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OCZ's Agility series of SSDs will supplant Apex and Core V2 in their mainstream segment

OCZ Technology has been extremely successful with their Vertex series of Solid State Drives. Other companies have tried to emulate its good fortune, but have had to compete with lower prices. The key to OCZ's success has been the Barefoot NAND flash controller from a little known Korean company named Indilinx. It offers superb random write speed that was otherwise unavailable at that price point.

SSDs using S3C29RBB01 controllers from Samsung such as OCZ's Summit series and Corsair's P256 are trying to challenge Vertex sales, but their higher performance also comes at a higher price point. The key to volume in the SSD market is to hit the mainstream at affordable price points with decent random write performance.

The new Agility series capitalizes on OCZ's success and experience with the Barefoot controller, pairing it with cheaper, slower performing NAND flash.  The 120GB and 60GB models have a maximum read speed of 230MB/s and a maximum write speed of only 135MB/s. Sustained writes are also slower at 80MB/s, but random write speeds should be in the range of Vertex drives. All editions will come with a 64MB DRAM cache, identical to that of the Vertex series.

Pricing is unconfirmed, but preliminary information indicates it will only be slightly above the Apex series, which uses two JMicron JMF602B controller chips in concert with a RAID controller.

The source of the NAND flash memory used in the drives is unconfirmed, but the reason for the low pricing may be due to use of X3 (three bit per cell) Multi-Level Cell (MLC) chips. Most MLC chips used in SSDs are X2 (two bits per cell), but X3 chips recently entered into limited production from Toshiba and SanDisk. However, it is more likely that they are simply lower grade, speed binned chips.

OCZ currently offers the Apex series and Core V2 series as the other entrants in its Mainstream SSD segment. The company also sells the Solid series as its sole offering in its Value segment. A new SSD using the new JMF612 controller from JMicron which uses up to 256 MB of cache and fixes the random write stuttering bug is also being evaluated.





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