One of the first SSDs with a PCIe Gen 5.0 interface has hit Japanese retail shelves this week. The CFD Gaming PG5NFZ SSD can deliver up to a (quite ridiculous) 10GB/s of sequential read speed, and 9.5GB/s of sequential write speed. The SSD makes use of Micron’s 3D TLC NAND flash technology, and NVMe 2.0 specifications.
The 2TB model is the only version of the drive to go on sale so far, with 1TB and 4TB models supposedly in the works as well. The 2TB has landed the price tag of ¥49,980 which equates to around $350 (£283) once taxes and conversion rates have been factored in.
While CFD Gaming only operates in Japanese markets, it isn't the only brand in the storage sector with plans to release next-gen SSDs in 2023. Back at CES in January, we heard that MSI, Gigabyte, Adata, and Patriot Memory all have PCIe Gen 5.0 models in the works.
It hasn't exactly been an easy year for manufacturers of SSDs. After a surge in popularity in 2020 due to everyone upgrading their kits while being at home, SSDs were in high demand. What's more, they weren't cheap. Consumers were battling with one another to get a hold of one of the best SSDs for gaming, and soon after, one of the best PS5 SSDs. This high demand was slightly offset by a struggle to keep production costs down amidst pandemic restrictions. For companies like Seagate and Western Digital, extra costs had to go in to keep workers safe. For that reason, prices remained high, and it took the better part of two years for things to change.
In 2022, however, demand finally began to subside. With reparation costs to deal with after the pandemic was coming to an end, manufacturers needed a way of keeping sales as high as possible. Seeing no other choice, the prices of some of the top SSDs on the market, from the biggest brands out there, began to gradually fall as the year went on.
This may sound familiar, since the best graphics cards have gone through a similar trajectory since 2020. The big difference maker, however, is that in 2022, when the RTX 3000 series became more readily available and a whole lot cheaper, Nvidia and AMD already had the next big thing in the works. Now, the 4000 Series, and RX 7000 generation GPUs are here, and they've already supplanted the demand for current-gen cards that people were rabidly competing to buy not all that long ago.
Although 30 series cards may seem like the more affordable and readily available option, Nvidia has been able to cripple a lot of desire to buy them because they've boasted about the massive performance leaps its next-generation boards have managed to find. Meanwhile, in the storage market, the biggest companies haven't been able to do that, which has left them in a bit of a tough spot.
"New" products, and "next generations" of gaming hardware are probably the biggest weapon manufacturers have to keep demand for their devices high. This is something the storage market has been missing for the entirety of 2022, as prices of SSDs dropped to whole new lows.
Even as 2023 rolls onward, prices of some of our favorite SSDs have continued to be on offer since Black Friday. Moreover, a cornucopia of great models in all sorts of capacities goes on offer every week. It isn't just internal SSDs either, externals are experiencing the same price dips too, and this is projected to continue into the first half of the year at least.
So where do the biggest names in storage turn? They need to keep units moving, but they're now in a prolonged period of low prices, where MSRPs aren't worth the price tags they're written on. "New" in the form of Gen 5.0 PCIe SSDs seems like the only escape rope for an industry that's struggling - especially if it can use those 10GB/s speeds as a selling point. As nice as lower prices are for consumers, a change needs to come soon because no market benefits from its apex predator being so cheap for so long. Many analysts are even saying that if nothing changes, 2023 could bring about the death of HDD.
CFD Gaming's Gen 5.0 SSD becoming available in Japan could be a light at the end of the tunnel for SSD makers - a sign that demand might finally increase again if this new generation can reach international markets soon. As new processors, more powerful GPUs, and wider adoption of DDR5 RAM creates a demand for faster sequential speeds, this could be the "something new" that the storage markets need.
If you're on the hunt for a new SSD, I'd act quickly. This could be a small catalyst in SSD prices starting to climb once again.
Looking for something a bit more portable? Check out the best external hard drives. If you need something more specific to your platform, take a look at the best PS5 external hard drives, or the best Xbox Series X hard drives.