SandForce has released details on their next generation SSD controller. I was briefed by their staff yesterday, and this looks to be everything storage nuts were hoping for, as well as throughput figures doubling that of Intel’s (leaked) specs. Highlights follow:
  • SATA 6Gb/sec interface, with throughput at or exceeding 500 MB/sec (reads AND writes).
  • 60k IOPS for 4KB random access (reads, mixed access, and pure writes).
  • Support for AES-128 as well as AES-256 (once approved by NIST).
  • Support for non-standard sector size access such as 4KB (improves small random write performance in SAS applications).
  • Compatible with both Samsung toggle-mode flash as well as Intel/Micron/Toshiba ONFI 2.0 standard flash.
  • Improved error correction (BCH-55 vs. Reed-Solomon-24).
Sandforce had a booth at IDF earlier this year, where they showed a functioning SF-2xxx controller prototype driving IMFT 25nm flash. This shows they are definitely on track to release these drives. While they may start with enterprise-grade and gradually scale back to consumer-grade parts, it’s probably safe to assume companies like OCZ will jump the gun and package the enterprise parts into some form of consumer product.

Sandforce announces next generation SSD controller, gives Intel a run for their money. - Storage 2

SF-2xxx controller layout

Though it’s not clear from the above pic, AES-256 will actually be double encrypted – once at the SATA side of the drive, and again just before the data is passed to the flash. The double encryption takes place with two different engines and two different keys, significantly hardening the stored data.

SandForce will be demoing their new chip at Storage Networking World. More details in the press release below.

SandForce Debuts SF-2000 SSD Processor Family
Live 6Gb/s SATA SSD Product Demonstrations at Storage Networking World Using Advanced 30nm class Flash with High-Speed ONFi2 and Toggle Interfaces

SARATOGA, CA. – October 7, 2010 – SandForce® Inc., the pioneer of SSD (Solid State Drive) Processors that enable standard NAND Flash deployment in enterprise, client, and industrial computing applications, today announced the availability of the SF-2000 Family of SSD Processors optimized for SSDs deployed in mission-critical Enterprise and Industrial computing applications.  These chips feature a 6 Gigabit-per-second SATA host interface, industry applauded DuraClass™ Technology, an unprecedented 60,000 sustained random read/write IOPS (Input-output Operations Per Second) and sustained sequential read/write performance of 500 Megabytes per second. In addition to state-of-the-art performance, reliability, security, and Serial-Attached SCSI (SAS) connectivity enhancements, the SF-2000 family supports single-level, multi-level, and enterprise multi-level cell (SLC, MLC, & eMLC) NAND Flash families from Hynix, Intel, Micron, Samsung, and Toshiba with its high-speed ONFi2 and Toggle Flash interface.

“The market for SSDs is poised to experience rapid growth over the next few years,” said Jeff Janukowicz, research manager for Solid State Drives at IDC. “Solutions, such as the SandForce SF-2000 Family of SSD Processors, that enable increased performance and higher reliability in a flexible design will enable SSD vendors to meet the demands of this fast paced market.”

The SF-2000 SSD Processor Family addresses the needs of Enterprise and Industrial storage markets with configurations and firmware optimized for each segment. These devices preserve the advantageous SandForce ”DRAM-less” architecture (no DRAM components required) which is optimal for dense and custom tiny-form factor native SATA SSDs, in addition to SAS- and PCI Express-based SSDs when integrated with industry-leading RAID and Host-Bus Adapter chips on one card.

Additionally, SF-2000 SSD Processors feature:
•         Support for advanced 30nm- and 20nm-class Flash with Asynch/ONFi2/Toggle interfaces with data rates up to 166 Mega Transfers per second
•         Enhanced dual-ported SAS bridge support, including non-512-byte sector sizes, e.g.,  520, 524, 528, 4K, etc., with Data Integrity Field (DIF) for true Enterprise-class SAS drive behavior and performance
•         TCG Enterprise security with selectable multi-banded 256/128-bit AES encryption with line-rate double encryption for data written to the drive
•         Advanced ECC engine correcting up to 55 bits per 512-byte sector to assure high data integrity and support for future generations of Flash memory
•         Power and performance throttling options to support green computing initiatives
•         Industrial temperature support (-40 to +85 degrees Celsius)
“Eighteen months ago, SandForce transformed the data storage industry by being the first company to demonstrate ground-breaking SSD Processor technology that enables MLC flash to be used reliably in enterprise-class SSD applications with world-class performance,” said Michael Raam, President and CEO for SandForce. “We are building on the success of our first generation product now in production with multiple Enterprise OEMs by introducing the SF-2000 family that offers significant feature and performance enhancements for our rapidly expanding customer base of trusted SandForce Driven Enterprise and Industrial SSD manufacturers.”

Live SF-2000 Product Demonstrations At Storage Networking World!
SandForce will demonstrate SF-2000 products at the Storage Networking World Exhibition, booth #413 (Gaylord Texan Hotel, Dallas, Texas, October 11-14). SandForce 2.5-inch SSD reference designs will be on display operating with 30nm-class Flash memory with both ONFi2 and Toggle interfaces. Other products on display in the SandForce booth include unique form factor products from various SandForce Driven SSD manufacturers with SATA, SAS, and PCI Express host interfaces. All SandForce SSD Processors include award-winning DuraClass Technology with features like RAISE™ to reduce field failures and returns, DuraWrite™ to optimize MLC endurance in write intensive applications, and a high sustained and balanced read/write performance.