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computers data center flash memory SSD technology

AnandTech – OCZ Z-Drive R4 CM88 1.6TB PCIe SSD Review

In the enterprise segment where 1U and 2U servers are common, PCI Express SSDs are very attractive. You may not always have a ton of 2.5″ drive bays but theres usually at least one high-bandwidth PCIe slot unused. The RevoDrive family of PCIe SSDs were targeted at the high-end desktop or workstation market, but for an enterprise-specific solution OCZ has its Z-Drive line.

via AnandTech – OCZ Z-Drive R4 CM88 1.6TB PCIe SSD Review.

Anandtech is breaking new ground covering some Enterprise level segments of the Solid State Disk industry. While I doubt he’ll be doing ratings of Violin and Texas Memory Systems gear very soon, the OCZ low end Enterprise PCIe cards is still beginning to approach that target. We’re talking $10,000 USD and up for anyone who wants to participate. Which puts it in the middle to high end of Fusion-io and barely touches the lower end of Violin and TMS not to mention Virident. Given that, it is still wild to see what kind of architecture and performance optimization one gets for the money they pay. SandForce rules the day at OCZ for anything requiring the top speeds for write performance. It’s also interesting to find out about the SandForce 25xx series use of super-capacitors to hold enough reserve power to flush the write caches on a power outage. It’s expensive, but moves the product up a few notches in the Enterprise level reliability scale.

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computers flash memory SSD technology

OCZ samples twin-core ARM SSD controller • The Register

OCZ Technology
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OCZ says it is available for evaluation now by OEMs and, we presume, OCZ will be using it in its own flash products. Were looking at 1TB SSDs using TLC flash, shipping sequential data out at 500MB/sec which boot quickly, and could be combined to provide multi-TB flash data stores. Parallelising data access would provide multi-GB/sec I/O. The flash future looks bright.

via OCZ samples twin-core ARM SSD controller • The Register.

Who knew pairing an ARM core with the drive electronics for a Flash based SSD could be so successful. Not only are the ARM chips helping to drive the cpus on our handheld devices, they are now becoming the SSD Drive controllers too! If OCZ is able to create these drive controllers with good yields (say 70% on the first run) then they are going to hopefully give themselves a pricing advantage and get a higher profit margin per device sold. This is assuming they don’t have to pay royalties for the SandForce drive controller on every device they ship.

If OCZ was able to draw up their own drive controller, I would be surprised. However, since they have acquired Indilinx it seems like they are making good on the promise held by Indilinx’s current crop of drive controllers. Let’s just hope they are able to match the performance of SandForce at the same price points as well. Otherwise it’s nothing more than a kind of patent machine that will allow OCZ to wage lawsuits against competitors for Intellectual Property they acquired through the acquisition of Indilinx. And we have seen too much of that recently with Apple’s secret bid for Nortel’s patent pool and Google’s acquisition of Motorola.

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computers flash memory SSD technology

New OCZ Z-Drive R4 PCIe SSD Achieves Record

Flag of Taipei City
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Tuesday at Computex, OCZ claimed that it set a new benchmark of 1 million 4K write IOPS and 1.5 million read IOPS with a single Z-Drive R4 88-equipped 3U Colfax International Server.

via New OCZ Z-Drive R4 PCIe SSD Achieves Record.

Between the RevoDrive and the Z-Drive OCZ is tearing up the charts with product releases announced in Taipei, Taiwan‘s Computex 2011 trade show. This particular one off demonstration was using a number of OCZ’s announced but as yet unreleased Z-Drive R4 88 packed into a 3U Colfax International enclosure. In other words, it’s an idealized demonstration of what kind of performance you might achieve in a best case scenario.  The speeds are in excess of 3Gbytes/sec.  for writing and reading which for Webserving or Database hosting is going to make a big difference for people that need the I/O. Previously you would have had to use a very expensive large scale Fibre Channel hard drive array that split and RAID’d the data across so many spinning hard drive spindles that you might come partially close to matching these speeds. But the SIZE! Ohmigosh. You would not be able to fit that amount of hardware into a 3U enclosure, never. So space constrained data centers will benefit enormously from dumping some of their drive array infrastructure for these more compact I/O monsters (some are from other manufacturers too, like Violin, RamSan and Fusion-io). Again, as I have said before when Anandtech and Tom’s Hardware can get sample hardware to benchmark the performance I will be happy to see what else these PCIe SSDs can do.

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computers flash memory SSD technology wintel

AnandTech – Computex 2011: OCZs RevoDrive 3

OCZ Technology
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Theres a new PCIe SSD in town: the RevoDrive 3. Armed with two SF-2281 controllers and anywhere from 128 – 256GB of NAND 120/240GB capacities, the RevoDrive 3 is similar to its predecessors in that the two controllers are RAIDed on card. Heres where things start to change though.

via AnandTech – Computex 2011: OCZs RevoDrive 3 & RevoDrive 3 X2, Now With TRIM.

