The Vertex Update

As you’d expect, a lot has happened since the article went live. On my end, I’ve started compatibility testing on the OCZ Vertex drives. As I mentioned at the end of last week’s article - OCZ and Indilinx, even collectively, aren’t anywhere near as large as Intel.

Firmware changes to the X25-M go through weeks upon weeks of validation at Intel; if the validation process is anything like it is for all other Intel components, the process is carried out on hundreds of servers making sure that every possible scenario is tested on the drive. Intel studied the usage pattern of hard drive users for quite a while before the X25-M ever made it to a reviewer’s hands; that’s why we didn’t have the stuttering problems on those drives. That’s why they just worked as intended right out of the box.

That’s also why the Intel drive commands such a high premium.

  Cost Per GB from Newegg.com
Intel X25-M 80GB $4.29
OCZ Vertex 120GB $2.91
Western Digital Caviar SE16 640GB $0.12
Western Digital VelociRaptor 300GB $0.77

 

OCZ and Indilinx want to slot their drive in between the JMicron garbage and the Intel drive. Unfortunately, without the resources of an Intel - it’s difficult to deliver the same sort of experience. That’s not to say that the only solid state options come from Intel, it just means that you should probably check to see if there are any compatibility issues before you pull the trigger on the Vertex.

Reading through OCZ’s forums there have been reports of drives not working in some notebooks. While the Vertex worked just fine in my X58 testbed, that’s hardly the most common motherboard out there. So before I left for GDC last week I started compatibility testing on the Vertex. I met with OCZ at their offices to share notes on compatibility testing with these drives. For example, I’ve seen issues with the ASUS P5B Deluxe and the P5K Deluxe and the Vertex drive being detected properly (or taking a long time to detect) but OCZ has not. I want to find out why.

I’ve also heard limited reports of Vertex drives dying after heavy use. The data loss/corruption issues appear to be related to firmware 1199, a revision newer than the 0112 version I tested with for last week’s article. While I recommended that OCZ ship with the firmware I tested for my review, it looks like some drives shipped with 1199. I don’t have exact numbers of how many drives used 1199 vs. 0112, but there are some out there in the market. Sigh.

The problem was quickly identified by customers, OCZ and Indilinx and fixed in a very short period of time with the 1275 revision. If you have a drive with the 1199 firmware it’ll appear as such in the BIOS and your best bet is to contact OCZ directly for the new firmware and instructions on how to upgrade to it.

While it’s great that OCZ has been proactive in releasing firmware updates, every time you update your firmware you do lose all of the data on your drive. If you keep persistent backups then it’s not a big deal; if you don’t, it’s a pain.

Index The Bright Side: The Vertex is Nearly 3x as Fast
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  • The0ne - Monday, March 30, 2009 - link

    imo, flash memory is going to be pretty big this year and the coming years. I'm already anticipating very high capacity flash memory since the technology is already there to push it up to 2TB. It's just a matter of time, cost and market to be able to get to those levels. As for SSD I think it's picking up but not as quickly as most had hoped for, myself included. And again, IMO, I think SSD technology is still in the infant stages where there are still lots of improvements to be made. Speed (write/read) and capacities are the two major ones of course. Reply
  • iwod - Monday, March 30, 2009 - link

    It seems Samsung's Controller wont be that good at all. At least from the look of it, it will be worst then Vertex's one.

    Which is strange since they are the largest Flash manufacture in the world. Does it make sense to develop the best SSD conrtoller to improve Flash sales?
    Reply
  • siuba - Monday, March 30, 2009 - link

    it seems slow peroformance on intel x25-m, i can get 38xxx PCMark Vantage HDD Score after HDD Erase, but the overall i can say vertex can outperformance x25-m Reply
  • duploxxx - Monday, March 30, 2009 - link

    2 very nice articles regarding ssd, although i am not so convinced what to buy, ocz or intel one, since both have similar performance in real world apps i believe it is more a price discussion.

    the one thing i miss in both reviews, is the failure rates, the burn in rate and the way they prevent the burn in by more capacity then rated, write, mixture, etc.....

    Afterall that is one of the main reason why many large storage vendors are still offering this solution as a second line-up (except for the prcie/gb offcourse and the issue that few of those disks kill there global controller performance)

    any news on that part and new enhancements in the future.
    Reply
  • Denithor - Monday, March 30, 2009 - link

    Page 3 - midway down the page - you refer to 'firmware 0112' - should be 0122 (several instances in one paragraph). Reply
  • andreschmidt - Monday, March 30, 2009 - link

    Just as I were on the fence to try out the Intel X25-M I hear rumblings of their Solid State Drive roadmap.

    Would be a real shame to buy the relatively pricey X25-M 80GB ($481 in Denmark) only to see it replaced in the next month or two by an even better product by Intel.

    Good follow-up article though.

    Reply
  • 7Enigma - Wednesday, April 01, 2009 - link

    With this latest firmware update I would not be pulling the trigger on the Intel drive. Unless there are some serious defects with the latest Vertex firmware, 2 drives in RAID0 have to be superior in performance, not to mention the extra capacity.

    I would definitely wait, but not for the Intel drive, but rather for the confirmation the latest firmware for the Vertex is solid.
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Thursday, April 02, 2009 - link

    Dunno, that difference in random writes (1st graph page 3) seems more than RAID would help. Combine that with the face that I have never had a good experience with onboard RAID and never seen it make a large difference in real-life timing, if Intel dropped their price to something closer to the OCZ I'd rather stich to a single drive (though the fact that Intel doesn't really have a drive capacity that suits my needs well doesn't help either). Reply
  • IntelUser2000 - Monday, March 30, 2009 - link

    It wouldn't be 1-2 months for the next generation Intel SSD drives. The previous SSD roadmaps indicate the 34nm SSDs at Q4 of this year. We might see the rumored 120MB/s firmware for X25-M though. Whether it can be updated to support the older firmware drives is another question. Reply
  • IntelUser2000 - Monday, March 30, 2009 - link

    Ehem, 120MB/s writes. Reply

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