Micro Advantage

Phison and Seagate Announce X1 SSD Platform: U.3 PCIe 4.0 x4 with 128L eTLC

Phison and Seagate have been collaborating on SSDs since 2017 in the client as well as SMB/SME space. In April 2022, they had announced a partnership to develop and distribute enterprise NVMe SSDs. At the Flash Memory Summit this week, the results of the collaboration are being announced in the form of the X1 SSD platform – an U.3 PCIe 4.0 x4 NVMe SSD that is backwards compatible with U.2 slots.

The X1 SSD utilizes a new Phison controller exclusive to Seagate – the E20. It integrates two ARM Cortex-R5 cores along with multiple co-processors that accelerate SSD management tasks. Phison is touting the improvement in random read IOPS (claims of up to 30% faster that the competition in its class) as a key driver for its fit in AI training and application servers servicing thousands of clients. The key specifications of the X1 SSD platform are summarized in the table below. The performance numbers quoted are for the 1DWPD 3.84TB model.

Seagate / Phison X1 SSD Platform
Capacities 1.92 TB, 3.84 TB, 7.68 TB, 15.36 TB (1DWPD models)
1.6 TB, 3.2 TB, 6.4 TB, 12.8 TB (3DWPD models)
Host Interface PCIe 4.0 x4 (NVMe 1.4)
Form Factor U.3 (15mm / 7mm z-height)
Sequential Accesses Performance 7400 MBps (Reads)
7200 MBps (Writes)
Random Accesses Performance 1.75M IOPS @ QD32T4 & 84us Latency @ QD1 (4K Reads)
470K IOPS @ QD32T4 & 10us Latency @ QD1 (4K Writes)
Uncorrectable Bit-Error Rate 1 in 1018
Power Consumption 13.5W (Random Reads)
17.9W (Random Writes)
6.5W (Idle)

Seagate equips the X1 with eTLC (enterprise TLC), power-loss protection capacitors, and includes end-to-end data path protection. SECDED (single error correction / double error detection) and periodic memory scrubbing is done for the internal DRAM as part of the ECC feature. For the contents on the flash itself, the X1 supports the Data Integrity Field / Data Integrity Extension / Protection Information (DIF/DIX/PI) for end-to-end data protection. Various other enterprise-focused features such as SR-IOV support, and NVMe-MI (management interface) are also supported.

Seagate and Phison claim that the X1 SSD can be customized for specific use-cases, and it offers the best performance in class along with the best energy efficiency. Seagate is marketing the X1 SSD under the Nytro branding – the Nytro 5050 NVMe SSD series for data centers. The Nytro 5350 consists of the 1DWPD models, while the Nytro 5550 makes up the 3DWPD ones.

In terms of competition in the PCIe 4.0 / U.2 / U.3 space, the Nytro 5050 series goes up against Micron’s 7450 PRO and 7450 MAX (PDF), using their 176L 3D TLC flash, and Kioxia’s CD7-V / CD7-R data center SSDs. On paper, Seagate / Phison’s performance specifications easily surpass those platforms that have been shipping for more than a year now.