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MLC flash pushes harder at the storage array door

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Flash is knocking harder at the storage array performance disk door, and is poised to burst through. A new controller from SandForce will help push the door wide open.

The company launched its SF-1500 controller last year. It featured symmetrical read and write operations of 30,000 IOPS and sustained read and write bandwidth of 250MB/sec. The thing also promised a five-year working life for 2-bit multi-level cell (MLC) flash with no usage restrictions. These three advances helped it get taken up by OEMs such as OCZ and LSI, and used in their solid state drives (SSDs).

SandForce has now announced an SF-2000 controller that doubles up the I/O performance of the SF-1500. The new product runs at 60,000 sustained read and write IOPS and does 500MB/sec when handling read or write data. It uses a 6Gbit/s SATA interface and SandForce says it can make use of single-level cell flash, MLC or the enterprise MLC put out by Micron.

The SF-2000 supports 30nm and 20nm-class NAND with Asynch/ONFi2/Toggle interfaces, and data rates up to 166 mega transfers per second. There is dual-ported SAS bridge support, and SAS drive behaviour and performance. It also has TCG Enterprise security featuring selectable multi-banded 256/128-bit AES encryption, with line-rate double encryption for data written to the drive.

The new controller has an error checking and correcting engine, and its power and performance can be throttled to support green computing initiatives.

SandForce is a hot startup, and ditched its first CEO, co-founder Akex Naqvi, in January this year. Naqvi is not even on the SandForce board and appears to have left the company. The other co-founder was Radoslav Danilak and he served as the company's chief technology officer, appearing now to be no longer there either.

SandForce CEO and president Michael Raam says the company's controllers are used by "multiple Enterprise OEMs". This new controller should keep them happy, maybe help add one or two more, and may also distress manufacturers of 15,000rpm, 3.5-inch disk drives. Their time in the storage array limelight could be coming to a close. ®

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