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PCIe Gen3 vs. Gen4 M.2 NVMe Storage Solutions

Which Generation of NVMe RAID controllers is right for my application?

At first glance, the answer is straight-forward; PCIe Gen3 if you need up to 14K MB/s, PCIe Gen4 if you need something faster.

In truth, the real answer to this question is a bit more nuanced than that. Many customers are limited by their platform - upgrading may not be an option due to other requirements, such as compatibility or form factor. Other customers may find that a Gen3 NVMe solution is perfectly suited to their target application, despite working with a Gen4 platform. Likewise, many customers now use Gen 4 NVMe SSDs with Gen3 NVMe RAID controller, and vise-versa.

Why? Basically for most applications, it really boils down to Cost vs. performance - how much speed do you need and how much are you willing to spend for it?

Why PCIe Gen3?

Gen3 is tried and true. PCIe 3.0 technology is mature, predictable, easily replaced, and easily serviced.

The ideal performance number for a Gen3 workstation or server platform is 14,000 MB/s. To achieve this, all you need is a PCIe slot with x16 dedicated lanes.

Our Gen3 Solutions

The performance target of 14,000 MB/s can easily be met with our 8-port SSD7140A. However, you can still reach this number using a 4-port controller, with one caveat; Gen4 M.2 SSDs

High-end workstations and server motherboards with multiple dedicated PCIe 3.0 x16 slots can double this to 28,000 MB/s, thanks to our revolutionary Cross-Sync RAID Technology. This is on par with a PCIe Gen4 8-port RAID controller. Not too shabby...

Cross-Sync enables Gen3 platforms to break the 14,000 MB/s barrier that would otherwise require you to upgrade to a PCIe Gen4 platform.

When would I need PCIe Gen 4?

Despite being introduced nearly 2 years ago, Gen4 platforms are still not the norm. While Gen4 NVMe SSDs and RAID controllers are getting increasingly afforable, actual Gen4 computing platforms are still priced at a premium.

The best Gen4 workstations are often built using a server class motherboard. Why? CPU and memory performance. If you want to max Gen4 performance, you will need a host platform with multi-processor capability and a ton of RAM.

Gen4 is only an absolute must if you need a single-controller solution capable of breaking the 14,000 MB/s (PCIe Gen3) barrier.

Use Cases

Example Gen4 applications include high-end media production, editing and playback solutions. Video Projection Applications rely on large-scale LCD or OLED screens for commercial advertising and public events, such as a digital billboard or full motion video display designed to broadcast coverage of a live sporting tournament or fan convention. The resolution requirements can vary drastically, from as low as 4K to an astronomical 36K! The storage solution must be able to adjust for these requirements; PCIe Gen3 simply won’t cut it.

Our Gen4 Solutions

With the 2-port SSD7502, you can reach 14,000 MB/s. Using the 4-port SSD7505 M.2 RAID controller can deliver up to 25,000 MBs.

An 8-port SSD7540 can push your performance thresholds to 28,000 MBs.

And if you need even faster speeds, dual Cross-Synced SSD7540 controllers will get you extreme transfer speeds - upwards of 55,000 MB/s!

Learn more


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