Print 25 comment(s) - last by Fnoob.. on Feb 19 at 9:34 AM

Retailers may go above MSRP due to expected demand

OCZ has stated before that it delayed its Vertex drives due to firmware upgrades. DailyTech has now learned more details on why OCZ held back shipments of its flagship SSD drives.

The latest firmware for OCZ's Vertex series boosts sequential read and write performance, so much so that it can compete with Intel's X-25E Extreme series on performance. However, the Vertex boasts a much greater capacity and a much lower price.

The Vertex series, which uses an Indilinx Barefoot SSD controller, was originally specified at 200MB/s sequential read and 160MB/s sequential write. However, OCZ's internal tests show up to 250MB/s sequential read and 240MB/s sequential write speeds.

These tests were conducted on an empty drive, and will not officially be presented to consumers. However, it gives an indication of how fast the final drives will be and allows some results to be inferred.

While the firmware is responsible for a large part of the improved performance over the introductory specifications, it is only because of the hardware that it is able to work with. The 120GB and 250GB drives have 64MB of DRAM cache and more channels to access its MLC NAND flash, whereas the 30GB and 60GB drives only have 32MB of cache.

It should be noted that OCZ rounds down its capacities for several reasons. Most storage vendors show capacity in decimal format, whereas Windows show capacity in binary format. This means that the reported capacity is lower than what is on the label.

Most SSDs also reserve some capacity for redundancy in case of bad sectors, and also for wear leveling. These reserved areas may occupy up to five percent of an SSD's storage capacity.

Prices are also coming down, as more production of 16Gb and 32Gb NAND flash comes online at smaller process geometries.

OCZ will post official specifications and revised MSRPs when it ships the Vertex series later this month.




List Price

Street Price

Intel X-25M 80GB





Intel X-25M 160GB





Intel X-25E 32GB





Intel X-25E 64GB





OCZ Apex 60GB





OCZ Apex 120GB





OCZ Apex 250GB





OCZ Vertex 30GB





OCZ Vertex 60GB





OCZ Vertex 120GB





OCZ Vertex 250GB





 *Unofficial specifications, subject to change

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Performance Degradation over time
By Fnoob on 2/16/2009 9:02:47 AM , Rating: 2
Can't find the article I read yesterday, but apparently the Intel X25-M drives suffer from serious drive fragmentation issues which essentially cut performance in half over time. Running a defrag utility does not help. Reghosting / reformatting the drives does. The issue would seem to affect any / all SSD drives due to the nature of the medium. Performance tests on a formatted drive are stellar, but once the drive has been in use for awhile, I/O drops significantly as it has to basically wipe each cell before it can write to it.

I hope this doesn't apply to these new OCZ drives, as they seem to have specs better than the Intel X25-E - and cheaper.

RE: Performance Degradation over time
By JohnMorconzol on 2/16/2009 9:57:48 AM , Rating: 3
The problem here is that when the files are being written on the SSD it must be written 0's before, the actual file systems just delete a file from the FAT but the data remains, the SSD's need a new file system optimized for it, one that for ex. write 0´s when a file is deleted, it will take a little longer to erase something but the writing after will be just as fast as new. We need a optimized SSD file system and OS too.

RE: Performance Degradation over time
By Fnoob on 2/16/2009 11:20:01 AM , Rating: 2
"We need a optimized SSD file system and OS too"

Agreed. So to summarize, this issue will affect all SSDs regardless of manufacturer. Benchmark the drive when clean - amazing performance. Benchmark after a few weeks of use, performance drops to average HDD specs or below. Not worth the investment at this point.

I was just about to pull the trigger on a pair of X25-E drives to setup in Raid0 for an OS partition. Given the latest report, I'll be going with a pair of 15K SAS drives instead. Cheaper too.

RE: Performance Degradation over time
By Whaaambulance on 2/16/2009 12:00:36 PM , Rating: 1
I was under the impression that windows 7 addresses this issue. Is this true? I am currently running win 7 beta with an Intel 80GB SSD and haven't noticed any particular performance drop.

Does Win 7 have a new file structure to benefit the use of SSD drives?

RE: Performance Degradation over time
By Kougar on 2/16/2009 1:51:05 PM , Rating: 2
Windows 7 is not SSD agnostic unlike Vista and XP, however, it does not address this issue.

The problem won't be solved until the ATA specification is updated to allow SSDs to wipe their LBA tables when a file is deleted. They stated it was in the works, but who knows when this will actually happen...

By Cypherdude1 on 2/18/2009 1:57:31 AM , Rating: 2
Personally, I wouldn't care about SSD except that Microsoft and hardware driver writers don't pay enough attention to Power Management.

I have 3 drives and only the last 2 ever shut down. It would be nice to have an SSD drive for the primary O/S partitions, then my system would become a true multimedia PC. For those of you who think the OCZ Apex 120GB wouldn't be enough for an O/S, my WinXP ProSP2 primary partition is only 8 GB's. Cutting down on the unused Virtual file and moving nonTSR applications to other logical partitions saves much space. At $320, the Apex is a decent price.

