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Written by Olin Coles   
Monday, 01 August 2011
Table of Contents: Page Index
OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD
Closer Look: OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G
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
OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G Conclusion

Closer Look: OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G

SSDs are quickly gaining popularity because they work equally well in PC, Linux, or Apple Mac computers. Likewise, they install into both desktop and notebook platforms without modification. For this article Benchmark Reviews is testing the 120GB OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD Solid State Drive, which is specified to reach speeds of 559 MB/s for sequential reads and 527 MB/s sequential writes. The OWCSSDMX6G120T model we've received for testing is built using the SandForce SF-2281 SSD controller and Intel-Micron NAND flash components.

Other World Computing offers two capacities for their Mercury Extreme Pro 6G series of solid state drives: 120GB and 240GB. Performance specifications usually increase with capacity as a result of the larger integrated buffer, but OWC offers the same specifications for both models. All of the OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD models share the same part numbers with a capacity designator: OWCSSDMX6G120T stands for 120GB.

OWC-Mercury-Extreme-Pro-6G-SSD-Top.jpg

The OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD is best suited for performance-orientated personal computers, but could also work well for SOHO computer workstation systems. SandForce SF-2200 series SSDs have been designed with a focus on high-performance operational and data transfer speeds, and includes 256-bit encrypted data protection and improved NAND wear-leveling through their proprietary DuraWrite technology.

Other World Computing recognizes that once installed, the SSD will be hidden away from view inside a notebook computer or desktop workstation, so they've remained conservative towards the design of their solid state drive appearance. Each half of the drive enclosure is given a textured blue anodized aluminum finish, which does not show fingerprints or smudges like a gloss surface would. A glossy label is attached to each side of the SSD enclosure, denoting model and capacity.

Standard 2.5" drive bay mounting points are pre-drilled and threaded into the OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD chassis, which allows for quick upgrade or addition into any existing notebook and other compact computer system. Unfortunately, OWC does not includes a 3.5" to 2.5" tray adapter with the Mercury Extreme Pro 6G kit. The mounting positions matched up to the drive bracket on my notebook computer, and after only a few minutes I was booting from a restored Windows 7 System Image without a hitch.

OWC-Mercury-Extreme-Pro-6G-SSD-Bottom.jpg

Unlike most Hard Disk Drive (HDD) storage products, SSDs are nearly impervious to impact damage and do not require (or benefit from) any kind of special vibration dampening or shock-proof enclosures. OWC utilizes a standard two-piece metal enclosure for their Mercury Extreme Pro 6G-series SSDs, which reveals the internal components after removing four small counter-sunk screws located along the sides of this solid state drive. The seam along the side is covered with a 'Warranty Void' label, which OWC attaches to warn consumers against taking apart their product. By removing the SSD cover it will also remove your consumer protection with it.

If you're familiar with previous-generation OWC solid-state storage products, you'll notice that looks for the Mercury Extreme Pro 6G series haven't changed beyond the descriptive product decal. While its outward appearance is similar to many other solid state drives, the functionality and value packaged inside are considerably unique. Now that you're acquainted with the basic exterior features of this SSD, it's time to peek inside the metal enclosure and inspect the SandForce SF-2281 internal components...

OWC-Mercury-Extreme-Pro-6G-SSD-SATA-Connection.jpg

SandForce introduces their new second generation solid state drives to both consumer and enterprise segments, with seven different models to choose from. On the consumer (retail) side you've got models using the older SATA 3Gb/s interface as well as the latest SATA 6Gb/s interface, while all enterprise drives utilize the 3rd-generation SATA 6Gb/s interface. More than any other factor, it's the Flash Channels/Byte Lanes configuration that these separate models. SandForce's SF-2000 series of SSDs continue to feature up to 8 data channels organized into 16 Byte lanes; similar to the previous generation of SF-1222/SF-1565 series SSD controllers, but now some models are scaled down for usage scenarios not requiring massive IO activity.

On second-generation SandForce-driven SSDs, a new SATA 6Gb/s SandForce SF-2281VB1-SDC processor is part of their SF-2200 family of retail SSD controller chips, although and identical SF-2181 processor exists for older SATA 3Gb/s connections. Offering 8 flash channels with 8 Byte lanes configured (one lane per channel), the SF-2281 maintains a BGA-256 package whereas the top-end SF-2282 delivers two lanes per channel on a BGA-400 package. More detail is available in our SandForce SF-2000 Series SSD Processor Overview article.

SandForce-SF2281VB1-SDC-Controller.jpg

SandForce SF-2281VB1-SDC Controller

All SandForce SSD controllers offer native TRIM garbage collection in supporting Operating System (such as Microsoft Windows-7), Native Command Queuing (NCQ) with 32 command slots, and basic Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology (SMART) command set. SandForce built the SF-2200 series to produce 500 MB/s Sequential Read and Write bandwidth with 60K (burst)/20K (sustained) IOPS Random Write (4K transfers).

