Here come the high-speed PCIe 4 SSDs 'optimized' for Rocket Lake

Addlink SSDs
(Image credit: Addlink)

Intel this week formally introduced its 11th Gen Core desktop processors, otherwise known as Rocket Lake, and with the new stack of silicon comes support for PCI Express 4.0. In that regard, Intel has achieved parity with AMD on the desktop. Right on cue, there's also a new SSD line that is apparently optimized for Intel's latest processors.

Addlink today introduced its S90 series consisting of the S95, S92, and S90. All three are M.2 form factor SSDs that leverage the PCIe 4.0 bus to deliver faster data transfer speeds than what PCIe 3.0 models are capable of hitting. Here's how the sequential read and write performance breaks down:

  • Addlink S95: 7,100MB/s reads, 6,800MB/s writes
  • Addlink S92: 4,850MB/s reads, 3,600MB/s writes
  • Addlink S90: 5,000MB/s reads, 4,400MB/s writes
Peak Storage

SATA, NVMe M.2, and PCIe SSDs on blue background

(Image credit: Future)

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That's not a typo on our part—the S92 is slower than the S90, according to the rated specifications. It's also the only one to use cheaper quad-level cell (QLC) NAND flash memory, as the S95 and S90 both employ triple-level cell (TLC) NAND. In general, TLC is faster and more durable than QLC, though all three drive lines carry a five-year warranty.

Sticking its slowest SSD of the bunch into the middle of the pack is not the confusing part, though. That distinction belongs to the marketing angle. Addlink is pitching these drives as being somehow custom tuned for Rocket Lake. The entire first section of the press release doubles down on Intel's claim that PCIe 4 SSDs will perform better on its latest platform than AMD's.

"Intel Rocket Lake-S comes two years after AMD Ryzen (X570/B550) lead the industry with the first PC chips to support the PCIe 4.0 interface. During CES 2021, Intel revealed some detail about new Rocket Lake chips and claims the 11th Gen Intel Core Desktop platform delivers up to 11 percenter better PCIe Gen 4 storage performance vs the AMD Ryzen 9 5000 platform," Addlink states.

Addlink also notes its latest SSDs are "optimized for 11th Gen Intel Rocket Lake-S" CPUs, which seemingly suggests they are somehow tweaked to work better with Rocket Lake. But then the messaging shifts somewhat.

"Addlink S90, S92, and S95 SSDs are ready for the latest AMD Ryzen 3rd Gen X570/B550 and Intel Rocket Lake 11th Gen Z590 motherboard, those with a PCIe 4.0 Interface.  And compatible with most desktops and laptops from all the major brands," the company adds.

So are these drives truly optimized for Rocket Lake? Good question, and I unfortunately do not have an answer. We've dropped our contacts at Addlink a line to find out, and will update if we hear anything back. 

I suppose there could be something in the controller hardware that makes them better suited for Rocket Lake, but I doubt it. If they end up performing better on Intel silicon, it will likely be because Intel's claims are correct, rather than anything Addlink baked into its new drives.

As for pricing, here's what we're looking at (rounded up):

  • Addlink S95 2TB: $479 (~$0.24 per gigabyte)
  • Addlink S95 1TB:  $235 (~$0.24 per gigabyte)
  • Addlink S92 4TB: $600 (~$0.15 per gigabyte)
  • Addlink S92 2TB: $270 (~$0.14 per gigabyte)
  • Addlink S92 1TB: $140 (~$0.14 per gigabyte)
  • Addlink S90 2TB: $360 (~$0.18 per gigabyte)
  • Addlink S90 1TB: $200 (~$0.20 per gigabyte)

Those are Amazon prices, which feel a little high in some cases. As a point of reference, Samsung's 980 Pro in 2TB form is currently priced at $380 on Amazon, and the 1TB model goes for $197.

Here's hoping drive makers avoid marketing SSDs to one platform over the other, unless they're willing to provide a separate set of rated specifications for both platforms. Otherwise, it's just needlessly confusing.

In any event, Addlink's S90 series is available now.

Paul Lilly

Paul has been playing PC games and raking his knuckles on computer hardware since the Commodore 64. He does not have any tattoos, but thinks it would be cool to get one that reads LOAD"*",8,1. In his off time, he rides motorcycles and wrestles alligators (only one of those is true).