Print 23 comment(s) - last by Jansen.. on Feb 14 at 2:01 PM

Internal RAID 0 from $200

The Apex series was first seen at CES and falls between their high end Vertex series, which features up to 64 MB of cache, and their low end Solid and Core series. The Vertex 2 series, which will be announced at a later date, will eventually use a RAID 0 controller as well to increase performance.

With read speeds of up to 230 MB/s and write speeds of up to 160 MB/s at half the cost of Intel's X-25M 160GB, OCZ presents a very compelling upgrade solution. Seek times are less than 0.3ms, while the 60GB drive only weighs 77 grams -- the SSD is shock resistant to 1500 Gs.

The only thing that could throw a wrench in the works is random write speed, which has been a problem with MLC chips in the past, even with a properly working controller. That was the reason that OCZ developed the Vertex line specifically with built in cache, which makes a lot of sense considering how low DRAM prices have dropped.

According to OCZ, the Apex series uses an updated JMicron and MLC chips to keep costs down and reach higher capacities.

All Apex Series drives come with a two year warranty. Retail availability is expected by the end of January. More detail on OCZ's Apex product page.

If you consider the chart below, you are paying an extra $50 for 32MB of cache on the 60GB Vertex model while losing RAID. On the 120GB model, the price difference is $100, while on the 250GB model the difference drops down to $40. However, RAIDing two 30GB Vertex drives together will only cost you an extra $10 over a 60GB Vertex drive, if you already have a RAID controller. RAIDing two 60GB Vertex drives will cost an extra $30 over a single 120GB drive.




  30 GB



  60 GB



  120 GB



  250 GB   



All prices are MSRP.


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Not bad
By Lonyo on 1/14/2009 4:57:13 PM , Rating: 2
Pricing looks relatively OK. These things are definitely getting cheaper.
Are you sure the 250GB pricings are right though? There is very little cost difference between Apex and Vertex (less even than the 120G drives).

RE: Not bad
By Jansen on 1/14/2009 5:06:10 PM , Rating: 2
The prices in the table are all Manufacturer Suggested Retail Prices.

The street price will likely be lower. At higher capacities the cost of RAID controllers and cache becomes less as a percentage, it becomes more about the cost of flash.

RE: Not bad
By highlandsun on 1/15/2009 2:59:45 AM , Rating: 2
and an extremely healthy profit margin on top. Considering that 16GB USB Flash drives were selling for $13 just before Christmas, you know that there's no more than $210 worth of Flash in that 250GB drive.

RE: Not bad
By tastyratz on 1/15/2009 12:09:06 PM , Rating: 2
16gb flash drives for $13, but not ones with speeds or write cycle ratings like this will have.

Comparing that would be like comparing ddr2 and ddr3 prices for the same 2gb stick of ram. They are both 2gb ram but totally different at the same time.

RE: Not bad
By Suomynona on 1/15/2009 12:15:45 PM , Rating: 1
They're definitely using higher-spec NAND chips than a commodity 16GB USB flash drive uses.

RE: Not bad
By highlandsun on 1/15/2009 3:39:15 PM , Rating: 2
Nonsense. Nobody makes a NAND flash chip that reads/writes at 200MB/sec. They're all using the same flash chips, only the controllers are different, and they're accessing the chips in parallel in the SSD. Obviously the price of the SSD controller is a constant, no matter how much flash you attach to it. The price of the flash chips is *not* driving the price of these products, only profit and greed.

RE: Not bad
By FujiT on 1/16/2009 12:10:39 PM , Rating: 2
yeah that's not right.

If you read the "Ask an Intel SSD Engineer" article on [H] you'll see that NAND is not all made the same. The NAND used in flash drives and lower cost devices is lower quality than SSD NAND.

"Removable media products like USB memory sticks typically use the lowest quality flash they can get away with..."

RE: Not bad
By mindless1 on 2/7/2009 12:17:57 PM , Rating: 2
Except, if you read that article again you will see that through use of SATA instead of USB2, and 10 parallel channels on the flash controller, it might indeed be possible to use USB flash drive ("supposed" lower quality) chips to attain the performance their current SSD products have.

IOW, single chip USB2 flash drives costing little more than $1/GB for the whole product are attaining over 30MB/s read, 14MB/s write using dirt-cheap controllers and no cache (except perhaps a very tiny one integral to the controller).

Granted, Intel's controller could be considered premium performance for the moment, but it doesn't negate the observation a prior post made about that cost being inherant to lesser capacity drives, and a 32MB to 64MB DRAM cache is a trivial expense at these price-points.

Write cycle endurance is the wild card, we'd have to know how well the controllers wear-level to factor for that. Certainly an SSD will do it better than a USB flash drive, but the logic for that being absorbed by the controller implementation cost means we can ignore the factor once having accepted the controller cost.

