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  (Source: DailyTech/Brandon Hill)
OCZ launches another line of mainstream SSDs

Although Thursday is the "official" first day of CES, the DailyTech crew has been buzzing through the pre-show coverage to get the scoop on the latest products beforehand. This afternoon, we had a chance to get a behind the scenes look at new OCZ products that will be hitting the market within the coming weeks. The most intriguing finds were three new additions to the product category that everyone likes to talk about these days: solid state drives (SSDs). OCZ currently has a three-pronged approach to multi-level cell SSDs; this includes the Solid, Apex, and Vertex Series SSDs.

The Solid Series is the at the very bottom of the product family and offers read speeds of up to 155MB/sec and write speeds of up to 90MB/sec. At the very top is the Vertex Series which DailyTech recently talked about. These SSDs features up to 64MB of cache onboard and feature read speeds of up to 200MB/sec and write speeds of up to 160MB/sec.

There is now a third series in the middle, the Apex Series, which will replace the Core Series that brought OCZ into the mainstream SSD market. Apex Series SSDs will feature read speeds of up to 230MB/sec and write speeds of 160MB/sec. Although the Apex SSDs have a higher theoretical read speed than the range topping Vertex models, they lack the onboard cache which will hinder performance somewhat.

The SSDs will be available in 30GB, 60GB, 120GB, and 250GB flavors and have a MTBF of over 1.5 million hours.

Pricing is not yet available on the new Apex Series of SSDs, but should be available once OCZ officially announces the drives.

I also got a chance to talk with OCZ's Alex Mei a little about the infamous JMicron memory controller in relation to OCZ's SSDs. OCZ Core Series SSDs and every other manufacturer’s SSDs that use a JMicron controller have had some issues with stuttering during write operations. Mei assured me that while the new Solid and Apex Series SSDs continue to use JMicron memory controllers, they have been heavily optimized to minimize any write performance issues that may crop up during normal use.

In addition, the range-topping Vertex SSDs don't even use JMicron memory controllers, so performance should not be an issue. In fact, Mei says that the Vertex's memory controller can be used for both MLC and SLC NAND flash applications, so we may see new, high performance SLC-based SSDs from OCZ instead of the current rebranded Samsung SLC offerings.

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By diego10arg on 1/8/2009 12:42:04 PM , Rating: 2
...the new Solid and Apex Series SSDs continue to use JMicron memory controllers, they have been heavily optimized to minimize any write performance issues that may crop up during normal use.

I wonder why would I want to buy a SSD which has that crappy controller. I don't mind if they have minimzed any write performance issue, why wouldn't avoid them from scratch?

RE: Why?
By Chemical Chris on 1/8/2009 7:19:23 PM , Rating: 2
They dont avoid them from scratch for a few reasons, well, really just one reason: money
When SSD's first started to hit the market, there were very few suitable controllers for acting as a middle-man for the computer PATA/SATA to the SSD's flash memory. Flash was originally designed for use in cameras, cell phones, bla bla bla, not a computer. As such, the way the data is stored to the flash is not eye-to-eye with PATA/SATA protocol. So, there has to be a way of taking the data delivered from PATA/SATA interface, then making sense of it and storing/retrieving it from the flash memory.
Now, there was essentially NO market for this about a year ago, and so, there were very few chips on the market capable of fulfilling such a requirement for SSDs.
Enter the JMicron controller, it 'did the job', so everyone and their uncle started using it for their SSDs. Investing the money to develop a superior one may have been a tough sell to accounting, considering the limited size of the market. Time to market is also a factor; management/accounting will not want to wait a year for a high-quality product, when they can start selling a mediocre one today, then when the quality ones are done, they will switch over, cost permitting.
So, now that the market is starting to mature, and theres real money in it, other companies ARE developing controllers of their own. This does not happen overnight, and it will be another 6months to 1yr before more advanced alternatives are available in sufficient quantities for a low enough price for the buggy JMicron controller to dissappear.

Personally, I question the logic of releasing a product with known performance issues that will affect almost every user. The common user will not know or understand the cause of the problem, and will be 'turned off' SSD's and the company that made them, and they will not do repeat business with said company. If they do know the cause, they should be even madder at the company for selling them a 'faulty' product, and again, the company has lost a customer. Essentially, make $50 today from the guy, but never sell him anything again. I think its better to make $25 from the guy once a year for 10 years, but what do I know.


RE: Why?
By highlandsun on 1/9/2009 7:03:17 PM , Rating: 2
That sounds like pretty bogus reasoning. CompactFlash cards have been around for years, and they've supported IDE (PATA) for the majority of that time. To claim that Flash is not eye-to-eye with PATA is pure ignorance. To claim that there was NO market for this a year ago is also pure ignorance.

RE: Why?
By aka1nas on 1/9/2009 2:20:42 PM , Rating: 2
The Jmicron-based SSDs work more-or-less fine(i.e. no stuttering) when put behind a controller with dedicated write cache. So, they are ideal for using with a higher-end RAID card, as they have high transfer rates and are much cheaper than the Intel drives or SLC SSDs.

The Apex series in particular is geared towards this, it has dual Jmicron controllers, and is going to be cheaper than the Vertex series will be.

"So, I think the same thing of the music industry. They can't say that they're losing money, you know what I'm saying. They just probably don't have the same surplus that they had." -- Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA
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