Seagate is refreshing their consumer SSD lineup with 96-layer 3D NAND, and introducing a new flagship model: the FireCuda 520, Seagate's first PCIe 4.0 SSD. As with every other consumer PCIe 4.0 SSD so far, the Seagate FireCuda 520 uses the Phison E16 controller. The FireCuda 520 arrives several months after the first Phison E16-based SSDs, and Seagate has used the time to refine the product a bit. They haven't made any firmware tweaks that affect performance, but the FireCuda 520 does use a Seagate-specific firmware variant that includes some extra security measures to protect against firmware hacks, and it's been through some extra QA.

In terms of hardware, the FireCuda 520 is a pretty standard Phison E16 reference design using Toshiba/Kioxia BiCS4 96-layer 3D TLC NAND flash memory. The drive uses a two-sided black PCB with no heatspreader or heatsink included, since most new motherboards are providing their own M.2 cooling solution. Seagate rates the FireCuda for up to a generous one drive write per day for the five-year warranty period. MSRPs for the FireCuda 520 match its status as a flagship drive, and are almost twice the street prices for the cheapest PCIe 3.0-based NVMe SSDs.

Seagate FireCuda 520 SSD Specifications
Capacity 500 GB 1 TB 2 TB
Controller Phison PS5016-E16 (PCIe 4.0 x4)
NAND Flash BiCS4 96L 3D TLC NAND
Form-Factor, Interface Double-sided M.2-2280, PCIe 4.0 x4, NVMe 1.3
Sequential Read 5000 MB/s
Sequential Write 4400 MB/s
Random Read IOPS 760k IOPS
Random Write IOPS 700k IOPS
Pseudo-SLC Caching Supported
TCG Opal Encryption No
Warranty 5 years
Write Endurance 900 TB
1 DWPD
1800 TB
1 DWPD
3600 TB
1 DWPD
MSRP $124.99 (25¢/GB) $249.99 (25¢/GB) $429.99 (21¢/GB)

The rest of Seagate's consumer SSD lineup is also being updated. Their PCIe 3.0 SSD lineup was split evenly between the single-sided BarraCuda 510 (256GB and 512GB) and the double-sided FireCuda 510 (1TB and 2TB). Both models are sticking around under the same names,  getting upgraded from 64L to 96L TLC while keeping the same Phison E12 controller. The new editions will also overlap in capacities: the BarraCuda 510 is gaining a 1TB model, and the FireCuda 510 is gaining a 500GB model. The FireCuda 510 is also switching from a blue to black PCB.

Seagate's BarraCuda SATA SSD is getting a more sensible update, gaining a new model designation (BarraCuda 120) to go with the new NAND.

Seagate has already started shipping the new SSDs to retailers, and product listings are already popping up on online retailer websites.

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  • Slash3 - Tuesday, November 12, 2019 - link

    That price point is just silly. As I write this, Sabrent's E16 based 1TB Rocket NVMe M.2 drive is $160 on the Egg, with Corsair's 1TB MP600 at $190. The 1TB Firecuda 520 is listed on a few retailers at the full $250. Unless they've employed a team of wizards to develop their firmware DRM, I can't fathom how this part is at all competitive. Reply
  • Supercell99 - Tuesday, November 12, 2019 - link

    1DWPD is pretty impressive. You may not need it, but for applications like databases or heavy write work loads that nice. If it had power capacitors it would be a nice drive for mixed use work loads in the enterprise space. This would be a good drive in as a caching layer in a NAS system. Reply
  • FunBunny2 - Tuesday, November 12, 2019 - link

    "You may not need it, but for applications like databases or heavy write work loads that nice. If it had power capacitors it would be a nice drive for mixed use work loads in the enterprise space. "

    but that's the problem; this drive is neither fish nor fowl at a kinda high price. no conservative CIO would put this in a mission critical database. no home user, gamer or otherwise, would be so much extra.
    Reply
  • Supercell99 - Tuesday, November 12, 2019 - link

    True, but a use case would be video editor or someone that created large files every day on a workstation. 1DWPD is pretty nice at that price point and speed/ I/O. I am just glad to see some good write endurance in the consumer SSD market. Reply
  • Slash3 - Tuesday, November 12, 2019 - link

    1DWPD is good, but it's also entirely in line with the other drives I mentioned as well. Corsair's MP510, for example, is also rated at 1.0 or 0.9 DWPD depending on capacity. I couldn't find the exact endurance specs for the Inland Premium or Sabrent Rocket, but another E12 twin, the MyDigitalSSD 1TB comes in at 0.9 DWPD as well.

    It's not a bad drive, it's just not particularly compelling, either.
    Reply
  • azfacea - Tuesday, November 12, 2019 - link

    barely above pcie 3.0 speed bottleneck @ 25 cents per GB. Nahhhhhhhhh not gonna happen. Reply
  • deil - Tuesday, November 12, 2019 - link

    it will go down by 30% before xmass. If they sell any, it will go to reviewers.
    unless it wont go bananas on sustained load, then it might hold that price.
    Reply
  • vanilla_gorilla - Sunday, November 17, 2019 - link

    PCIe 3.0 x4 connection has less than 4GB/s of actual throughput. I don't know when 25% more became "barely above" anything, in any context? Reply
  • PeachNCream - Tuesday, November 12, 2019 - link

    Seagate - "Slap the word gaming on the sticker so we can justify a 100% markup! Thrirty year old basement dweller part time Uber drivers will get mommy to buy them one for Christmas." Reply
  • r3loaded - Tuesday, November 12, 2019 - link

    Is there any PCIe 4.0 SSD out there that ISN'T based on the Phison E16? Reply

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