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Learn when to finally upgrade to a SSD

OCZ Technology has become one of the biggest names in the Solid State Drive market, challenging even the mighty Intel Corporation for SSD supremacy. Its Vertex family has grown to include several series that cover the enterprise, enthusiast, and mainstream markets, while the Agility series has been sought after by the value market.

It was at last year's Consumer Electronics Show that OCZ showed us their Vertex drive, and this year they've got a lot more planned. The company is planning a massive expansion and a quick transition to 3xnm NAND flash memory, including 34nm NAND from IMFT and 32nm NAND from the likes of Samsung and Toshiba.

Most of the second generation SSDs will move to 3x NAND, including the Vertex, Agility, Solid 2, Vertex EX, and mighty 3.5 inch Colossus. The shift to cheaper NAND will lower prices, and allow OCZ to introduce 512GB versions of the Vertex and Agility series in the second quarter. There will also be a new 1.8 inch SSD built using the new Amigos NAND flash controller from Indilinx.

Anandtech was the first to disclose OCZ's third generation Vertex 2, but there will be other drives in this new generation. The Vertex 2 will be joined by the Vertex 2 Pro and the Vertex 2 Pro EX.

The Vertex 2 promises radical increases in random Read/Write performance thanks to the use of a customized SF-1200 flash controller from SandForce. It will be available in 50GB, 100GB, 200GB, and 400GB capacities, with an expected maximum read spead of 270MB/s and a maximum write speed of 260MB/s. OCZ is facing the upper limits of the SATA II interface thanks to protocol overhead, and these will be the fastest SATA II drives available from OCZ before switching to 6Gbps SATA.

While the Vertex 2 will be targeted at the performance market, the Vertex 2 Pro and the Vertex 2 Pro EX will target the enterprise market. They will use the SF-1500 SandForce controller, and the Vertex 2 Pro EX series will feature a supercapacitor to ensure data writes are completed successfully in case of a brownout or complete power failure. It will also use Single-Layer Cell (SLC) NAND, while the Vertex 2 Pro will use slower Multi-Layer Cell (MLC) NAND flash memory.

This all means that the Vertex, Agility, and Solid will be able to move downstream to the mainstream and value markets. OCZ has already discontinued the Summit series which used Samsung's inferior controller, and we expect a gradual phasing out of value SSDs using JMicron controllers.

OCZ is also expanding their series of Z-Drive SSDs which use the PCIe bus to overcome limitations of the SATA II interface. Their Z-Drive e88 will be able to achieve 1400MB/s read and 1500MB/s write, but will be targeted solely at the enterprise market at 512GB and 1TB capacities.

Enthusiasts can choose the Z-Drive p88 with an expected maximum read speed of 1300MB/s and maximum write speed of 1200MB/s. It will be available in 512, 1TB, and 2TB capacities. There will also be a new revision of the Z-Drive p84 with a max read of 870MB/s and max write of 780MB/s.

The mainstream Z-Drive m84 with 750MB/s read and 650MB/s write, and the Z-Drive m12, with 350MB/s read and 225MB/s write are available for those looking for something more affordable.

OCZ's three year standard warranty is expected to apply for all new products. DailyTech will work with OCZ to provide further information on performance, pricing, and availability closer to the release dates.

Live updates from the show are available via Twitter.

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SATA 3 anyone?
By Qapa on 1/6/2010 5:22:00 PM , Rating: 2
I read this review from Anand on the new OCZ Vertex 2 Pro:
I really do not understand why aren't they going SATA 3 already..

Does that make sense to anyone? Specially since these SSDs are only coming out in about 3 months... and there are more and more SATA 3 MBs in the market.

Btw, I meant, it doesn't make sense, unless they really want to launch new versions 3 months later, so that everyone keeps buying new SSDs...

But alas, Crucial is already putting SATA 3 SSDs in the market in 1-2 months as posted here in DailyTech:

So that wouldn't be a good move for OCZ anyway...

Any ideas?

RE: SATA 3 anyone?
By lensman0419 on 1/6/2010 8:06:53 PM , Rating: 2
The reason they aren't going to SATA 6g is because there is no other controller out there that support SATA 6g. Far from it, I think most of the controllers out there are not going to support SATA 6g until at least second half of 2010. If you want the fastest drive, the only choice we have is Crucial's new SSD.

