when working with modern 3D TLC and 3D QLC NAND memory.

Phison will offer three versions of the PS5012-E12 controller: the original one for high-end client SSDs, the PS5012-E12C with a reduced number of channels and CE targets for mid-range drives, and the PS5012-E12DC for enterprise drives with some additional performance and feature set enhancements.

Speaking of performance, Phison promises that high-end SSDs based on the PS5012-E12 will offer up to 3450 MB/s sequential read speeds, up to 3150 MB/s sequential write speeds, as well as up to 600K random read/write IOPS.

Phison says that its partners have started development of over 20 projects based on the PS5012-E12, but does not disclose whether this includes the cheaper and datacenter variations of the controller. Keeping in mind that the chip is in volume production and Toshiba’s 64-layer 3D TLC NAND is readily available, expect drives based on the PS5012-E12 to hit the market in the coming months.

So far, Patriot and MyDigitalSSD have confirmed plans to use Phison’s PS5012-E12 controller, with the latter already taking pre-orders for the BPX Pro. In the meantime, Phison has a long list of partners who currently offer higher-end, mid-range, and entry-level SSDs powered by Phison’s controllers, including Corsair, GIGABYTE, Kingston, Lite-On, TEKQ, Team Group, Toshiba, Palit (Galax, KFA2, etc.), PNY, ZOTAC, and so on.

Phison NVMe SSD Controller Comparison
Controller E12 E12C E8 E8T E7
Model Number PS5012-E12 PS5012-E12C PS5008-E8 PS5008-E8T PS5007-E7
Host Interface PCIe 3.0 x4 PCIe 3.0 x4 PCIe 3.0 x2 PCIe 3.0 x2 PCIe 3.0 x4
Protocol NVMe 1.3 NVMe 1.2 NVMe 1.1b
NAND Channels 8 4 4 4 8
NAND Chip Enable lines 32 16 32 32 64
Typical NAND 3D TLC, 3D QLC 64L 3D TLC 15nm MLC
Max Capacity 8 TB 2 TB 2 TB 1 TB 2 TB
DRAM Support DDR4, DDR3L DDR3(L) None (HMB) DDR3(L)
Error Correction LDPC, StrongECC StrongECC BCH
Manufacturing Process TSMC 28nm UMC 40nm TSMC 28nm
Sequential Read 3200 MB/s 1700 MB/s 1600 MB/s 1600 MB/s 2600 MB/s
Sequential Write 3000 MB/s 1700 MB/s 1300 MB/s 1300 MB/s 1300 MB/s
4KB Random Read 600k IOPS 340k IOPS 240k IOPS 120k IOPS 300k IOPS
4KB Random Write 600k IOPS 400k IOPS 220k IOPS 130k IOPS 200k IOPS
Retail SSD Availability Soon ? Q4 2017 ? Q1 2016

MyDigitalSSD plans to start shipping the BPX Pro within a few weeks, and they are currently taking pre-orders. They are often one of the first to ship Phison's new controllers and have historically offered some of the best prices with drives like the original BPX and the more recent SBX. Most Phison E12 consumer drives will probably feature specs similar to the BPX Pro, though later drives may move to Toshiba's 96-layer 3D NAND:

MyDigitalSSD BPX Pro Specifications
Capacity 240 GB 480 GB 960 GB 1920 GB
Controller Phison PS5012-E12
NAND Flash Toshiba 64-layer BiCS3 3D TLC
Form-Factor, Interface PCIe 3.1 x4, single-sided M.2 2280
Sequential Read 3.4 GB/s 3.4 GB/s 3.4 GB/s 3.4 GB/s
Sequential Write 1.1 GB/s 2.1 GB/s 3.1 GB/s 3.1 GB/s
Random Read IOPS (QD1) 50 MB/s 55 MB/s 55 MB/s 55 MB/s
Random Write IOPS (QD1) 315 MB/s 325 MB/s 325 MB/s 325 MB/s
Idle Power Consumption < 900 mW
PCIe L1.2 Idle < 2 mW
Pseudo-SLC Caching Yes
DRAM Buffer Yes
TCG Opal Encryption Yes
Warranty 5 years
Write Endurance 380 TB
0.9 DWPD
800 TB
0.9 DWPD
1665 TB
0.9 DWPD
3115 TB
0.9 DWPD
Pre-Order Price $92.77 (39¢/GB) $138.55 (29¢/GB) $263.17 (27¢/GB) $563.63 (29¢/GB)

Related Reading:

Source: Phison

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  • CheapSushi - Friday, September 7, 2018 - link

    Looking forward to seeing E12 QLC drives.
  • Samus - Sunday, September 9, 2018 - link

    I'm looking forward to seeing an 8TB SSD for under $1000 bucks.
  • Lolimaster - Sunday, September 9, 2018 - link

    Micron 1100 2TB x4 $1184
  • Alexvrb - Sunday, September 9, 2018 - link

    Let me guess... you work in sales.
  • Lolimaster - Monday, September 10, 2018 - link

    Why, it's the best deal if you wanna go full SSD. And I mean THE ONLY choice.

    Just a few days ago Samsung finally dropped the price for the 4TB 860 EVO below $1000.

    In 1 month SSD's finally broke the barrier of 20-25c per GB, the market was stagnant. Now 1TB drives from Crucial or Samsung can be found from $165. (17c/GB)
  • Loyaldk - Monday, September 10, 2018 - link

    You can actually buy a Micron 1100 with 2 TB's of storage for 300 dollars. Better deal.
  • sor - Friday, September 7, 2018 - link

    I’d expect SSDs shipped in the millions of the chips are in mass production. 20 is nothing.
  • gfkBill - Saturday, September 8, 2018 - link

    Forgot the /s?
  • sor - Tuesday, September 11, 2018 - link

    I guess it does say 20*+*.
  • boeush - Saturday, September 8, 2018 - link

    Error in the "MyDigitalSSD BPX Pro Specifications" table: the "IOPS (QD1)" rows are showing throughput in MB/s instead of an IOPS number...

    One could convert to IOPS, assuming the random read/writes were all done with 4 KB payloads - so e.g. 55 MB/s would then translate to 55,000/4 = 13.8k IOPS, and 325 MB/s then equates to 81.3k IOPS.

    That said, I do appreciate the "IOPS" numbers being quoted at QD1 (as opposed to the typical QD32, QD64, or QD<to infinity and beyond>.) It's refreshing to see such honesty: a much more realistic representation of real-life performance under most typical consumers' usage. Truth in advertising, FTW!

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