RE: Performance Degradation over time
By brentpresley on 2/16/2009 2:28:10 PM , Rating: 3
Agreed. So to summarize, this issue will affect all SSDs regardless of manufacturer. Benchmark the drive when clean - amazing performance. Benchmark after a few weeks of use, performance drops to average HDD specs or below. Not worth the investment at this point.

I was just about to pull the trigger on a pair of X25-E drives to setup in Raid0 for an OS partition. Given the latest report, I'll be going with a pair of 15K SAS drives instead. Cheaper too.

Sorry, those comments are just pure BS.

The X25-M has been in my main rig for 3 months now. It benches the same today as it did on day 1. It also benches the same empty as it does 90% full.

Very very early firmware revisions on the X25-M had problems similar to that described above, but the non-ES FW versions do not have these problems.

RE: Performance Degradation over time
By Fnoob on 2/16/2009 3:04:07 PM , Rating: 3
Pure BS that reiterates what was published here :

Perhaps, as the article mentions, your particular usage patterns don't highlight the problem? I am not trying to spread FUD, just hoping to start a discussion on this relatively unpublicized issue. I do not currently use SSDs, but have been trying to do my homework before building a new rig - and this report dims my enthusiasm somewhat for spending insane $$$/GB on tech with potentially serious issues.

The same ~$800+ I would have spent on 2 X25-E 32G SSD drives will instead go towards 2 15K 300G SAS drives that will destroy the Intel drives in Raid0... over 4000MB/s burst!

RE: Performance Degradation over time
By freeagle on 2/16/2009 3:51:11 PM , Rating: 3
over 4000MB/s burst

Didn't you drop one 0 more into the figure?

RE: Performance Degradation over time
By Fnoob on 2/19/2009 9:34:29 AM , Rating: 2

The actual benchmark spec was 4054.3MB/s - now that is burst, not sustained... but still damn quick.

RE: Performance Degradation over time
By michael67 on 2/17/2009 2:24:22 AM , Rating: 2
Unless you going to do some database were you going to have tons of random writes, noting beats a high performance SSD.

"We need a optimized SSD file system and OS too"

Yes, if this is implemented, it will give SSD's a even greater speed gain over HDD, a specially if this is done when the SSD is idle(*).
But SSD optimization will be implemented in Win7.
(*)idle optimization, data is written on other part of the SSD and later, the removed data blocks will be purged by writing zeros to them, there was something about that on the Win7 blog but properly wouldn't be ready before SP1

About 80-90% of you HD actions are read actions, properly even higher for most games!

I use a X25-E as my OS / C: drive.
2x Transcend 16GB in RAID0 on a *cheap* "Areca ARC-1200" whit 128MB cache HD controller for the games i am playing on the moment.
(The cache mem helps buffering writes, so unless the file is bigger then the controller and HDD cache combined i have no problems whit slow writes)
And a 300GB raptor for my swapfile and the rest of my files/games/programs.
No one beats my setup when it comes to HD speed/game load times.
(at least no one I know ;-)

By splitting up my main data streams i win a lot of extra speed, but even a single latest gen SSD will let a 300GB Raptor eat dust by a factor of 3 to 8 in most real-world benchmarks (except random write database benchmarks)

Boat Launch & Storage Mark 2008 Index imho the most importance bench as it resembles real life usages (Google translation from dutch)

About 300 different HD Benchmarks in dutch but the Nr's talk for them self.

For the gamers under us that wane use a SSD just for games here is all you need to know!

Here you can see what a good controller can do (Intel ICH7R)

Here you can see what extra cash mem dose 250% gain whit 2GB over 256MB

Using the filter on the pages in the links, will make it easier to do A apples to apples comparison

PS. adding a SSD will have not mouths benefits if you don't have at least 4GB system mem, as you have to use the swap-file way to mouths if you only have 2 ore even less mem in your PC.

By michael67 on 2/17/2009 2:35:21 AM , Rating: 2
By Nihility on 2/17/2009 7:50:24 AM , Rating: 2
I hope they find a better sollution than writing zeros.

If you write zeroes there will be no way to undelete or recover data. Sure, it's a security freak's fantasy but it'll be hell on the regular folks who keep accidentally deleting their p...important files.

By Kougar on 2/16/2009 2:27:31 PM , Rating: 3
Here it is: Very excellent article.

Technically it applies to all SSD drives. The second part of the problem is that for an SSD even after a file is deleted the information remains stored in the LBA table and the drive treats it as valad data. Now combine that with what you were mentioning, having to move data out of a 512K sector before it is able to erase then write data to blocks within that sector... the analogy they used of musical chairs is very appropriate, except that most of the LBA data being juggled around pertains to already deleted files...

I'm surprised none of the major sites made reference to any of this. Only a few even hinted the drives would slow as they were filled, but not why nor with this severity.

"So if you want to save the planet, feel free to drive your Hummer. Just avoid the drive thru line at McDonalds." -- Michael Asher
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