The fastest consumer NVMe SSDs reside on a PCIe 4.0 x4 interface, abutting up against the 8GB/s sequential interface limit, but that is changing as Apacer, unexpectedly, is the first to announce PCIe 5.0 models harnessing double the interface bandwidth.
Broad PCIe 5.0 support has been here since Intel launched the 12th Gen Core ‘Alder Lake’ platform in November last year, though it has taken a while for SSD manufacturers to catch on. The Apacer AS2280F5 changes all that by offering, the company says, 13GB/s sequential read and 12GB/s sequential write.
Such speed is realised using the NVMe 2.0 protocol, but AS2280F5 also retains backwards compatibility with PCIe 4.0-based systems, albeit at naturally lower speeds. In a clear hint that faster performance requires better cooling, the drive is pre-equipped with an integrated heatsink.
There are more unknowns that knowns at this point, however. The exact underlying controller, NAND, capacity and pricing are all to be determined. PCIe 5.0 storage will become more prevalent later this year as AMD jumps on the interface bandwagon with its own supporting chipsets.
The initial slew of drives is likely to be expensive, but as in the slow but steady transition between PCIe 3.0 and 4.0 in consumer markets, the waterfall effect will ensure mid-spec PCIe 5.0 eclipse today’s high-performance PCIe 4.0, hopefully at a lower cost.