|SandForce SF-1200 SSD Firmware Comparison|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Storage|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Friday, 04 June 2010|
Page 6 of 6
SF-1200 Firmware Revisions
Firmware is a subject few technical writers care to discuss, and for very good reason. What's here today, could be gone tomorrow. The fact of the matter is simple: device firmware can be updated at any time. Similar to writing articles on hardware device drivers, it's only informational and entertaining when there's something dramatically different between each version release.
SandForce SSDs depend on manufacturer support, but also allow OEM's to further customize the firmware to fit their needs. SandForce marketing director Jeremy Werner explained this to Benchmark Reviews: "We have a business model where we support customized firmware for customers under a compensation model. All of our OEM engagements require customized firmware to optimize for their platforms, and a number of the e-tailers have sought out customized fw to differentiate themselves in the market."
This makes sense, because not all OEM's have the same purpose in mind for their products. Some target prosumer enthusiasts, while others focus on the corporate enterprise segment. When we asked for more detail on the changes available, Mr. Werner responded: "The details of the firmware is often confidential and as such I'm not at liberty to comment on what each customer has in terms of custom firmware. You'll have to work with individual SSD manufacturers on the detailed capabilities of their products. This is one issue you should stay on top of, but directly with the vendors." Unfortunately, the vendors had very little to say on the subject.
Using the samples received here at Benchmark Reviews, we've put together some information on the various SandForce SF-1222 products and firmware available:
Sandforce 28% Over-Provisioning Firmware:
Sandforce 7% Over-Provisioning Firmware:
Why Be Different?
It seems like a silly question, but consider the implications involved when a finished-goods company alters the performance scope for firmware engineered by the manufacturer. SandForce has already explained why they offer custom firmware: not all OEMs have the same target market, and the added revenue stream is mutually beneficial. But at what cost?
The version 300A13F0 (3.0.0) firmware release had a few bugs, and was the initial release candidate used on early OEM products (such as the Mach Xtreme MX-DS series). As we discovered in our Iometer testing, the Corsair Force F100 offers nearly twice the IOPS performance using firmware 301A13F0 (3.0.1), but it does so at the expense of stability. Firmware 302A13F0 (3.0.2) used on the ADATA S599, RunCore Pro-V, and PhotoFast G-Monster2 seem no different than revision 305A13F0 (3.0.5) in terms of performance, as illustrated by the OWC Mercury Extreme Pro-RE and Patriot Inferno tests.
So by measuring these SSDs by their firmware, you might be led into believing the older revisions are the best of the bunch. The only problem with this logic is that the older firmware retains the problems and bugs later fixed in subsequent revisions. In versions 3.0.0 and 3.0.1 the SSD would not resume from low power states, and would essentially become non-operational. Corsair uses custom firmware (recorded at revision 0.2) that avoids these issue by disabling low-level power states, and as a result the Force F100 SSD demonstrates impressive 4k IOPS performance. Of course the drawback to this tactic is higher power consumption, which is one of the attributes SSDs are known for.
Consider these factors when you shop for and compare SandForce-based SSDs, just exactly as it required back when Indilinx firmware updates were changing the landscape.
28% OP Sandforce Products:
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