Print 23 comment(s) - last by walmartshopper.. on Jul 8 at 2:18 PM

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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By therealnickdanger on 6/10/2009 7:00:25 AM , Rating: 5
IMO, Sixty stutter-free gigabytes for $99 is what the SSD market needs to enter the mainstream. I'm not talking budget computing, but having a $99 drive that is large enough for W7 (8-12GB) along with a healthy amount of software and personal files is really excellent. 30GB is just too small for the mainstream users. These 60GB and 120GB could easily find their way into many sub-$1,000 notebooks, assuming they are priced at $99 and $199, respectively.

RE: Vrooooom!
By feraltoad on 6/10/2009 7:20:33 AM , Rating: 2
I think $150 is more than a bargain and just as much a dream as a $99 drive. For this kind of performance they won't be giving it away. They can push into mainstream right now by shoring up any reliability and performance shortcomings. I can see these drives being put into Dells once people see how they perform. If Dell isn't mainstream...

RE: Vrooooom!
By Phenick on 6/10/2009 9:02:20 AM , Rating: 2
I agree with this entirely... I would pay 149.99(134.99 after mail in rebate) at newegg for a stutter free 64GB ssd at newegg. I'd buy a ton of them and bigger ones if the larger drives scaled with similar performance per dollar.

RE: Vrooooom!
By Golgatha on 6/10/2009 8:57:24 AM , Rating: 3
Personally I'd like to see a 256GB SLC based drive for about $300. I'd also wait for Windows 7 SP1 before I even consider buying a SSD though. Hopefully me and the hardware manufacturers can meet somewhere in the middle in late 2010.

RE: Vrooooom!
By invidious on 6/10/2009 9:44:59 AM , Rating: 2
I would be suprised if it only took a year to reach that price point. Memory prices would have to take a complete 180 and the SSD market as a whole would have to take off like a rocket.

Personally I see SLC being phased out of the mainstream and MLC closing the gap in performance and life cycle while. The more mainstream SSDs get the more dollars per gigabyte is going to matter. SLC just doesn't stand a chance in that category. I think SLC developement is going to be limmitted to the "raptor" type drives for enthusiasts, and that market has never been known for its lower prices.

RE: Vrooooom!
By hmurchison on 6/10/2009 11:47:24 AM , Rating: 2
32MB SLC at $300+ dollars ain't mainstream.

I don't see MLC closing the gap in write speeds and lifecycle. You cannot get around the fact that MLC is writing to the same sectors twice as much.

SLC has always been and will continue to be the no compromise SSD for Enterprise or well heeled enthusiasts.

It is the SSD corrolary to the 15K SCSI/SAS drive.

RE: Vrooooom!
By mindless1 on 6/11/2009 2:13:51 AM , Rating: 2
Believe it or not, outside of enthusiasts a lot of people don't have dozens of GB of data they need to store on their PC, unless they're into video capture, editing home movies, or porn.

If flash prices keep dropping it is not unrealistic to have people may more for higher performance instead of higher capacity. Lots of them do this already when they buy a higher priced CPU in an OEM system that has only one mechanical hard drive.

RE: Vrooooom!
By djc208 on 6/10/2009 10:34:02 AM , Rating: 3
I guess that depends on what you need for mainstream. While I agree 60 GB is probably about the right point for a laptop. I can see the 30GB versions being great for mainstream desktops as the primary boot drive with a second "conventional" drive for all those pictures/music/video/etc.

My next desktop upgrade will probably be to install W7 on a GOOD 60/120GB SSD. Most of my personal data is stored on my Windows Home Server or a second conventional drive, so the loss of size is not a big deal.

RE: Vrooooom!
By therealnickdanger on 6/10/2009 11:45:59 AM , Rating: 2
Oh, I'm with you 100%, but that's my point. A 30GB boot drive with TBs of personal data on a server is not "mainstream". We are definitely not the norm, you and I. ;-)

RE: Vrooooom!
By Orac4prez on 6/10/2009 9:12:16 PM , Rating: 2
I would happily pay $US150 for a solid state drive. I have kids - they slap down the lid on the laptop and toss it into their bag, drop it on the floor and I am sure do other things most of us would never like to think about. Having something a little sturdier would save me a lot of money in the long term. Its fantastic insurance for anyone who uses their laptop as more than a desktop replacement. The speed is not the main issue although none of us will complain about the improvements! Can anyone tell me if cloning a defragmented drive (Perfect Disk) has any effect on the final performance of the SSD, apart from making it look neater?

