Startup TenaFe dumps DRAM for PCIe 4 SSD controller

Two former Micron execs have set up their second SSD controller company. CEO Mike and Lee Chief Scientist Cody (Yingquan) Wu founded Tidal Systems, a developer of NVMe SSD controllers that was bought by Micron in October 2015. They are joined by Chief Architect Priyanka Thakore, who also worked at Tidal. Lee and Thakore co- founded TenaFe in 2019, and the company emerged from stealth this week with a TC2200 PCIe 4 SSD controller that has no DRAM and is fast and low-cost.

Greg Wong, President of Forward Insights, issued a statement: “PCIe Gen4 DRAMless SSD provides the best cost-performance efficiency and will become the prevailing client storage solution moving forward. TenaFe’s TC2200 SSD Controller, with its impressive power and thermal profile, is well positioned to capture the growth in this market.

TC2200.

The TS2200 relies on the host system providing a slug of DRAM to operate the SSD. This HMB (Host Memory Buffer) technology approach is also used by Samsung with its  980 NVMe SSD. It lowers cost and electricity consumption as well as the heat generated, and the controller footprint is smaller.

There are four NVMe channels in the TC2200 controller, which delivers up to 600,000 IOPS and 4.8GB/sec in throughput while drawing less than 4W.  The controller uses ‘FlexLDPC’ error correction code, which provides best-in-class latency, quality of service and endurance for TLC and QLC flash, the company claims.

TenaFe said the TS2200 is suitable for small-format M.2 and BGA SSDs as used in edge devices, gaming consoles and ultra-portable laptops. The company is touting its wares on an OEM basis to SSD makers.

Lee said in a statement: “We will use [the TS2200] as a baseline to set an even higher bar for our next-generation data centre–focused controller, enabling our customers much faster time to market.”

TenaFe will compete with SSD controller companies such as Phison, as well as in-house controller operations at Kioxia, Micron, Samsung, and SK hynix. The firm has raised $29m in an A round of funding and has offices in California, China, and Taiwan.

TenaFe will begin sampling the TC2200 to customers in April 2021 in SDK and FTK formats.

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