The OCZ Octane Review (512GB)by Anand Lal Shimpi on November 23, 2011 12:00 PM EST
The Indilinx Everest is a surprisingly competent controller. When OCZ first mentioned its work on the controller to me I wrote it off as yet another low performing alternative that wasn't worth consideration. Based on its performance in our Storage Bench tests, I'd say the OCZ Octane is easily able to hold its own against SandForce based drives. The obvious benefit is you get solid performance regardless of the type of data you're moving around - everything from text to compressed movies can move at the same rate. The benefit is also a downside. SandForce drives tend to have very good average write amplification (0.60 - 0.70) thanks to their real time compression/dedupe of commonly used files. The result is relatively consistent performance over time, something that more traditional SSDs can't offer nearly as well. With TRIM enabled this should be a moot point, but it's still an advantage that no one else can duplicate without SandForce's technology.
Write amplification is a concern, although I suspect it'll only be a problem for enterprise workloads. The bigger issue is that to address these limitations, OCZ will likely have to do a significant redesign of the Octane's firmware architecture. OCZ did let me know that an even faster Octane H drive was due out in the not-too-distant future. It's possible that the Octane H may address my concerns here. I'll find out in due time.
It's clear that the Octane is a powerful competitor, what matters now is its reliability. In the past OCZ has been at the mercy of third party controller makers to fix bugs in their firmware, but now with Indilinx in house I wonder how things will change. I believe OCZ needs a good 12 months of an Intel or Samsung-like track record to really build confidence in its products. The brand definitely took a hit with all of the SandForce BSOD issues (and the wild goose chase interim "solutions" to the problem). OCZ has the opportunity to start fresh with Octane and there can be no finger pointing this time. The controller, firmware and drive are all produced in house. I don't expect the drive to be perfect in every system, but it had better be very close to it.
The good news is that if OCZ is able to deliver reliable and compatible firmware, the Octane is worth owning. It performs at the top of its class, and it's priced more aggressively than OCZ's SandForce based drives. My standard recommendation for any new SSD still applies: wait and see. Let others (myself included, the Octane will be going into a work machine starting today) be the beta testers. If the waters look safe, only then should you jump in.