ScaleFlux makes go-faster computational storage SoC

Computational storage drive developer ScaleFlux has a new System-on-Chip (SoC) that it claims quadruples capacity, doubles sequential read/write bandwidth and random read IOPS, and nearly doubles the random write IOPS number.

Update: 5016 raw and logical capacity set at 256 TB. 14 March 2024.

The startup currently supplies CSD 2000 and CSD 3000 NVMe-format solid state drives. The CSD 3000 has an SFX 3016 drive controller with integrated hardware compression accelerators that provide up to four times more logical than physical capacity. This claimed result is its SSDs having up to 10x better performance, latency, endurance, and economics than ordinary NVMe SSDs.

A statement from ScaleFlux CEO, Hao Zhong, claimed that the new SoC’s design choices “will provide significant advantages over other controllers for AI-centric workloads, based on our discussions with strategic customers with extensive AI deployments.”

The SFX 5016’s performance compared to the earlier SoC looks like this:

The 5016’s raw and logical capacities are the same; 256 TB. A ScaleFlux spokesperson told us: “Even though the data will still compress and thus see performance and endurance gains, we won’t be able to address more than 256TB of space.”

The random write IOPS number drops to 750,000 for incompressible data. The 5016 is claimed to have “stunning low latency” – with no number provided.

There are more differences between the 3016 and 5016 SoCs:

  • The design team bumped up the internal buses, memory controller capability to LPDDR5, and NAND interface to enable the chip to take advantage of the faster host interface (PCIe 5).
  • A newer 7nm process provides better power efficiency – nearly tripling the IOPS/Watt of the SFX 3016. It needs 6W power when typically active, and <2W when idle.
  • Improved ECC and NAND management capabilities to support multiple generations of TLC and QLC NAND from several vendors.

A ScaleFlux exec, Fei Sun, EVP of engineering, was thrilled with the speed of the SoC’s development to production status, which was as fast as that of the SFX 3016: “Achieving first pass production on a highly complex SoC once may be dismissed as lucky. But twice in a row is a result of teamwork and discipline.”

The ScaleFlux team utilized a firmware and silicon co-design process, which enabled feature-complete firmware to be available to the silicon bring up team from day one.  

A forthcoming CSD 5000 drive will be based around the SFX 5016 SoC. Sampling the controller with turnkey firmware has begun for key customers planning to build their own drives via samples of the ScaleFlux CSD 5000 drive design.