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Indilinx scores a big win from OCZ

OCZ Technology has traditionally used Solid State Drive (SSD)controllers from JMicron for its multi-level cell (MLC) SSDs. The controller and firmware used can mark a large difference in performance and long-term reliability.

DailyTech has been able to confirm that OCZ will use a version of the Barefoot SSD controller from Indilinx for the first time in its Vertex series of SSDs. Indilinx is a fabless semiconductor company specializing almost exclusively on SSD controllers and SSD technologies. It is backed by venture capital firms Softbank Korea Investment and MVP Venture Capital.

Its business operations are centered on the city of Milpitas, California, in Silicon Valley. It's also home to the corporate headquarters of SanDisk, LSI Logic, Adaptec, Promise Technologies, and Maxtor. Seagate and Western Digital also have a large presence in the area. However, Indilinx's main Research and Development center is in Seongnam, Korea.

The first Barefoot controller we saw in August last year was built on 90nm process technology, with a very fast read speed of 230MB/s and support of up to 512GB of MLC NAND flash using at least four channels. Indilinx classifies it as a second generation SSD controller, meaning it has maximum read speeds over 200MB/s and maximum write speeds over 150MB/s, using a native SATA controller.

The Barefoot controller is notable for using up to 64MB for data buffering, surpassing traditional hard disk drives. It also features ECC capability of more than 12 bits per sector to ensure reliability, with hardware implementations of both Reed-Solomon and BCH (Bose Chadhuri Hocquenghem) Error Correcting Code.

Indilinx is currently focusing on its third generation controller, codenamed "Jet Stream". It will feature ONFI 2.0 support and a SATA 6Gb/s interface, providing throughput of up to 600MB/s, with a target release date in the third quarter of 2009. Both Intel and AMD are working on new chipsets that will support 6GB/s.

OCZ will soon release its highly anticipated Vertex series of drives at a lower price than originally announced in December due to lower component acquisition costs and lower than expected production costs. Their 120GB and 250GB models will exhibit faster speeds due to the fact that the controller has access to a greater number of channels, providing a significant boost to read and write speeds over what was previously announced. These drives feature 64MB of cache, while the 30GB and 60GB models will have 32MB of cache.

Intel recently lowered prices on its lineup of SSDs, which feature an SSD controller designed by Intel itself. Competition has been fierce from drives like the G.Skill Titan and OCZ Apex series of second generation SSDs.

Delays to the Vertex line have been primarily due to firmware optimizations. According to sources inside OCZ, the company wanted to use the best version possible in all of its drives, rather than having end users perform it themselves or ship several different versions of firmware as is common in the hard disk drive industry.

Their latest version of firmware has been highly tweaked for performance and reliability. Wear-leveling algorithms are especially important in MLC SSDs in order to maintain long-term performance and write reliability.

Seagate, the world's top hard disk drive manufacturer, has been rocked by multiple firmware problems across its entire Barracuda 7200.11 product series, shaking its previously sterling reputation. Seagate's leadership has also been criticized for not responding to the performance threat posed by SSDs to sales of their 15k Cheetah and Savvio enterprise drives.

OCZ is currently updating the firmware of Vertex drives it has already produced. It was hesitant to provide a firm shipping date, but stated it would be out by the end of February. Initial shipments could be out as early as next week pending quality assurance testing, with retail availability several days after.

With better performance, higher reliability, and a lower price, the delay may well be worth the wait.

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Can't wait!
By kensiko on 2/13/2009 8:18:34 AM , Rating: 2
I'm waiting for this vertex since December! It's good to see that the prices will be lower than shown in the stores right now.

All this waiting has put me to want another SSD, probably a SLC one, but prices are still high and since the Vertex will have a price lower than expected, I think I will wait.

RE: Can't wait!
By azander on 2/13/2009 3:49:30 PM , Rating: 2
Hi Kensiko, thank you for your comments, and we apologize that it has taken longer than we originally planned to bring this product to market. We underwent a number of hardware and firmware changes over the course of January that has helped make the solution much more robust in terms of performance across the complete spectrum of file types. We have also as you mentioned focused on bringing the cost closer to our other drives to make the solution more accessible to a wider range of consumers. The wait is almost over. =)

RE: Can't wait!
By TomZ on 2/13/2009 4:26:07 PM , Rating: 1
Please tell me you're not going to "answer" every post on DT that mentions OCZ. That is going to get old real fast. :o)

RE: Can't wait!
By kensiko on 2/13/2009 4:49:36 PM , Rating: 1
You should come in the OCZ forum if you are not Tony, D111, SteveOCZ or RyderOCZ, we miss people from "the field" there.

