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Written by Olin Coles   
Thursday, 08 July 2010
Table of Contents: Page Index
OCZ Vertex-2 Extended Solid State Drive
Features and Specifications
Closer Look: OCZ Vertex 2 Extended
SandForce SF-1200 SSD Controller
SSD Testing Methodology
AS-SSD Benchmark
ATTO Disk Benchmark
CrystalDiskMark 3.0 Tests
Iometer IOPS Performance
EVEREST Disk Benchmark
HDD vs Hybrid Drive vs SSD
OCZ Vertex 2 Extended Conclusion

HDD vs Hybrid Drive vs SSD

It's been the same argument for over two years now: SSDs offer the best performance, but HDDs still offer the best capacity and price. Now that Solid State Hybrid drives are available, that argument changes. While the optimal blend of bandwidth speed, operational performance, storage capacity, and value has yet to be delivered, products like the Seagate Momentus-XT offer an ultra-affordable start in the right direction Installed as a primary drive for notebook and value-conscious enthusiasts, the Solid State Hybrid Drive delivers up high-capacity storage space while starting Windows and opening programs like a SSD.

The last days of old technology are always better than the first days of new technology. Never has this saying been more true than with the topic of storage technology, specifically in regard to the introduction of Solid State Drive technology a few years ago. The only things standing in the way of widespread Solid State Drive (SSD) adoption are high storage capacity and affordable price of Hard Disk Drive (HDD) devices. Because NAND flash-based SSD technology costs more per gigabyte of capacity than traditional magnetic hard drives, the benefits of immediate response time, transfer speeds, and operational input/output performance often get overlooked. Like most consumer products, it wasn't a question of how much improvement was evident in the new technology, it was price. I'll discuss product costs more in just a moment, but for now consider how each new series of SSD product employs greater performance than the one before it, convincing would-be consumers into waiting for the right time to buy.

There's also a gray area surrounding SSD performance benchmarks that has me concerned. You might not know this, but SSDs can be very temperamental towards the condition of their flash NAND. My experience testing dozens of Solid State Drives is that a freshly cleaned device (using an alignment tool) will always outperform the same device once it's been formatted and used. A perfect example are Indilinx Barefoot-based SSDs, which suffers severely degraded performance when writing to 'dirty' flash NAND. The reason that all of this will matter is simple: the performance results reported to consumers in product reviews (such as this one) often report the very best performance scores, and the process used to obtain these results is not applicable to real-world usage. This is where garbage collection techniques such as TRIM become important, so that end-users will experience the same performance levels as we do in our tests.

Manufacturer Indilinx Intel JMicron Samsung Toshiba SandForce Marvell
Controller IDX110M00-FC PC29AS21AA0 JMF612 S3C29RBB01-YK40 T6UG1XBG SandForce SF-1200 88SS9174-BJP2
Max Cache 64MB 16MB 128KB+256MB 128MB 128MB Integrated 128MB
Max Capacity 256GB 160GB 256GB 256GB 512GB 512GB 256GB
Read/Write Speed 230/170 MBps 250/70 MBps 250/200 MBps 220/200 MBps 230/180 MBps 260/260 MBps 355/215 MBps
Interface SATA-II 3-Gbps SATA-II 3-Gbps SATA-II 3-Gbps SATA-II 3-Gbps SATA-II 3-Gbps SATA-II 3-Gbps SATA-III 6-Gbps
Garbage Collection GC/TRIM None TRIM GC/TRIM GC/TRIM GC/TRIM GC/TRIM

Chart By:

BmR

Garbage Collection (GC) is the current solution for keeping flash NAND in 'clean' condition, while maintaining optimal performance. Windows 7 offers native TRIM support, and most retail SSDs also include this special GC function or at least offer a firmware update that brings the drive up-to-date. For anyone using an Operating System or SSD that does not offer Garbage Collection functionality, you'll be using 'dirty' flash NAND modules and suffering sub-optimal performance for each write-to request. A few SSD manufacturers offers free tools to help restore peak-level performance by scheduling GC to 'clean' used NAND sectors, but these tools add excessive wear to the NAND the same way disk defragmenting tools would. SLC flash modules may resist wear much better than MLC counterparts, but come at the expense of increased production cost. The best solution is a more durable NAND module that offers long-lasting SLC benefits at the cost of MLC construction. Adoption is further stalled because keen consumers aware of this dilemma further continue their delay into the SSD market.

Getting back to price, the changes in cost per gigabyte have come as often as changes to the technology itself. At their inception, high-performance models such the 32GB MemoRight GT cost $33 per gigabyte while the entry-level 32GB Mtron MOBI 3000 sold for $14 per gigabyte. While an enjoyable decline in NAND component costs forced consumer SSD prices down low in 2009, the price of SSD products has been on the rise during 2010. Nevertheless, Solid State Drives continue to fill store shelves despite price or capacity, and there are a few SSD products now costing only $2.03 per gigabyte. Although the performance may justify the price, which is getting dangerously close to the $0.79 per gigabyte for the WD VelociRaptor hard drive, costs may still close some buyers out of the market. Price notwithstanding, the future is in SSD technology - or possibly a SSD hybrid - and the day when HDDs are obsolete is nearing.



