Marvell has introduced the industry’s first SSD controllers for NVMe 1.4b-compliant drives that will feature a PCIe 5.0 x4 interface. The Bravera SC5 controllers are designed primarily for bandwidth and performance-hungry servers used in cloud data centers. They will provide up to 14 TB/s throughput as well as up to 2 million random read IOPS, with the former being two times faster than today’s fastest PCIe 4.0 SSDs. Marvell’s new controllers have already gained support from various industrial partners, including AMD, Intel, Facebook, Microsoft, and Renesas.
Marvell’s Bravera SC5 family includes two controllers: the eight-channel MV-SS1331 and the 16-channel MV-SS1333. The controllers have absolutely the same functionality and performance specifications: up to 14 GB/s sequential write speed, up to 9 GB/s sequential write speed, up to 2M random read IOPS, and up to 1M write IOPS.
The MV-SS1333 with its eight 1600 MT/s NAND channels will power SSDs with higher capacity. It is noteworthy that the MV-SS1333 is the industry’s first 16-channel controller that comes in a 20x20mm form factor and can be used for EDSFF E1.S (“Ruler”) SSDs.
Like other modern high-end SSD controllers, Marvell’s Bravera SC5 are fully-fledged system-on-chips (SoCs) packing serious compute performance and special-purpose accelerators. The Bravera SC5 family uses Arm’s Cortex-R8, Cortex-M7, and Cortex-M7 cores, yet Marvell hasn’t disclosed the exact core count. A hardware-based SLA enforcer accompanies the CPU cores to minimize server CPU utilization. The silicon also has DMA controllers, firmware accelerators, a dedicated security engine (FIPS root-of-trust with AES-256 and TCG Opal compliant), and a NAND flash controller featuring the company’s 5th Generation NANDEdge LDPC engine.
Marvell’s new controllers featuring the NANDEdge v5 LDPC engine can work with any type of 3D NAND, including SLC, MLC, TLC, and QLC from any vendor, including Kioxia, Micron, Samsung, SK Hynix, Western Digital, and YMTC.
The main selling points of Marvell’s Braver SC5 controllers are dual-port PCIe 5.0 x4, NVMe 1.4b, and extreme performance. Meanwhile, the SoCs allow manufacturers to build one SSD model for different usage models, including NVMe, SEF, ZNS, and Open Channel. Customers can also use the controller to build drives in various form factors, including E1.S, E1.L, E3, and U.2. Marvell is also especially proud of its new controllers’ relatively moderate power consumption: the MV-SS1331 consumes up to 8.7W, whereas the MV-SS1331 consumes up to 9.8W.
“There are many data center technology challenges. These include the need for PCIe 5.0 for performance scaling, E1.S for density and serviceability, and OCP data center NVMe SSD support for product features. Marvell’s Bravera SC5 SSD controller family supports technology that enables next-generation hyperscale SSD use cases,” said Ross Stenfort, Hardware System Engineer, Storage, Facebook.
Marvell is currently sampling the new controller with select customers. It is noteworthy that Marvell has already gained support from leading server platform developers and cloud datacenter operators, so it is logical to expect the adoption of PCIe 5.0 SSDS powered by Marvell’s Bravera SC5 controllers sooner rather than later.
Keeping in mind that Intel plans to release its PCIe 5.0-supporting Xeon Scalable ‘Sapphire Rapids’ in late 2021 or early 2022, we can expect the first PCIe 5.0 SSDs to be available around the same time.