LSI buys SandForce for $322 million

Yet another SSD controller maker has been assimilated. After OCZ snapped up Indilinx earlier this year, LSI has announced an agreement to buy SandForce. OCZ paid only $32 million for Indilinx back in March, and this SandForce deal is worth considerably more: $322 million in cash. LSI will also cover $48 million in unvested stock held by SandForce staffers.

LSI currently uses SandForce controllers in its WarpDrive PCI Express SSDs, and the acquisition was clearly made with the enterprise market in mind. The press release also mentions notebooks and specifically ultrabooks—as much as it seems silly to separate those two categories, the SSDs found in ultra-slim designs use much different form factors than the standard 2.5″ drives that slot into the average notebook. Those 2.5-inchers also end up in desktop systems, although the press release doesn’t mention that market specifically.

SandForce has quite a few high-profile drive partners, including Corsair, Kingston, OWC, and OCZ. With little name recognition in the consumer market, I would expect LSI to continue to supply those partners with controller chips. However, there could be some conflict with OCZ, which uses SandForce chips its own line of PCIe SSDs. Most of OCZ’s PCIe offerings are much cheaper than the $8,500 asking price for a 300GB WarpDrive, but there’s certainly potential for more direct competition, especially with PCI Express looking like the future of solid-state storage interfaces.

Comments closed
    • Game_boy
    • 8 years ago

    What do LSI do and would I have bought anything by them?

      • ludi
      • 8 years ago

      1. Networking and storage device ICs.

      2. Possibly, embedded deep within something else.

    • Forge
    • 8 years ago

    [i<]With little name recognition in the consumer market, I would expect LSI to continue to supply those partners with controller chips.[/i<] Really? WAT? Maybe I'm dating myself here, but LSI were the go-to guys for SCSI controllers. MegaRAID FTW.

      • willmore
      • 8 years ago

      Agreed. Other than Adaptec, who else would one think of for SCSI controllers?

      • LoneWolf15
      • 8 years ago

      SCSI controllers !=consumer market.

      I remember running my whole system off of an Adaptec 2930U2 SCSI controller (HDD, tape backup, Zip drive, scanner, DVD-ROM and CD-burner) back in the Athlon days so I’d have enough IRQs, but then again, you, I, and others here are hardly “consumers”. We’re enthusiasts and/or IT professionals, so we know what LSI, Adaptec, etc. means.

      Heck, how many people even know what an IRQ is these days?

    • Arclight
    • 8 years ago

    Is that 300[s<]Gb[/s<]GB warp drive more expensive then it's weight in gold? Damn

      • aceuk
      • 8 years ago

      37.5GB?

        • Arclight
        • 8 years ago

        300 Gigabytes SSD listed on newegg at $8500

        [url<]http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16816118152&nm_mc=AFC-Techreport&cm_mmc=AFC-Techreport-_-NA-_-NA-_-NA[/url<]

          • jensend
          • 8 years ago

          *WHOOSH*

          His point was that Gb=giga[i<]bit[/i<]=1/8 GB.

            • Arclight
            • 8 years ago

            Forgot bout that. Guess it’s not my day 🙁

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 8 years ago

    Hopefully, this means all the SF crap that’s been floating around (errors, etc) will come to an end now. Either because SF will have more resources to actually QA their firmwares ahead of time or because SF will no longer be in consumer level drives. If the latter comes to pass, then OCZ could potentially wind up with a great purchase in Indilinx if everyone else shifts to Marvel-based tech.

    Too soon to tell if SF will leave the consumer market behind. Not a lot of money in consumer drives as they get lower and lower in cost…

    • Oldtech
    • 8 years ago

    They might let Sandforce die a slow agonizing death like they are doing with 3Ware.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 8 years ago

      That might be for the best.

    • Sunburn74
    • 8 years ago

    My question is if this is good for consumers? This doesn’t seem like a company that is into producing desktop level drives.

    And what does this mean for intel’s alleged rumor to use sandforce drives for their upcoming SSDs?

      • UberGerbil
      • 8 years ago

      Sandforce doesn’t produces “desktop level drives” or even any drives at all. They produce the controller chip. And that’s the market LSI is in: control logic for storage and networking. LSI already produces chips that go into RAID controllers and some hard drives, so this is a logical fit. I’m sure they’ll be quite happy to continue selling Sandforce controllers to any SSD maker that wants them; even if the R&D focus expands to more server-level gear, pumping out chips for one of the hottest growth areas in consumer electronics is a nice business to be in.

        • willmore
        • 8 years ago

        If you’ve got a late 80’s or 90’s Mac, you’ve got an LSI chip. If you have a worstation from that time period with SCSI (sort of redundant) then you almost surely have one, too. LSI isn’t afraid to sell chips wherever they’re wanted. I, too, see them fitting in well with SandForce

      • Bauxite
      • 8 years ago

      LSI has pretty good hardware and drivers actually, more than just windows and the typical metoo linux “development” seen with cheap consumer junk.

