PCIe Gen4 SSDs are changing the performance storage landscape quickly via AMD's extremely popular Zen II platform. Seagate has decided to enter the fray with its first Gen4 M.2 SSD. Seagate's Gen4 SSD is designated as the FireCuda 520 Series. Seagate's FireCuda 520 Series is the next progression of their FireCuda SSD line of products and is available for order starting right now at three capacity points, 500GB, 1000GB, and 2,000GB.
We've had several Gen4 SSDs come through the lab recently, and they all have one thing in common; they are powered by Phison's potent E16 PCIe Gen4 SSD controller and Toshiba BiCS 4 96-layer flash. Seagate's FireCuda 520 Series is no different in that respect. However, Seagate differs from what we've seen to this point in a few ways.
The first and most obvious is that Seagate is by far the largest storage company to put their reputation in front of a Phison E16 Gen4 SSD. Secondly, Seagate is utilizing its own exclusive firmware to power the FireCuda 520 Series. All other Phison E16-based SSDs that have come through the lab have been running canned firmware supplied by Phison. Most companies do not have the resources to customize firmware themselves, but Seagate certainly does.
Lastly, the FireCuda 520 is the first Phison E16-powered SSD to come through our lab that does not have any type of integrated heat sink. Seagate's thought behind this is that all (or as far as we know all) AMD X570 motherboards come with integrated heat sinks for the M.2 slots. These have proven to be very effective at taming thermals generated by the E16 controller. So why put something on the drive that will likely be removed by the end-user anyway? Makes sense to us, and we have tested E16 SSDs without a heat sink enough to know that the drive will still deliver throttle free performance in almost all consumer-oriented use case scenarios.
Let's get the FireCuda 520 on the bench and see just what kind of performance it is serving up for our fellow AMD brethren.
The FireCuda 520 ships in familiar packaging. The drive is cradled in a plastic carrier and sealed in an anti-static envelope. This round, Seagate has chosen to go with a black PCB design that we find very attractive.