Innogrit is one of the latest SSD controller designers to enter the market, having come out of stealth mode and announced their roadmap last August at Flash Memory Summit. Last week at CES 2020, at least two SSD vendors were showcasing upcoming products based around Innogrit's IG5236 Rainier controller. This isn't Innogrit's first SSD controller: they started small with the Shasta and Shasta+ designs, 4-channel DRAMless controllers that are comparable to entry-level NVMe controllers that Phison, Silicon Motion and Marvell have had on the market for quite a while. Rainier is where Innogrit really starts to compete. It's an 8-channel controller with a PCIe 4.0 x4 host interface, and it should be capable of very nearly saturating that link with sequential transfers.

Innogrit NVMe SSD Controller Roadmap
Controller Shasta Shasta+ Rainier Tacoma
Model Number IG5208 IG5216 IG5236 IG5668
Host Interface PCIe 3 x2 PCIe 3 x4 PCIe 4 x4 PCIe 4 x4
Protocol NVMe 1.3 NVMe 1.4
NAND Channels 4 4 8 16
Max Capacity 2 TB 2 TB 16 TB 32 TB
DRAM Support No (HMB Supported) DDR3/4, LPDDR3/4
32/16-bit bus
DDR3/4, LPDDR3/4,
72-bit bus
Manufacturing Process 28nm "16/12nm"
BGA Package Size 10x9mm,
15x15mm 17x17mm
Sequential Read 1750 MB/s 3.2 GB/s 7 GB/s 7 GB/s
Sequential Write 1500 MB/s 2.5 GB/s 6.1 GB/s 6.1 GB/s
4KB Random Read 250k IOPS 500k IOPS 1M IOPS 1.5M IOPS
4KB Random Write 200k IOPS 350k IOPS 800k IOPS 1M IOPS
Market Segment Client Client High-end Client,
Datacenter, Enterprise

ADATA was showing off three different upcoming PCIe 4.0 M.2 SSDs at CES, and unsurprisingly one of them was using the Innogrit Rainier controller—ADATA's always game to try out new SSD controllers. The ADATA XPG SAGE SSD will use 96L TLC NAND, but they have not made a final determination of whether to use Micron or Toshiba NAND. The drive on their display board was clearly equipped with Toshiba NAND, but the one installed in a system for live demos used ADATA packaged NAND that may have been Micron TLC.

A few years ago, Micron sold their Lexar brand to Longsys, who started using the brand for both internal and external storage products. Longsys and Lexar SSDs have continued to use Micron NAND almost exclusively, but lately their preference for Marvell controllers has not been working out so well. Marvell's plan for PCIe 4.0 SSDs in the client/consumer market doesn't include anything to compete at the high end. Officially, Lexar isn't saying what controller their upcoming high-end PCIe 4.0 SSD will use, but the drive they had a live demo of was obviously using the same Innogrit Rainier reference PCB. However, their images of what the product will look like with its heatspreader were based on an entirely different PCB, so the selection of Innogrit's controller is probably not finalized. This drive is planned for Q3 of 2020.

BiWin is also reportedly working with the Innogrit Rainier controller for their NW200 SSD, after previously declaring intentions to use the Tacoma controller in an enterprise drive. BiWin is the ODM behind HP branded retail SSDs, so a Rainier-based SSD may be the successor to the Silicon Motion-based EX920 and EX950 SSDs. Unfortunately, we were unable to meet with BiWin at CES 2020.

Since Innogrit as a company is so new to the SSD controller market, it's reasonable to be skeptical of their promises. (Though it's worth keeping in mind that the company was founded and led by a team of veterans from Marvell and other major players in the storage industry.) The working demos at CES 2020 of Innogrit controllers surpassing 7 GB/s show that they're clearly on the right track. Depending on when these drives hit the market and how performance changes in the meantime, they may soon be able to claim to be powering the fastest consumer SSDs. Innogrit is definitely worth keeping an eye on, and we look forward to trying out their SSDs on our benchmark testbeds.

Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • ksec - Friday, January 17, 2020 - link

    >the company was founded and led by a team of veterans from Marvell and other major players in the storage industry.

    Why did they left? Any reason why Marvell were not interested in high end SSD controller market?
  • PeachNCream - Friday, January 17, 2020 - link

    They already felt existing controllers were Marvellous.
  • The_Assimilator - Friday, January 17, 2020 - link

    Because high-end is an extremely small market that gets lots of headlines but relatively few sales, compared to the motherboard/OEM market that generates the majority of PC revenue through quantity alone. Why would Marvell want to change a business strategy that's worked so well for them? More importantly, why would they take the risk of trying to compete in a small market, where if you don't end up being the absolute best, you're pretty much out of the game?

    Look at Realtek, whose business strategy has been essentially the same as Marvell's. Realtek recently tried to branch out by releasing their own SSD controllers, problem is that those controllers are pretty s**t so nobody except ADATA has used them. That almost certainly means Realtek is going to shut down shop, lay off their SSD controller engineers, and write the whole thing off as an expensive mistake. Marvell will hardly want to make the same mistake - although considering that Innogrit is founded by ex-Marvell employees, perhaps they should have at least tried.
  • alphasquadron - Friday, January 17, 2020 - link

    Because they saw Suicide Squad and they knew it was time to leave Marvel for DC Comics.
  • Tomatotech - Friday, January 17, 2020 - link

    Great to see random R/W speeds finally coming up as these make the greatest difference in day to day use. Only got 4kb Q1 Read left to raise then SSDs will finally be there (though they're already pretty great).
  • AnarchoPrimitiv - Saturday, January 18, 2020 - link

    Wow, those CDM scores are pretty impressive considering the non sequential scores, especially in the writes actually outperform the intel 905p in 4K Q32T1 and 4K Q1T1 and this is an early engineering sample [perhaps]. This makes me confident that a Samsung 990(?) PRO PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD with MLC instead of TLC might start matching 3d xpoint
  • James5mith - Monday, January 20, 2020 - link

    "BiWin is the ODM behind HP branded retail SSDs, so a Rainier-based SSD may be the successor to the Silicon Motion-based EX920 and EX950 SSDs."

    The EX950 is the biggest dud of a product I've ever used. I had two that lasted less than a week each. Returned/replaced the first one, and the second one died a week after that.

    This was in an Intel NUC. Maybe they were using crap flash that couldn't handle the heat? Maybe the controller couldn't? Whatever the case, I've been running a Samsung SSD in that NUC since under heavy load, without a single hiccup.

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now