SandForce SF-2000 Series SSD Controllers Detailed

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SandForce SF-2000 Controllers Announced

SandForce SF-2000 Series

SandForce is making some news today by announcing the availability of the SF-2000 Family of SSD Processors (controller) optimized for SSDs deployed in mission-critical Enterprise and Industrial computing applications. This new SSD controller features a SATA III 6Gbps host interface, DuraClass Technology, 60,000 sustained random read/write IOPS (Input-output Operations Per Second) and sustained sequential read/write performance of 500 Megabytes per second. Yes, you are reading that right! This new controller will be able to max out the Serial ATA Revision 3.0 bus at 500MB/s read/write!

SandForce SF-2000 Series

SandForce was also kind enough to take a picture of one of their new SF-2000 series controllers for us, so what you are looking at in the picture above is one of the very first engineering samples. The SF-2000 series controller above was made week 40 of 2010, which is this week! The new SF-2000 series is a different die than the original SF-1000 series as the controller now measures 14x14mm versus 13x13mm on their first series. SandForce declined to comment on the transistor count.

SandForce SF-2000 Series

SandForce recently announced that they closed $25 million in Series D funding last month and we were informed by the company that the money is going to helping bring the SF-2000 series to the market. SandForce also said that the SF-1000 series controllers have done extermely well in the market and that they have sold less than a million, but well into the high hundreds of thousands of SF-1000 series controllers in just the past year. 

SandForce SF-2000 Series

The key changes in the SF-2000 series controller is most obviously the updated SATA III 6Gb/s interface, which helps push performance up to 60,000 IOPS for 4K Random Read and Write data transfers. It also pushed the sequential Read and Write performance numbers up to 500MB/s and SandForce confirms they have hit those numbers in their test lab just this week with their first production run silicon that they just recently got in from overseas. SandForce will have three model numbers in the SF-2000 series; the SF-2600, SF-2500 and the SF-2300.

SandForce SF-2000 Series Controllers:

  • SF-2600: For SAS Drives
  • SF-2500: For SATA Drives
  • SF-2300: For High Heat Industrial & Military Applications w/ quick Secure Erase functionality

SandForce also increased the incoming encryption on the SF-2000 series controllers by keeping the existing AES-128 engine in CTR mode and adding in an additional AES-256 engine in XTS mode. They also have improved SAS support and are able to run non-512B (byte) sectors through the controller without any issues.  Before it used to create a problem with the bridge chip as the host has to write to two different sectors. This requires more time and cuts performance by up to half. This is why most people don’t use bridges in current designs.  SandForce was able to let the data pass through and be written in one step, which is a big deal for Enterprise users. The SandForce SF-1000 series also didn’t support Asych/Toggle/ONFi2 specifications/interfaces and those have been added in the SF-2000 series. SandForce says that the SF-2000 series controller can do 166 Mega Transfers (MT), which is 4 times on what today’s SandForce drives can do. Last, but not least is the power management improvements that SandForce did on the SF-2000 series controllers. They have more options in the firmware for their partners to set that allows throttling and so on. Moving down to 25nm MLC NAND Flash offers a power savings, but moving up to the faster SATA III 6Gb/s interface uses more power according to SandForce. They said that an SSD with an SF-2000 series controller will use roughly the same amount of power as an existing SF-1000 series based SSD. No changes were done to DuraClass technology in the SF-2000 series controller.

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