Being the next step in PCIe, SSD controller makers are looking to release their PCIe 4.0 designs into the market. Silicon Motion is not an exception, with its upcoming design scheduled to come to retail over the coming quarters.

Having captured a noteworthy share of turn-key SSD market in the recent years, Silicon Motion has a modern lineup of controllers that includes its top-of-the-range SM2262EN, the mainstream SM2263XT/SM2263G, and the SM2263EN for entry-level 3D QLC NAND-based SSDs. SMI’s PCIe 4.0 SSD controller, the SM2267G, is in its final stages of development, it will be made available in the near future - ADATA showcased a prototype at Computex. The plan is to make SSDs featuring a PCIe 4.0 x4 interface available sometime in the second quarter of 2020 and aligning it with a launch of a next-generation mainstream PC platform.

What is noteworthy is that Silicon Motion’s PCIe 4.0 x4 controller is, as the company says, it belongs to a new design generation of its controllers, so we expect a variety of new features. Areas to expect are obvious: performance optimizations, compatibility with new types of 3D NAND flash memory, and improvements of endurance.

Actually, neither the features nor the specs of the SMI's PCIe 4x4 controller are confirmed by Silicon Motion at this point, but there is a clear plan to make Silicon Motion-powered PCIe 4.0-enabled drives available sometime in Q2 in 2020.

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  • SaturnusDK - Wednesday, June 5, 2019 - link

    PCIe 5.0 will not come to consumer boards at all. It's a strictly server oriented technology.
    The problem is that even PCIe 4.0 is on the edge of what is possible in current consumer motherboard set ups as signal length is only 16cm (6 inches) without a repeater. For PCIe 5.0 that is halved again, so you need a power hungry repeater for every 8cm (3 inches).
    To even make PCIe 5.0 realistic in consumer boards the current ATX standard will have to go, and motherboards will have to have the CPU socket centred on the board with PCIe expansion slots on either side instead of the current set up with the CPU socket at one end of the board.
  • Skeptical123 - Wednesday, June 5, 2019 - link

    The real market for any new PCIe standards is not on the consumer side of things. So the length restrictions and power requirements won't really matter there. They of course still effect the sever side of things but they are needing more PCIe bandwidth everyday now. As such I'm sure they will make it work. You can fix the length issues with PCIe repeaters and new chase designs. The increased power requirements even currently don't matter. Sure a 5 or 10 watts for every gen5 controller adds up but when severs often have a thousand watts power miminmun that is hardly a design limitation. After gen5 launch in a few generations those advance meant will trickle down to the consumer market. When presumable it will start mater in the consumer sector. The power requirements will have gone down due to chip lithography getting smaller and PCIe repeaters or something other solution will be common place. All taking Reply
  • SaturnusDK - Thursday, June 6, 2019 - link

    Current repeaters are at least 96% efficient. Smaller lithography will not make them any more, or any less efficient. The issue is that they have to supply a fixed amount of power the PCB traces at a fixed voltage. Small lithography gets it power savings from the ability to use lower voltage which is not the case here. At least for the active part. Smaller lithographies also tend to be more leaky (higher stray capacitance) which you certainly don't want when dealing with fast switching serial interfaces.
    Anyway, there's also the question of why consumers would need PCIe 5.0 at all, and have to pay the power penalty involved. If I take an X570 platform and use the x16 slot on a bifurcation card to make a 4 SSD RAID 0, and we assume these drives max out the PCIe 4.0 standard for the full 30GB/s transfer rate that means that the SSDs combined have a transfer rate faster than dual channel DDR3-1866 RAM, or as fast as single channel DDR4-3750 RAM.
  • BigMike678 - Wednesday, June 5, 2019 - link

    Due to the added board complexity over PCI-e 4.0, Need for retimers, and cost I dont see most consumers seeing PCI-e 5.0 for many years. PCI-e 5.0 I think will solely be used in the enterprise/server side while consumers will use PCI-e 4.0. The cost and complexity is just too great to abandon PCI-E so quickly Reply
  • ajp_anton - Wednesday, June 5, 2019 - link

    So what do you suggest they do, just wait for 5.0 instead? Why? 5.0 works with 4.0, so even if 5.0 comes a month after 4.0, why not be a month ahead of everyone else on a doubling of the speed? It will take a while to saturate 4.0 anyway, so even if 5.0 existed now, the first speed bumps over 3.0 will likely be 4.0 anyway. Reply
  • Skeptical123 - Wednesday, June 5, 2019 - link

    You're right that that at the moment it looks like PCIe gen4 won't be that long lived. As intel is going strait for PCIe gen5. But since gen5 should be backwards compatible gen4 drives will work for a long time to come. As it seems at least on the high end some manufactures are getting close to maxing out the band with of PCIe gen4 x4 on NVMe drive already meaning there will likely be really tangible benifents to moving to PCIe gen 5 soon. Even if we don't need the speed of gen 5 we should be able to get the same speed at have the PCIe lanes which will be arguable more useful in the near future. Reply
  • Qasar - Thursday, June 6, 2019 - link

    where has it been said that intel will skip pcie 4, and go strait to pcie 5 ? Reply

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