88SE9230 Marvell announces new SATA 6Gbps controllers, unveils PCI Express x2 interface

Third party SATA 6Gbps controllers haven't exactly impressed in terms of performance and Marvell has felt at least some of the criticism here as it was the first company to offer a standalone SATA 6Gbps controller. However, it looks like the company is about to solve problem with a range of new SATA 6Gbps chips of which the 88SE9230 is going to be the most interesting one.

Third party SATA 6Gbps controllers haven't exactly impressed in terms of performance and Marvell has felt at least some of the criticism here as it was the first company to offer a standalone SATA 6Gbps controller. However, it looks like the company is about to solve problem with a range of new SATA 6Gbps chips of which the 88SE9230 is going to be the most interesting one.

Marvell is claiming twice the performance over its 88SE91xx series of SATA 6Gbps controllers of which your motherboard is quite likely to feature one, especially if you have a 5-series Intel chipset motherboard with SATA 6Gbps support. Although we'd take this with a pinch of salt for the time being, we'd imagine Marvell has done some serious work to get its SATA performance up there on par with Intel's integrated SATA 6Gbps controller.

However, what makes the 88SE9230 and its siblings, the 88SE9235 and 88SE9220 so special is the fact that they all feature a PCI Express 2.0 x2 interface. This does in theory allow for twice the bandwidth over any other third party SATA controller currently available. Moreover, Marvell has added support for up to four SATA ports in the 88SE9230 and 88SE9235 making this as far as we're aware the first four port SATA 6Gbps controller, not taking into account AMD's chipsets.

88SE9230 card Marvell announces new SATA 6Gbps controllers, unveils PCI Express x2 interface

Of course doubling the ports kind of negates the doubling in PCI Express bandwidth to a degree, but the controller should still offer plenty of bandwidth for hard drives.  One slight issue though is the fact that there's no standard for a PCI Express x2 interface today, although we did report about the fact that Intel was considering introducing such an interface way back in July and by now this is the second confirmation we've had for a possibility of such an interface. Even without a specific interface it should be quite easy on a motherboard level to use two lanes of PCI Express rather than a single lane.

Worst case, all three controllers will work with a single lane of PCI Express bandwidth, albeit at reduced speed. The 88SE9220 and the 88SE9230 both support RAID 0/1 with the latter also supporting RAID 10. Both models also offers 128 and 256-bit AES encryption and support for Marvell's HyperDuo SSD caching technology. Apparently the 88SE9230 can handle two SSDs and two hard drives for dual drive caching, something that will be interesting to see how well it works in the real world.

The 88SE9235 is a basic four port SATA controller without RAID, HyperDuo or encryption support, but it supports the AHCI standard, as well as eSATA support and port multipliers, just as the other two models. According to the press release we'll see the 88SE9230 on motherboards from ASRock, server boards from Asus and add-in cards from HighPoint for the time being, although we'd expect most motherboard makers to slap at least one of these chips on upcoming motherboard models. Presumably all three models are available as of right now, although it'll most likely take a few months before they start appearing on retail products.

Source: Marvell