Thirteen months ago OCZ announced its intention to acquire Indilinx, the SSD controller maker that gave Intel its first taste of competition in the consumer market in 2009. Eight months later, OCZ launched its first post-acquisition SSD based on Indilinx silicon. Today, just five months after the launch of the Octane, OCZ is officially releasing the Vertex 4 – based on its Indilinx Everest 2 silicon. In less than a year, OCZ has brought to market more Indilinx powered controllers than Indilinx did in the previous three years. It's rare that you see the fruits of acquisition so quickly, but if there's anything OCZ's CEO Ryan Petersen is good at it's pushing for an aggressive schedule.

Rather than call this drive the Octane 2, OCZ went with Vertex 4, indicating its rightful place at the top of OCZ's SSD lineup. The implications run even deeper. It marks the first time in two years that a Vertex drive will ship without a SandForce controller inside. Make no mistake, while Octane was a shot across SandForce's bow, Vertex 4 means war. While OCZ continues to ship tons of SandForce controllers, the future for the company is Indilinx. The Vertex 4 is just the beginning. OCZ will continue to ship Vertex 3 in parallel, and should a future SandForce controller make competitive sense to use OCZ will definitely consider it, but the intention is to build the fastest silicon internally and use it as much as possible.

The dramatic departure in naming also embodies just how different Everest 2 is from the original Everest controller. OCZ claims there's minimal shared code between the Octane and Vertex 4 firmware, and the two drives perform very differently. Write amplification was always a concern with the Octane - it is no longer a major issue with the Vertex 4. OCZ and its Indilinx team have reduced write amplification to roughly the levels of Intel's controllers:

Estimated Worst Case Write Amplification

Indeed write performance is improved significantly as a result. A look at the spec sheet gives us the first indication of what's to come:

OCZ SSD Comparison
  OCZ Vertex 4 OCZ Vertex 3 OCZ Octane OCZ Vertex 2
Current NAND 25nm IMFT MLC 25nm IMFT MLC 25nm IMFT MLC 25nm IMFT MLC
Capacities 128, 256, 512GB 60, 90, 120, 240, 480GB 128, 256, 512GB, 1TB 60, 120, 240GB
Controller Indilinx Everest 2 SF-2281 Indilinx Everest SF-1221
Max Seq Read 535 MB/s 550 MB/s 480 MB/s 285 MB/s
Max Seq Write 475 MB/s 500 MB/s 330 MB/s 275 MB/s
Max Random Read 95K IOPS 60K IOPS 26K IOPS -
Max Random Write 85K IOPS 85K IOPS 35K IOPS 50K IOPS
AES-256 Encryption Yes Yes Yes No

Regardless of the nature of the data (compressible or incompressible), the Everest 2 powered Vertex 4 promises better random write performance than any other consumer SSD on the market today. And it delivers:

Desktop Iometer - 4KB Random Write (4K Aligned) - 8GB LBA Space

Random write speed is nothing short of incredible. OCZ is able to equal SandForce's write speed on highly compressible data without resorting to any sort of data compression. This is a purely algorithmic advantage. While the original Everest was a work in progress by the time OCZ acquired the company, Everest 2 is the first Indilinx project OCZ had complete control over. Apparently OCZ's CEO, Ryan Petersen had a lot of his own input built into this design.

OCZ Vertex 4 Lineup
  512GB 256GB 128GB
NAND Configuration 16 x 32GB 25nm Intel sync NAND 16 x 16GB 25nm Intel sync NAND 8 x 16GB 25nm Intel sync NAND
DRAM 2 x 512MB DDR3-800 2 x 512MB DDR3-800*
2 x 512MB DDR3-800*
Controller Indilinx Everest 2 Indilinx Everest 2 Indilinx Everest 2
Max Seq Read 535 MB/s 535 MB/s 535 MB/s
Max Seq Write 475 MB/s 380 MB/s 200 MB/s
Max Random Read 95K IOPS 90K IOPS 90K IOPS
Max Random Write 85K IOPS 85K IOPS 85K IOPS
MSRP $699 $349 $179
*Only 512MB of DDR3 will be used, future versions will ship with 2 x 256MB devices

The Vertex 4 will be available in three capacities initially – 128GB, 256GB and 512GB, with a 1TB version following. Drives should be available today but in very limited quantities, and likely only 128GB capacities at the start. MSRP is fairly competitive with other 6Gbps drives on the market today:

SSD Pricing Comparison
  128GB 256GB 512GB
Crucial m4 $154.99 $299.99 $549.99
Intel SSD 520 $184.99 $344.99 $799.99
Samsung SSD 830 $174.99 $299.99 $779.99
OCZ Octane $199.99 $339.99 $849.99
OCZ Vertex 3 $199.99 $339.99 $1199.99
OCZ Vertex 4 $179 MSRP $349 MSRP $699 MSRP
Inside the Vertex 4
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  • Per Hansson - Wednesday, April 04, 2012 - link

    "monitoring port of the SSD"
    Please enlighten me, Google was no help...
    Is it a hardware interface that allows you to see how the drive operates?
    Reply
  • adamantinepiggy - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    Basically, every SSD has some sort of real-time data port that allows engineers to monitor what is going on with the SSD, even when the drive hangs or has other issues. It is used mainly for development/testing. Consider it sorta like a way to read/access the dump file when Windows BSOD's, except in this case it's on the SSD. This monitoring port gets disabled on released drive firmware and the hardware attachment leads are unattached.. Reply
  • jonup - Wednesday, April 04, 2012 - link

    Thanks for asking this! I always wanted to know that myself. I actually google it to no avail while I was reading the article. Reply
  • medys - Wednesday, April 04, 2012 - link

    How long till we are overclocking our SSD processors :-/ Reply
  • FunBunny2 - Wednesday, April 04, 2012 - link

    Umm. How you gonna fit that water cooler inside the case? Reply
  • Iketh - Wednesday, April 04, 2012 - link

    hahaha... NEVER!! I've yet to break a Win7 installation from overclocking, but I broke XP many times... I shudder at the thought of overclocking an SSD :) Reply
  • Iketh - Wednesday, April 04, 2012 - link

    Although, I wonder how long until the processors in SSDs reach, say, today's single-core Atom... OR better yet, how long before the SSD controller is built into the CPU much like the memory controller, where we install more storage the same way we install ram... and then later again the nand controller and RAM controller merge, and a computer is nothing more than a SoC with some nand sitting next to it... Reply
  • iwod - Wednesday, April 04, 2012 - link

    We finally have controller that are able to bump out MB faster then Sandforce without using some silly compression engine. Marvell also announced next Gen SSD controller as well.

    Again we have reached the limit of SATA 6Gbps, we will need to start thinking about SATA Express, Lower power consumption, reliability. etc...
    Reply
  • akbo - Wednesday, April 04, 2012 - link

    Though I think the high consumption might be because of the controller, the chip is huge! With thermy sticky!

    Wonder when a die shrink of this is possible.
    Reply
  • Freddy G. - Wednesday, April 04, 2012 - link

    I want an SSD now for my gaming system, as boot and games drive, what u guys think should be better? Crucial m4 or Corsair Force GT? BTW Im going to start with a 120gb version in the meantime. Reply

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