Thomas Grimm

PCIe 5.0 SSDs: The Phison E26 flexes its muscles

E26, flexes, muscles, PCIe, Phison, SSDs

Last year was missed, but this year the first consumer SSDs with PCIe 5.0 should appear. Many third-party providers will rely on the Phison E26 controller. At the start of the year and CES 2023 there are many new benchmarks. The E26 flexes its muscles.

A lot is already known about the Phison E26 with PCIe 5.0 x4 and 8 channels, after all it was announced in September 2021. Exactly one year ago, details about CES 2022 followed.

However, the market launch announced for 2022, which was originally supposed to take place together with AMD’s new AM5 platform, was missed and there were also minor changes here and there in the key data. Initially, 12 GB/s was aimed for as the maximum throughput, now 14 GB/s are on the data sheet. The latest key data read as follows.

New benchmarks

Phison delivers benchmarks again and once again the advertised sequential transfer rates are not achieved. Instead, CrystalDiskMark reports around 10 GB/s for both reading and writing. Benchmarks with over 12 GB/s showed that it can also be faster. The cause is probably in the memory used: Micron’s 232-layer NAND is not supposed to work with the maximum possible 2,400 MT/s and thus slows down the controller.

Phison E26 achieves a good 100 MB/s with 4K random read Q1T1 (Picture: Phison)

But sequential throughput is by no means the only benchmark for assessing SSD performance. And so, for example, the performance of random reading with a low command depth (queue depth) plays a far greater role in everyday life, for example when starting applications, and is considered an important benchmark for the “perceived” system performance.

Phison now also reports a breakthrough here with the new screenshot: With 4K random read with Q1T1, i.e. one outstanding command and one thread, the mark of 100 MB/s is cracked. The company writes in its own blog that this is the first time for a Phison SSD. The “Enterprise DNA“It goes on to say. Because the E26 and the E20 for server SSDs are based on a comparable architecture.

To put the value into perspective: In the editorial team’s test field, the fastest subjects so far just missed the hurdle of 90 MB/s in this discipline. However, it should be noted that this 4K random read performance in particular also depends significantly on the CPU performance. A direct comparison is therefore only possible with the same test system.

Extensive independent testing

While Phison only provides a small preview of the expected performance of the PCIe 5.0 SSDs with E26, the website, which works closely with manufacturers, was allowed to The SSD Review already extensively try out the reference design in the variant with 2 TB of storage volume.

Reference design for PCIe 5.0 SSD with Phison E26
Reference design for PCIe 5.0 SSD with Phison E26 (Image: The SSD Review)

The mark of 100 MB/s in random reading is not only confirmed in CrystalDiskMark. More than 1.5 million IOPS are also achieved. In addition, the latency measured in PCMark 10 is even lower than that of the Samsung 990 Pro (test) and approaches the level of an Intel Optane P5800X, which, thanks to its 3D Xpoint phase change memory, cannot be beat in this respect. Phison himself speaks of a 30 percent improvement in latency compared to the predecessor (E18).

With an emphasis on doubling the bandwidth and improving latency by 30% of its predecessor PCIe Gen4, PCIe Gen5 E26 enables new experiences and possibilities for gaming and digital content creation. Paired with the latest I/O+ Technology for enhanced sustained workloads, E26 is transcending performance levels to new heights.


The high performance of the E26 in combination with firmware (Phison I/O+) tailored to gaming workloads should also accelerate games and their loading times.

In the popular Final Fantasy XIV Endwalker benchmark, Phison’s reference design achieved a loading time of 5.94 seconds, while the next fastest SSD in the test field (990 Pro) needed 6.34 seconds or almost 7 percent more time. Even if this should hardly be noticeable, the potential of the new technology is also indicated here.

However, the SSD showed a rare weakness in PassMark’s DiskMark, where the predecessor E18 was even faster.

It’s getting hot

While coolers are not always a must for PCIe 4.0 SSDs, they are more likely to be mandatory for PCIe 5.0 SSDs. The sample with E26 was even equipped with a fan. But used The SSD Review instead, an adapter card from Asus with a large passive cooler was used for the tests.

Reference design for PCIe 5.0 SSD with Phison E26 and active cooling
Reference design for PCIe 5.0 SSD with Phison E26 and active cooling (Image: The SSD Review)
The adapter card with cooler was used in the test
The adapter card with cooler was used in the test (Image: The SSD Review)

Tests with the simple M.2 onboard cooler of the ASRock Z690 Velocita reportedly quickly reached 82 °C. With the passive cooler from Asus it was a maximum of 43 °C and the small active cooler from Phison was also sufficient.

When will the finished SSDs arrive?

Phison himself has not yet answered the question of the availability of the first PCIe 5.0 SSDs with Phison E26. And also The SSD Review is uncertain, but assumes a market launch in the first quarter of 2023. Various variants are expected to be presented at CES 2023.

ComputerBase received information about this article from Phison under NDA. The only requirement was the earliest possible publication date.

Leave a Comment