LiteOn's EP1 Series crams 960GB onto four-lane M.2 SSD

— 6:00 AM on October 29, 2014

Four-lane M.2 sockets can be found on quite a few X99 motherboards—and even select Z97 offerings—but mini PCIe SSDs that can take advantage of the bandwidth are few and far between. Lite-On just announced one that should do the trick, though. The new EP1 Series pairs a PCIe Gen2 x4 interface with a tiny "gumstick" form factor. At full tilt, it can purportedly hit 1500MB/s with sequential reads and 1200MB/s with writes.

Want more specs? 4KB random I/O rates are pegged at 150k for reads and 44k IOps for writes. The spec sheet also lists read and write latencies of 40 µs and 30 µs, respectively. Oh, and there's a 640MB/s cap on sequential writes with the 480GB model; only the 960GB one reaches top speed.

The EP1 Series is aimed at enterprise customers, and its random write rate is lower than one might expect from that class of product. But the 960GB variant has a diminutive footprint of just 22 x 110 mm—or "22110" in M.2 terminology. The 480GB flavor comes on an even shorter M.2 2280 gumstick.

There's no mention of the controller or whether it uses the NVM Express or AHCI protocol, but I count eight channels in the vague block diagram pulled from LiteOn's datasheet (PDF). For what it's worth, LiteOn says the drive is laced with "customized proprietary firmware." The unnamed flash, which is likely MLC-based, is robust enough to handle one full drive write per day for three years. You also get end-to-end data protection and power-loss circuitry that ensures "all cached data" is saved if the lights go out unexpectedly.

We've asked LiteOn for more details about the EP1 Series and if the drive will be available as a standalone product. Enterprise-oriented SSDs like the Intel DC P3700 have already popped up at Newegg, so LiteOn's latest won't necessarily be a rarity.

Update: LiteOn has confirmed that the drive pairs Marvell's 88SS9293 controller with Toshiba's A19 NAND. The company also tells us the EP1 Series is based on the AHCI protocol rather than NVMe.

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