RE: SATA 3 anyone?
By Jansen on 1/6/2010 8:30:03 PM , Rating: 2
That's exactly right. Indilinx's Jet Stream controller will support 6Gbps SATA, but has been delayed.

RE: SATA 3 anyone?
By supremelaw on 1/7/2010 11:29:06 PM , Rating: 2
The Intel RS2BL040 and RS2BL080 support 6G:

These are re-branded LSI 6G RAID controllers
available now at Newegg:

ASUS has announced their U3S6 USB 3.0 + SATA/6G
add-on controller, and a simpler SATA/6G card is now
available at Newegg for a very reasonable price:

To date, the ASUS "6G" implementations are
not "true 6G" because they use a PCIe x1 Gen2
bridge chip: 2 x 250 MB/sec = 500 MB/second
instead of the full 600 MB/second.

And, ASRock has also developed their own
SATA/6G add-on controller, but I don't have
any details about the PCB implementation.

Then, there are the high-end P55 motherboards
from ASUS, Gigabyte and EVGA that have a pair of
SATA/6G ports integrated on-board.

So, 6G support is starting emerge at the
other end of the data cable, but progress
is slow where it's needed most -- in Intel's
ICHx I/O controller hubs and in comparable
chipsets from Intel's competitors.


RE: SATA 3 anyone?
By jRaskell on 1/8/2010 10:12:00 AM , Rating: 2
I believe he was referring to the SSD controller, not the SATA controller.

Can't Wait!
By RaistlinZ on 1/6/2010 1:23:36 PM , Rating: 3
"The mainstream Z-Drive m84 with 750MB/s read and 650MB/s write, and the Z-Drive m12, with 350MB/s read and 225MB/s write are available for those looking for something more affordable."

That Z-Drive m84 looks like it will be pretty sweet for a mainstream unit. I hope they offer them in larger capacities and that the price remains reasonable. And I wonder how these PCI-E drives will compare to the SATA 3 ones coming out later.

RE: Can't Wait!
By amanojaku on 1/6/2010 1:56:43 PM , Rating: 2
It looks like OCZ just slapped an SSD onto a PCIe card, so I would guess the memory cell performance is similar to the 2.5"/3.5" drives.

The key change is that moving from SATA to PCIe moves I/O from the southbridge to the northbridge. The northbridge used to connect the video card, RAM and southbridge to the CPU. Now that CPUs have integrated memory controllers there is free I/O in the northbridge. Disk I/O is increased with SSDs and the southbridge will become a bottleneck due to its being a hub for other devices. Moving the disk I/O from the southbridge can lead to simpler southbridge designs while the complexity of the northbridge is only slightly increased, and system performance can be improved with the same peripherals.

RE: Can't Wait!
By Jedi2155 on 1/6/2010 4:21:04 PM , Rating: 2
Keep in mind that there are still many designs that include PCI-E lanes on the south bridge chipset while the P55 eschews it all for a single chip design.

RE: Can't Wait!
By LANDRY1986 on 1/6/10, Rating: -1
RE: Can't Wait!
By B3an on 1/7/2010 5:29:04 PM , Rating: 2
Theres a review of the OCZ Z-Drive m84 here:

Not all that great. Not as good as a single Intel X25 M in some tests. But as anyone who is remotely interested in SSD's should know by now - sequential read and write performance is not everything. Random read and write is where it's at.

The smaller process sizes...
By jdietz on 1/6/2010 1:42:33 PM , Rating: 2
Will OCZ use them to increase capacity or lower the price?

I looked on Froogle just now to check Vertex pricing. It is $640 for a 250GB drive, which works out to around $2.50 per GB. Hopefully they can do better with the new flash chips. I am really looking for $1 per GB, but that won't happen for a long time.

RE: The smaller process sizes...
By Jansen on 1/6/2010 1:48:46 PM , Rating: 2

Current drives will have lower prices, but there will be new models with higher capacites.

Flash prices increased because NAND makers shut down their 200mm lines early. Demand surged before the 300mm lines could ramp up, resulting in NAND prices doubling.

The key factors going forward will be supply and demand. There is a lot of supply coming on stream, but there is also a lot of pent up demand which will result in purchases once the price drops even a little. That will tend to slow down any price cuts we see.

