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OCZ exhibits semi-vapourware speed freak SSDs

Today's vapour, tomorrow's cloud?

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CES 2011 The performance numbers are freaking fast with OCZ's latest road-rocket SSD, the Vertex 3 Pro. But they are semi-vapourSSDware, demo CES devices with no prices and availability.

It pairs a SandForce SF2582 controller with eMLC (enterprise multi-level cell) or ordinary MLC NAND and offers up to 75,000 random write IOPS, according to its CES stand label. OCZ publicity material mentioned 80,000 IOPS, through a 6gig SATA III interface. The sequential read maximum is 550MB/sec and it's 525MB/sec for sequential writes. In comparison, Micron's RealSSD C400 offers a 64GB to 512GB capacity range, 415MB/sec sequential read, and 260MB/sec sequential write. The Micron drive exhibits the usual read/write I/O bandwidth asymmetry, whereas Mr SandForce's little controlled OCZ number does not. Micron hasn't provided an IOPS number for its C400, so no comparison on that score is possible.

OCZ Vertex 3 Pro

The OCZ capacity points are 50GB, 100GB, 200GB and 400GB but these, OCZ says, are usable capacities with the raw capacities being 64GB, 128GB, 256GB and 512GB. The extra bytes are used in wear-levelling operations to preserve the device's speed and provide longevity as its total cell write capacity is used up over time.

There are faster SSDs in an IOPS sense – Pliant's LIghtning LB 150S has a claimed ability to run at more than 120,000 sustained IOPS – but we don't exactly know what sustained IOPS are. Toshiba's MKx001GRZB is rated at 90,000 random read IOPS and 17,000 random write ones. Its sequential read throughput is 510MB/sec, approaching the OCZ number, but the sequential write is far behind at 230MB/sec.

We really need some application benchmarks to see how fast the OCZ Vertex 3 Pro performs in nearer-to-real life situations but, going by the publicity numbers, the little SSD speedsters seem to have an unparalleled speed profile.

There is a single level cell Vertex 3 EX drive but no specific performance data has been released for that. It should be faster than the Vertex 3 Pro as SLC flash is generally faster than MLC flash.

These OCZ drives also have a Fibre Channel interface, courtesy of an Emulex Fibre Channel bridge chip, according to Stifel Nicolaus analyst Aaron Rakers.

OCZ has also introduced a Z-Drive R3 PCIe-interface product, saying it runs at 135,000 IOPS, reads data 1GB/sec and writes it at 950MB/sec. These aren't quite as much blow-your-mind numbers as LSI's WarpDrive SLP-300 offers 240,000 IOPS and a 1.4GB/sec read speed.

The OCZ NAND products introduced at CES are demonstration products. There are no prices and their availability may not be until the second quarter. Even so, the specced performance numbers will give its competitors pause for thought and add more credibility to SandForce. ®

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