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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  • landheha - Saturday, July 18, 2009 - link

    The risk I see in all this is putting a windows page file on such a drive that is actually used. Or an Oracle rollback tablespace or redo logfiles. These will get this kind of drive into "used-status" in no time. Not to speak of the 10.000x erase limit.

    As another guy said before, the difference between SLC and MLC is not to be neglected.
    Reply
  • anactoraaron - Thursday, June 25, 2009 - link

    Something I have noticed under win 7 RC x64 on my laptop is that when running on battery only the system boots up and shuts down faster than when on ac alone. I don't know why yet and this is especially revelant as even with the slightly lesser ssd's - basically non-intel - can improve laptop performance/responsiveness twofold vs. 7200rpm platter hdd's (as shown in the intial x25-m review). As far as the running on battery variable is concerned, my average shut down time on ac power is 17 seconds, and on battery it is 10 seconds (or less). Is there maybe something else going on in windows 7 that is an unknown as of now?
    Yes, after enjoying the initial review of the X25-M I had to spend about an hour to see where my platter hdd stood (and I'm sure I'm not the only one here that did so).
    Reply
  • vhx - Saturday, June 13, 2009 - link

    Intel X25-M or OCZ Vertex 120?

    The Intel seems to own it at almost everything except a few writing cases. However the theoretical 180 MB/s Write doesn't seem to show up in anything but synthetic benchmarks which STILL makes it even with the X25-M in real world performance. Not to mention the Vertex's seem to still have major performance degradations compared to X25-M's loss.

    What would you all get if you had a choice?
    Reply
  • Patanjali - Monday, May 04, 2009 - link

    These seem to have a reasonable write io ops/s compared to any of those that cost less than the Intel, and they are coming cheaper all the time. They use a 2nd generation Samsung controller.

    When will Anandtech review them and forget about all these experiments?
    Reply
  • Gootch - Sunday, April 19, 2009 - link

    As always, my comments to your previous article should have waited until I had read the latest on these drives. However, X25 is the best (for now) and in some cases arguably cheaper/Gb. Once again a great article follow-up. Reply
  • steffi - Thursday, April 16, 2009 - link

    So I managed to use a collegue's Intel PC at work to update the firmware in my X-25M but I've got a couple of questions ...

    1. Did that firmware resolve the NVidia compatibiity such that in the future I can apply the firmware update from my MacBook Pro Unibody NVidia machine?

    2. Did this firmware resolve the Bootcamp issue?

    3. How is it possible to use issue the SECURE_ERASE on a Mac then since it doesn't appear that HDDERASE will work given the need for legacy IDE mode?
    Reply
  • SpeedDemonAaron - Monday, April 13, 2009 - link

    Thank you so much for your honest and concise articles on SSDs lately! This is the most important hardware change that the tech world has seen in a long time. There are a lot of bits that need to be uncovered so that the public knows what they are getting themselves into. You're doing an outstanding job of protecting the consumer since manufacturers are definitely producing SSD products at the moment with no regard for the consumer! Reply
  • mmoran27 - Monday, April 13, 2009 - link

    Here it is.

    Must be done on Intel system or PC

    http://support.intel.com/support/ssdc/index_update...">http://support.intel.com/support/ssdc/index_update...
    Reply
  • MadBoris - Monday, April 13, 2009 - link

    PcPer did some test on the new Intel Firmware for the x25-M.
    Fragmentation issue went away but the drive is still to expensive. ;)

    http://pcper.com/article.php?aid=691&type=expe...">http://pcper.com/article.php?aid=691&type=expe...

    Reply
  • Eri Hyva - Saturday, April 11, 2009 - link



    http://www.ocztechnology.com/products/flash_drives...">http://www.ocztechnology.com/products/f...ives/ocz...

    The change log for firmware:
    "

    Version 0112 (Feb. 2009) (Description: Basic I/O  optimized drive with SMART error logging)
    • Version 1199 (Feb. 2009) (Description: Enhanced performance I/O optimized drive)
    • Internal "write join" was implemented for better performance
    •SMART basic features can be performed without error log monitoring 
    (to reduce overhead of log data collection)
    •ATA power management commands (IDLE, STANDBY, SLEEP) are enabled for compatibility 
    (Actually these are dummy, while SATA based Power Management is fully supported)
    • Supports runtime bad block handling
    •Improved power management
    •Improved NAND handling
    •Enabled PIO mode data transfer
    • Version 1275 (March, 2009) (Description: Improved raid 0 mode performance)
    •Performance is improved when drive is installed on RAID0 mode host
    •Maximum LBA number is modified according to the JEDEC standard 
    • Modifications of internal data structure used by FW (stamp)
    •Improved write joining
    •Improved FPDMA transfer mode 
    • Version 1.10 (April 7, 2009) 
    •Feature Add : TRIM support is added
    •Apple Mac Pro sleep/wake up support added
    • Updater improved 
    •Bad block management function improved 
    "
    Reply

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