|OCZ Agility-EX SLC SSD OCZSSD2-1AGTEX60G|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Storage|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Wednesday, 30 September 2009|
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Indilinx Internal Components
OCZ has designed the Agility EX Solid State Drive to use the exact same architecture and components as their OCZ Vertex SSD series, with the NAND flash modules being the only difference between the two products. The NAND parts on the Agility EX use a Single Layer Cell (SLC) construction, compared to the MLC construction of NAND components on the Vertex. For this Internal Components section, we have re-used content from the original 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 a single JMicron JMB390 RAID controller managing a pair of JMF602(B) SSD controllers in a RAID-0 striped array was able to overcome the 'stutter' experienced in MLC drives... at least in read-from functions. Indilinx utilizes more traditional methods of delivering performance with their renowned Barefoot ARM7 Solid State Drive micro-controller.
To the untrained eye, the OCZ Agility-EX 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. Indilinx delivers the SATA controller interface, since their 'Barefoot' chip was production-ready to be paired with a large cache at a time when JMicron was (and still is) a few months away with their successor to the JMF602B chip.
While the internal NAND flash DRAM used in the original Indilinx SSDs, such as the OCZ Vertex, are comprised of Samsung K9HCG08U1M-PCB00 IC parts (pictured below) branded as K9HCG08U1M PCB0, the 'overclocked' Indilinx SSDs use several different manufactures to supply the fastest SLC and MLC NAND modules available. These lead-free RoHS-compliant 48-pin ICs are multi-layer, with one IC directly atop another to offer 64GB in 4x organization for the 64GB (60GB advertised) OCZSSD2-1AGTEX60G model.
Indilinx claims that their IDX110M00-FC 'Barefoot' chip offer a maximum read speed 230 MBps and supports the capacity up to 512GB with standard multi-level cell (MLC) NAND flash, but really this limit was based off of early generation chips. 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 OCZ Vertex Turbo series and Corsair X-series SSDs offer improved speed when compared to the original Indilinx product varieties.
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 all Indilinx Barefoot-based SSD products.
In the next section, Benchmark Reviews begins performance testing the OCZ Agility-EX OCZSSD2-1AGTEX60G SSD, and we determine just how well the new Indilinx Barefoot SLC Solid State Drive compares to the current best-performing competition.