Quality Issue Restricts SSDs With SandForce SF-2000 Series Controllers To 128-Bit AES Encryption

Brad Chacos

Kingston's just sent a note our way with some news we thought was worth sharing. As it turns out, the company's SSDNow V+200 and KC100 SSD drives don't actually encrypt at 256-bit AES claimed; instead, they use 128-bit AES encryption. That's a bummer, but not necessarily catastrophic -- but the problem isn't limited to Kingston SSDs alone. In fact, Kingston and LSI say that the encryption confusion extends to each and every SSD using the SF-2000 series SandForce controller. Intel's confirmed that the SF-2281 found in the Intel SSD 520 (and the OCZ Vertex 3, and the Kingston HyperX, and…) is similarly affected.

The issues were identified during routine QA audits and all parties are working hard to correct the problem and enable full 256-bit AES encryption on the respective SSDs. In fact, LSI says that "the necessary hardware and firmware updates are currently in process to enable full 256-bit encryption for those customers who need it," although Anandtech says that Intel's issue can't be fixed by a simple firmware push.

For now, however, both Kingston and Intel have relabeled their products to correctly call out their true 128-bit encryption capabilities. Remember that any SSD that uses and SandForce SF-2000 or SF-2281 controller will suffer from the same issue; the SSDs named above are not the only ones.

If 256-bit encryption is near and dear to your heart, Intel and Kingston encourage you to reach out to their support teams for assistance. Kingston promises to ensure their customers are "taken care of" and will be able to swap out drives when true 256-bit AES encryption becomes available, while Intel's offering a full refund to anybody who bought an Intel SSD 520 prior to July 1st, 2012 and contacts the company before October 1st.

One final note: Kingston's press release notes that "Feedback from Kingston's customer base regarding the SSDNow V+200 and KC100 model SSDs does not indicate that the encryption feature is critical or widely used in most deployments."

What, encryption isn't important to most folks? How many of you encrypt your hard drive? Do you consider the lack of the supposed 256-bit encryption to be a massive let-down or a mild annoyance?

Image credit: Techpowerup.com

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