SandForce adds new SSD controller with 500MB/sec read-write performance

The new controllers boost security with move from 128-bit to 256-bit AES encryption

Leading solid-state drive (SSD) chip maker SandForce today announced a next-generation of controllers that offer double the performance over its legacy models along with improved encryption capabilities.

The new SF-2200 and SF-2100 Client SSD processors, which replace the SF-1200 chip, include the 256-bit AES encryption algorithm.

The controllers use the 256-bit algorithm to encrypt data as it comes in and then again with the 128-bit algorithm as data is written in the NAND flash memory on an SSD, according to Kent Smith, senior director of product marketing at SandForce.

"That's overkill for anything defined today," Smith said.

The SF-2200 sports a 6Gbit/sec serial ATA interface and is aimed at a new breed of machines that are just emerging from system manufacturers. The SF-2100 remains a 3Gbit/sec SATA chip for use in today's current systems still using the SATA 2.0 specification.

SSD manufacturers are already introducing products with SandForce's new chips. For example, Corsair today announced it will preview its new Force Series GT line of solid-state drives next week at the CeBIT 2011 trade show.

The new Corsair Force GT SSDs will use the SF-2000 processor.

"With the rapid adoption of systems with SATA 3 support, enthusiasts are demanding SSDs that can take advantage of the dramatic increase in throughput over SATA 2," said Thi La, vice president of memory products at Corsair. "The new Force GT SSDs can deliver up to twice the speed of the fastest SATA 2 drives, making them ideal for high-performance systems."

One major performance advantage in the new processors is the ability to read and write data with the same speeds due to a low write amplification rate, according to Smith. For example, the SF-2200 has a maximum read and write performance of 500MB/sec. The SF-2100 has a maximum read/write rate of 240MB/sec.

The SF-2200 has a maximum throughput of 60,000 I/Os per second (IOPS). The SF2100 has a burst speed that matches the SF-2200, but a sustained data throughput rate of about 20,000 IOPS, Smith said.

AES encryption was at 128-bit level. New ones have added support for Trusted Computing Group (TCG) Opal specification designed for client-based systems. One requirement was for AES 256-bit encryption.

Both processors also support high-speed ONFi2 and Toggle flash interfaces between NAND flash, meaning the chips support synchronous data transfers instead of asynchronous transfers in the previous model chip. The addition of synchronous data transfers boosts mega transfer speeds to 166 mega transfers per second.

"Manufacturers building client SSDs can now introduce even higher performance products that further optimize the computing user experience and enhance overall productivity which will continue to accelerate mainstream laptop and PC market adoption of SSDs," said Michael Raam, CEO of SandForce, in a statement.

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian , or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed . His e-mail address is lmearian@computerworld.com .

Read more about storage hardware in Computerworld's Storage Hardware Topic Center.

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