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OCZ enters yet another market, jostling with Fusion-IO and Super Talent for enterprise and enthusiast dollars

The promise of fast access speeds has lured many enthusiasts over to SSDs already. Maximum capacity is doubling every year, and costs are dropping due to new process technologies being introduced.

One of the most important target markets for SSD manufacturers is enterprise customers. They are demanding the fastest access speeds possible, whatever the cost. SSDs are often used in a tiered storage scenario, replacing short-stroked 15k RPM mechanical hard disk drives. Even though SSDs are expensive in terms of cost per gigabyte, they offer the greatest performance return for servers due to their fast access times and read/write rates. Power and cooling requirements are also greatly reduced.

OCZ recently launched their Vertex EX series of SSDs in order to compete in this lucrative market, but SSDs are already starting to be limited by the SATA interface. Companies like Fusion-IO, which counts Steve Wozniak on its Board of Directors, have faced the problem by using the PCI-Express interface, which is available using 1, 4, 8, and 16 lane slots on most motherboards.

Super Talent recently announced its RAIDDrive SSD with up to 2TB of storage, but won't be available until June. It uses an x8 PCI-E slot to achieve read speeds of up to 1.2 GB/s, far exceeding the 300 MB/s design limit of the SATA 2.0 specification.

OCZ will compete against the RAIDDrive with its own Z-Drive SSD using a PCI-E 2.0 x4 slot. It will feature a combined 256MB cache managed with an onboard RAID controller. Capacities of 250GB, 500GB, and 1TB will be offered. Maximum read and write speeds vary for each model in the series, although the maximum sustained write speed will be limited to 200 MB/s for all Z-Drives. Random read and write speeds were not made available.

While weighing only 500 grams, the Z-Drive will also save space for power users already looking to RAID Vertex drives. It has a MTBF (Mean Time Before Failure) of 900,000 hours along with a 2 year warranty.

 “It is our goal to deliver tailored SSD solutions for the complete spectrum of high performance applications,” said Eugene Chang, Vice President of Product Management for the OCZ Technology Group.
“Designed for ultra high performance consumers, the Z-Drive takes the SATA bottleneck out of the equation by employing the ultra fast PCI-Express architecture with a RAID controller and four Vertex controllers configured in four-way RAID 0 within an all-in-one product, making this solution ideal for applications that put a premium on both storage performance and maximum capacity.”

Pricing and shipping dates have not yet been announced. However, based on the current cost of Vertex drives, pricing around the $800, $1400, and $3000 marks for the 250GB, 500GB, and 1TB models respectively can be inferred.

Part Number


Maximum Read Speed/ Write Speed



450 / 300 MB/sec



510 / 480 MB/sec



500 / 470 MB/sec


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RE: not bad
By mixpix on 4/27/2009 2:17:38 PM , Rating: 2
I totally agree. It's about time they just started sticking more PCIe slots in.

One problem exists with the location of PCI and PCIe slots. Once you start putting multiple video cards into a board it pretty much shoots all of your other expansion slots dead because of room issues. I think they also need to develop a new layout or start using risers.

RE: not bad
By grath on 4/27/2009 7:08:17 PM , Rating: 2
One word... ePCIe

(yes i know its not a word, come up with a better one)

I think the simplest and most effective solution would be to offer an External PCI-Express connection. For the most part, the devices that we need to plug into our blocked slots (sound and tuners) need only one PCIe lane, and dont really need to be inside the case anyway. The currently available (or affordable) external options for these using USB or Firewire are generally agreed to be inferior to a PCI/e solution.

So why not offer a PCIe interface to these devices that is not physically restricted to the slot location on a board? It doesnt even need to be truly external, even the ability to connect a cable to those blocked x1 slots and run it to another location inside the case would be useful. An empty 5.25" drive bay looks just about big enough to fit two reasonably lengthed cards and the required small backplane. Gonna sprint to the patent office now bye

RE: not bad
By drank12quartsstrohsbeer on 4/27/2009 7:20:22 PM , Rating: 2
That already exists, at least the ePci-e standard does. Havent seen anyone make any products yet

RE: not bad
By Visual on 4/28/2009 5:16:15 AM , Rating: 2
Expresscard slots on laptops are essentially external pci-express 1x slots. They are mostly used with small devices that fit completely inside the slot, but there's nothing stopping manufacturers to make bigger products that sit in a separate external case and just plug in the expresscard slot with a cable.

There actually are existing solutions to use any pci-express card in an external box with a cable plugged in either an expresscard slot or a special internal pci-express adapter card.
Just don't look at the price if you don't want to give up all hope of living ;)

But the limitation of just a single pci-express lane when using expresscard is disappointing. We need a standard with more lanes.

There is the new ATI XGP "standard", which uses a 2-lane external pci-express port, but it is far from standardized yet. I think only one model of a Fujitsu Amilo notebook has it, and I am not sure if it can be used for any generic device - currently it is only used with a HD3870 card.

Asus was also working on some variant of external graphics which possibly might involve a generic external pci-express solution, but I don't think anything's out yet and I don't know any details.

RE: not bad
By Amiga128 on 4/27/2009 8:26:42 PM , Rating: 2
I was thinking about the same thing but also for CPU's.

Take an nVidia Ion PC remove the sound, add ddr2/ddr3 memory stick and put it in a box the same size as a DVD drive that fits in the 5.25 drive bay at the front, and add a ePCIe to connect to the motherboard.

Adding an extra CPU would be just like adding a DVD drive. Pop into bay, connect power and ePCIe and you now have an extra CPU. The ram on card can be used as cache if needed. The CPU can be any chip you want from Intel, AMD, Cell etc.

The same can be used for graphics but 5.25 drive bays would be at the back when the PCI/PCI Express expansion slot go.

The main changes would be PCI express should be optical fibre and all power comes from the power supply as the amount of space taken up by PCI express is getting too big. Adding a graphics card should be just as easy as adding a DVD drive, with the connector only taking up a small space on the motherboard. Motherboards would be cheaper and smaller as most of the power for the devices will come from the power supply not the motherboard.

I would also have an optical connection from the power supply to the motherboard so you can monitor how much power is being used by the power supply for all the devices.

RE: not bad
By Jacerie on 4/28/2009 1:41:11 AM , Rating: 3
the last thing we need is more cables hangin out of a PSU. the modular PSUs are nice, but there is only so much cable management you can do.
the ideal solution would be to simply have one cable from the PSU to the mobo and all power to cards and drives redirected through the mobo, but i doubt it's feasible with the power draw of some devices.

RE: not bad
By Amiga128 on 4/28/2009 5:46:46 PM , Rating: 2
The only change would be PCI express.

Some cards already have 2 PCI express power connectors anyway.

If all cards got there power from the PSU then all cards would only have 1 PCI express connector from the PSU instead of 1 from the motherboard and 1/2 from the PSU.

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