As we've learned from testing a multitude of solid-state disks, controller technology can play a big role in defining overall drive performance. The number of controllers on the market is growing steadily, and Samsung and Seagate have now revealed that they're working on one of their own. Samsung has developed controllers for its own SSDs in the past, but it's collaborating with Seagate on a new design geared towards enterprise applications.
Interestingly, the press release makes no mention of the single-level cell (SLC) memory common in enterprise-class SSDs. Instead, it talks of marrying Seagate's "leadership in enterprise storage technology" with Samsung's "30 nanometer-class MLC NAND." SLC flash is more common in the SSDs found in workstations and servers due to its higher write speeds and order-of-magnitude advantage in write-erase endurance. Samsung and Seagate claim to be gunning for the "high levels of performance, reliability and endurance demanded by enterprise storage applications," though.
Of course, the two companies won't be the first to bring MLC flash to enterprise-grade SSDs. SandForce's SF-1500 controller is specifically designed for the purpose, and it uses a secret sauce of DuraWrite technologies to achieve an ultra-low write amplification factor that should mitigate the limited write-erase tolerance of MLC memory. It's unclear how Samsung and Seagate plan to tackle the challenges presented by MLC memory or when this new controller tech might arrive. The press release does, however, confirm that the new controller will be used by Seagate's enterprise-class SSDs.
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