Next-gen SandForce SSDs to support 6Gbps SATA

Sandforce has fresh SSD silicon in the works. Dubbed the SF-2000, the new controller promises broader NAND compatibility and faster performance. AnandTech has all the gory details.

Although Intel has yet to commit to offering next-gen SATA support in its upcoming X25-M refresh, the SF-2000 is ready for 6GBps SATA. Indeed, the controller needs the faster interface, at least to make the most of its potential. SandForce claims the SF-2000 is capable of sustaining read and write speeds of 500MB/s, which is considerably faster than what an old-school 3Gbps SATA link can handle. Performance with random reads and writes has been improved, as well. The SF-2000 can purportedly crunch 60,000 IOps with 4KB random reads and writes—twice the throughput of the old SF-1500.

Thanks to support for all kinds of NAND, we could see SSDs based on the SF-2000 at a variety of price points and performance levels. The chip supports the faster ONFI 2.0 flash that’s already seen action in Crucial’s RealSSD C300, and it’s equipped to make the most of “toggle mode” NAND developed by Toshiba. With the low write amplification factor inherent to SandForce’s DuraWrite technology, the SF-2000 should also be a viable option for drive makers looking to put together budget SSDs based on lower-grade flash chips with less write-erase endurance.

Solid-state disks based on the SF-2000 aren’t expected to hit the market until the first quarter of next year. I suspect we’ll see quite a few of them on display at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.

Comments closed
    • Chrispy_
    • 9 years ago

    With hard drives becoming ridiculously quick these days, it’s really starting to highlight all the unnecessary delays in various OS’s and programs.

    If Windows and MacOS were written to wait for fewer things (a poll result, internal timeouts before moving onto the next instruction etc) we’d really start to see the dawn of instant computing. Blaming a slow mechanical disk was always a believable excuse. Replace the slow disk with something like this (SLC RAID0 array) and it turns out that not all the delays are disk-based.

    • ShadowTiger
    • 9 years ago

    Lets say I had a mobo with 6gb/S connection, and one of these SSDs… and lets suppose it could actually fully saturate that connection instead of just barely surpassing 3gb/s

    Can most motherboards even handle that much data coming from the HDD with your PCI Express and stuff taking up alot of your avaiable FSB and whatnot?

    What if you had 2 or 3 of these in a mainstream computer? That would be a peak 18gb/S if you had simultaneous peak reads… I can’t believe that most mobos could support that.

    I don’t really get how all this stuff works but seems to me like there should be a bottleneck in there somewhere, one that motherboard manufacturers haven’t had any reason to improve until recently.

      • jwb
      • 9 years ago

      It’s worse than that. A single CPU core can not really deal with more than a few 100,000s of IOPS if they are being served over the network (iSCSI for example). So yeah, with the advent of the SSD your storage is rapidly becoming not the bottleneck.

        • mesyn191
        • 9 years ago

        Dual and quad cores are becoming common now though. Software still has to take advantage of it of course but that is changing.

      • shank15217
      • 9 years ago

      There is ample bandwidth to handle 2-3 of these ssd in even the basic motherboards of today from both and amd and intel camps

    • ew
    • 9 years ago

    This is a good thing.

    • HisDivineShadow
    • 9 years ago

    Hoping that price, size, and power consumption become the important emphasis for SSD’s going forward because performance is fast approaching the level where most consumers aren’t going to see much difference from one to the next at the speeds these next gen drives will be transferring data at.

    Large size at reasonable cost producing little heat and sipping less power is the promise of what SSD can offer. Cutting down a boot from 10 seconds to 9 seconds, cutting a file transfer from 1 second to half a second, these are gains that are just not as worthy of the extra cost imo.

      • jwb
      • 9 years ago

      Size and reliability are good places for competition in SSDs, but there’s also room for massive speed-ups to the degree that flash could reasonably be thought of as a near-RAM storage system. For instance Fusion-io differentiate themselves by dumping the SATA interface altogether and doing more work in the kernel driver. We may see other players coming up with various ways around the limits of the SATA interface, including innovation at the operating system layer in how storage is modeled.

    • indeego
    • 9 years ago

    Droolg{<.<}g

    • OneArmedScissor
    • 9 years ago

    These things are going to use like 10 watts. Where are the proper SSDs for laptops that actually save power? 🙁

      • indeego
      • 9 years ago

      Nevermind, wrong form factorg{<.<}g

      • squngy
      • 9 years ago

      They might use up to 10W, but they won’t be weary busy most of the time
      (Hurry up and go idle?) and unlike HDDs they don’t have to spin disks when idle.

