Things move in real time around here. Just yesterday we published an article detailing the differences between SandForce's SF-1200 and SF-1500 controller. We also pointed out that the mass production firmware for the SF-1200 controller (v3.0.5) caps 4K random write performance on all drives except for OCZ's upcoming Vertex 2. The only problem (aside from the obvious) is I had no way of determining how much of a real world impact the lower 4K random writes would have on a SF-1200 drive. Until today that is.

The Agility 2 is OCZ's standard SF-1200 SSD, using the same firmware that's been made available to all of SandForce's partners. The performance of this drive should tell us what we can expect from all other SF-1200 drives on the market. My Vertex 2 sample won't be here until next week.  I also received a reference SF-1200 drive from SandForce to verify the performance results.

The drive just arrived this morning and I snapped some shots of (and took it apart) for a quick This Just In post before I got to testing. As a reminder, these posts are designed to give you all a glimpse into what is dropped off at our doorstep on a regular basis. The full review will follow.

Observations? OCZ bundles the 3.5" drive tray we've seen with a few SSDs now. The Agility 2 PCB has a silkscreened location for a super cap, which indicates that the layout/routing differences between the SF-1200 and SF-1500 are negligible. You can catch these details and more in the Gallery.

Update: Our full review is up!

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  • greggm2000 - Saturday, April 17, 2010 - link

    Anand,

    Are you considering doing testing with an encrypted (Truecrypt) partition on your Sandforce controller drives? Given that the Sandforce controller does compression before writing to the drive, and given that encrypted data is not particularly amenable to that sort of thing, I'd be quite interested to see how that affects performance, including in comparison to non-Sandforce drives. I'm sure I'm not the only one.

    Thanks for the great reviews!
    Reply
  • VoidQ - Saturday, April 17, 2010 - link

    Is an SSD a good fit for Truecrypt encryption? I seem to recall that wear leveling doesn't agree with Truecrypt. See below:

    http://www.truecrypt.org/docs/wear-leveling
    Reply
  • greggm2000 - Saturday, April 17, 2010 - link

    I think it depends on the intended use. If you put un-encrypted data on a SSD and then encrypt it, there may still remain blocks that contain un-encrypted data (thus, defeating the purpose). If, on the other hand, it's a fresh drive and you put a fresh Truecrypt partition onto it, then the drive should only ever see encrypted data, and thus it shouldn't matter.

    Even as a boot drive, encryption may be worthwhile, as long as you encrypt it before using it with anything sensitive. IMO of course, I don't claim to be any kind of expert on this.
    Reply
  • cactusdog - Sunday, April 18, 2010 - link

    Hahaha, Why do you guys need to encrypt data? Do you work for KAOS the international organisation of rotteness?? Hahaha Just wondering..... Reply
  • RollerBoySE - Sunday, April 18, 2010 - link

    Well, there are actually quite a few us here from the corporate world. And we use the information from Anandtech to make decisions on how to use SSD:s in the employees PC:s.

    Believe it or not but Truecrypt is actually quite commonly used to protect company secrets. The most common diskencryption being rolled out nowadays is probably Microsofts Bitlocker. If Bitlocker doesn't work well with the SSD, it won't be considered for corporate usage.

    So I would really like Anand to test with both Truecrypt and Bitlocker.
    Reply
  • greggm2000 - Sunday, April 18, 2010 - link

    And for those in the non-corporate world, it's a handy thing (especially for laptops) as an anti-theft measure (ie: your laptop gets stolen), or if the drive fails and you need to send the drive in to be replaced. It's nice not to have to worry if your personal info is floating around out there somewhere. Reply
  • niva - Monday, April 19, 2010 - link

    Umm, double encrypting data is not going to result in some data being unencrypted.

    I too want to hear about this, I don't encrypt partitions but I use truekrypt and this is the first time I hear of potential issues with SSDs.
    Reply
  • greggm2000 - Monday, April 19, 2010 - link

    Double encryption?!? I don't think anyone is talking about that. If you read up on how wear levelling works on SSDs, you'll understand the security concern.

    Performance issues with how the Sandforce controller works in comparison to other drives (such as the Intel drives) is my own question, because of how the Sandforce controller appears to work. Theory is no substitute for testing however. It could be that Sandforce have taken this into account somehow and performance remains high.
    Reply
  • Kary - Monday, April 19, 2010 - link

    I think he is referring to Truecrypt from the drive with BitLocker from Windows on tops of it...double secured data...I think it was also meant as a joke :) Reply
  • vol7ron - Tuesday, April 20, 2010 - link

    Double encryption is not the concern, however your statement is wrong. You could potentially encrypt data twice that reverts it back to its original state, depending on the algorithms involved.

    The concern, though, is about security. If the header information is not physically overwritten because of TrueCrypt, then the old header would remain somewhere on the disk. If there was a breach, an attacker could still mount and access the old data. This may/may not not mean something to the average user, but if you have highly sensitive data, it is a big concern.
    Reply

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