OCZ Vertex 4 256GB SSD review
Homegrown hot shot
Inside the drive are the same NAND chips as to be found in the Vertex 3, that is to say 25nm Intel 29F16B08CCME3 synchronous modules. The 256GB drive has sixteen 16GB dual-die packaged chips to provide its capacity.
Everything but the NAND has OCZ's fingerprints on it
The layout of the PCB differs from what you usually find in a SSD, with eight NAND chips and a 256MB DDR3 memory chip arranged in a circle around the IDX400M00-BC controller on one side of the board, with another circle of eight NAND chips together with another 256MB DDR3 module on the reverse side of the board giving the drive 512MB in total for the cache.
Unlike the SandForce controlled drives, the Vertex 4 makes use of on-board cache memory. The controller uses this cache for quick read servicing to the host by pre-fetching requests from the NAND into the DRAM, which should allow reads to complete as fast as the drives interface will allow.
As quoted earlier, the headline performance figures for the 256GB drive are Sequential Read/Write speeds of 550MB/s and 465MB/s respectively. Tests with ATTO didn’t quite manage on the Read side of things, 533MB/s but did better than the quoted figures for the Write performance - 474MB/s.
Both of these figures are down on the previous generation 240GB Vertex 3 which uses a SandForce controller which produced ATTO scores of 550MB/s Reads and 517MB/s Writes – the officially stated figures for the 240GB Vertex 3 are up to 550MB/s Reads and 520MB/s Writes.
CrystalDisk Mark: standard and compressible data tests for out-of-the-box v1.4 firmware
AS SSD v1.4 firmware test results
The Everest 2 controller doesn’t suffer from the Achilles heel of SandForce powered drives which is dealing with incompressible data, it treats both compressible and incompressible data much the same, something that can be seen from the CrystalMark benchmark in its default incompressible data mode and when the 0x00 (compressible data) mode is enabled, there’s not much change in the sequential Read/Write figures.
Vertex 4 compared with version 1.4 firmware
Longer bars are better
The drive I tested came with the 1.4 version of the firmware but while I’ve been testing the drive, OCZ released its version 1.5 firmware upgrade. The company claims its boosts sequential file performance and improves garbage collection. After testing the drive with the firmware it came with, I flashed the drive with the new firmware using OCZ’s useful SSD toolbox utility to re-run the tests with v1.5.
Inside job: home grown controller update delivers a competitive edge
It has to be said, the performance gain was pretty impressive with the Sequential Read/ Write results from ATTO rising from the 533/474MB/s respectively for the 1.4 version of the firmware to 550MB/s and 511MB/s respectively which puts the drive right up alongside the SandForce-powered Vertex 3.
The Indilinix Everest 2 controller provides some much needed competition to SandForce’s dominance in this arena. Bringing in the controller tech in-house should also allow OCZ to sort out bugs quickly as well as delivering any performance upgrades in a reasonable short time frame. The recent release of the speed boosting v1.5 firmware for the Vertex 4 being a case in point. ®
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