RE: Not bad
By Jansen on 2/14/2009 2:01:59 PM , Rating: 2
There is no way to fit 10 channels on a USB drive, the fastest ones today like OCZ's ATV Turbo use dual channels. There may be quad channel USB drives later with USB 3.0, but you still have space constraints.

The dirt cheap $1/GB USB drive are nowhere near 30MB/S read, try 10MB/s read and 2MB/s write, if that.

RE: Not bad
By inighthawki on 1/14/2009 5:07:43 PM , Rating: 3
Pricing looks very nice indeed, especially with those speeds. I cannot wait till they are decently priced so i can buy one myself. It's amazing though the storage space you sacrifice in a hdd for the increase in speed. You can almost buy one of those new WD 2TB drives for the cost of the 60GB drive.

RE: Not bad
By KingstonU on 1/15/2009 9:33:07 PM , Rating: 2
These SDDs are bringing the price to $3.08/GB. While regular HDDs are now close to $0.10/GB

Then you consider the read/write speeds of 230MB/s and 160MB/s on these SSDs, while HDDs off the top of my head I believe are ~80-90MB/s.

The VelociRaptor HDD I believe is around $0.80/GB now with ~100-110MB/s read/write speeds.

Then also look SSDs use less power (<1 watt vs ~5watts), have lower seek times (<0.5ms vs ~8ms) and produce less heat and noise.

When they get close to $2.00/GB I'll give them a look. Though according to AT the price for performance gain is worth the money even on Intel's SSDs.

By UNHchabo on 1/14/2009 4:56:12 PM , Rating: 1
I thought SSD-makers were clamoring away from the JMicron controller... they haven't fixed it, and nobody else makes a cheap one? Really?

RE: JMicron
By Jansen on 1/14/2009 5:03:23 PM , Rating: 2
The information I have is that it is a newer, updated JMicron controller.

RE: JMicron
By Sunrise089 on 1/14/2009 6:18:44 PM , Rating: 2
Well whether or not this is true will either make this a great deal or totally pointless.

RE: JMicron
By Denithor on 1/14/2009 6:25:55 PM , Rating: 4
My thoughts exactly. Now we just need some of the better benchmarking sites to review these drives to determine if they have indeed fixed the stutter problem.

RE: JMicron
By HollyDOL on 1/15/2009 1:43:55 AM , Rating: 2
Honestly every JMicron even distantly passing around caused me some problems so I pretty much doubt I'd be buying SSD with JMicron controller. Otoh it's pretty good to push prices of reliable drives way down.

2 Yr Warranty?
By JonnyDough on 1/14/2009 6:07:04 PM , Rating: 4
HDD's come with a five year warranty and have moving parts. Why only a 2 yr warranty? Hmm.

RE: 2 Yr Warranty?
By Denithor on 1/14/2009 6:27:36 PM , Rating: 2
Actually a lot of the drives only come with a 3 year warranty. Seagate, who started the 5 year trend, has quietly backed down to 3 years on many of their drives. Western Digital has begun offering 5 years on many of theirs.

Hmmm indeed.

By vladio on 1/14/2009 8:03:39 PM , Rating: 1
Q: what we need
A: sustainablewritespeed > 200MB/sec...
all xm-mmm and talk after that.

RE: 200MB/sec
By sleepeeg3 on 1/19/2009 9:26:37 AM , Rating: 2
What we need is for manufacturers to start refining SLC and driving the costs down there. Consumer ignorance is choosing the crappier technology for us again.

Well I am hoping they will use MLC to drive NAND costs down and are able to use the same chips to bring on SLC as a “new” technology, once SSDs reach mainstream affordability.

RE: 200MB/sec
By mindless1 on 2/7/2009 12:23:13 PM , Rating: 2
Forget about SLC, give us twice the MLC chips = twice the capacity, then double the channels on the controller and add $2 worth of addt'l DRAM cache.

Presently, SLC makes little sense unless you need the fastest write speed possible in the smallest space possible (far smaller than the cavity of a 2.5" SSD). That is, at least until we move beyond SATA300.

By kensiko on 1/14/2009 8:57:11 PM , Rating: 2
I think Vertex will be a much better choice with this small price difference.

My bet is that the Vertex will almost have the same performance as the Samsung MLC one.

JMicron dubious choice
By freeman70 on 1/15/2009 10:48:03 AM , Rating: 2
JMicron has a poor track record when it comes to controllers. I remember people having trouble with the additional JMicron controller on Gigabyte 965P-DS3 motherboards. Then came the stuttering issue with the first SSD drives. I want to give them a chance because the prices for these drives are very attractive but I would rather pay more for reliability and proper functionality.

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