Around the time LSI SandForce announced they shipped 10 million controllers worldwide, another press release emerged. The other press release spoke of changes to a number of SandForce controllers that reduce power consumption. The new stepping dubbed B02 is now in the hands of SSD manufacturers and aims to extend the battery life of mobile computers running LSI SandForce based SSDs.
As you know TweakTown has a couple of new power tests introduced late 2012 and we feel that mobile power performance is just as important as desktop throughput performance. The new B02 stepping is more than just a firmware change so existing LSI SandForce based SSDs aren't covered by the B02 hardware and software changes.
B02 achieves new power states Auto-Idle1 and Auto-Idle2 while keeping the I/O portion of the controller awake and alert to the OS. The controller is able to shut down unused portions of the drive, while maintaining awareness with the host operating system. The OS is unaware of these changes and continues to operate with the same capabilities as any other system with a LSI SandForce controller.
Suspending or putting to sleep inactive areas inside hardware isn't anything new. We discussed Intel's plans with Haswell's deep power states after the 2012 IDF summit in San Francisco. This is just another tool for extending battery life and reducing power consumption for next gen devices. The trick is the ability to wake products up from a sleep state quickly. Just like you or me, the deeper we are asleep, the longer it takes to wake up - the same is true with computer hardware. LSI SandForce managed to reduce the time to active state by a significant merging and that allows the controller to take advantage of deeper sleep states without adversely affecting the user experience.
Today we're looking at a new SSD from Kingston that's still in development. The hardware is early and so is the firmware. The product looks really good as is, but we know what you see today is an unrefined product. This alpha Kingston part allows us to peer into the world of emerging technology and to understand the benefits of reduced power in the data storage area. Over the last six months we've shown that choosing the right SSD can extend your battery life by up to an hour on our Lenovo W530 mobile workstation. The W530 is a bit of a power hog on its own and not configured for maximum battery life. We speculate that with a properly configured ultrabook, an ultra low power SSD could extend the battery life by two hours or more.