OCZ sets up its flash stall in the enterprise bazaar
Soon to plonk down brace of new offerings
OCZ is taking on Fusion-io in the enterprise flash array market and adding a flash-disk drive hybrid to its range for workstation use. This SSD company is powering up into the enterprise from its consumer flash beginnings.
There are two products due to be announced shortly, we understand, based on demonstrated prototypes seen at Computex in Taiwan in May. Ryan Peterson, OCZ's CEO, mentioned both in the recent earnings call.
The Z-Drive R4, a follow-on from the current R3 model, comes with an 800GB to 3.2TB capacity range and was demonstrated on a Colfax server at Computex. The demo used multiple Z-Drive R4s, and the system achieved more than 1 million IOPS, the sort of demo Fusion-io specialised in a while ago.
We understand a single Z-Drive R4 does up to 350,000 random write IOPS (4K blocks), 2.9GB/sec sequential reads and 2.7GB/sec sequential writes. It can use single-level cell flash, 2-bit multi-level cell (MLC) flash, and eMLC (Enterprise MLC), which lasts longer than ordinary MLC.
You will be able to have over-provisioned and power loss-protected R Series Z-Drives or less expensive C-Series versions lacking those features. The controller has a so-called Virtualised Controller Architecture v2.0 which offers TRIM and SMART support, and uses eight SandForce SF-2281 processors in a RAID 0 configuration.
The interface is PCIe Gen 2 x8, and we have a volume ship date of this month.
In comparison, TMS's RamSan-70 900GB PCIe flash card does around 400,000 random writes and reads sequential data just over 2GB/sec. A Fusion-io ioDrive Duo 320GB SLC card does 262,000 random write IOPS (with 512B blocks), 1.5GB/sec sequential reads and writes. We firmly expect Fusion-io to announce updated product in the next month or two.
The idea of combining a slug of flash memory cache with traditional hard disk drive has been popularised by Seagate with its Momentus XT. The aim is to boost data access speeds by caching hot data and/or O/S boot images in the flash.
OCZ Revo Hybrid combination SSD and HDD on a PCIe card
OCZ talked about doing this with its RevoDrive at a Flash Summit in August last year. It demonstrated fixing a 2.5-inch hard disk drive to a RevoDrive PCIe card at Computex in May. The prototype product used 60GB of MLC flash with four SandForce SF-2200 processors in a RAID 0 configuration, a 500GB hard drive, together with DataPlex caching software. OCZ called this combination a Revo Hybrid.
Some performance numbers came out of the Computex demo: 30,000 random write IOPS, 575MB/sec sequential reads and 500MB/sec sequential writes.
There is said to be a version coming with 120GB of flash and a 1TB hard drive.
Having 60GB of flash is a lot more than the relatively paltry 4GB of NAND inside the Momentus XT's casing with its limited internal space. We haven't seen random IOPS and sequential MB/sec I/O numbers for this drive, so a direct comparison between it and the Revo Hybrid isn't yet possible.
The caching software should deliver better results overall for the Revo Hybrid as there is vastly more flash cache space to work with.
OCZ suggests pricing for the Revo Hybrid will be in the 40 cents/GB area. At Computex it said a 240GB Revo Hybrid could cost $699. More details will be revealed when it is properly announced. ®
....It's been a pleasure to get to know you over the years. From binning parts for review sites to come on top to creating a cartel with SandForce regarding firmware to consumers, it's fairly plain to see that the leopard, regardless of the colour, still maintains it's spots.
I've certainly enjoyed seeing wide spread tails of failed Revo Drives, of Data Corruption, and funky designs that most IT professionals wouldn't even think to include in their designs. For throwaway product, you're certainly tops. However, when you start to trespass in MY pool, I'm going to make sure you understand what you're in for.
A.) Reliability. It rarely has to do with what type of NAND you're using. It comes does to design for reliability. We like to call it RAS in this playing field but you'll probably understand it better as "keeping those RMAs under control." You haven't, in the short time you've decided to play in this space, convinced anyone that your demons have been exorcised here. Try googling "OCZ Revo Corruption" and...well, see what happens.
B.) Design. Designing for sustaining failures is one thing but coming to market with full height, full length SSD boards when your more agile competitors like Fusion I/O and LSI are doing half-height, half-width is stupid. Density demands designs that are solid, that consume less space, and hit efficiency benchmarks...Can't see that happening for you, especially with the Revo Hybrid design.
C.) Development. In the enterprise space, if you don't have solid developers working for you, engaging with your OS partners, and actually supporting your customers, you're dead. So far, you've done nothing with your tools outside of terrible Windows and (dare I say it?) Linux TRIM drivers. That's another one to google..."OCZ Driver support." Oh, btw, where's your VMware driver support? Fusion I/O and LSI have them...
D.) Performance. You can put a Ferrari shell on a Pontiac Fiero and still have a completely crappy care. Looks good but doesn't really meet the same thing. Doesn't matter about the price either...why spend money on a "johnny come lately" that has almost NO proof that they can hack it in this space and, who is known through word of mouth, to have an EXCEPTIONAL failure rate on hardware? I don't care if you can do 2.7GB/s through a x8 PCIe 2.0 bus if you're going to fail me next week. Again, not about the NAND, it's about sustaining.
E.) Support. Along the lines of development, support is huge. LSI and Fusion I/O put people on the ground to WORK with folks to integrate products. You've got no such capability...frankly, your "plug and pray" model is not designed to scale anywhere beyond the big box store...
I probably could continue but given the plethora of EXCELLENT options (TMS, Crucial, LSI, Fusion I/O, Violin, Unigen, et al) why would I settle for mediocre?
PS> I highly respect Dr. Michael Schuette. He's probably the only reason why I'd give you the time of day...
Markets according to whom? ;)
OCZ has made overt intimations that it's attempting to move to enterprise from SMB. Revodrive is a solid SMB class product and I certainly applaud your use of it without issue. the problem is when you start way downmarket and attempt to move up, your track record (aka "victims") become inextricably attached to who you are.
Do Fusion I/O, LSI, etc. have issues with their products? Absolutely, but the way they've surrounded their respective products makes OCZ look like a used car dealer in delivery. You can "buy" your way into the hearts and minds of folks (power of psychology at work) but unless you're there to deliver a sustaining ecosystem for those products, you're going to be out of luck. That, imho, is where OCZ has failed miserably and where they're going to need to dramatically improve. There are of course other things that need to be corrected (as enumerated above) but, this seems to be the most salient for now.
Perhaps you're in a different market than what OCZ are initially aiming for? I agree the RMA rates for newly released hardware is higher with OCZ than, say, Intel. That's a known fact.
Also agreed that they lack drivers tho there's been no need for drivers so far as they used an off the shelf PCI-X bridge which already has support in *nix. Now, the new revodrive range does use custom firmware so presumably would need a driver.
You can't really blame them for not releasing drivers for an unreleased product.
For what it's worth, despite the higher RMA rate I've personally had zero stability issues in the year I've been running a Revodrive 24/7. So sorry, it's not the case that a working drive might just fail on you in a week.
At the end of the day you should know what you're buying. If you want and need full enterprise support with all the bells and whistles OCZ might not be for you, not with the current offerings anyway.
If, however, you are a SMB that can fit an entire production database on a single PCI-E card and get 350K iops? Here's my wallet, thank you very much.