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LSI SandForce SF3700 SSD Flash Controller Announcement Overview

By: Paul Alcorn | Editorials in IT/Datacenter | Posted: Nov 18, 2013 2:40 pm





The SF3700 is a single die ASIC (Application Specific IC), meaning that it is just one physical part. Due to the modular design, this single die is utilized in a multitude of SKU's by simply altering the firmware. The entry-level consists of the SF3719 controllers, which will likely find their way into many OEM products with lower performance requirements. The SF3729 will likely make its way into many mobile devices to address mainstream clients with slim form factors.


LSI SandForce did not forget those on the bleeding edge, and brings the SF3739 for high performance 2.5" and PCIe SSD's. These controllers also offer power fail protection and have enough power to make their way into the entry-level enterprise space.


Finally, the SF3759 is a scalable PCIe controller that has the full feature set of enterprise features.




LSI SandForce relies upon compression for many of its performance advantages. Surprisingly, SandForce is only releasing performance specifications with incompressible data at this point. These results are worst-case scenarios where the SandForce controller will not experience any acceleration from its inline compression engines. The controllers' firmware is undergoing further tuning, but these early numbers give us an idea of what we can expect.


The SF3700 series is going to be a game changer, even in the worst-case scenario. Sequential read speeds top out at a whopping 1,800 MB/s when connected via PCIe, which means the throughput will easily saturate the SATA 3 connection at 550 MB/s. Providing the same speed with sequential writes is phenomenal. Random read IOPS top out at 150,000, followed by 81,000 IOPS in random write speed. The SF3700 easily blows by the current king of the hill Samsung SSDs.


Perhaps the best aspect of these specifications is that we are not even witnessing the compressible performance yet. As the firmware progresses and incompressible data performance increases, the bar is also rising for compressible data performance. At this point any additional performance gains from compression is just icing on the cake.




TweakTown has led the way with performance variability testing by pioneering high-granularity test methodology to address performance consistency, a huge concern left unaddressed by many current SSDs. The SF3700 promises to deliver very consistent write performance with 4 9's (99.99%) of performance falling under 170 usec. This will deliver consistent performance that rivals that of the Intel series of SSDs, providing a tangible performance boost.


Another key metric is providing as many read IOPS as possible before latency begins rise. From the chart on the right, we observe a much higher curve, with the SF3700 prototype not rising above 200usec until it reaches 70,000 IOPS. The sheer number of cores chugging away at the channels provides enhanced parallelism performance.

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