Monday, November 18th 2013

LSI Introduces the SandForce SF3700 Family of SSD Controllers

LSI Corporation today unveiled the third generation of its market-leading SandForce flash controller line, the industry's most widely deployed flash management technology for driving PCIe and SATA solid state drive (SSD) and flash card solutions. Designed to support power-sensitive client computing applications as well as I/O-intensive enterprise and hyperscale environments, the new LSI SandForce SF3700 flash controller family provides the increased levels of flash performance, reliability and endurance needed to meet the exacting needs of SSD manufacturers.

The SF3700 family is the industry's first flash controller that provides the flexibility to support both native PCIe Gen2 x4 and SATA 6 Gb/s host interfaces in a single ASIC design. This unique capability greatly simplifies SSD designs and helps to significantly reduce development and manufacturing costs for SSD makers.
With the addition of the SF3700 family's PCIe interface support, users can achieve breakthrough client performance of over 1.8 GB/s sequential reads, a 3x improvement compared to SATA-based solutions.

"From our everyday lives to the hyperscale datacenter, flash storage solutions are transforming the speed and efficiency of data storage," said Huibert Verhoeven, vice president and general manager, Flash Components Division, LSI. "The SF3700 family brings a new architecture, designed from the ground up to deliver unmatched flash performance and the longevity required to drive current and future portable client computing, enterprise and big data applications."

"Intel is focused on providing unique offerings optimized for our customers' specific needs," said Rob Crooke, Intel corporate vice president and general manager for the Intel Non-Volatile Memory Solutions Group. "Intel expects accelerated and broader industry adoption of PCIe clients, including those with the new LSI SF3700 PCIe controller family, helping to ensure our customers have the right solution for every application."

Unique and industry-first LSI SandForce SF3700 features and benefits:
  • Native PCIe and SATA Interfaces: M.2 form factor cards designed with the SF3700 flash controller's industry-only dual PCIe and SATA interface can use a simple manufacturing jumper to select the final desired interface for better inventory and cost management. The SF3700 family's PCIe interface supports AHCI and NVMe protocols to enable both legacy applications of PCIe flash and efficient NVMe flash storage application acceleration solutions.
  • Optimized DuraWrite Data Reduction: Exclusive SandForce controller data reduction technology combines several techniques to extend NAND flash memory life as flash geometries shrink and trend toward lower reliability. The SF3700 family's optimized DuraWrite data reduction technology helps to maximize SSD endurance by further lowering write amplification and the number of program erase (P/E) cycles.
  • SHIELD Error Correction: This technology extends flash memory life and significantly improves data integrity by implementing a flash-optimized low-density parity-check (LDPC) code that combines hard-decision, soft-decision and digital signal processing (DSP) together with unique adaptive error correction code rates. This enables SSD manufacturers to deliver enterprise-class product life and data integrity, even when using less expensive flash memory.
  • Enhanced RAISE Technology: Redundant Array of Independent Silicon Elements (RAISE) technology, which is similar to RAID, delivers new levels of data protection specifically designed for SSDs by protecting against page, block and full die failures in a single drive environment. The SF3700 family's unique ninth channel for an extra flash package enables more RAISE protection and user capacity options.
  • Dual AES-256 Encryption: Data security is an important component in today's digital age, and the SF3700 family enterprise controllers feature unique dual AES-256 drive-level encryption to secure data without incurring additional host processor load. Optional support for TCG Opal and Enterprise specifications ensure broad interoperability and ease of data security management.
SF3700 family controllers provide up to 2 TB maximum capacity and a 9-channel ONFI-3/Toggle-2 flash interface. Their modular and flexible architecture enables fast migration to new host interfaces and media types, allowing for significant firmware reuse between new products, as well as continuous innovation throughout the life of the product. The result is an accelerated time to market, increased ability to support customer-specific customizations, and an extended product life for SSD manufacturers and system OEMs.

LSI is demonstrating the new SF3700 family controllers this week at the SC13 conference in Denver, Colo., and at LSI's Accelerating Innovation Summit (AIS) taking place in San Jose, Calif.

The AIS demo will showcase the SF3700 family's breakthrough client performance of 1.8 GB/s sequential reads using Toshiba's second generation Advanced 19 nanometer (A19nm) NAND flash memory. LSI will also display initial reference designs, which support flash memory vendors Micron, SanDisk and Toshiba. In addition, SandForce flash controller customers ADATA, Avant and Kingston will showcase SF3700-based PCIe and SATA SSD products.

SF3700 flash controllers are currently sampling to select SSD OEM customers. Volume customer shipments are expected in the first half of 2014.
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3 Comments on LSI Introduces the SandForce SF3700 Family of SSD Controllers

The Von Matrices
I'm glad to finally see progress in the consumer/enthusiast SSD market. It looks like we finally have something to fill PCIe x4 slots. The only issue is going to be compatibility. The drive supports 1.8GB/s reads, so you you need PCIe x4 to get 2GB/s of interface bandwidth; SATA Express connectors and M2 slots only support 2 lanes and would limit the drive to 1GB/s.
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Considering the SF3700 can achieve triple what SATA3's maximum speed is, it makes one wonder what speeds the current generation of SSD controllers could achieve if freed of the limitations of the SATA bus. It also makes me think that PCIe 2.0 x8 is soon going to become mandatory for storage devices, when a few years ago that would have been overkill for a graphics card!
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The Von Matrices
Assimilator said:
It also makes me think that PCIe 2.0 x8 is soon going to become mandatory for storage devices, when a few years ago that would have been overkill for a graphics card!
You have to wonder though how much real world improvement such high transfer rates can make. In a desktop scenario I can imagine that SF3700 approaches the point where the rate of user inputs is almost always the bottleneck rather than the storage system.
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