Microsemi Announces PCIe 4.0 Switches And NVMe SSD Controller

Microsemi is starting their transition to PCIe 4.0 with updates to their Switchtec PCIe switch family and Flashtec NVMe SSD controllers. The new PCIe standard doubles the per-lane throughput from approximately 1GB/s to almost 2GB/s.

The new Flashtec NVMe 3016 SSD controller features a 16-channel NAND interface and all the features of the existing 2016 controller, but the faster host interface will allow drives to exceed 8GB/s and 2 million IOPS when using a PCIe 4.0 x8 link. The 3016 controller is designed to allow for reuse of firmware developed for the previous generation of controllers, so new SSDs can be brought to market quickly. Microsemi's Flashtec controllers are used in many of the fastest enterprise SSDs, and the update to support PCIe 4.0 speeds should help Microsemi stay on top of this market segment.

The first Switchtec PCIe switches to support PCIe 4.0 are intended to support GPGPU applications that rely on low-latency peer to peer DMA. These switches will be available with up to 100 PCIe lanes, but specific models and configurations have not yet been announced.

Both the PCIe switches and the new NVMe controller are currently sampling to select customers. Microsemi's primary competition in the PCIe switch space comes from Broadcom's PLX switch family, which has not yet been updated to support PCIe 4.0 speeds. The Flashtec NVMe 3016 likewise doesn't have any direct competition.

Adoption of the new switches and controllers may be slow due to the dearth of other PCIe 4.0 hardware. IBM's POWER9 processors and some of Mellanox's networking interfaces and processors are shipping with PCIe 4.0 support, but GPUs and x86 CPUs have not officially started the transition.