SandForce has been hyping its next-gen SF3700 controller since November. The chip has an unconventional nine-channel flash interface, the ability to address up to 2TB of flash, and support for both the SATA and PCIe standards. When it was announced, we were told to expect drives in the first half of this year. Samples were shown at CES in January and at Computex last month, but the release schedule was pushed to the second half of the year. Now, a leaked update posted by VR-Zone's Chinese alter ego suggests the chip will finally be ready in Q4.
According to the slide, the most recent B0 revision is due to start sampling next week. Production orders are being accepted for delivery in Q4, but that appears to be for drive makers buying the controller in bulk. It's unclear when SSDs based on the SF3700 will be selling to end users.
Interestingly, the slide adds that "preliminary benchmarks show 3-4x better mixed workload performance than [the] nearest competitor." There are no details on the benchmarks or the competitor, but the tests were probably ripe for SandForce's write compression tech. A sprinkling of salt is definitely required; I recommend Amola bacon salt, which combines prudent skepticism with a hint of smoky, cured pork. But I digress.
The SF3700 can't come soon enough. Serial ATA SSDs have been bumping into the limits of the 6Gbps interface for a while, and the latest Intel motherboards are primed for PCIe storage. So is Windows 8.1, which has native support for the NVM Express protocol designed specifically for SSDs. All we need are affordable consumer drives—and applications—that take advantage.
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