Most companies still haven’t shifted their entire NVMe SSD family to use PCI Express 4.0, but PCIe 5.0 SSDs for PCs are already on the way.
Storage company Silicon Motion said in a recent earnings call that it expects its PCIe 5.0-compatible SSD controllers for consumer SSDs to be available sometime in 2024, opening the door to a wide variety of high-performance drives from different manufacturers. SSD manufacturer ADATA teased some PCIe 5.0 SSDs at CES last month (albeit without an expected release date), boasting read speeds of up to 14 GB/s and write speeds of up to 12 GB/s using a Silicon Motion SM2508 controller. Current high-end PCIe 4.0 SSDs like Samsung’s 980 Pro achieve about half those speeds.
Other reports have suggested these PCIe 5.0 consumer SSDs come later in 2022, but according to the call transcript, that only applies to the latest version of Silicon Motion’s PCIe 5.0 controller for company SSDs: The products that end up in servers and data centers, not what usually ends up on the PC on your desk or lap. Early PCIe 4.0 SSDs for consumer PCs were also showcased at CES, a few years before they became actually available for purchase.
For 2022 and 2023, Silicon Motion will continue to focus on those PCIe 4.0 SSDs. Budget SSDs like Western Digital’s WD Black SN770 SE are just beginning to make the switch to PCIe 4.0, and according to reviews like this one from Tom’s Hardware, their controllers and flash memory aren’t yet fast enough to take much advantage of the extra bandwidth. Silicon Motion also says PCIe 4.0 SSDs have only become common in prebuilt PCs in the past year due to “extensive verification and testing requirements.”
If you want to future-proof your PC for PCIe 5.0 SSDs when they arrive, Intel’s 12th-generation “Alder Lake” processors and AMD’s upcoming Ryzen 7000-series Zen 4 CPUs both support PCIe 5.0.