The SSD Update: Vertex Gets Faster, New Indilinx Drives and Intel/MacBook Problems Resolvedby Anand Lal Shimpi on March 30, 2009 12:00 AM EST
- Posted in
The Bright Side: The Vertex is Nearly 3x as Fast
Immediately after I published the anthology, I asked OCZ for a shipping version of the drive. I wanted final hardware, updated firmware, shrink wrap, the whole 9 yards. Here’s what I got:
The drive itself looked identical to the first Vertex I tested, but the differences were all internal. The new drive used a new PCB layout, let’s pop the top off to see it:
The major change on the new board layout is the addition of a 2-pin jumper on the back of the drive to allow the drive’s firmware to be updated by the end user. OCZ tells me that as of 1275, the jumper is no longer needed to update the firmware so it looks like it was a short lived change.
While OCZ claims that there’s significant validation done on each firmware revision, without a doubt it’s significantly less than what every Intel and Samsung drive goes through. There’s a certain amount of risk you take when jumping on the unproven hardware bandwagon, so as always proceed with caution. It’s worth looking into
While I haven’t done much testing on 1275, I can’t blame you if you want to try the firmware out right away because it is good.
I’ll start with the best news first. I looked at 4KB random write performance once again using iometer. This test is the same one I used in last week’s review; a 3 minute run, 3 outstanding IOs, 4KB random writes spread out over an 8GB section of LBAs. I filled the drive completely before running the test.
|Random Write (4KB Block, 3 IOs)||IOPS||Transfer Rate||Average Latency (ms)|
|Intel X25-M||5923||23.1 MB/s||0.51 ms|
|OCZ Vertex 1275||1656||6.47 MB/s||1.81 ms|
|OCZ Vertex 0112||617||2.41 MB/s||4.86 ms|
Yeah. It’s fast. Not quite as fast as Intel’s X25-M but it’s good. Average latency has dropped quite a bit. The Vertex using firmware 1275 performs used at about the level that the original firmware performed brand new. The Intel drive can still crunch through over 3.5x the number of IOs per second as the Vertex, but it also costs nearly 2x per GB. The Vertex proves itself an interesting value alternative.
I then looked at random read performance. Now most SSDs do just fine here, even the JMicron based ones.
|Random Read (4KB Block, 3 IOs)||IOPS||Transfer Rate||Average Latency (ms)|
|Intel X25-M||13883||54.2 MB/s||0.22 ms|
|OCZ Vertex 1275||8931||34.9 MB/s||0.34 ms|
|OCZ Vertex 0112||8184||32.0 MB/s||0.37 ms|
The new firmware bumped up the Vertex’s performance by about 9%.
I spoke briefly with one of OCZ’s flash engineers and it seems like the reason the 1275 firmware is so much faster in random write speed is because of a bug in the 0112 firmware I tested with. There was apparently a problem with the 0112 firmware that prevented the controller from writing to as many flash devices as possible in parallel. The 1199 firmware fixed this, which explains why the sudden rush to ship the firmware. Unfortunately it looks like that version also has problems and thus we end up back at square one again. There’s no free lunch folks.
Sequential read performance showed a very marginal performance improvement:
|Sequential Read (2MB Block, 1 IO)||IOPS||Transfer Rate||Average Latency (ms)|
|Intel X25-M||115.1||230.2 MB/s||8.7 ms|
|OCZ Vertex 1275||127.9||255.9 MB/s||7.8 ms|
|OCZ Vertex 0112||125.1||250.1 MB/s||8.0 ms|
But sequential write performance went up tremendously:
|Sequential Write (2MB Block, 1 IO)||IOPS||Transfer Rate||Average Latency (ms)|
|Intel X25-M||35.5||71 MB/s||28.2 ms|
|OCZ Vertex 1275||67.7||135.3 MB/s||14.8 ms|
|OCZ Vertex 0112||46.7||93.4 MB/s||21.4 ms|
The Indilinx (and most other) drives offer better sequential read/write speed than the X25-M. Intel optimized for the most important characteristics for a desktop: random read/write performance, while most other manufacturers optimized for sequential read/write. Indilinx is the first to seem to want to really drive sequential without completely forgetting about random performance.