RE: The smaller process sizes...
By ssd2009 on 1/26/2010 2:28:16 PM , Rating: 2
Yikes! Check out this amazing OCZ 120GB Vertex Series 2 TURBO OCZSSD2-1VTXT120 for £90 I'm sure its a mistake and won't be honored.

why 3 bit mlc for all mlc drives?
By Hawat on 1/6/2010 3:28:26 PM , Rating: 2
Nice cheaper drives with fast controller but why not stick with current 2bit mlc nand and add a very cheap new line of drives with 3bit mlc so that people know that they aren't buying something that may not last very long?
what will happens when some people who don't know that they shouldn't be using files hard to compress on those SSD drive with 3 bit mlc?
From what I understood since the compression wont work on those files the drive will actually die faster than the current drive with 2 bit mlc.
I think that the few dying SSD may actually bad advertisement for OCZ.

RE: why 3 bit mlc for all mlc drives?
By Jansen on 1/6/2010 3:35:38 PM , Rating: 2
You are confusing 3x nm NAND with x3 MLC.

3x nm is a term used in the industry to refer to devices built from 30nm to 34nm.

x3 and x4 refer to 3 bit and 4 bit MLC NAND, which is currently only being used in embedded applications.

By Hawat on 1/6/2010 3:40:45 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry my bad I read a bit fast.
I though those 3bit mlc were only supposed to be used in some cheap usb flash at first so I was quite shocked when I saw that 3x mlc being used on vertex on this page and confused that.

how about adding a 2nd SATA connection?
By kattanna on 1/6/2010 5:40:53 PM , Rating: 2
since a lot of the newer MB's nowadays have built in RAID 0 abilities, why cant they add in a 2nd SATA connection to the drives that when detected 2 connections, or require a jumper switch, split the memory into 2 drives, enabling higher throughput.

By Jansen on 1/6/2010 6:34:16 PM , Rating: 2
You would need a specialized NAND flash controller that could split the data into two data streams adding significantly to complexity, size, and cost.

By supremelaw on 1/8/2010 12:06:19 AM , Rating: 2
The ACARD ANS-9010 has a second SATA/3G port
on a 5.25" form factor, but this device has
8 x DDR2 DIMM slots instead of Nand Flash

And, $549 USD without RAM is a bit steep.


By tastyratz on 1/6/2010 1:56:15 PM , Rating: 1
This concept with ssd drives has actually intrigued me for quite some time and I wondered why it was not prettymuch standard on all but the value series ssd drives? These consume such a minute amount of power that it cant be that expensive to put such a small amount of energy storage on board. They could probably use a glorified watch battery even. This would be a selling point as the target audience for the majority of these are not entry level consumers.

RE: supercapacitor
By Jedi2155 on 1/6/2010 4:22:56 PM , Rating: 2
I'm betting it costs them a couple of bucks on the bottom line but I agree when the cost of the NAND flash is so much greater than the cost of the supercap which can range between a couple of bucks to tens of bucks.

RE: supercapacitor
By tastyratz on 1/7/2010 2:53:42 PM , Rating: 2
I wonder about that
While people may have voted me down there is a source to my speculation:
according to anandtech the new vertex2 uses a 90mf capacitor... those cost less than a dollar. Even if it required larger than that we are talking miniscule portions of cost.

By RaistlinZ on 1/6/2010 3:16:02 PM , Rating: 2
Does anyone know if PCI-E SSD's are able to support TRIM?

By amanojaku on 1/6/2010 3:51:08 PM , Rating: 2
TRIM is part of the ATA command set and is not tied to the interface. Therefore TRIM support is based on the OS and drive capability. ATA-8 is currently being developed and will support TRIM enhancements (or maybe the first official version of TRIM, as I don't see it in the ATA-7 spec) so it's unlikely any drive currently available supports TRIM fully.

By riottime on 1/6/2010 4:41:09 PM , Rating: 2
It will be available in 512, 1TB, and 2TB capacities.

'512' what? monkeys? brownies? bytes?

RE: typo-tastic
By supremelaw on 1/7/2010 11:59:31 PM , Rating: 2
512 GB i.e. 0.5 TB


Indilinx Amigos controller
By RU482 on 1/7/2010 12:31:37 PM , Rating: 2
What is the difference between the Amigos controller and the Barefoot controller?

very interested in a 1.8" 32GB for ~$100 - when will it be out??

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