The SandForce SF-2200 and SF-2100
We've known about the SF-2200 for several months now, but the SF-2100 caught us by surprise. Unfortunately SandForce didn't include very much performance information on the new mainstream 2100, but from what we've pieced together the 2100 might end up being a massive seller for the mighty mainstream market, an area in which SSDs have yet to gain acceptance due to cost.
Yesterday we previewed the first SF-2200 SSD, the OCZ Technology Vertex 3, and found its performance to be breathtaking. Just as remarkable was the quoted MSRP (cost). OCZ is stating that the Vertex 3 in 120GB will cost right around 250 USD and the 240GB model will sell for around 500 USD. These prices are much lower than what the previous generation products cost at their launch.
Looking at the information above, we know that the SF-2200 is a SATA 6Gb controller for enthusiasts and the mainstream SF-2100 still uses a SATA 3Gb connection. The two controllers differ in the available data lanes and have a different packaging. Both controllers can be paired with ONFi2, Toggle, 3Xnm, 25nm, SLC and MLC flash. This much diversity will make things interesting for manufacturers that can look for the perfect balance between cost and performance.
SandForce is very proud about the performance of their new SF-2200, as they should be, but in this slide we found more surprises.
The first was the ability to turn RAISE off. Those familiar with SandForce products know that their 120GB drive actually has 128GB of flash on the drive and the remaining 8GB is used internally for various tasks like reliability, internal garbage collection and to increase performance. The new SF-2000 controller can be configured without RAISE and some manufacturers might use this feature to give users the full 128 or 256GB of capacity. We will have to keep an eye on this when drives start shipping in April.
The next area to catch our attention is the new Power Management features. These can be used to manufacture notebook or netbook specific SSDs where a user may want to sacrifice some performance for longer battery life. We questioned SandForce in a meeting about giving end users control of Power Management, but at this time the feature is not adjustable outside of the manufacturing factory; i.e. you won't get a Power Management tool. Even though users will not be able to tune the power performance ratio, manufacturers can make specific models designed for notebook use and we can see many large OEMs developing products for this exact application.
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