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SandForce unveils next-gen controllers

by Pete Mason on 7 October 2010, 10:22

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qa2f3

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When reporting on Intel's plans for its third-generation SSDs yesterday, we mentioned that SandForce would soon be releasing an updated controller of its own. Well, today we can confirm that the company has launched an all new family of chips for enterprise and industrial flash drives.

The SF-2000-series raises the bar in almost every respect - a pretty impressive feat considering the SF-1000 controllers are already industry leaders. Read and write speeds will go up to 500MB/s while sustained random read/write performance gets a boost to 60,000 IOPS.

To keep up with this blistering speed the new controllers will also support SATA 6Gbps, giving drives plenty of room to breathe. Unfortunately the maximum capacity is still limited to 512GB, though this won't be a problem for the vast majority of prospective purchasers. In addition, they will be compatible with the latest 20nm-class flash memory.

Being targeted initially at industrial users, these SF-2000 chips have a few additional special features. These include various SAS enhancements, support for enterprise-MLC as well as SLC and MLC memory, an advanced ECC engine and selectable multi-banded 256/128-bit AES encryption.

When it comes to SSD controllers, SandForce is already at the top of the stack, and with the SF-2000 family it's sure to stay there for some time to come. The competition will have to have a serious cost-per-gigabyte advantage to make up for being left in the dust by these new chips.

Obviously, the industrial-class SF-2300 and the enterprise-class SF-2500 and SF-2600 won't be making it into consumer drives. However, in the past, the only difference between the consumer and professional controllers has been the firmware, meaning that the next generation of super-fast consumer SSDs could be with us very soon.

Update: Numerous sources are now reporting that OCZ has stepped up to announce that it will be shipping enterprise SSDs using the new controller in the first quarter of 2011.



HEXUS Forums :: 19 Comments

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Oh dear, Intel. That's what happens when you sit on your ass, and pretend competition doesn't exist.
At what point do we hit the maximum speed of current flash memory technology?

Or do we just end up uzing dozens of smaller capacity chips and interleve them all?
Nice! Been waiting for this, can't wait to see them start hitting the retail space in the future. :)

Also lol'ing at how bad the specs make the just updated Intel drives look in comparison.
HEXUS
The competition will have to have a serious cost-per-gigabyte advantage to make up for being left in the dust by these new chips.

To be honest, I'd be more excited by a drive with the performance of a current Intel drive drive (more than enough for me) but at half or less of the current £/GB. I somehow suspect the difference between a HDD and SSD will be far more noticeable than the difference between e.g. the current and next-gen sandforce.

If much better performing drives from others means Intel has to compete fiercely on price, I'll be happy. The position over the last year or so seems to have been better performing drives, but not wonderfully better £/GB.
aidanjt
Oh dear, Intel. That's what happens when you sit on your ass, and pretend competition doesn't exist.

it doesn't really. Nobody can match Intel's validation process and you will find their G2s are just as fast as the SF offerings in most cases (even if their respective datasheets say otherwise).

If there is anyone guilty of sitting on their hands in the SSD market, it is OCZ. It's no coincidence that their barefoot drives halved in price as soon as Intel released their 2nd gen SSDs. OCZ denied problems with their Core series SSDs right up till Anand put the spotlight on the bag of **** that was the Jmicron controller. Even then, OCZ's CEO condemned Anand's efforts in exposing the issue to the masses.

SSDs would not be where they are now if it wasn't for Intel to single handedly dictate pricing (indilinx still charge a pretty penny for their inferior controllers)