        • OneArmedScissor
        • 9 years ago

        The trouble is that, just as is the case with every other computer chip, more powerful SSD controllers draw more power at idle than slower ones. Some idle at the same amount some “slow” ones use when they’re doing a quick random write. That’s why battey life comparisons between 2.5″ HDDs and flavor of the month SSDs tend to show no difference. Some SSDs are actually just outright worse.

        People try to make that same argument about more powerful CPUs, but it doesn’t hold any water. If the chip is more complex and flopping power states all over the place, there’s very little chance it’s saving power overall. You’re not doing anything on the average laptop that is doing much waiting on any modern computer component, so “dumbing things down” would actually make more sense than trying to make it get things done faster to save power.

        There have been SSDs that largely stick to the 0.2-0.6w range. It would sure be great to see what could be done with that if the sole intention was to keep power use down on, say, a modern 60GB drive.

      • DancinJack
      • 9 years ago

      Any link where I can get that info?

        • OneArmedScissor
        • 9 years ago

        Wild speculation on my part, but not totally baseless. :p

        For example, the new Intel drives are rated for 6w. These ought to be much faster.

          • DancinJack
          • 9 years ago

          Got ya. I imagine the drives based on these controllers shouldn’t stray too far from the power consumption of the SF controllers selling today. For instance, the SF-1200/1500 are 90nm parts while the new 2000 series is based on a 65nm process. You could be right though.

            • jwb
            • 9 years ago

            What we really need is to get rid of the controller and just expose all the flash directly to the host CPU and operating system. There’s really no reason to have what amounts to a massive RAID controller inside the SSD itself. You could do everything it does, in software, on a host core, much more efficiently. A modern Intel CPU has got rather advanced power saving features that a small player like sandforce can never hope to replicate.

            • mesyn191
            • 9 years ago

            Sounds expensive and impractical, at least for now.

            If the all the flash manufacturers got together and agreed on a spec. and the chipset and mobo manufacturers agreed to it too then sure, it’d be great. I don’t think that’ll happen any time soon though.

            • BlackStar
            • 9 years ago

            The downside is that you’d need hard disk drivers for every hard disk and every OS in existence *in addition* to your standard SATA/IDE ones. The built-in controllers allow the OS to use a standard command set that’s understood by all hard disks. Take that away and you are into driver hell.

            • Farting Bob
            • 9 years ago

            The built in controllers manage to know what to do with any drive you care to throw at it, so obviously its pretty standard stuff, dont see why you’d need seperate drivers for each drive in windows/linux/etc.

            • thesmileman
            • 9 years ago

            Uhmm, You do remember the really awesome NICs which actually used the CPU as there driver? Yea those were great! <sarcasm>

            Everytime you CPU usages was high your network performance would drop to near zero. Also you couldn’t use the NIC until you booted windows. I am sooo ready for those days to come back.

            • jwb
            • 9 years ago

            The fastest SSD you can buy, the Fusion IO ioDrive, does *everything* on the host CPU. This is not slow. In fact it is much faster.

    • 5150
    • 9 years ago

    Give me this NOW!

    • khands
    • 9 years ago

    I tend to wonder if the new Intel SSDs will have to be price competitive, since they apparently have no where near the throughput.

      • Sanctusx2
      • 9 years ago

      At 25nm, it doesn’t matter as much because they’ll be extremely competitive on price/capacity, which I’d say is the larger issue at the moment.

        • OneArmedScissor
        • 9 years ago

        *points to bazillion dollar, tiny, tiny, tiny 32nm CPUs*

          • NeelyCam
          • 9 years ago

          Intel prices them high just because they can. Did you see that 60+% gross margin?

          *points to bazillion dollar, huge, slow, crappy CPUs from 5 years ago*

    • sweatshopking
    • 9 years ago

    YAWN. wake me when amd makes SSD’s.

      • squngy
      • 9 years ago

      Didn’t AMD sell its flash devision around the time of the GF takeover?

        • UberGerbil
        • 9 years ago

        Much earlier, actually: the spun it off (with partner Fujitsu) in 2003, and it went public as Spansion in 2005. AMD retains a small (sub-10%) ownership stake I believe.

      • Yawn
      • 9 years ago

      Added to my “to-do” list.

        • Grigory
        • 9 years ago

        Haha!

          • dashbarron
          • 9 years ago

          +1. I’m excited over the news of a new controller. The new tech/speeds with the right price could get me to finally buy my first main OS ssd. A nice 120GB or so.

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