Patriot's Wildfire

OCZ isn't the only company experimenting with SF-2281 drives and 32nm NAND. Patriot sent me the Wildfire, its first SF-2281 SSD. After a quick run through some performance tests I grew suspicious as it performed a lot like the Vertex 3 MAX IOPS I just tested. Cracking open the case I found the reason:

The Wildfire also uses 32nm Toshiba NAND. The 120GB drive Patriot sent has a 16 chip, 2 die per package configuration - compared to 8 chips with 4 die per package in the Vertex 3 MI. I don't see an advantage for one approach vs. the other. Patriot is targeting a $299 MSRP for the Wildfire, which would put it lower than the Vertex 3 MAX IOPS - although anything is possible once the drive goes on sale on the 28th of this month.

Patriot confirmed that the Wildfire would only use 32nm Toshiba NAND and that any NAND vendor changes would take place in other lines or subsets of the Wildfire brand.

Patriot uses a different PCB layout from OCZ. I don't know that there's an advantage to either layout, they are just different.

The unit I have here shipped with SF firmware revision 3.19, which is equivalent to OCZ's revision 2.08 firmware as far as I know. No word on when we'll see a 2.09 equivalent.

Performance of the Wildfire (as you'll see from the tests that follow) is identical to the Vertex 3 MAX IOPS. To keep the charts more manageable I've only included 6Gbps results from the Wildfire in most areas. Performance on a 3Gbps interface is identical to a 3Gbps Vertex 3 MAX IOPS as you'd expect.

The Test

CPU

Intel Core i7 965 running at 3.2GHz (Turbo & EIST Disabled)

Intel Core i7 2600K running at 3.4GHz (Turbo & EIST Disabled) - for AT SB 2011, AS SSD & ATTO

Motherboard:

Intel DX58SO (Intel X58)

Intel H67 Motherboard

Chipset:

Intel X58 + Marvell SATA 6Gbps PCIe

Intel H67
Chipset Drivers:

Intel 9.1.1.1015 + Intel IMSM 8.9

Intel 9.1.1.1015 + Intel RST 10.2

Memory: Qimonda DDR3-1333 4 x 1GB (7-7-7-20)
Video Card: eVGA GeForce GTX 285
Video Drivers: NVIDIA ForceWare 190.38 64-bit
Desktop Resolution: 1920 x 1200
OS: Windows 7 x64
Introduction A Note on Real World Performance
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  • semo - Friday, June 24, 2011 - link

    Thanks Anand. I appreciate your honesty and transparency. If it wasn't for you, Jmicron would have killed the momentum of SSD adoption. I'd hate to see the same thing happen again right under our noses. Reply
  • irev210 - Thursday, June 23, 2011 - link

    I have to agree.

    Anand came out blasting the Intel G2 SSD when it first came out for a very MINOR firmware snafu... yet people angry about Intel SSD's or Samsung 470's are very few and far between.

    Anand came out blasting Crucial for having firmware issues as well - with absolutely no follow up. The C300 ended up being an absolutely fantastic drive (though we do see more complaints vs. intel 320/510 and Samsung 470).

    It's getting old that you admit that all SSD's share extremely similar performance but continue to recommend SSD's that are FAR more unreliable vs. other brands.

    If "real-world" performance among SSD's, you should really look at things that distinguish one from another (reliability, warranty, long-term performance, trim/garbage collection features, raid performance, cost/gig evaluation, etc).

    Frankly, I think consumers are at the point where a 1% chance of SSD failure isn't worth .05% increase in performance. While those exact numbers aren't easy to come by - that's why we want you, Anand, to get the dirt for us.
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Thursday, June 23, 2011 - link

    Intel was held to a higher standard simply because with the X25-M you had to give up performance and the promise was you would have something that was more reliable than the competition.

    The C300 had several firmware issues to begin with and didn't do well over time as we showed in our TRIM torture tests, it's the former that kept me from recommending it early on and the latter that kept me from being all that interested in it in the long run.

    In the past two articles I've recommended the Intel SSD 510 and it was my personal choice of SSD for the past three months. I do have to allow for the fact that I have yet to have a single issue with any SF-2281 drive and some users may feel like they want to take a chance on something that's potentially faster (and has better write amplification characteristics).

