Keeping track of company acquisitions can be tricky, and it is becoming particularly so when it comes to SandForce. In 2012, LSI acquired SandForce for $370 million, then at the start of 2014, Avago Technologies dropped a cool $6.6 billion to buy LSI. Now, Avago/LSI are liquidating LSI’s Accelerated Solution Division and Flash Components Division and selling them to Seagate for just $450 million, making for what looks to be a particularly good bargain from Seagate’s perspective.
SandForce is one of the best-known controller brands in solid-state drives, but unfortunately, that is due more to the problems its controllers suffered from more than its performance or other reasons. Recently, it has been discovered that first-generation SandForce controllers did not properly adhere to the full SATA specification, meaning SF-1200 based drives won’t work on Z87 generation and newer chipsets. While second-generation SF-2200 controllers offered impressive performance at launch, they suffered from a wide array of hardware and firmware bugs that continue to plague them even to this day.
I mention this because SandForce’s third-generation controller technology has been in development for three years now. This makes for the third new owner of third-gen SandForce technology in as many years, which doesn’t bode good things about the state of the controller. One of the indications for the abrupt sale is that Avago/LSI are unhappy about recent delays with SF-3700 controllers which had been announced as far back as last year.
Seagate will acquire a massive inflow of solid-state technology, IP, and of course the SandForce controller. Until now the company had been offering only server and enterprise SSDs featuring LAMD (Link-A-Media-Devices), although LAMD is owned by SK Hynix making it a less-than-ideal situation. With this acquisition Seagate will now have everything it needs to source its own SSD products in-house. With any luck the company should be able to leverage its expertise as a worldwide leader in storage technology to iron out any final kinks with SF-3700 and launch some solid (ahem), dependable SSDs.
No further details are yet available, and it is unknown whether Seagate will continue to focus its own SSDs exclusively in the server & enterprise space. However, even if this is the case, it is probable that Seagate will continue the practice of leasing out SandForce controllers and leaving it up to third parties to deliver SF-3700 based consumer drives.