|OCZ Agility MLC SSD OCZSSD2-1AGT120G|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Storage|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Wednesday, 22 July 2009|
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Agility Internal Components
OCZ has designed their Agility Solid State Drive to use the exact same architecture and components as the more expensive OCZ Vertex SSD series, with the NAND flash modules being the only difference between the two products. Benchmark Reviews has discovered that OCZ does not use one single brand of NAND for the Agility, and that the modules could be from one of several different major manufacturers, depending on the model and construction date. For this Internal Components section, we have re-used content from the OCZ Vertex series review.
Intermittent and delayed response cycles (stuttering) from Solid State Drive products is not entirely wide-spread among all MLC SSDs, but it has become a big-enough issue among most affordable SSD products that many are well-aware of the phenomenon. Consumers first experienced the bitter taste of stuttering SSD performance with the OCZ Core Series (v1) SSD, although it has also been reported with the G.Skill MLC SSD and Patriot Warp v2. The phenomenon occurs when the drives buffer is filled faster than it can read or write data, and was prevalent among first-generation JMicron JMF602 SSD controllers.
In our OCZ Apex SSD article, Benchmark Reviews detailed how the JMicron JMB390 RAID controller managing a pair of JMF602(B) SSD controllers into a RAID-0 striped array was able to overcome the 'stutter' experienced in MLC drives... at least in read functions. OCZ has returned to traditional methods of delivering performance with their latest and greatest Solid State Drive: the OCZ Agility. But how will the Agility SSD produce read-from and write-to bandwidth on par with the RAID-0 Apex without all the new architecture? The secret lies within a larger buffer, and the retirement of JMicron controllers (at least for this product) in place of the new Indilinx ARM7 micro-controller.
To the untrained eye, the OCZ Agility SSD looks like every other Solid State Drive you've probably seen when the internal components have been exposed. There's a collective bank of NAND modules, usually with Samsung markings, followed by the SATA controller chip. OCZ had decided to use Indilinx to deliver the SATA controller interface, since their 'Barefoot' chip was production-ready to be paired with a large cache months ago, while JMicron is still a few months away with their successor to the JMF602B chip.
While the internal NAND flash DRAM on the OCZ Vertex is comprised of Samsung K9HCG08U1M-PCB00 IC parts (pictured below) which bare the branding mark K9HCG08U1M PCB0, the Agility mainstream-series SSD uses several different manufactures to supply more affordable NAND modules. These lead-free RoHS-compliant 48-pin ICs are multi-layer, with one IC directly atop another to offer 64GB in 8x organization.
Indilinx claims that their IDX110M00-FC 'Barefoot' chip offer a maximum read speed 230 MBps and supports the capacity up to 512GB with multi-level cell (MLC) NAND flash. The Indilinx (IDX110) Barefoot SSD controller chip is touted as delivering bandwidth over 200 MBps and random input-output (IO) of 20,000/s into various servers such as on-line transaction processing (OLTP) and streaming server units. These figures are NAND-flash dependant, which is why the Agility SSD is reduced in speed when compared to the premium Vertex series.
A single Elpida 64MB SDRAM module is marked with S51321CBH-7BTT-F, but the actual Elpida part number is EDS51321CBH, which is a 133MHz (CL3-3-3) mobile RAM component. This 64MB cache buffer helps improve small write-to performance and removes the 'stuttering' effect from the Agility SSD.
In the next section, Benchmark Reviews begins performance testing the OCZ Agility Solid State Drive, and we determine just how well the new Indilinx Barefoot-based SSD compares to the previous best-performing competition.