Solid state drives (SSDs) are pretty staple in most modern PC builds nowadays. Even SATA SSDs offer speeds much faster than hard disk drives (HDDs) do. And NVMe SSDs take that to another level as they are able to utilize the faster PCIe interface. However, it does come at a price. NAND flash memory inside SSDs is pretty heat-sensitive compared to mechanical HDDs. And with the latest generation (Gen5), NVMe SSDs are thermally throttling and even shutting down.
The issue is happening with Phison's PS5026-E26 controller which is fairly common in PCIe Gen5 drives. The recently reviewed Corsair MP700 was found to be shutting down as a result of overheating. The following charts from TechPowerUp show this behavior where the SSDs shut down due to the temperature shooting up.
Crucial's T700, which also uses the same controller is exhibiting similar issues, though it throttles heavily rather than completely shutting off. Others like the Gigabyte Gen5 10000 are likely to exhibit similar symptoms as it too uses the same E26 controller.
As you can see in the image below (via ComputerBase on Twitter), the T700 is severely underperforming in some of these tests.
Phison responded about the issue with the following statement to Phoronix:
After carefully reviewing the recent reports from TechPowerUp and Phoronix, Phison would like to acknowledge the issue found in the reviews of products using the new Phison PS5026-E26 controller. We take this matter seriously and are committed to resolving it promptly.
Our firmware engineering teams have already isolated the problem and made the necessary adjustments to the thermal throttle curve within hours of the report. However, the new firmware must undergo Phison's strict validation process before our partners can release it to customers. Rest assured our partners will notify end-users as soon as the validated update is available.
It is important to note that all E26 SSDs shipped without a heatsink are intended to be used with a heatsink. Most motherboards shipping with PCIe Gen5 enabled also include cooling specifically designed for Gen5 SSDs. We offer the 'bare drive' option to allow customers to use their existing cooling products.
We want to emphasize our commitment to providing high-quality products and solutions to our customers and will continue to work diligently to ensure their satisfaction. Thank you for your patience and understanding during this process.
Hence, Phison has made it clear that PCIe 5.0 SSDs are meant to be paired up with heatsinks only. The company had already warned about potential thermal issues back more than a year ago. In fact, Phison even suggested that it could require active cooling. Perhaps a slower PCIe 5.0 drive, that's based on lower speed memory, may not be a bad idea after all in case you don't have the room to add a heatsink.