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Learn when to finally upgrade to a SSD

OCZ Technology has become one of the biggest names in the Solid State Drive market, challenging even the mighty Intel Corporation for SSD supremacy. Its Vertex family has grown to include several series that cover the enterprise, enthusiast, and mainstream markets, while the Agility series has been sought after by the value market.

It was at last year's Consumer Electronics Show that OCZ showed us their Vertex drive, and this year they've got a lot more planned. The company is planning a massive expansion and a quick transition to 3xnm NAND flash memory, including 34nm NAND from IMFT and 32nm NAND from the likes of Samsung and Toshiba.

Most of the second generation SSDs will move to 3x NAND, including the Vertex, Agility, Solid 2, Vertex EX, and mighty 3.5 inch Colossus. The shift to cheaper NAND will lower prices, and allow OCZ to introduce 512GB versions of the Vertex and Agility series in the second quarter. There will also be a new 1.8 inch SSD built using the new Amigos NAND flash controller from Indilinx.

Anandtech was the first to disclose OCZ's third generation Vertex 2, but there will be other drives in this new generation. The Vertex 2 will be joined by the Vertex 2 Pro and the Vertex 2 Pro EX.

The Vertex 2 promises radical increases in random Read/Write performance thanks to the use of a customized SF-1200 flash controller from SandForce. It will be available in 50GB, 100GB, 200GB, and 400GB capacities, with an expected maximum read spead of 270MB/s and a maximum write speed of 260MB/s. OCZ is facing the upper limits of the SATA II interface thanks to protocol overhead, and these will be the fastest SATA II drives available from OCZ before switching to 6Gbps SATA.

While the Vertex 2 will be targeted at the performance market, the Vertex 2 Pro and the Vertex 2 Pro EX will target the enterprise market. They will use the SF-1500 SandForce controller, and the Vertex 2 Pro EX series will feature a supercapacitor to ensure data writes are completed successfully in case of a brownout or complete power failure. It will also use Single-Layer Cell (SLC) NAND, while the Vertex 2 Pro will use slower Multi-Layer Cell (MLC) NAND flash memory.

This all means that the Vertex, Agility, and Solid will be able to move downstream to the mainstream and value markets. OCZ has already discontinued the Summit series which used Samsung's inferior controller, and we expect a gradual phasing out of value SSDs using JMicron controllers.

OCZ is also expanding their series of Z-Drive SSDs which use the PCIe bus to overcome limitations of the SATA II interface. Their Z-Drive e88 will be able to achieve 1400MB/s read and 1500MB/s write, but will be targeted solely at the enterprise market at 512GB and 1TB capacities.

Enthusiasts can choose the Z-Drive p88 with an expected maximum read speed of 1300MB/s and maximum write speed of 1200MB/s. It will be available in 512, 1TB, and 2TB capacities. There will also be a new revision of the Z-Drive p84 with a max read of 870MB/s and max write of 780MB/s.

The mainstream Z-Drive m84 with 750MB/s read and 650MB/s write, and the Z-Drive m12, with 350MB/s read and 225MB/s write are available for those looking for something more affordable.

OCZ's three year standard warranty is expected to apply for all new products. DailyTech will work with OCZ to provide further information on performance, pricing, and availability closer to the release dates.

Live updates from the show are available via Twitter.

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Can't Wait!
By RaistlinZ on 1/6/2010 1:23:36 PM , Rating: 3
"The mainstream Z-Drive m84 with 750MB/s read and 650MB/s write, and the Z-Drive m12, with 350MB/s read and 225MB/s write are available for those looking for something more affordable."

That Z-Drive m84 looks like it will be pretty sweet for a mainstream unit. I hope they offer them in larger capacities and that the price remains reasonable. And I wonder how these PCI-E drives will compare to the SATA 3 ones coming out later.

RE: Can't Wait!
By amanojaku on 1/6/2010 1:56:43 PM , Rating: 2
It looks like OCZ just slapped an SSD onto a PCIe card, so I would guess the memory cell performance is similar to the 2.5"/3.5" drives.

The key change is that moving from SATA to PCIe moves I/O from the southbridge to the northbridge. The northbridge used to connect the video card, RAM and southbridge to the CPU. Now that CPUs have integrated memory controllers there is free I/O in the northbridge. Disk I/O is increased with SSDs and the southbridge will become a bottleneck due to its being a hub for other devices. Moving the disk I/O from the southbridge can lead to simpler southbridge designs while the complexity of the northbridge is only slightly increased, and system performance can be improved with the same peripherals.

RE: Can't Wait!
By Jedi2155 on 1/6/2010 4:21:04 PM , Rating: 2
Keep in mind that there are still many designs that include PCI-E lanes on the south bridge chipset while the P55 eschews it all for a single chip design.

RE: Can't Wait!
By LANDRY1986 on 1/6/10, Rating: -1
RE: Can't Wait!
By B3an on 1/7/2010 5:29:04 PM , Rating: 2
Theres a review of the OCZ Z-Drive m84 here:

Not all that great. Not as good as a single Intel X25 M in some tests. But as anyone who is remotely interested in SSD's should know by now - sequential read and write performance is not everything. Random read and write is where it's at.

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