FMS 2022: I/O+ Technology Firmware Unleashes Next-Gen Gaming

Phison I/O+ Technology Receives Rave Reviews from Industry Insiders

By | Aug 3, 2022 | All, Consumer, Gaming

With the Flash Memory Summit (FMS) 2022 serving as a fitting backdrop, Phison demonstrated its new I/O+ technology for the first time. We sampled three top storage reviewers with I/O+ technology-enabled SSDs to see firsthand how they enable game developers to add sharper graphic detail and more expansive worlds.

Before delving into what these experienced reviewers had to say about I/O+, here is some background information that explains how game developers can use I/O+ technology to accelerate future streaming workloads that target gaming and prosumer applications.



About the I/O+ technology

I/O+ technology is a group of custom firmware innovations that optimize the SSD for sustained read workloads that run for hours, Phison’s I/O+ technology does not compromise classical workloads as shown in the benchmarks on display today. Moreover, the biggest gains seen with I/O+ technology are on tasks that emphasize medium to large IO (Input/Output) in the 32K to 1MB block size range. Smaller block size data can also benefit from I/O+ technology also when the transfers are streamed


Workloads with high performance benefits

  • DirectStorage gaming
  • Compiling code
  • Rendering video special effects
  • Rescaling video for different platforms
  • Machine learning
  • Disk-based crypto mining


E18 with I/O+ technology at FMS 2022

I/O+ technology and DirectStorage gaming

DirectStorage from Microsoft is a new API that allows games to take advantage of speedy NVMe SSDs. This API (Application Programming Interface) has already been proven in console gaming and will be a real game changer on PCs where the system has more powerful components. Users will notice near non-existent load times right away but the performance benefits go far beyond stopwatch level performance.

DirectStorage will allow game developers to stream the data from the SSD to the GPU much like your TV does video service today from servers. GPU makers will also be able to reduce the amount of DRAM (that often makes up as much as 50% of the video card’s cost). By constantly fetching textures during gameplay, DirectStorage uses the SSD like a large cache instead of being limited to expensive system DRAM. This translates into a sustained read workload at the drive level during a gaming session.

With I/O+ technology, games can run monstrous 12-plus hour sessions with no drop in the available bandwidth that must stay steady to eliminate visual hitching or stutters during gameplay. There are also benefits for non-gaming workloads, too. For example, the chrome browser source code can compile data significantly faster when using I/O+ technology firmware.

What the reviewers uncovered

For the rest of this blog, we want to highlight what these reviewers uncovered about the Phison I/O+ technology with quotes from their respective stories. To augment their reviews, we will weigh in with our own insights.


What Tom’s Hardware had to say

Below is a chart that tells the tale. Below are some Tom’s Hardware excerpts from Shane Downing’s story titled: The DirectStorage Advantage: Phison I/O+ SSD Firmware Preview


Source:  Tom’s Hardware

The first DirectStorage-enabled game, Forspoken, won’t arrive until January 2023. Still, Phison gave us access to an early version of its new firmware that will transform some existing Phison-powered SSDs into DirectStorage-capable devices.

Phison’s new game-optimized I/O+ firmware could be coming soon to an SSD near you, bringing DirectStorage-class performance to the masses.

The Phison evaluation sample with I/O+ firmware performed mostly as expected, matching drives with similar hardware while demonstrating impressive improvements in the Iometer tests. We would expect this firmware to be overall superior with some further refinement — even if they are minor, improvements aimed at scheduling and flash management should bring general uplifts in classic workloads.


What TweakTown had to say

Below is a chart that shows where the I/O+ stands. Below are some Tweaktown excerpts from Jon Coulter’s story titled: Phison I/O+ Technology Preview – DirectStorage  Gaming Companion


Source:  TweakTown

In this scenario, the E18 I/O+ even beats Optane! And the next closest non-Phison SSD, the WD Black, is serving up 32% less throughput. Good things come to those with the foresight to prepare, and it certainly looks like Phison is on top of texture streaming and all that comes with it.

Serving data to the host (read) is performance that matters, and here the E18 I/O+ delivers exactly as it’s designed to do, even delivering a new lab record for an E18-controlled SSD. Outstanding.

Phison I/O+ Technology is firmware specifically optimized for sustained read workloads that run for hours. Significant gains are seen on tasks that emphasize medium to large IO (32K to1MB), which is the exact type of workload served up by DirectStorage-enabled games.


Phison sets the standard

Our standard PS5018-E18 already delivers exceptional performance that surpasses recommendations for DirectStorage API. By reducing block level read disturb (BLRD), I/O+ technology increases the E-18’s capabilities for future workloads. I/O+ technology allows game developers to build higher detail settings into next-generation games by providing the guaranteed bandwidth required to deliver fast-paced action without graphic abnormalities.


Final words from the experts

Preview articles are rare in the technology space. Many companies only want to show off finished products with perfect pictures and ideal conditions. At Phison, we are transparent, demonstrating our products in real time, and under uncontrolled conditions. We know enthusiasts are passionate about technology and eager to learn more about the latest and greatest products in NAND flash storage industry.


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