OCZ’s "Indilinx Infused" Octane, Vertex 4, and Agility 4 SSDs don’t actually have Indilinx controllers. Instead, they feature a layer of proprietary firmware atop controller silicon from Marvell. OCZ has been working on a new Indilinx controller chip, though. According to CEO Ryan Petersen, this Barefoot 3 controller is now in production at TSMC. The SSD maker expects to be sampling drives based on the chip by September.
Petersen revealed the Barefoot 3’s progress during a conference call with financial analysts, and Xbit Labs has the skinny. Little was revealed about the controller, which reportedly features a 32-bit, 400MHz "Aragon" processor with an SSD-specific RISC instruction set. Interestingly, Petersen said the chip’s "primary IT blocks" are licensed from a third party. The Barefoot 3 may be unique to OCZ, but it’s not an entirely proprietary design.
Naturally, OCZ expects solid-state drives based on the new chip to outperform its current offerings. Petersen mentioned a "significant performance increase over [OCZ’s] current products," although he didn’t provide more specifics. We should have a better idea before long. The first Barefoot 3 drives are scheduled to be available before the third quarter runs out.
We haven’t been treated to a new SSD controller in quite some time, so I’m curious to see how the Barefoot 3 fares against its contemporary rivals. Most of the controllers in modern SSDs have been out for well over a year. It will also be interesting to see what sort of NAND is paired with the controller. We expect SSDs based on 20-nm NAND to be released before the end of the year, although it may be a little early to see one of those coming from OCZ.
Update: Looks like Xbit Labs misquoted OCZ CEO Ryan Petersen regarding the Barefoot 3’s use of third-party "primary IT blocks." Petersen actually said the chip’s "primary IP blocks are not licensed from a third party." You can listen to the full conference call here. Thanks to TR reader Wo for the tip.