 

Comments 

 
# RE: OCZ Vertex 2 Extended Solid State DriveRobert17 2010-07-14 02:45
Recently I had checked back on a year-old SSD review, the Kingston Now V series, then a another older SSD review on a Patriot. And I note a lead article regarding suggested benchmarking specs via SNIA. Only a couple of years into SSDs and the offerings are remarkably better. And of course Intel is going to sharpen the point of the stick by year-end with 25nm flash memory for their newest products. This is without doubt the most rapidly advancing technology for PCs that I can recall. The next five years should be interesting. Looking back from that perspective should be even more eye-popping.
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# RE: OCZ Vertex 2 Extended Solid State DriveJeff C 2010-07-14 11:01
On the chart showing the Intel controller, I think the garbage collection exists for it. I have the M25-V, and it has both a GC tool and has TRIM support.
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# Only the latest SSDsOlin Coles 2010-07-14 11:36
Only second-generation Intel SSDs with the latest firmware revision support TRIM and garbage collection (X25-M G2). The other 90% of the SSDs they've sold do not. I will update that chart so future articles will specify support on G2.
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# C300 results wrong!?Thomas Bruckschlegel 2010-07-15 11:42
I cannot repro your results, I get ~ 10000 IOPS with your settings: 100% random, 50% write, 50% read, 4KB, 32 outstanding I/O's per target - using the SATA2 interface on my P55 based board.

BTW. iometer is highly affected by compression - I have no troubles reaching ~45000 IOPS with my older Indilinx based SSD on a compressed NTFS partition.

Thomas
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# RE: C300 results wrong!?Olin Coles 2010-07-15 11:52
Hello Mr. Bruckschlegel:

I will email you my Iometer configuration file, so that you may reproduce our test exactly as we conduct it. Please be informed that all SSDs are wiped clean using DISKPART "clean all" prior to testing. Also note that this is the total IOPS reported by the test, and not an individual read or write.
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# RE: C300 results wrong!?Olin Coles 2010-07-15 16:40
There's a major difference between the Marvell SATA-6G controller and the Intel ICH10 on your P55 motherboard. While the Intel ICH10 will likely provide better IOPS results, it won't offer 6.00 GB/s connectivity or speeds. Crucial sent a Marvell controller with the SSD, so our tests have all used their 'recommended' setup.
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# RE: RE: C300 results wrong!?Thomas Bruckschlegel 2010-07-15 19:17
I tried your file, I had an error in mine "Align I/Os on" was set to "sector boundaries" instead of "4KB" - now I get 20220 total I/Os per second.

Do you think this is totally controller related?
BTW, sanity erase or a format of the whole drive (not a quick format) under win7 with a TRIM enabled AHCI driver+controller will restore the factory performance, not sure if a "diskpart clean all" will do the same.

Thomas
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# RE: OCZ Vertex-2 Extended Solid State DriveJayson 2010-10-02 10:29
On the ICH10R tests are you using the Intel driver or Microsoft driver? Should probably clarrify as you can be using the Intel controller with either driver set.
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# RE: RE: OCZ Vertex-2 Extended Solid State DriveOlin Coles 2010-10-02 10:32
The article already specifies that the Intel RST driver is used, and the tests show the iaStor driver.
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# MTTF and MTBF are not the same thingTypoknig 2011-01-03 15:56
Hi Olin, I noticed on your specs page that you listed the this SSDs MTTF as 200,000,000 hours, but everywhere I look OCZ has only published the MTBF numbers. Maybe a typo on your end? This number jumped right out at me because I was surprised to see that this drives MTBF numbers have increased from the 1,500,000 hours MTBF spec of the original 120GB Vertex drives. If you have any inside contacts with OCZ I would very much like to know how they are calculating this number. Of the three original 120GB Vertex drives I purchased in June of 2009 all have failed (at different times), were replaced via RMA, and then proceeded to fail again. In total I have had 7 of the original 120GB Vertex drives in my position, and one just failed again two days ago. Seems to me that OCZ's MTBF numbers are off (and all the failures mentioned by people in various forums seems to support that notion). I should point out though that OCZ has always processed my RMA hassle free, and they are now working with me to take my original drives that I have had so much trouble with and upgrade me to something a bit more stable. I really appreciate them standing by their product, and I hope they can work out the kinks in their line of SSD products soon.
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# RE: MTTF and MTBF are not the same thingOlin Coles 2011-01-03 15:59
Hello:

Thank you for bringing this to our attention. These specification are pulled directly from the manufacturer-supplied data sheet, and are often subject to change without notice. I would consider the specifications listed on the website to be the most current and accurate.
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