Last year was dominated by two SSD controller manufacturers: Intel and Indilinx. Intel delivered the performance while Indilinx offered a value alternative. Once SandForce hit early this year however, it was game over for Indilinx. We have reviewed a couple of Indilinx drives since SandForce hit but for the most part we've been enamored with SF and Crucial's offerings.

Over the summer Indilinx was supposed to have its next-generation controller ready for debut, codenamed Jet Stream. Unfortunately the 6Gbps controller has been delayed until 2011, leaving Indilinx with two options: quietly bow out of the SSD market, or update Barefoot.

And here we have the updated Barefoot:


The Indilinx Martini based OCZ Vertex Plus

The controller is still technically called Barefoot, although it is a new hardware revision. Martini apparently refers to the firmware designed for this new rev of Barefoot (no, it can't be applied to older Barefoot drives). The Martini firmware and new Barefoot revision are designed to work better with Intel's 34nm NAND. The 3Gbps controller is designed primarily to increase random write performance although there are other benefits along the way.

Spare area has increased. While the old Barefoot set aside ~7% of the NAND capacity for garbage collection and bad block allocation, Martini uses 10%. A Barefoot+Martini based drive with 128GiB of NAND will expose 115.2GiB of it to the user vs. 119.2GiB for Barefoot based drives. SandForce once told me that it expects all controller makers to begin setting aside more spare area and that seems to be the trend.

This is the OCZ Vertex Plus, the first drive based on the Barefoot+Martini platform:

The Vertex Plus will take the place of the existing Vertex in OCZ's lineup, just below the Vertex 2 and other SandForce equipped SSDs. I asked OCZ for target pricing on the Vertex Plus when it ships in a few weeks:

OCZ's Vertex Plus Lineup
  32GB 64GB 128GB
OCZ Vertex Plus $74.99 $114.99 $194.99

A 128GB SandForce drive will set you back around $229. The Vertex Plus will save you $35. The 64GB version will be $20 cheaper than Crucial's RealSSD C300.


The back

The Vertex Plus I tested is a beta sample and is rough around the edges, which is why this is branded a Preview and not a full blown Review. Thankfully I was able to run through our entire test suite (both published and unpublished tests I use internally) on the drive. From the old Barefoot camp I've got the Corsair Nova V128, one of the last popular Indilinx based SSDs so keep an eye out for that comparison to see how Indilinx has progressed.

The Test

CPU Intel Core i7 965 running at 3.2GHz (Turbo & EIST Disabled)
Motherboard: Intel DX58SO (Intel X58)
Chipset: Intel X58 + Marvell SATA 6Gbps PCIe
Chipset Drivers: Intel 9.1.1.1015 + Intel IMSM 8.9
Memory: Qimonda DDR3-1333 4 x 1GB (7-7-7-20)
Video Card: eVGA GeForce GTX 285
Video Drivers: NVIDIA ForceWare 190.38 64-bit
Desktop Resolution: 1920 x 1200
OS: Windows 7 x64
Random Read/Write Speed
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  • scook9 - Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - link

    Looks like a nice update to barefoot but compared to the Intel G2 it is nothing ground breaking at all. There were also reliability issues with the barefoot that this would have to overcome (at least for me, that is why I have Intel G2s now). The price is also not that exciting given that the Intel G2 120GB just came out and is well priced. Reply
  • Out of Box Experience - Wednesday, November 17, 2010 - link

    There are reliability issues with Sandforce as well

    I Just checked and there are almost as many complaints at New Egg as there are over at OCZ Forums regarding their SSD's

    I could be wrong but it seems most people complaining about bricked drives or losing all their data are the ones who take OCZ's advice and do all the recommended tweaks and Firmware updates

    I personally torture tested both Vertex and Vertex 2 drives without any tweaks or firmware updates and I have never had any trouble with either drive

    I do full formats and partition under XP (Both OCZ No-No's)
    I defragged both drives several times and never used trim yet both drives are working fine

    I think my next torture test will be to use the recommended OCZ tweaks and firmware updates

    NOT!
    Reply
  • boe - Thursday, November 18, 2010 - link

    I'm anxious to build a new system with a sandy bridge proecessor, an at 6970 or nVidia video card and an SSD drive. However I need about 2TB of total storage and these puny SSD solutions would have been very practical about a decade ago but most of us looking for a high end computer that might include the more expensive SSD need a LOT more space. Reply
  • TF2pro - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    Well or course you don't buy an SSD for space, I spent $160 on my 60gb Sandforce drive and that could have bought me 3.5TB worth of mechanical drive space. Would I do it again.. 100 times over.. I have been building reasonably high end systems for myself for years and an SSD is the missing element. If you are looking for 2tb SSD's you shouldn't even be reading this article ... wait 2-3 years and then come back, until then if you really wanna see a jump in the speed of your PC get an SSD. Also 2tb drives are 90 bucks.. so just get both. Reply
  • Qapa - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    Well, that's not entirely true... if you have $3k or $4k to spend for SSDs you can buy 900GB-1TB SSDs (just check www.NewEgg.com).

    The question is, does that make sense. Not really for most people.
    Reply
  • TF2pro - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    Well yes of course you COULD get 2tb of SSD... but if you have that much money you probably aren't reading this forum.. your butler is reading it for you... Reply
  • rbarone69 - Sunday, November 21, 2010 - link

    Tech people come in all sizes, shapes and backgrounds. Some have millions, some dont. I am well off but technology is a passion for me. My job and my 'fun' do revolve around tech.

    My point is Anand has some of the most informative artciles on the internet regarding tech. Doesnt matter how much money you have you go where the quality is.
    Reply
  • marraco - Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - link

    I would like to read tests of ICH10 RAID0 made of different disks.

    Is the performance averaged, or bottlenecked to the slower disk?

    I don’t want opinions, as credible they may be. I want actual real tests.

    Publication of those tests may encourage new kind of RAID controllers, in which the load is balanced between different performing drives.

    Today’s controllers expect similar performance from each drive, so balance load equally to all SSD.

    But let’s say that tomorrow I buy a second, much faster SSD, and I want to do RAID 0 with my Vertex 2.
    A good controller should split the information on sizes according to each drive speed.
    Reply
  • DanNeely - Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - link

    That only makes sense if the drives capacity differences roughly match their speed differences as well; a usecase I suspect is too uncommon to be worth developing towards. Reply
  • marraco - Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - link

    Smart point. Now it should be taken in account that speed and sizes are increasing by large and simultaneously.

    And it only makes the RAID controller more interesting.

    Is to the user to decide if he wants to be bottlenecked by speed, or be forced to reduce partition size to be able to gains speed at cost of size.

    Let's say that an old 100GB SSD is to be paired with a 150 GB SSD 2X faster (and thus should need to store 2X the space of the slower SSD).

    Then choices are:

    1-Reduce the partition on the slower SSD to 75GB, to match it with the 150GB 2X speed. It would result in a 3X speed improvement (making simplified number for clarity), and 125% increase in space storage. Also, 25 GB in the slower SSD would be free to a non RAID partition, as ICH10 allows today.

    2-Use all the capacity on both drives, as if the new SSD were only 50% faster. It would waste speed, because the improvement would be 2.5X instead of 3X, but no free space would be need reallocation.

    3-Anything on the middle.
    Reply

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