New Enterprise SSD Controllers From Silicon Movement, Phison, FADU

Previously month, three SSD controller designers have introduced new enterprise NVMe SSD controllers, bringing a wave of latest competitors to the high-end enterprise/datacenter SSD market. FADU is a relative newcomer to the market, having solely launched one earlier SSD controller. Silicon Movement and Phison are each very acquainted rivals, however they’ve been most profitable with their shopper/client SSD controllers; they’ve been stepping up their enterprise controller efforts in recent times, however gaining floor in that market has been a sluggish course of.

All three corporations at the moment are touting a brand new era of enterprise NVMe SSD controllers which might be extra fashionable and mature. The three corporations are poised to compete not simply in opposition to one another, however in opposition to corporations like Microchip/Microsemi and Marvell, who’ve a for much longer observe file of success within the enterprise SSD controller market.

Many of the main NAND flash reminiscence producers now use in-house controller designs for his or her enterprise and datacenter SSDs. Impartial SSD controller designers promote to second-tier SSD manufacturers, and in addition generally promote on to hyperscale cloud suppliers which might be chopping out the middle-man. The enterprise fashions on this market are fairly versatile: prospects could take simply the controller ASIC and develop their very own firmware, use turnkey or customized firmware developed by the controller vendor, or begin from a reference design for the whole SSD and customise as wanted. For the quickest time to market, some controller distributors will even prepare contract manufacturing of SSDs on behalf of their prospects.


Silicon Movement SM8266 Controller

Silicon Movement’s new enterprise NVMe controller is the SM8266, a 16-channel design with a PCIe 4 x4 host interface.

Silicon Movement’s first enterprise NVMe controller was the SM2270. That had a little bit of an odd design: it basically mixed two 8-channel controllers onto one chip behind a shared PCIe front-end supporting PCIe 3 x8. This allowed Silicon Movement to re-use lots of the design of their very profitable 8-channel shopper/client NVMe controllers whereas simply scaling as much as a 16-channel answer. Silicon Movement hasn’t shared a block diagram for the brand new SM8266, however we suspect they’re nonetheless utilizing an analogous cut up design because the SM8266 spec sheet mentions twin 32-bit DRAM interfaces.

The SM8266 makes use of the identical 21mmx21mm bundle because the SM2270 however drops help for an x8 host interface—PCIe 4 x4 is loads quick. The NAND interface now helps speeds as much as 1200MT/s, the identical as their recently-released SM2267 mainstream client NVMe controller, however a step behind the 1600MT/s supported by their upcoming SM2264 high-end client NVMe controller (each 8-channel designs).  The DRAM interface on the SM8266 helps DDR4 and LPDDR3 at sooner speeds than the SM2270, however once more is lagging behind their newest client NVMe controllers that help LPDDR4(X).

The SM8266 helps as much as 128 IO queues and non-compulsory NVMe options like Controller Reminiscence Buffer (CMB) and as much as 32 namespaces. Moreover, Silicon Movement can present firmware implementing an Open Channel SSD interface or Key-Worth SSD interface. Open Channel help was a serious spotlight of the SM2270, which was developed primarily for Alibaba’s use. Nonetheless, most business curiosity in Open Channel SSDs has moved on to the newer NVMe Zoned Namespaces customary.

The Silicon Movement SM8266 is offered as a turnkey answer of the controller and firmware with SSD {hardware} reference designs. Silicon Movement’s subsidiary Shannon Programs is utilizing the SM8266 in drives for hyperscale prospects, anticipated to enter manufacturing in 2021.

Silicon Movement Enterprise/Datacenter NVMe SSD Controllers
  SM8266 SM2270
DRAM Assist 2x 32bit DDR4-2400, LPDDR3-2133 2x 32bit DDR4-2133, LPDDR3-1600
Host Interface PCIe 4 x4 PCIe 3 x8
NAND Channels, Interface Velocity 16ch,

1200 MT/s
CEs per Channel 8 8
Sequential Learn 6550 MB/s 3200 MB/s
Sequential Write 3100 MB/s 2800 MB/s
4KB Random Learn IOPS 950k 800k
4KB Random Write IOPS 220k 200k


Phison FX Sequence SSDs

The brand new Phison FX is a bit totally different from their earlier enterprise/datacenter options, which have been -DC variants of their shopper/client SSD controllers. The Phison FX Sequence is a household of SSD reference designs, utilizing a brand new controller that has not been individually named. The FX Sequence SSDs are U.2 15mm drives utilizing 96L 3D TLC, with firmware that may be personalized to go well with the options required by every buyer. The FX’s controller is a 12-channel design—the widest Phison has ever put out—however the host interface remains to be simply PCIe 3 x4. Regardless of the older PCIe gen3 host interface, the Phison FX makes use of their fourth-generation LDPC engine, the identical as used of their E16 PCIe gen4 client SSD controller. Total, it is a clear step up from their 8-channel E12DC controller answer, however that is positively probably the most conservative of the three new controller designs. Nonetheless, that additionally means it’s fast to market: Phison has already began transport these drives.

Phison Enterprise/Datacenter NVMe SSD Options
  FX Sequence E12DC
Host Interface PCIe 3 x4 PCIe 3 x4
NAND Channels 12 8
Sequential Learn 3400 MB/s 3200 MB/s
Sequential Write 2500 MB/s 1000 MB/s
4KB Random Learn IOPS 560k 460k
4KB Random Write IOPS 90k 70k
Efficiency based mostly on 3.84TB 1 DWPD fashions



FADU Delta SSDs with FC4121 Controller

FADU is a reasonably new SSD controller design agency, having been based in 2015 and launched their first controller ASIC (FC3081) in 2018. This yr, they’re launching their second controller, the FC4121. The brand new controller strikes to PCIe 4.0, widens the flash interface from 8 to 12 channels and will increase the supported speeds from 800MT/s to 1200MT/s—which suggests the FC4121 can use nearly all the additional bandwidth provided by the sooner PCIe host interface.

FADU Enterprise/Datacenter NVMe SSD Controllers
  FC4121 FC3081
DRAM Assist 32bit DDR4, LPDDR4(X) 32bit DDR4, LPDDR4
Host Interface PCIe 4 x4 PCIe 3 x4
NAND Channels, Interface Velocity 12ch,


CEs per Channel 16 8
Sequential Learn 7.1 GB/s 3.5 GB/s
Sequential Write 5.1 GB/s 2.65 GB/s
4KB Random Learn IOPS 1675k 820k
4KB Random Write IOPS 450k 230k
Efficiency based mostly on 28% OP 3 DWPD utilizing SK hynix 128L TLC

FADU’s SSD controller structure was the primary to make use of RISC-V processor cores, with their earlier FC3081 “Annapurna” controller that includes SiFive’s S51 cores. The controller structure additionally options quite a lot of special-purpose {hardware} offloads to enhance energy effectivity and QoS. FADU’s firmware can help a variety of the extra superior non-compulsory NVMe options, together with Controller Reminiscence Buffer (CMB), Persistent Reminiscence Area (PMR), SR-IOV virtualization, IO Determinism and Zoned Namespaces.

FADU gives their DELTA reference SSD designs based mostly across the FC4121 controller, with each U.2 and EDSFF E1.S designs and firmware customization obtainable. These designs can be found both for patrons to fabricate themselves, or prospects can present the NAND and FADU will prepare contract manufacturing of the non-public label SSDs.

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