RE: Can't wait!
By scrapsma54 on 2/14/2009 2:09:03 PM , Rating: 2
Im psyched. I can imagine it now, scrolling through my files using my Mx revolutions free spin without any loading lag.

RE: Can't wait!
By scrapsma54 on 2/14/2009 2:36:49 PM , Rating: 3
Who keeps ranking down, seriously. Who ever is doing it grow up. This is a tech article not 4chan.

RE: Can't wait!
By plonk420 on 2/14/2009 5:47:49 PM , Rating: 2
What's 4chan?

RE: Can't wait!
By scrapsma54 on 2/16/2009 10:07:22 AM , Rating: 2
its a website based off of some sort of perverted japanese website and people troll a lot on a section notoriously known as "/b/".

RE: Can't wait!
By kensiko on 2/15/2009 10:28:39 AM , Rating: 2
You can already have a taste if you can't wait. Believe me, I got an OCZ Core V1 and it reads a lot faster than my previous SCSI 10rpm drives! Sure there is the write problem, but a few tweaks with the use of a hard drive and you have a very good performance. The OCZ Vertex will only give me the silence of a SSD only setup.

Following this article, there is Tony from the OCZ forum who has posted a benchmark on a 120 GB Vertex with a beta firmware:

By Zshazz on 2/13/2009 9:04:31 AM , Rating: 4
I want a SSD so bad, but I keep playing this waiting game. It's hard to pull the trigger when a more extreme version of moore's law on SSDs is a mere 6-8 months. Not only does size increase/price decrease substantially every 6-8 months, it appears that speed doubles as well.

It even looks like that by the end of the year (8 months from now) we'll have 2x faster drives and they'll be cheaper or larger... because flash makers are transitioning to a better process now!

Argh. Well, it looks like I'm going to have to pull the trigger at ~120GB/250GB SATA6Gbps @ ~$400 later this year. That also means I'll have to get a new board/processor/memory. Heck, maybe I'll even get a new gfx card, if they improve enough.

This looks like it's gonna get expensive...

RE: Exciting
By Master Kenobi on 2/13/2009 9:21:20 AM , Rating: 2
Well until SATA3 comes out, they are going to hit a roof. 2010 is the timeframe I'm seeing tossed around for SATA3 support on system boards.

RE: Exciting
By Triple Omega on 2/15/2009 12:20:23 PM , Rating: 2
Well they better hurry up, cause it's looking like Q3 2009 we'll see SSD's going past the real maximum of SATA 3.0Gb/s and in Q4 2009 the theoretical maximum will probably be killed as well. Hell even SATA 6.0Gb/s will probably be killed somewhere in H1 2011. Moore is really on steroids here.

By Ryanman on 2/13/2009 9:00:27 AM , Rating: 2
Really have seen a lot of good news from them lately. They make one hell of a product from my personal experience, and they continue to pull away from the pack by "doing what's right" in terms of support. If I get an SSD, it's definitely gonna have their logo on it.

By azander on 2/13/2009 3:39:17 PM , Rating: 2
Hi Ryanman, thank you very much for your kind words and support. It really means a lot to us when we hear things like this. While building a great product is important we agree that service and support is equally as important. SSD drives are going through a very rapid progression in terms of densities, features, and performance and we will be sure to keep customers at the front of the curve by using the best technology we have available.

good work OCZ
By shiznit on 2/13/2009 8:31:30 PM , Rating: 2
I have been lurking on the OCZ SSD forums for a while and I am very impressed with their dedication to customers. SSD tech is improving rapidly and the operating systems which were designed for HDDs aren't catching up fast enough. With the proper tweaks to reduce random writes even the entry level SSDs perform very well the average user doesn't need crazy IO performance, access times and random read speed are the most important. Eagerly awaiting Vertex results with the new controller because I see at least 3 of them in RAID0 in my future :)

Is a Hybrid SSD and HHD the future?
By bupkus on 2/13/09, Rating: 0
Nice throughput
By bobsmith1492 on 2/13/09, Rating: -1
RE: Nice throughput
By therealnickdanger on 2/13/2009 8:47:01 AM , Rating: 2
Some day they will surpass solid state HDDs...

... what?

SSDs (Solid State Drives) already surpass HDDs (Hard Disk Drives) in throughput, read speed, write speed, seek time, and power efficiency.

RE: Nice throughput
By TomZ on 2/13/2009 9:00:10 AM , Rating: 3
...but still trail conventional HDDs in terms of price and total capacity.

