Is VIA getting into the SSD controller market?

VIA has teamed up with a company called Tensilica to license its Xtensa dataplane processors – or DPUs as the company calls them – to create its own SSD controller. Tensilica is a company that develops IP for customizable RISC cores – much like an FPGA in some ways – as well as a wide range of DSPs.

VIA has teamed up with a company called Tensilica to license its Xtensa dataplane processors – or DPUs as the company calls them – to create its own SSD controller. Tensilica is a company that develops IP for customizable RISC cores – much like an FPGA in some ways – as well as a wide range of DSPs.

Unlike an FPGA though, the DPUs actually have to be manufactured at a foundry once Tensilica's customers have added whatever functionality they want via the development tools on offer. To make things easy for its partners, Tensilica provides a library of standard functions and DSPs and there are guidelines as to how big the final chip will be, how much power it'll use and what speeds it can operate at. We should point out that the base functionality is based on MIPS architecture, but with a lot of customization.

VIA has apparently compared Tensilica's DPUs with other similar solutions and found that for SSD controllers, a DPU offers superior IOPS as well as reduced power consumption and reduced SoC design complexity. It will be interesting to see what VIA or possibly VLI depending on which division of VIA it is that's working on SSD controllers, will come up with. VLI had some issues with its first USB flash drive controller, although this was later solved and we hope the company won't run into the same issues with its presumably upcoming SSD controller. One thing is for sure though, we need more players in the SSD controller market, especially someone that can create a reliable controller that doesn't throw a fit all of a sudden that so many of the current options have proven to do.

Source: Tensilica