One thing AMD has taught me is that you can never beat Intel at its own game. Simply trying to do what Intel does will leave you confined to whatever low margin market Intel deems too unattractive to pursue. It’s exactly why AMD’s most successful CPU architectures are those that implement features that Intel doesn’t have today, but perhaps will have in a few years. Competing isn’t enough, you must innovate. Trying to approach the same problem in the same way but somehow do it better doesn’t work well when your competition makes $9B a quarter.

We saw this in the SSD space as well. In the year since Intel’s X25-M arrived, the best we’ve seen is a controller that can sort-of do what Intel’s can just at a cheaper price. Even then, the cost savings aren’t that great because Intel gets great NAND pricing. We need companies like Indilinx to put cost pressure on Intel, but we also need the equivalent of an AMD. A company that can put technological pressure on Intel.

That company, at least today, is SandForce. And its disciple? OCZ. Yep, they’re back.

Why I Hate New SSDs

I’ll admit, I haven’t really been looking forward to this day. Around the time when OCZ and Indilinx finally got their controller and firmware to acceptable levels, OCZ CMO Alex Mei dropped a bombshell on me - OCZ’s Vertex 2 would use a new controller by a company I’d never heard of. Great.

You may remember my back and forth with OCZ CEO Ryan Petersen about the first incarnation of the Vertex drive before it was released. Needless to say, what I wrote in the SSD Anthology was an abridged (and nicer) version of the back and forth that went on in the months prior to that product launch. After the whole JMicron fiasco, I don’t trust these SSD makers or controller manufacturers to deliver products that are actually good.


Aw, sweet. You'd never hurt me would you?

Which means that I’ve got to approach every new drive and every new controller with the assumption that it’s either going to somehow suck, or lose your data. And I need to figure out how. Synonyms for daunting should be popping into your heads now.

Ultimately, the task of putting these drives to the test falls on the heads of you all - the early adopters. It’s only after we collectively put these drives through hundreds and thousands of hours of real world usage that we can determine whether or not they’re sponge-worthy. Even Intel managed to screw up two firmware releases and they do more in-house validation than any company I’ve ever worked with. The bugs of course never appeared in my testing, but only in the field in the hands of paying customers. I hate that it has to be this way, but we live in the wild west of solid state storage. It’ll be a while before you can embrace any new product with confidence.

And it only gets more complicated from here on out. The old JMicron drives were easy to cast aside. They behaved like jerks when you tried to use them. Now the true difference between SSDs rears its head after months or years of use.

I say that because unlike my first experience with OCZ’s Vertex, the Vertex 2 did not disappoint. Or to put it more directly: it’s the first drive I’ve seen that’s actually better than Intel’s X25-M G2.

If you haven't read any of our previous SSD articles, I'd suggest brushing up on The Relapse before moving on. The background will help.

Enter the SandForce
POST A COMMENT

102 Comments

View All Comments

  • Shark321 - Monday, January 25, 2010 - link

    Kingston has released a new SSD series (V+) with the Samsung controller. I hope Anandtech will review it soon. Other sites are not reliable, as they test only sequential read/writes. Reply
  • Bobchang - Wednesday, January 20, 2010 - link

    Great Article!
    it's awesome to have new feature SSD and I like the performance
    but, regarding your test, I don't get the same random read performance from IOMeter.

    Can you let me know what version of IOMeter and configuration you used for the result? I never get more than around 6000 IOPS.
    Reply
  • AnnonymousCoward - Wednesday, January 13, 2010 - link

    Anand,

    Your SSD benchmarking strategy has a big problem: there are zero real-world-applicable comparison data. IOPS and PCMark are stupid. For video cards do you look at IOPS or FLOPS, or do you look at what matters in the real world: framerate?

    As I said in my post here (http://tinyurl.com/yljqxjg)">http://tinyurl.com/yljqxjg), you need to simply measure time. I think this list is an excellent starting point, for what to measure to compare hard drives:

    1. Boot time
    2. Time to launch applications
    _a) Firefox
    _b) Google Earth
    _c) Photoshop
    3. Time to open huge files
    _a) .doc
    _b) .xls
    _c) .pdf
    _d) .psd
    4. Game framerates
    _a) minimum
    _b) average
    5. Time to copy files to & from the drive
    _a) 3000 200kB files
    _b) 200 4MB files
    _c) 1 2GB file
    6. Other application-specific tasks

    What your current strategy lacks is the element of "significance"; is the performance difference between drives significant or insignificant? Does the SandForce cost twice as much as the others and launch applications just 0.2s faster? Let's say I currently don't own an SSD: I would sure like to know that an HDD takes 15s at some task, whereas the Vertex takes 7.1s, the Intel takes 7.0s, and the SF takes 6.9! Then my purchase decision would be entirely based on price! The current benchmarks leave me in the dark regarding this.
    Reply
  • rifleman2 - Thursday, January 14, 2010 - link

    I think the point made is a good one for an additional data point for the decision buying process. Keep all the great benchmarking data in the article and just add a couple of time measurements so, people can get a feel for how the benchmark numbers translate to time waiting in the real world which is what everyone really wants to know at the end of the day.

    Also, Anand did you fill the drive to its full capacity with already compressed data and if not, then what happens to performance and reliability when the drive is filled up with already compressed data. From your report it doesn't appear to have enough spare flash capacity to handle a worse case 1:1 ratio and still get decent performance or a endurance lifetime that is acceptable.
    Reply
  • AnnonymousCoward - Friday, January 15, 2010 - link

    Real world top-level data should be the primary focus and not just "an additional data point".

    This old article could not be a better example:
    http://tinyurl.com/yamfwmg">http://tinyurl.com/yamfwmg

    In IOPS, RAID0 was 20-38% faster! Then the loading *time* comparison had RAID0 giving equal and slightly worse performance! Anand concluded, "Bottom line: RAID-0 arrays will win you just about any benchmark, but they'll deliver virtually nothing more than that for real world desktop performance."
    Reply
  • AnnonymousCoward - Friday, January 15, 2010 - link

    Icing on the cake is this latest Vertex 2 drive, where IOPS don't equal bandwidth.

    It doesn't make sense to not measure time. Otherwise what you get is inaccurate results to real usage, and no grasp of how significant differences are.
    Reply
  • jabberwolf - Friday, August 27, 2010 - link

    The better way to test rather then hopping on your mac and thinking thats the end-all be-all of the world is to throw this drive into a server, vmware or xenserver... and create multiple VD sessions.

    1- see how many you can boot up at the same time and run heavy loads.
    The boot ups will take the most IOPS.

    Sorry but IOPS do matter so very much in the business world.

    For stand alone drives, your read writes will be what your are looking for.
    Reply
  • Wwhat - Wednesday, January 06, 2010 - link

    This is all great, finally a company that realizes the current SSD's are too cheap and have too much capacity and that people have too much money.

    Oh wait..
    Reply
  • Wwhat - Wednesday, January 06, 2010 - link

    Double post was caused by anadtech saying something had gone wrong, prompting me to retry. Reply
  • Wwhat - Wednesday, January 06, 2010 - link

    This is all great, finally a company that realizes the current SSD's are too cheap and have too much capacity and that people have too much money.

    Oh wait..
    Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now