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Phison E7 NVMe PCIe FW 2.1 SSD Performance Preview

Phison E7 NVMe PCIe FW 2.1 SSD Performance Preview
TweakTown is first to test Phison's new E7 NVMe PCIe Gen3 x4 SSD with firmware revision 2.1. The performance differences are substantial.
By: Jon Coulter | SSDs in Storage | Posted: Sep 12, 2016 12:00 pm

Ready for the Primetime




Phison's E7 controller has appeared on the scene a couple of times to date. We tested the E7-powered Zotac Sonix back in March of this year. The Sonix showed some potential but wasn't quite ready for the primetime. Workload performance wasn't where we felt it should be, and 4K QD1 read was lower than we hoped for.


It turns out that the RC (Release Candidate) firmware that shipped with the Sonix was holding back performance considerably. Phison has been hard at work perfecting firmware for the E7. One of the big features that has appeared with firmware 2.0 and now firmware 2.1 is pSLC (pseudo-Single Level Cell) caching. We typically see pSLC caching enabled on TLC SSDs, but it can also be enabled on MLC SSDs to provide an additional performance boost. Firmware 2.0 had some issues when the drive was loaded up with data, but now with firmware 2.1, E7-powered SSDs are ready for the primetime.





With our Phison E7 FW 2.1 performance preview, we are going to approach things a bit differently than we normally do with a typical review. We will be providing benchmark screen shots of the drives running on Windows 10 Anniversary Edition as empty secondary volumes. Where we do provide charts for comparison with other SSDs, the charts will be reflecting the results of the drives running as our OS Disk 75% full unless otherwise noted. Additionally, because this is a performance preview of the E7 in non-retail form, we are not going to run our complete benchmark suite. We are leaving out our long tests like steady-state Vantage, PCMark 8 Extended, and Sledgehammer.


These tests take a very long time to run and are less relevant to the average user than the synthetic and moderate workload tests that we are presenting in this preview. We will be covering three capacities of E7 SSDs in an M.2 form factor and an E7-powered 480GB AIC (Add-In-Card). The AIC card we have is enthusiast grade, with a 2MB per GB DRAM to NAND flash ratio.



Phison E7 NVMe SSD Controller Features and Specifications




Phison sells its controllers as part of a turnkey solution to be branded and sold by vendors. This has made Phison SSDs a favorite among third-party SSD retailers. The E7 controller supports the full gambit of current and forth coming flash technologies. Phison's quad-core, 8-channel E7 NVMe SSD controller is designed with a whole host of important features and sports impressive performance specifications as follows:


  • Sequential Read: up to 2,600 MB/s
  • Sequential Write: up to 1,300 MB/s
  • Max 4K Random Read Speed: 300,000 IOPS
  • Max 4K Random Write Speed: 200,000 IOPS
  • Advanced BCH error correction: up to 120bit/2KB
  • Firmware: Field upgradeable
  • NAND: 1z nm MLC/TLC and 3D flash
  • Encryption: AES-256 TCG security feature
  • Wear-Leveling: Static and Dynamic
  • Data Protection: End-to-End Data Path Protection
  • Power Saving: L1.2 power saving mode
  • SmartECC
  • SmartFlush
  • GuaranteedFlush

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