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Written by Olin Coles   
Monday, 04 April 2011
Table of Contents: Page Index
OCZ Vertex 3 SandForce SF-2281 SSD
Closer Look: OCZ Vertex 3 SSD
SandForce SF-2281 SSD Controller
Features and Specifications
SSD Testing Methodology
AS-SSD Benchmark
ATTO Disk Benchmark
CrystalDiskMark 3.0 Tests
Iometer IOPS Performance
EVEREST Disk Benchmark
PCMark Vantage HDD Tests
HDD vs Hybrid Drive vs SSD
OCZ Vertex 3 SSD 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 price 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.

OCZ-Vertex-3-VTX3-25SAT3-Angle.jpg

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.

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 was on the rise during 2010 and continued into 2011. Nevertheless, solid state drives continue to fill store shelves despite price or capacity, and there are a few SSD products now priced dangerously close to the high-performance storage solutions. Despite being less expensive, the cost of SSDs may still price some budget buyers out of the market. Sales prices notwithstanding, the future is in SSD technology - or possibly a high-capacity SSD hybrid - and the day when HDDs are obsolete is nearing close.



 

Comments 

 
# Nice reviewcube 2011-04-05 08:52
"confirming the Vertex 3 as the fastest MLC SSD Benchmark Reviews has tested to date"
Pretty good statement. If i was in their ads department i would take this line and add it somewhere in the product page.
As always Olin, excellent review. with each review you provide all the important information needed to understand how these drives work.

I think is probably time to treat myself with an SSD.

Ive been waiting for these prices to come down a bit. But dam, they are persistent. gonna have to call the EU Trade commission to look up into the scheme.

I think there has to be some type of SSD price fixing going on with these companies just like we saw with the LCDs.

"LG Display, Sharp, and Chunghwa Picture Tubes agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges for participating in a liquid crystal display price-fixing conspiracy and pay $585 million in fines, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Wednesday.

Read more: #news.cnet.com/8301-1001_3-10095219-92.html#ixzz1IfIgIv49
"
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# analogyAnthony 2011-04-05 22:25
Nice review, but you've got bandwidth\IOPS analogy reversed. Consider this: if we have to move a few big things we can use high capacity(eg IOPS in your analogy) ship that is not so fast(eg bandwidth) and it would be ok, but if we need move a lot of small things one by one then we'd better get smaller ship with that is fast. SSD's are like smaller ship(actually nowadays they are more like bigger ships with high speed) - they have great IOPS performace, so it can move smaller things faster.
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# RE: OCZ Vertex 3 SandForce SF-2281 SSDAnthony 2011-04-05 22:26
But other than that it's really great review :)
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# RE: OCZ Vertex 3 SandForce SF-2281 SSDBenoit 2011-04-06 01:14
What about scores when it's connected in SATA2 ?
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# RE: RE: OCZ Vertex 3 SandForce SF-2281 SSDOlin Coles 2011-04-06 08:31
This is a SATA 6Gb/s SSD that reaches 555 MB/s, so it wouldn't be helpful to show SATA 3Gb/s scores because they would consume all available bandwidth on the interface.
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# Prove itPhace 2011-04-06 11:39
Many people looking to upgrade an existing SSD still only have SATA II. It would also be helpful to see add-in SATA III cards reviewed with a drive like this.
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# RE: Prove itOlin Coles 2011-04-06 12:10
The results published with this review have already proved the OCZ Vertex 3 SSD reaches 555 MB/s, which is more than the 300 MB/s SATA-II interface can support. There's nothing more to prove.
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# need sata 3GB scoresGeo 2011-04-06 19:45
They really should include SATA 3Gb/s numbers.There are several reasons why its important to people. The vast majority of users dont have 6GBs boards so is it worthwhile to pay the extra for a sata 6GBs drive or just go with cheaper sata 3Gbs SSD.?

Anyway something people need to be aware of is the bigger drives 240GB+ perform very different to 120GB and smaller vertex 3's.

Dont expect to get this performance with a 120GB vertex 3 or 60GB vertex 3. They get much slower with smaller capacity.
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# RE: need sata 3GB scoresOlin Coles 2011-04-06 20:44
Why would anyone buy a SATA 6Gb/s SSD without having support for this interface on their motherboard? That's like buying 2500 MHz DDR3 just to run it at 1333. There are literally a hundred SandForce-driven SSDs better suited to SATA 3Gb/s.
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# Not always saturating the connectionPhace 2011-04-06 21:45
Most normal usage is not full out saturation- it's random reads and random writes. The way the drive functions with both interfaces is notable for it's ability to handle real world usage. One could get the drive and place it in a SATA II setup now and later upgrade the connection for a reasonably decent performance improvement later. In this case, we're measuring how real world usage is found.

That's fine. I found just this sort of benchmark on another site and the results are encouraging. The site shows a number of SATA drives benchmarked both on III and on II.
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# RE: OCZ Vertex 3 SandForce SF-2281 SSDmanup85 2011-07-18 09:55
SUGGESTION.. im confuse now about what i can buy now.. Vertex 3 or Corsair Forces GT series? is already good ssd? and with the same price there is something better?
thanks
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