OCZ is back with a revision of its consumer grade PCIe SSD, the RevoDrive. This time out the SandForce SF-2281 makes an appearance and to great I/O effect. The bus interface is a true PCIe bridge chip as opposed to the last versions PCI-X to PCIe bridge. Also this device can be controlled completely through the OSes own drive utilities and TRIM support. All combined this is the most natively and well support PCIe SSD to hit the market. No benchmarks yet from a commercially shipping product. But my fingers are crossed that this thing is going to be faster than OCZ’s Vertex 3 and Vertex 3 Pro (I hope) while possibly holding more flash memory chips than those SATA 6 based SSDs.

One other upshot of this revised product is full OS booting support. So not only will TRIM work but your motherboard and the PCIe’s card electronics will allow you to boot directly off of the card. So this is by far the most evolved and versatile PCIe based SSD drive to date. Pricing is the next big question on my mind after reading the specifications. Hopefully will not be Enterprise grade (greater than $1200). I’ve found most off the  prosumer and gamer market upgrade manufacturers are comfortable setting prices at the $1200 price point for these PCIe SSDs. And that trend has been pretty reliable going back to the original RevoDrive.

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entertainment flash memory SSD

AnandTech – OCZ Agility 3 240GB Review

OCZ Technology
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Theres another issue holding users back from the Vertex 3: capacity. The Vertex 3 is available in 120, 240 and 480GB versions, there is no 60GB model. If you’re on a budget or like to plan frequent but rational upgrades, the Vertex 3 can be a tough sell.

via AnandTech – OCZ Agility 3 240GB Review.

OCZ apart from having the fastest SSD on the market now is attempting to branch out and down market simultaneously. And by down market I don’t mean anything other than the almighty PRICE. It’s all about the upgrade market for the PC Fan boys that want to trade up to get the next higher performing part for their gaming computer (If people still do that, play games on their PeeCees). Performance-wise it is designed to be less expensive and this SSD shows that it is not the highest speed part. So if you demand to own an OCZ branded SSD and won’t settle for anything less, but you don’t want to pay $499 to get it, the Agility 3 is just for you. Also if you read the full review the charts will show how all the current generation SATA 6 drives are shaping up (Intel included) versus the previous generation SATA 2.0 drives (3Gbytes/sec). OCZ Vertex 3 is still the king of the mountain at the 240GB size, but is still very much at a price premium.

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flash memory SSD technology

OCZ Acquires Indilinx SSD Controller Maker

OCZ Technology
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Prior to SandForce‘s arrival, Indilinx was regarded as the leading makers of controllers for solid-state drives. The company gained both consumer and media favoritism when it demonstrated that drives based on its own controllers were competitive with lead drives made by Intel. Indilinx’s controllers allowed many SSD manufacturers to bring SSD prices down to a level where a large number of mainstream consumers started to take notice.

via OCZ Acquires Indilinx SSD Controller Maker.

This is surprising news especially following the announcement and benchmark testing of OCZ’s most recent SSD drives. They are the highest performing SATA based SSDs on the market and the boost in speed is derived primarily from their drive controller chip supplied by SandForce not Indilinx. Buying a competing manufacturer no doubt is going to disappoint their suppliers at SandForce. And I worry a bit that SandForce’s technical lead is something that even a good competitor like Indilinx won’t be able to overcome. I’m sticking with any drive that has the SandForce disk controller inside due to their track record of increasing performance and reliability with each new generation of product.

So I am of two minds, I guess it’s cool OCZ has enough power and money to provide its own drive controllers for its SSDs. But at the same time, the second place drive controller is a much slower, lower performance part than the top competitor. In future I hope OCZ is either able to introduce price variation by offering up SandForce vs. Indilinx based SSDs and charge less for Indilinx. If not, I don’t know how they will technologically achieve superiority now that SandForce has such a lead.

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computers flash memory technology

OCZ’s RevoDrive Preview: An Affordable PCIe SSD – AnandTech

We have seen a turnaround however. At last year’s IDF Intel showed off a proof of concept PCIe SSD that could push 1 million IOPS. And with the consumer SSD market dominated by a few companies, the smaller players turned to building their own PCIe SSDs to go after the higher margin enterprise market. Enterprise customers had the budget and the desire to push even more bandwidth. Throw a handful of Indilinx controllers on a PCB, give it a good warranty and you had something you could sell to customers for over a thousand dollars.

via OCZ’s RevoDrive Preview: An Affordable PCIe SSD – AnandTech :: Your Source for Hardware Analysis and News.

Anandtech does a review of the OCZ RevoDrive. A PCIe SSD for the consumer market. It’s not as fast as a Fusion-io, but then it isn’t nearly as expensive either. How fast is it say compared to a typical SATA SSD? Based on the benchmarks in this review it seems as though the RevoDrive is a little faster than most SATA SSDs, but it also costs about $20 more than a really good 120GB SSD. Be warned that this is the Suggest Retail price, and no shipping product yet exists. Prices may vary once this PCIe card finally hits the market. But I agree 100% with this quote from the end of the review:

“If OCZ is able to deliver a single 120GB RevoDrive at $369.99 this is going to be a very tempting value.”

Indeed, much more reasonable than a low end Fusion-io priced closer to $700+, but not as fast either. You picks your products, you pays yer money.