The Vertex 2

With the Agility 2 and Vertex 2 drives, OCZ has completely abandoned Indilinx in the high end MLC space. While Indilnx’s JetStream controller is still expected sometime this year, OCZ has clearly aligned with SandForce for the immediate future of its high end SSDs.

The Agility 2 we recently reviewed uses a standard SF-1200 controller and firmware. The Vertex 2 uses the same controller, but ships with a different (allegedly OCZ exclusive) firmware that enables higher small file random write speeds. This is a mass production firmware revision (based on 3.0.5) and is officially sanctioned by SandForce.

The drives carry a small price premium over OCZ’s Agility 2 line:

OCZ SandForce Drive Pricing (MSRP)
  50GB 100GB 200GB
OCZ Agility 2 $204.99 $379.99 $719.99
OCZ Vertex 2 $219.99 $399.99 $769.99

In theory, the Vertex 2 should be the fastest SF-1200 on the market. However, Corsair’s Force F100 offers similar performance. The trick is in the firmware. Corsair ships its drives with SandForce’s release candidate firmware (3.0.1), which has the higher small file random write performance. In order to work around a known issue with that firmware, Corsair disables a power saving state that results in slightly higher power consumption from the Force F100.

I’ve been using both drives and so far, they both work fine. But if you want the performance and to stick with SandForce’s MP firmware, the Vertex 2 is apparently the only solution for now.

Introduction Starting with the Differences: Power Consumption
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  • carleeto - Thursday, April 29, 2010 - link

    I don't think people are going to use an SSD for music and movies any time soon. At least, not until the price per GB falls within 200% of a normal hard drive. Where I could see this kind of thing being used a lot on an SSD is with a Truecrypt partition that is used to store source code, documents, mail etc. That's a lot of small writes and reads and the result, because of the encryption layer is really quite random. So I'd actually disagree with Anand here - it is something that is going to be quite relevant to a security conscious user and that is quite a large market, when you factor in enterprises. Reply
  • NandFlashGuy - Wednesday, April 28, 2010 - link

    At my workplace, all PCs have PGP software installed. That should make the data in all writes to disk look like random data, meaning less than optimal performance.

    Anand, can you measure performance under the normal benchmarks with PGP installed? It's a realistic use case for anyone in the corporate world.
    Reply
  • Squuiid - Wednesday, April 28, 2010 - link

    Anand, any news on how your replacement Crucial RealSSD C300 is holding up? Did Crucial fix the performance deterioration bug you last talked about?
    Can you recommend the Crucial over the Vertex 2, or vice versa?
    Reply
  • Grit - Wednesday, April 28, 2010 - link

    I'd like to second that request. The Crucial drive manages impressive speeds in most benchmarks and does so without the loss in space. I can live with a 256GB SSD, but a 200GB SSD is cutting it a bit too close. Reply
  • DesktopMan - Wednesday, April 28, 2010 - link

    Will there be any tests on the AES features? Since this is a feature not present in most SSDs an article on how it works and performs would be very interesting. Reply
  • vol7ron - Wednesday, April 28, 2010 - link

    All these comments, so little time :)

    Looks good.
    Reply
  • diamondsw - Wednesday, April 28, 2010 - link

    As much ink has been spilled about SandForce, I still haven't seen anything that would indicate it's a better choice than the Crucial RealSSD C300, which has better performance at a (slightly) better price. Am I missing something important? Reply
  • arehaas - Wednesday, April 28, 2010 - link

    Crucial C300 have a problem with its firmware that Crucial hasn't solved yet. Performance degrades significantly. Anand found this problem in a "Crucial's RealSSD C300: An Update on My Drive" from March 25. Crucial is currently promising to release the new firmware in mid-May, but they have shifted this deadline already twice. There is no guarantee they will manage to do it in May. Major reviewers do not recommend buying C300 SSD yet. Reply
  • xiphmont - Wednesday, April 28, 2010 - link

    I expect Crucial will fix their firmware issue just as it appears that Sandforce has fixed theirs.

    The Sandforce's redundancy (silent correction and reprovisioning around bit errors and failed flash cells) is what sells me on the Sandforce. If the promises are true, these drives will last longer and throw unrecoverable errors far less often as the NAND ages. Performance is a nice extra.

    It terrifies me that the other mass production SSDs appear to offer no redundancy or error detection/correction of stored bits at all.
    Reply
  • jimhsu - Thursday, April 29, 2010 - link

    Sandforce attempts to scare you with this in their marketing literature. ALL SSDs (even crappy first gen JMicron ones) do a substantial amount of error correction (the raw error rate for flash is something ridiculously bad like 10^-7 to 10^-8). I think even camera flash memory has embedded error correction (don't take my word for it though). Sandforce just does "more" than its competitors. Reply

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