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Written by Olin Coles   
Friday, 04 June 2010
Table of Contents: Page Index
SandForce SF-1200 SSD Firmware Comparison
SandForce SF-1200 SSD Controller
SF-1200 Features and Specifications
SSD Testing Methodology
SandForce Performance Differences
SF-1200 Firmware Revisions

SandForce SF-1200 SSD Firmware Comparison

Believe it or not, SSDs often undergo the 'Duck Test'. That test goes 'when I see a bird that walks like a duck and swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, I call that bird a duck'. So by that measure if several SandForce SF-1200 SSDs are each tested and produce the same result, we call them similar SSDs. But there are also those rare occasions when a similar walk, swim, and quack, do not make something a duck. Likewise, not all identical SandForce SSDs are the same: the firmware can create a whole new animal. In this article, Benchmark Reviews investigates how firmware can alter the SF-1222 SSD processor into something neither fish nor fowl.

To understand the basis of this article, you'll need to rewind the clocks back to before SandForce-based SSDs filled the store shelves. When SandForce was first marketing their upcoming architecture to finished goods manufacturers such as ADATA, Corsair, OWC, Patriot, and RunCore (to name only a few), each company was given the opportunity to license special firmware for the SandForce-based products they produce. SSD firmware can make or break a product, as we discovered with the OCZ Vertex-2 Pro SSD engineering sample that died in the middle of testing. Since that time, SandForce has released several versions of SSD firmware that either empowers or cripples retail SF-1200 Solid State Drives.

SandForce_SF-1222_SSD_Processor.jpg

Very recently Benchmark Reviews has tested several Solid State Drive products based on the SandForce SF-1222 controller. The specifications for each product were each very similar, if not identical. Throughout all of our benchmark SSD tests the results were also very close, and nothing seemed to stand out until we concentrated in one particular area. The differences were made evident as we experimented with a new benchmark setting for upcoming SSD reviews.

Working directly with SandForce to re-shape Iometer testing, our random 50/50 read and write test was altered to use a queue depth of 32 instead of only 1 outstanding I/O per target. In past articles, we've kept a low queue depth to eliminate bias between projects. However, as SSDs become more relevant to storage than HDD technology, it was time to update our procedure. Armed with a new Iometer configuration, Benchmark Reviews began (re)testing as many SSDs as possible to see how well it worked. The results were a little surprising, and prompted me to write SandForce and several of their OEMs. Despite my best attempts, there was too much confusion to ignore and enough raw date to create this article.

Sharing in our confusion, several other websites have covered the SandForce firmware debacle. For this article we'll concentrate on 100GB SandForce-based SSDs that utilize 28% over-provisioning (OP), which apply to 100/200/400GB models with firmware revision 3.0.8 (308A13F0) and earlier. SandForce-based SSDs that offer 120/240/480GB capacity are coming to market and use 13% over-provisioning, beginning with firmware version 3.0.9 (309A13F0).



 

Comments 

 
# SF1500 ? and others tests ;)Federico La Morgia 2010-06-03 22:49
I saw on the website that there is a version of sandforce SF1500 enterprice class, you know if any SSD on the market uses to be able to test since SF1200/1220?

A tip, there is some PCI-Express RAID controller that supports RAID SSD without disable the TRIM command and other commands that provides the sandforce and has at least 8 channels like normal RAID controllers from 300-1000 euros?
Because it would be interesting to test 8-10 SSD with RAID controllers with Sandforce 0-1-5-10-50-60-51-61 doing many tests including those that completely filled and completely empty the resulting volume in order to understand how deteriorate the overall performance over time!

I understand that now I hate the fact that I beg you to do many more tests, some seemingly strange, but I think it could bring to light strengths and weaknesses nasconti that would not normally go out :)
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# OK???TRP member 2011-05-29 02:15
So the manufacturers are marketing SSD's with known bugs and flaws in the firmware (1222), and it's up to the buyer to upgrade the firmware to get the SSD to work properly, OR IT DIES???

This has a bad smell!
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