Phison Says A Fix Is Incoming For Thermal Shutdown Issue Affecting PCIe 5.0 SSDs

hero Corsair MP700 SSD News
Did you buy a spiffy new PCIe 5.0 SSD? Did you ignore the warning that it requires active cooling and install it in your system in a slot without a heatsink? Are you now facing drive shutdowns (causing system halts) and file system errors? Did you think that these two things might be related?

Indeed, as revealed in recent SSD reviews, Phison's E26 controller for PCIe 5.0 solid-state drives requires cooling of some sort, and while there are drives using the chip that are sold without a heatsink, you're intended to place them under a motherboard heatsink or active cooler of your own devising. You can't run them without a heatsink because they will overheat and shut down or suffer from errors, just like a CPU or GPU.

phison e26 ssd cooler 1
The beefy cooler Phison sent along with the E26 reference platform we previewed.

We knew PCIe 5.0 SSDs were going to run hot way before they ever hit the market. Phison's first pictures of a near-final drive using the E26 controller included a fan assembly, and the company specifically cautioned folks that you're going to need a heatsink for these drives.

Even when the drive is running without a heatsink, though, it shouldn't go into thermal shutdown so easily. Modern CPUs can actually be run without a heatsink—albeit with hilariously-poor performance—and an SSD controller shouldn't be putting out that much heat. Phison agrees, because it has announced that it is going to release a firmware update that adjusts the thermal throttle curve to avoid these issues.

The company announced this in a comment to Tom's Hardware, where it said that its engineers have actually already completed the process of creating the firmware, but that it's up to its partners to validate and release the modified ROM. Remember, you don't own a Phison SSD, but instead one from ADATA, Corsair, Gigabyte, et al. Because of that validation process, it's likely to be a little bit before you can get the fixed firmware.

phoronix filesystem errors
Linux filesystem errors caused by overheating MP700. Image: Phoronix

This controversy came about because two outlets, Phoronix and TechPowerUp, both reviewed the new Corsair MP700 SSD and found it to be unreliable without a heatsink installed. The drive doesn't include one, but users are expected to install the drive under a cooler of some sort. Phison says that all first-gen PCIe 5.0 SSDs based on its conrtroller are going to need cooling.

Still, it's not completely unreasonable for someone to buy a new SSD, rip open the box, and install it in their system without realizing that they need cooling that isn't included. Hopefully this firmware update prevents data loss for those users may not read disclaimers.