I'm also very excited about SSDs, however, I think we'll see both in use for quite a while still.

RE: Nice throughput
By omnicronx on 2/13/2009 9:56:06 AM , Rating: 2
I agree, read and write speeds do not paint the whole picture. The mainstream storage world is driven by price per GB, not necessarily the speed in which they perform. SCSI (although still an HDD) held the performance crown for a long time (still does when you consider scsi640 was released in 2003), yet they never became mainstream because of their high price and the additional components required.

RE: Nice throughput
By therealnickdanger on 2/13/2009 10:45:01 AM , Rating: 4
Well, this website isn't call DailyMainstream. Assuming we're all here because we're enthusiasts, $/GB isn't a very strong argument. Your point is valid, these drives can't compete on price or capacity (yet), I just don't see the cost as being outrageous for what you get. To each his own, I suppose.

RE: Nice throughput
By TomZ on 2/13/2009 10:53:55 AM , Rating: 2
That's a pretty broad generalization. I purchase drives all the time, and I am still purchasing traditional HDDs because of cost/GB, total cost, performance, and total capacity. So far, I haven't purchased a single SSD because of these criteria.

Being an enthusiast doesn't mean ignoring all other factors and buying just based on performance.

RE: Nice throughput
By Natfly on 2/13/2009 11:53:08 AM , Rating: 2
The argument was that we will continue to see HDDs, which is true. Being enthusiasts doesn't mean that we don't buy mainstream parts. Media centers/servers? Don't expect to get a couple terabytes of SSD storage without selling your first-born. Some here probably build low cost computers for others. $/GB is still a very valid metric.

RE: Nice throughput
By murphyslabrat on 2/13/2009 1:47:48 PM , Rating: 2
Not to mention, some of us (me!) are enthusiasts for the purpose of getting the most value with the least amount of money. I just purchased another hard-drive for a computer, and it was most definitely a traditional HDD. 320GB's for $49.99 from the egg.

I am gonna have to wait a few more seconds here and there, and there, and there, etc. But, the vast majority of the time, I am using the programs I just opened. SSD's don't help a terrible lot, in that department.

RE: Nice throughput
By Doormat on 2/13/2009 2:00:54 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly, and I dont know if SSD will ever catch up to mainstream HDDs. As long as HDDs keep pushing up on size and pushing down $/TB, SSDs will always be trying to catch up.

Its why I'm focused on transfer rate. I'd like my first SSD to be SATA 6Gb/s capable (even if my mobo isn't at the time) and push speeds of 450MB/s R/W. I figure the drive will probably be around the end of the year or early next. It doesnt look like SATA 6Gb/s chipsets will get here until mid-2010 so it would run slower initially until an updated IO hub comes out.

And I'll still have a traditional HDD for storage, for movies, music, pictures. They don't need to be blinding fast to serve HD AVC streams.

RE: Nice throughput
By mindless1 on 2/13/2009 10:40:45 PM , Rating: 2
To many, capacity is a parameter of performance. To these people, most of which have some kind of budget, a few TB of mechanical drive space is more useful than a single SSD. When they use similar logic buying memory, and the OS uses that memory as a filecache, suddenly the I/O performance of the SSD isn't as important anymore unless the main factor is time it takes to boot the OS.

RE: Nice throughput
By winterspan on 2/14/2009 2:56:52 AM , Rating: 2
In terms of laptops, I completely disagree. People don't need 500GB or 750GB of storage on their laptop, and I would assume most "premium" users would much rather have a much faster, more responsive, and more power efficient SSD drive than a larger capacity 2.5" harddrive, even with the price premium which is dropping every day.

RE: Nice throughput
By Maroon on 2/13/2009 11:12:34 AM , Rating: 2
Don't they have problems with multiple requests at the same time? Or is that more of a firmware/controller issue?

RE: Nice throughput
By Mr Perfect on 2/13/2009 1:03:30 PM , Rating: 2
It's largely a firmware/controller issue. All of the cheap MLC drives used an equally cheap controller from Jmicron. It's probably why OCZ is throwing out press releases about their new manufacturer of controllers.

Anandtech looked at the controller issue here

RE: Nice throughput
By Jansen on 2/13/2009 2:37:00 PM , Rating: 3
This article was written because I took the initiative to talk to a couple of people and ask some questions. It is NOT some rehashed press release from OCZ, as you are insinuating.

OCZ has not been throwing out press releases about their controllers, they are quite happy with JMicron. The reason they went with Indilinx is bacause of the cache.