The SF-2200 SSD processor provides enhanced ECC with BCH data protection, and also includes SandForce's unique RAISE (Redundant Array of Independent Silicon Elements) technology. RAISE provides the protection and reliability of RAID on a single SSD drive, thanks to flash architecture, without the significant write overhead of parity. The SandForce DuraClass technology automatically stores data using Trusted Computing Group (TCG) OPAL security with 256-bit AES encryption and automatic, line-rate double encryption with a drive-level password, preventing data extraction directly from the physical flash memory modules.

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Toshiba TH58TAG7D2FBAS9 Toggle-NAND Flash

SandForce enables support for advanced 30nm- and 20nm-class NAND flash from all leading flash vendors with Asynch/ONFi1/ONFi2/Toggle interfaces with data transfer rates up to 166 Mega Transfers per second. Their latest generation of controllers also offers advanced ECC engine correcting up to 55 bits per 512-byte sector to assure high data integrity and support for future generations of flash memory. On the OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD, sixteen multi-layer cell Toshiba TH58TAG7D2FBAS9 Toggle-NAND flash modules are joined to the SandForce SF-2281 controller. Consumer-level SandForce SSDs generally allocate 7% capacity over-provisioning and 128GB devices will yield 120GB of usable storage space.



 

Comments 

 
# suggestionmanup85 2011-08-01 23:49
now im confuse if is better to buy this one or ocz vertex 3! any suggestion?
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# RE: suggestionOlin Coles 2011-08-02 08:01
Compare the prices and warranty between these two models, as everything else is nearly the same.
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# HG3fresc0 2011-08-09 01:01
What happened to HG3 drives?
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# RE: OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD OWCSSDMX6Garklab 2011-08-09 21:46
I'm disappointed by several things in this review.
First, the comparison of a OWC 120GB drive to OCZ's 240GB drives.
In this class 240GB drives are always faster.

Second, by not testing (or mentioning) the OWC extreme6, you completely missed that it now uses a different Sandforce controller! It uses the 2282, and is (as of now) the only drive to do so.
From your SandForce SF-2000 Series SSD Processor Overview:
"High-IO consumer systems will be well suited for the flagship consumer SSD processor: SF-2282. The SandForce SD-2282 is virtually an eight-channel/sixteen lane enterprise drive with MLC NAND, and won't be produced in the same quantities as other controllers."

What a shame to miss such a useful and helpful opportunity.
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# RE: RE: OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD OWCSSDMX6GOlin Coles 2011-08-09 21:51
Explain to me how I am to compare other products OWC chooses not to send us, and compare against capacities that aren't offered to us? You seem to know how this should be done better than we do, so please explain how to overcome these obstacles.

Had OWC offer other products or capacities, we'd use them. Besides, the difference would be less than 5% max.
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# RE: RE: RE: OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD OWCSSDMX6Garklab 2011-08-10 04:53
Wow, I wasn't attacking, just explaining my disappointment as I have both drives.

As OWC seems to be a very customer friendly small shop, maybe you could just ask your contact?
This is a potential major difference in hardware, as your site had highlighted in your SandForce Processor Overview.
Kudos on even having that bye the way.
Hadn't seen that elsewhere, even the SandForce site.

I'm like many, who need experts to help find the differences.
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# RE: RE: OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD OWCSSDMX6Garklab 2011-08-09 22:02
Opps...

I refer to the OWC 240GB and 480GB extreme6 drives with a "-T" part number as using the 2282 controller.

The OWC 120GB extreme6 drives with a "T" part number suffix still use the 2281, as you state in the review.

I should also mention that I have both a OCZ 120GB max IOPS, a OWC 120GB extreme6, and a pair of OWC 240 extreme6 drives.

I cloned my old HD (with Intel RST 10.6) onto all four drives and ran AS SSD benches, which I'll post later.
In brief OCZ 120 max IOPS was slowest, OWC 120GB extreme6 was quite a bit faster, and a OWC 240 extreme6 flat blew the others away.
Mind, this was just a quick test of just my drive set-up, but every thing was at least equal.
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# RE: RE: RE: OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD OWCSSDMX6GOlin Coles 2011-08-09 22:07
Come on now. If you read any number of SSD review you should know that we ensure these drives are as apples-to-apples as possible, and that to test fairly each SSD must have NAND in the exact same condition (normally clean/SE) and benchmarked as secondary drives. A cursory test won't tell you very much on SSDs because the NAND condition changes performance so dramatically.
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# RE: OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD OWCSSDMX6Garklab 2011-08-10 05:11
I never intended to infer that you didn't test fairly or well.
I just took the SSDs as shipped, cloned a HD and ran a canned test.

My results were:
OCZ 120GB Vertex 3 MI Overall = 356

OWC 120GB Mercury Extreme6 Overall = 373

OWC 240GB Mercury Extreme6 Overall = 489

Is that much of a difference that I might notice in doing video transcoding?
Thanks
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# RE: RE: OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 6G SSD OWCSSDMX6GOlin Coles 2011-08-10 07:16
Video transcoding is a very BAD test to compare storage devices. It depends primarily on CPU/RAM/GPU, and have almost no relative need for storage performance. If you want to run a test, try ATTO Disk Benchmark. It's free, and very easy to understand. You can even match to our test settings in a few clicks.
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