It’s been a little over three years since we’ve seen a new controller from LSI SandForce and that was before the acquisition of SandForce by LSI. A number of competitors have released controllers that have really ratcheted up the competition so it’s high time LSI answered the call. That answer comes with the in the form of their third generation SF3700 series controller that promises a host of improvements and innovations to help them attempt to regain the crown they wore for some time. With the SATA III interface not yielding much more in bandwidth, they’ll need to do more than kick up read/write performance but rather focus more features. Not that performance improvements are absent. It mostly applies to enterprise applications but drive latency is much improved and claim tested client performance of 1,800MB/s in sequential reads (PCIe).
This is the first flash controller with a single ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit) that can support both native PCIe Gen2 x4 and SATA 6Gbs host interfaces which means we’ll be seeing an even wider array of drives come 2014 on both the consumer and enterprise markets. The change from PCIe to SATA comes simply via a change of a manufacturing jumper (plus firmware updates) so don’t get any cute thoughts about modding a drive to a different interface.
The SF3700 controller will wear several hats serving up data for for everyone from entry level consumer applications, all the way to high-end enterprise solutions with support up to 2TB maximum capacity with a 9-channel ONFI-3/Toggle-2 flash interface. Each will carry their own part number and will be tailored the applications intended.
We’re told that we’ll begin seeing SF3700 based products in the first half of 2014 but were unable to get anything more specific than that due to existing non-disclosure agreements.