    If it was my money I'd stick with the 510 but until I see a readily repeatable situation where the SF-2281 drives have issues I have to at least mention them as an option.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • jwilliams4200 - Thursday, June 23, 2011 - link

    "The C300 had several firmware issues to begin with and didn't do well over time as we showed in our TRIM torture tests, it's the former that kept me from recommending it early on and the latter that kept me from being all that interested in it in the long run."

    So, now that the Vertex 3 has had firmware issues, and now that your test in this article shows that its speed degrades terribly after torture tests, and somewhat even with TRIM....

    Basically, now that the V3 is shown to have the same or worse problems as you complained about with the C300...

    The question is, why are you not giving the Vertex 3 the same derogatory treatement that you gave the C300?
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Thursday, June 23, 2011 - link

    I've had multiple C300s die in my lab, not even trying to torture them (it looks like I may have just had another one die as of last night). Thus far I haven't had any SF-2281 drives die on me and I haven't experienced the BSOD issue first hand.

    The C300's performance degraded pretty poorly under harsh but still reasonable conditions. If you run the same torture test on a Vertex 3, its performance doesn't degrade.

    It's only when you completely fill a SF-2281 drive with incompressible data, then randomly write small block incompressible data all over the drive for an hour that you end up in a situation with reduced performance. While random writes do happen on all drives, it's highly unlikely that you'll take your system drive, fill it with H.264 videos, delete those videos, install Windows on the drive and then run some sort of application that writes purely random data all over the drive. The torture test I created for the SF drives in particular is specifically designed to look at worst case performance if you're running a very unusual workload.

    I did an 8-month investigation on SandForce's architecture that proved even in my own personal system I never saw the sort of worst case performance I was concerned about. The four drives we deployed across AT editors came back with an average write amplification of 0.6, as in most of the data that was written to the drive was actually deduped/compressed and never hit NAND. Based on that I don't believe most users will see the worst case performance I put forth on the TRIM page, the exception being if you're using this drive purely for highly compressed media or fully random data.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • jwilliams4200 - Thursday, June 23, 2011 - link

    "The C300's performance degraded pretty poorly under harsh but still reasonable conditions."

    You call running HD Tach on an SSD "reasonable conditions"? Seriously?
    Reply
  • seapeople - Thursday, June 23, 2011 - link

    Yes, I'm sure OCZ loves the fact that Anand mentions the Intel SSD 510 as being the better drive overall considering reliability like five times in this review.

    Not only that, but he explains in depth on page 3 that the extra performance from the Vertex 3 and other latest generation SSD's doesn't even matter in normal computing situations.

    So, Anand's options are this: 1) Say that SSD performance differences don't really matter and you should stop reading review sites like this and just go buy an Intel for reliability, or 2) Mention the irrelevancies of SSD performance differences in passing and continue on to do a full performance review which concludes that the Sandforce drives are, in fact, the fastest drives available today as long as you can get past the BSOD issues which may or may not affect you.

    Just because Anand chose option 2 does not mean he is in OCZ's pocket, it just means he likes reviewing SSD performance. This is very fortunate for us readers who enjoy reading such articles.
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Thursday, June 23, 2011 - link

    You are very correct - I've tested eight (more coming) SF-2281 drives and haven't had any issues. However by the same logic the sample size of complaints on the forums isn't statistically significant either.

    Despite my sample size being what it is, I continue to have the discussion about quality control and testing in every SF-2281 drive. If there was a repeatable way to bring about the BSOD issue on any (or some?) readily available platforms I'd have no problems completely removing the drive from the discussion altogether. Unfortunately that doesn't seem to be the case.

    Instead what I do is lay out the options for the end user. If you want the best overall reliability, Intel's SSD 320 is likely the drive for you. If you want the best balance of performance and reliability then there's the Intel SSD 510. And finally if you want to take a chance but want the drive with the lowest write amp for most users, there's anything SF-2281 based.

    For me personally the choice was Intel's SSD 510. I've moved it to a secondary role in my system to try and bug hunt the Vertex 3 on a regular basis.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • Tomy B. - Thursday, June 23, 2011 - link

    Why Samsung 470 isn't included in any results? Reply
  • Spoogie - Thursday, June 23, 2011 - link

    1) The first Vertex II I received was DOA.
    2) The second died completely after just eight months of light use.
    3) The BSODs occurred about once every six sleep modes. The Kingston replacement never gives a BSOD.

    Buyer beware.
    Reply

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