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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 kevinkreiser on 4/27/2009 2:34:37 PM , Rating: 2
In order to phase out pci we need to start seeing reliable pci-e wireless cards, tv tuners, and sound cards (professional recording). Until companies who make these cards start providing them, we are stuck with pci. Granted some do exist, but most of them suck. I do hope it starts happening though.

RE: not bad
By cfaalm on 4/27/2009 3:16:22 PM , Rating: 2
I agree on the tuners and such. Let's agree to not develop anymore PCI cards, but only PCIe

I know a couple of professional PCIe soundcards that definately don't suck. It is also a matter of protecting your investment. If you have heavily invested in PCI add on cards like DSP and such, you would want them to operate for as long as possible.

I think we need more PCIe lanes in the future and start equipping/augmenting chipsets accordingly. Is it even viable to develop a new SATA standard when you can connect to the PCIe bus this way? As for the real estate on a motherboard, we could use connectors on the side and connect them still like regular drives.

If you want to say goodbye to PCI today, buy a Mac.

RE: not bad
By xti on 4/27/2009 3:34:02 PM , Rating: 2
another vote for better tuners...maybe its the software...but everything seems so sluggish now a days in comparison to pci cards of the past.

we are just running out of pci cards that work with todays boards/OS, or had to abandon pci cards b/c of room issues as stated elsewhere here.

RE: not bad
By Cheesew1z69 on 4/27/2009 4:29:30 PM , Rating: 2
perhaps we don't have many since pci is an old standard and is slowly being phased out? has nothing to do with room...

RE: not bad
By emboss on 4/29/2009 3:51:51 PM , Rating: 3
The main "problem" with PCIe is that the upfront costs for a PCIe-capable chip are much higher than a standard PCI chip.

This is for two reasons. First, PCI IP cores are relatively cheap - this is because they're relatively easy to design, and have been around for a long time. PCIe, on the other hand, requires knowledge of high-speed analog design, and is overall much more complicated to design. Also, it's much more recent, so PCIe IP cores are generally much more expensive to license.

Secondly, you can't really do PCIe on anything larger than 130 nm, due to the high speed requirements. PCI you can do on pretty much anything. For high-volume parts this isn't a huge issue, since smaller processes are generally cheaper for producing large quantities. However, the upfront cost for a 130 nm mask set is close to a million dollars. In contrast, a similar mask set for 250 nm can be got for under 50 grand.

Basically, you need a chunk of venture capitalist coin before you can release the Next Big Thing as a native PCIe card. If you go for standard PCI, you can do it by partially remortgaging your house. An alternative is to use an external PCIe<->PCI bridge, but this approach has it's own problems.

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