      As for Intel, they already rebrand LSI controllers and sell them as their own (as does IBM, Dell, probably HP etc) if that says anything for you.

      This is a good thing, SF is getting a lot of egg on its face having OCZ as its “flagship” OEM

        • willmore
        • 8 years ago

        “me too”?

    • Krogoth
    • 8 years ago

    Don’t surprise me at all.

    LSI knows that the future of enterprise-level data storage lies beyond HDDs. SSDs are currently the new hotness with newer technologies on the foreseeable horizon.

    I hope just hope that LSI doesn’t abandon the mainstream market in favor of the enterprise market.

    FYI, LSI has traditionally been focus on enterprise-class data solutions.

    • Bensam123
    • 8 years ago

    Good idea LSI. Not as on the ball as OCZ was as far as making a good investment on the up turn, but still a good deal. I can only imagine how this is going to turn out. The SSD market is one of those rare sectors in the overall market (everything) where there isn’t a clear set position on where things are going to go and it’s changing rapidly. It’s hard to get on the upside of the curve unless you’re into something bleeding edge.

    That aside it is curious why no one is making 3.5″ models that are standard in almost every desktop. You could fit more chips into the form factor, more capacity, and possibly more speed (depending on how you wire them). Only possible explanation I have is SSD makers are so overloaded trying to figure out the tech and they’re just sticking to one form factor to iron things out before spreading to another… could be they want the 3.5″ FF to die out too…

    I can only imagine what sort of chaos would ensue if one maker introduced 3.5s with the current sporadic and almost schizophrenic SSD pricing.

      • internetsandman
      • 8 years ago

      OCZ already has 3.5 inch SSD’s, and if a drive maker fully used all the physical space available in a 3.5″ drive, even for low-density flash modules, the price would be astronomical. It just makes no sense economically when they can just bundle 2.5″-3.5″ adapters with drives instead

        • smilingcrow
        • 8 years ago

        No point in 3.5″ form factor for consumer drives.

          • Bensam123
          • 8 years ago

          No point in 2.5″ form factor for consumer drives.

            • Firestarter
            • 8 years ago

            Except that all else being equal, smaller components = better.

        • Bensam123
        • 8 years ago

        Why would the price be astronomical…? I was under the impression that 2.5″ models are filled to capacity and higher density memory modules are used to achieve bigger drives (which ends up being more expensive). So a 3.5″ could use lower density modules and achieve larger drive sizes for less money.

        Apparently, OCZ does have 3.5s. It just looks like they’re 2.5s stuffed in a 3.5 case though.

        • UberGerbil
        • 8 years ago

        Not to mention 3.5″ drives automatically have a reduced market since they can’t go into laptops (and that market is big and growing faster than desktops). I can completely understand why the mfrs don’t want to burden themselves with building and inventorying an entirely separate product line for a subset of the total market. It would be one thing if the larger form factor really offered a significant advantage, but the mid-sized drives are already using all the available channels in the current controllers and they’re not hurting for physical room inside the drive. In many cases the circuit boards have open spaces for more chips; at this point, consumers are running out of money before the makers are running out of room to cram more chips in (and when SSDs become more affordable, it’ll be because each of those chips holds more, so they won’t need more chips then either).

        With HDs, a larger platter diameter means more capacity and higher outer-edge speeds, allowing 3.5″ drives to outperform their little brothers (while also consuming significantly more power). With SSDs, the laws of physics aren’t so generous.

          • Bensam123
          • 8 years ago

          Interesting… the laws of physics do apply if you consider a 2.5″ being stuffed and a 3.5″ providing more room for more chips and channels…

          But if current drives aren’t reaching the capacity physically of the 2.5″ form factor does that mean prices for the bigger SSDs are artificially inflated? I was under the impression that they used higher density chips, which cost more to produce, to fit into the form factor (and as such the price associated with them).

      • indeego
      • 8 years ago

      [quote<]The SSD market is one of those rare sectors in the overall market (everything) where there isn't a clear set position on where things are going to go and it's changing rapidly. [/quote<] [url<]http://i.imgur.com/Dm2d5.jpg[/url<] You kids these days think the tech sector is set in stone.

    • 5150
    • 8 years ago

    Well, hopefully this will help improve their reliability.

      • willmore
      • 8 years ago

      LSI equipment and chips have always been pretty innovative and well designed. They know storage pretty darn well, so I’d expect they could do a good job of fixing the SandForce issues that have been dogging everyone.

        • StashTheVampede
        • 8 years ago

        Buying an established maker of SSD will definitely help them in this market. There is no clear “winner” of SSD controllers (yet) and LSI could target Sandforce as an enterprise chipset and bring down to consumers later.

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