Startup Claims Solid State Storage Breakthrough

SandForce came out of stealth mode today with new solid state drive (SSD) technology that the company claims bests competitors on both cost and performance.

Sandforce says its controllers have solved a number of reliability and performance issues with lower-cost multi-level cell (MLC) technology that have boosted the endurance and performance of the technology by 80 to 100 times.

The company says it has also overcome write limitations of flash technology, with read and write performance of 30,000 IOPS, 250 MB/s sequential reads and writes, and an error rate that’s better than SAS drives.

Objective Analysis analyst Jim Handy said the company’s claims are impressive. “They weren’t forthcoming with details, but if they can do what they say, they will have a cheaper, higher-performance solution than anyone today,” he said. “We will just have to wait and see. It’s a competitive field out there. Having the best NAND controller technology is certainly an important part of winning the SSD war.”

SandForce says top drive makers will release both SLC and MLC flash drives based on its single-chip SSD processors later this year.

The company boasts funding from Storm Ventures, DCM and unnamed “Tier 1 storage companies.”

IBM (NYSE: IBM) appears to be one supporter of the technology.

“The SF-1000 SSD Processor Family promises to address key NAND flash issues, allowing MLC flash technologies to be reliably used in broad-based, mission-critical storage environments,” Mike Desens, IBM vice president for System Design, said in a statement. “These innovations can be truly disruptive and will accelerate the adoption of solid state technologies across the data center.”

SandForce’s SF-1000 processors with DuraClass technology boast five years of SSD life with no daily usage restrictions. The company’s RAISE (Redundant Array of Independent Silicon Elements) technology promises RAID-like data protection in a single drive, and error correction and wear leveling technology also add to drive reliability and endurance.

The SSD technology offers up to 512GB of commodity NAND flash with a SATA or SAS interface. PCIe and USB 3.0 are also on the company’s roadmap.

Company co-founders Alex Naqvi and Radoslav Danilak hail from Luminous Networks and Nvidia (NASDAQ: NVDA), respectively.

And in other solid state storage news today, Atrato is adding SSD support to its high-performance data storage system.

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Paul Shread
Paul Shread
eSecurity Editor Paul Shread has covered nearly every aspect of enterprise technology in his 20+ years in IT journalism, including an award-winning series on software-defined data centers. He wrote a column on small business technology for Time.com, and covered financial markets for 10 years, from the dot-com boom and bust to the 2007-2009 financial crisis. He holds a market analyst certification.

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