by Lyle Smith

LSI SF3700 SandForce Flash Controller Line Unveiled

LSI has unveiled the third generation of its SandForce flash controller line, the SF3700. Designed to support power-sensitive client computing applications in addition to I/O-intensive enterprise and hyperscale environments, the new LSI SandForce SF3700 flash controller family offers increased levels of flash performance, reliability and endurance, meeting the growing needs of SSD manufacturers.

The new SF3700 line is the industry’s first flash controller to provide the flexibility of supporting both native PCIe Gen2 x4 and SATA 6Gb/s host interfaces in a single ASIC design. This allows LSI to greatly simplify SSD designs and also helps to significantly reduce development and manufacturing costs for SSD makers.

The SF3700 controller family can achieve breakthrough client performance of over 1,800MB/s sequential reads with the new PCIe interface support, a 3x improvement compared to the prior generation SATA based solutions.

LSI SandForce SF3700 features and benefits:

  • Native PCIe and SATA Interfaces: M.2 form factor cards designed with the SF3700 flash controller’s industry-only dual PCIe and SATA interface can use a simple manufacturing jumper to select the final desired interface for better inventory and cost management. The SF3700 family’s PCIe interface supports both AHCI and NVMe protocols to enable both legacy applications of PCIe flash and efficient NVMe flash storage application acceleration solutions.
  • DuraWrite Data Reduction: The SF3700 family exclusive data reduction technology combines several techniques to extend NAND flash memory life as flash geometries continue to shrink and inherently become less reliable. Enhanced DuraWrite data reduction technology further helps to maximize SSD endurance by lowering write amplification and the number of program erase (P/E) cycles.
  • SHIELD Error Correction: This technology extends flash memory life and significantly improves data integrity by implementing a flash-optimized low-density parity-check (LDPC) code that combines hard-decision, soft-decision and digital signal processing (DSP) together with unique adaptive error correction code rates. This enables SSD manufacturers to deliver enterprise-class product life and data integrity, even when using less expensive flash memory.
  • Enhanced RAISE Technology: Redundant Array of Independent Silicon Elements (RAISE) technology, which is similar to RAID, delivers new levels of data protection specifically designed for SSDs by protecting against page, block and full die failures, in a single drive environment. The SF3700 family’s unique ninth channel for an extra die enables more RAISE protection options and user capacities. It achieves this without the write parity overhead inherent in RAID solutions.
  • Dual AES-256 Encryption: Data security is an important component in today’s digital age and the SF3700 family enterprise controllers feature unique automatic dual AES-256 hardware encryption to secure data without incurring additional host processor load. Optional support for TCG Opal and Enterprise specifications ensure broad interoperability and ease of data security management.

The SF3700 family controllers provide up to 2TB capacity with a 9-channel ONFI-3/Toggle-2 flash interface. Additionally, their modular and flexible architecture allows for fast migration to new host interfaces and media types making way for significant firmware reuse between new products. It also allows for continuous innovation throughout the life of the product. This results in accelerated time to market, increased customer-specific customizations, and an extended product life for SSD manufacturers and system OEMs.  

LSI will be demonstrating the new SF3700 family controllers this week at the SC13 conference in Denver, Colorado as well as at LSI’s Accelerating Innovation Summit (AIS) in San Jose, California.

The AIS demo will demonstrate the SF3700 performance of 1,800MB/s sequential reads using Toshiba A19 flash. LSI will display initial reference designs, supporting flash memory vendors Micron, SanDisk, and Toshiba. SandForce flash controller customers--ADATA, Avant, and Kingston--will showcase SF3700-based PCIe and SATA SSD products.

SF3700 flash controllers are currently sampling to select SSD OEM customers. Volume customer shipments are expected in the first half of 2014. 

The following SF3700 models will be released: the SF3719, for the entry client (SATA + x 2PCIe); SF3729, for the mainstream clientt (SATA _ x2 PCIe); SF3739, for the enthusiast client value enterprise (x4 PCIe + full power fail); and the SF3759 for the enterprise caching/enterprise storage (scalable PCIe, full enterprise feature set).

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