RE: Vrooooom!
By walmartshopper on 7/8/2009 2:18:41 PM , Rating: 2
There's nothing wrong with copying an already defragmented partition to an SSD, but it won't really buy you any more performance. With almost non-existent seek times, file fragmentation doesn't make much difference on SSDs. Running a defrag will not only decrease the life of the drive, but it will write to previously unused sectors and gradually decrease your write speeds. Once your data is on an SSD, just forget about defragging altogether. However, defragmenting the old drive might help you clone a larger partition to a smaller one, depending on the method you use.

$149 for the 30GB current gen...
By mmcdonalataocdotgov on 6/10/2009 8:06:08 AM , Rating: 2
OCZ is still offering the 30GB Vertex on newegg for $149. That is their cheapest. They go up from there to $900 for the 250GB Summit and beyond. I don't think the price point is there yet on this one. Soon I will have an SSD boot drive. I would still use Raided standard HDD's for data, though.

Whew, it's nice to post on DT without having to knock down a straw man, or make an ad hominem attack, or without embracing a conclusion first.

RE: $149 for the 30GB current gen...
By strikeback03 on 6/10/2009 8:32:28 AM , Rating: 2
The Vertex 30GB was available for under $90 at Newegg before all the positive reviews drove the price up.

By someguy123 on 6/10/2009 9:10:12 AM , Rating: 3
actually, i believe newegg has software that monitors sales and total stock, so if lots of people buy the item the price automatically increases.

By thornburg on 6/10/2009 9:16:14 AM , Rating: 2
before all the positive reviews drove the price up.

Positive reviews don't directly drive the price up... they drive sales, and high sales leads to low availability, which drives the price up.

It's the age old Supply vs. Demand...

RE: $149 for the 30GB current gen...
By tjr508 on 6/10/2009 11:52:01 AM , Rating: 3
Ya, that or the fact that the flash memory used in the drive has more than doubled in price.

By clovell on 6/10/2009 10:49:30 AM , Rating: 2
hah - you're right about having an article to comment on that isn't an argument. I just ordered a 64 GB G.Skill Falcon from Newegg for $199. Currently, it seems to be the best bang-for-your-buck Indilix-controlled MLC SSD out there.

Seems like this will change that a bit, though.

By pattycake0147 on 6/10/2009 8:42:31 PM , Rating: 2
NCIX has the 30GB Agility for $148.35CAD ~$134USD.

By the way, there's a $20 rebate on that $149 Vertex bringing it to $129 after rebate.

ive always wondered
By invidious on 6/10/2009 9:55:05 AM , Rating: 2
Completely off topic but why do we ONLY see SSDs in 2.5" form factor? I know its easier for them to only have to make one set of hardware thats compatable for pcs and laptops, but its a royal pain for the customer having to buy a $20 adapter kit for each drive to install it in a standard 3.5" HDD slot.

Rather than waiting for smaller memory they could just make physically bigger drives to expand the capacity. Or the space could use it for heatsinks. Hell they could put strobe lights in the empty space for all I care, I just want it to fit in my PC out of the box.

Anyway I am just rambling, but if anyone knows the real reason please post, I am sure I am not the only one whos wondering.

RE: ive always wondered
By Veerappan on 6/10/2009 10:04:55 AM , Rating: 2
I'm guessing they're primarily in 2.5" enclosures so that they can be easily popped into notebooks, and because the extra capacity afforded by a 3.5" enclosure would also drive prices to the point where most people wouldn't want to buy them.

But that being said, OCZ was showing a 1TB SSD in a 3.5" form factor at Computex:

RE: ive always wondered
By esandrs on 6/10/2009 11:51:57 AM , Rating: 2
I read a rumor somewhere that Patriot SSDs were shipping with a 3.5" adapter, but I can't prove that from what's listed @ Newegg or on the Patriot site - so it may not be true...

RE: ive always wondered
By stugatz on 6/10/2009 12:00:30 PM , Rating: 5
I got my Vertex and when it arrived, I realized I didn't have an adapter to fit it in the 3.5" slot in my case. I figured I would just go buy an adapter, but then I realized they don't really need to be mounted, do they? No moving parts, no vibration, why bother with a $20 adapter. I had some sticky back velcro, and slapped it on the side of my case. It's working great, and I love having it, I just wish I could afford a larger capacity, but maybe someday soon.

RE: ive always wondered
By BansheeX on 6/10/2009 2:28:34 PM , Rating: 5
I just taped mine with masking tape. Eventually, I'm hoping 3.5" will die and we can reduce the footprint or increase the capacity of desktop PCs.

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