Kingston is one of the companies that was affected during the SandForce merry-go-round of buyouts and acquisitions. Until recently, its HyperX SSD brand shipped exclusively with SandForce controllers. But that's changing.
Kingston is no stranger to Phison's technology, either. The two companies have worked closely together for several years making low-cost products for OEMs and the SSDNow product line. Like SandForce, Phison is another all-inclusive SSD controller maker, providing reference designs, programming and firmware to third parties that relabel the products for retail sale. Until the PS3110-S10, Phison controllers targeted value-oriented customers. The S8 processor, released two years ago, increased performance to SandForce-like levels. But it was too late to compete in the high-end space.
The new S10 controller is Phison's entry into that exclusive segment, which is currently dominated by Samsung, Marvell and now Intel's NVMe/enterprise crossover. It's a four-channel processor with enterprise-class end-to-end data protection. Phison is eying several markets with the S10, from entry-level enterprise to value-class models using three-bit-per-cell (TLC) NAND. Using TLC in a product designed to meet more than three-year warranty cycles requires a lot of compute muscle, particularly toward the end of the product's life. Phison uses advanced BCH ECC to fight voltage drift, noisy neighbors and other architectural problems associated with TLC.
When it comes to performance, the S10 is already capable of competing with today's mainstream SSDs. But for several months now, we've been told to expect a firmware update that'll make the controller even faster. One area Phison plans to improve is low queue depth random reads and writes. This month, we should see an update that delivers 10,000 sustained write IOPS in steady state. Sadly, it's not ready yet, though.