Seagate FireCuda gaming SSD — denser NAND can radically boost SSD speed

Seagate has updated its PCIe 4 FireCuda gumstick SSD with denser NAND and doubled capacity, giving random read IOPS a 33 per cent uplift and a 57 per cent increase in sequential write speed compared to the previous FireCuda 520 model.

These are gaming SSDs, but the interest lies in what they indicate about business workstation and server SSD performance using the same technology.

Seagate SVP Jeff Fochtman provided an announcement quote: “This is Seagate’s fastest and most powerful gaming SSD and we’re showcasing it at our first-ever virtual gaming event to put a stake in the ground.” 

Seagate FireCuda 530 with heatsink (top) and without heatsink (bottom).

The FireCuda 530 uses the latest 176-layer Micron 3D NAND, comes in 500GB as well as 1, 2, and 4TB capacity points, and uses a Phison E18 controller with (we understand) Seagate firmware providing pseudo-SLC caching.

The maximum performance numbers are up to one million random read IOPS (750,000 for the FireCuda 520), one million random write IOPS (700,000 for the 520 model), 7.3GB/sec sequential reading (5GB/sec for the 520) and 6.9GB/sec sequential writing (the 520 manages a comparatively leisurely 4.4GB/sec). 

FireCuda 530 details table. MSRP is for non-heatsink models.

Promised endurance is up to 5100 TB written, over the five-year warranty period — 0.7 drive writes per day. The 520 was better in drive writes per day terms, with a 1.97 rating. 

There is a FireCuda 530 heatsink option, with a smooth aluminium slab being used, rather than a finned slab with cooling channels. SeaTools and DiskWizard utilities come with the drive to help fix faults and manage the drive. There is also a three-year Rescue Data Recovery Service plan.

The first FireCuda M.2 format drive was the January 2019 timeframe 510 product, with up to 2TB capacity using 64-layer NAND and the PCIe gen-3 bus. It delivered up 485,000/600,000 random read/write IOPS and up to 3.45GB/sec sequential reads and 3.2GB/sec sequential writes. Two and a half years later, the 530 goes more than twice as fast.

Out of interest, Micron’s own M.2 format, 176L 3D NAND, PCIe 4.0, 3400 SSD delivers 720,000/700,000 random read/write IOPS, up to 6.6GB/sec sequential reads and 5GB/sec sequential writes. Seagate’s 530 drive using the same NAND is significantly faster.