For much of the past year I've been hearing SandForce wanted to be bought. The price? $300M - $400M. A bit too rich for OCZ's blood, but a figure that I felt wasn't too high given the immense technological advantage that SandForce enjoyed. SandForce's biggest issue? It needed a partner that would bring sound validation methodology and the resources to actually test SF drives. I mentioned to many players in the SSD and HDD space that they should simply buy SandForce and make this easier on everyone. Today LSI announced that it would be the company to try and do just that. 

Pending the typical closing conditions and regulatory approvals, LSI will acquire SandForce for $322M in cash plus assume another $48M in unvested SF stock options. LSI isn't much of a player in the consumer space but it hopes to use SandForce's controllers in a go at the enterprise market. A look back at the Vertex 3 in our Intel SSD 710 review shows just how strong SandForce's architecture can be in database server workloads. As I've written before, the enterprise space is where the high margin sales are and as a result many players in the SSD space are focusing on it.

For now don't expect anything to change with regards to SF drives in the client space, but OCZ's timing with Octane probably couldn't have been any better. 

Source: LSI

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  • RMSe17 - Thursday, October 27, 2011 - link

    Actually, enterprise simply adapts to the current issues with SSD and uses them intelligently. Evidence to that was the SNW conference this month where SSD storage in enterprise was one of the 3 main buzz topics, and pretty much every enterprise storage vendor had a solution involving SSD drives, either for tiered storage for caching, or for analysis scratch space. Huge performance benefits, virtually no data loss risk.

    RMSe17
    Reply
  • bigi - Thursday, October 27, 2011 - link

    Enterprise can pay lots more to get reliable product.
    Smart consumers who buy good SSDs don't have to endure anything.
    Reply
  • dcollins - Wednesday, October 26, 2011 - link

    This is great news. Sandforce clearly has some brilliant engineers, but they need the QA resources to back them. LSI provides just that; this should be good for everyone. Reply
  • B3an - Wednesday, October 26, 2011 - link

    Not if LSI only make the drives for the enterprise market. Reply
  • Taft12 - Wednesday, October 26, 2011 - link

    ... I can't see LSI having any interest in the consumer market when they're used to enterprise margins.

    It's a sad day when much of the consumer SSD market now depends on OCZ/Indilinx.
    Reply
  • Etsp - Thursday, October 27, 2011 - link

    LSI doesn't have to sell to the consumer market. If they enforce enterprise class validation and testing on Sandforce controllers, why couldn't other vendors buy the controllers to use in their own SSD's? Reply
  • sanguy - Wednesday, October 26, 2011 - link

    LSI has been making storage silicon for years and understands very well the importance of validation on a wide variety of platforms so this should be a huge win for SF.

    LSI and Intel are also quite chummy so one has to wonder if this truly paves way for the mythical Intel 520 with a SF controller.

    OCZ is in for a world of hurt trying to compete with their home-brew controller now. They don't have the resources, the experience, the support, or the accountability to their customers to be able to succeed on their own silicon. I expect them to continue to trip over their own feet and fail miserably.
    Reply
  • ICBM - Wednesday, October 26, 2011 - link

    I don't know if I would call Everest "home-brew". Indilinx did quite well with its first controller, and that was without the resources of OCZ. Putting those resources behind the same team could make a great product, and I look forward to seeing what it is able to do.

    Isn't everyone forgetting Samsung makes controllers, and they happen to sell in the consumer sector as well? What about Marvel, the controller company that Intel chose over their own chip? Lets not pretend OCZ and Intel are the only SSD manufacturers. They are certainly not the only supplier of controllers.
    Reply
  • sanguy - Wednesday, October 26, 2011 - link

    They are up against those like Intel, Marvell, Samsung, Toshiba, and now LSI -- those who have been doing semi design work for quite some time and have very good validation processes.

    I just don't see OCZ having the resources to match the above as eventually it all comes down to how fast you can iterate designs, and how fast you can validate those designs and get them to market. This all comes down to people and talent and I don't see OCZ being able to make the same investments as the above in these areas - who also have a huge head start.
    Reply
  • dgingeri - Wednesday, October 26, 2011 - link

    OK, with LSI and their expertise in RAID controllers, along with the enterprise level controllers Sandforce produces, I forsee one product that could change servers forever: an LSI single chip concoction of direct PCIe to SLC flash memory for a totally integrated solid state booting system taking up no drive bays or card slots, just some real estate on the motherboard. I also see a competitor for the Revo Drive coming from LSI that could potentially be cheaper and better performing, with a write cache that would protect performance from the slow random writes we see in SSD RAIDs. (I happen to have an LSI 9750-8i RAID controller with 2 Vertex 2 drives, along with other drives. the write caching makes a HUGE performance difference.) Reply

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