Read to find out more about the updated JMicron solution:

RE: Nice throughput
By kensiko on 2/13/2009 4:43:28 PM , Rating: 2
We were told in the OCZ forum that Anand got some Vertex in hand.

My guess is that you were surprised by the speed it offers so you wrote an article :D

RE: Nice throughput
By ekv on 2/14/2009 4:36:52 AM , Rating: 2
It is NOT some rehashed press release from OCZ, as you are insinuating

Do I detect a bit of attitude? 8)

Well written article.

Any chance you have more performance info, over varying load conditions? I've seen some initial numbers, but would like to find out more on where the strengths and weaknesses are. And how would Vertex SSD's do in RAID? etc.

RE: Nice throughput
By Jansen on 2/14/2009 2:13:09 PM , Rating: 3
Press releases are spin documents put out by marketing departments. Their job is to sell you on a product.

My job is to provide more information so that DT readers can judge for themselves.

If I'm interested in something, I'll write it up. If it is boring or biased, I'll do my own spin. If it's a crap product, I can't be bribed to write about it.

RE: Nice throughput
By ekv on 2/15/2009 1:52:25 AM , Rating: 2
Total coolness. And, again, an excellent job you have done. Having a passion for what you do really shows through to the reader, and in a sense makes it easier to defend your points.

I was thinking something along the lines of comparing the Vertex SSD to this ...

four x-25E's in RAID. Not so practical but I bet we've all thought about it, and the information content is very useful. As in, don't bother, due to marginal performance gains; your neighbor Mr. I.M. Rich does not win, since you've got to put a system together intelligently, not just simply throw money at the system.

Maybe the Vertex SSD does better - price/performance wise -because of the new controller?

RE: Nice throughput
By azander on 2/13/2009 3:34:47 PM , Rating: 3
Hi Mr Perfect,

Since this is my first post in this article I'd like to identify myself as an employee with OCZ. First, thanks for your comments, I can understand how concerns regarding controllers can arise. We are always looking for new options to improve performance and value in our SSD lineup.

In this case we did not release any information about our controller choice in the Vertex. In fact Janson had to really dig for the information, and it was only after we realized he already had more information than we originally thought did we confirm some of the facts that he had already discovered.

We are excited about this solution and will continue to release new drives as new controllers become available, we want to be able to offer customers the latest solutions based on the most up to date technology available.

RE: Nice throughput
By Spectator on 2/14/2009 2:42:30 PM , Rating: 2

You are dealing with Intel ppls here at anand :(

we dont get any solid reviews of any ssd setup that is not intel. We all know that is just the way it is. lol

We could not even get a review of a caching controller and a few cheap ssd drives that came to $500+ for the cost of 1 60gig intel ssd months ago.

Well I hope you manage to get a review posted on anand that is all fair and logical.

RE: Nice throughput
By Spectator on 2/14/2009 2:55:59 PM , Rating: 2
by that i mean. few cheap(broken controller) drives raid 0 on a sata card with ram. totalling $500 ish max.

then compare the speed/reliability. to a single intel M drive for the same money.

Yes it's a pet rant. intel have best production tech to make cheaper MLC/controller than rest of ssd market then charge $200+ above rest of market for what? A good controller.

I guess the logic that every $ you take from a punter. Is a $ less they can spend with your rivals. Is not well understood at intel :(

RE: Nice throughput
By Visual on 2/13/2009 8:49:34 AM , Rating: 4
solid state HDDs

and what are those? HDDs that broke and can't spin any more?

RE: Nice throughput
By shaw on 2/13/2009 9:16:38 AM , Rating: 3
I'm guessing hard drive frozen in carbonite.

RE: Nice throughput
By PhatoseAlpha on 2/13/2009 9:19:13 AM , Rating: 3
Well, I don't know about you, but I certainly don't have any liquid, gaseous or plasma HDDs in my machine.

RE: Nice throughput
By kontorotsui on 2/14/2009 8:18:21 AM , Rating: 2
I guess they are solid state as well... unless you vaporize them.

RE: Nice throughput
By danrien on 2/13/2009 11:08:21 AM , Rating: 2
what is a solid state hdd? isn't that an oxymoron?

RE: Nice throughput
By bobsmith1492 on 2/13/2009 5:39:08 PM , Rating: 2
Haha, that was a hasty comment.


Some day SSDs will surpass rotary, magnetic storage in capacity, price, AND performance.

RE: Nice throughput
By icanhascpu on 2/14/2009 7:21:10 PM , Rating: 2
In other news; the Earth is spinning.

"Young lady, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!" -- Homer Simpson
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