|OCZ RevoDrive 3 X2 PCI-E Solid State Drive|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Storage|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Monday, 15 August 2011|
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OCZ RevoDrive 3 X2 SuperScale PCI-E SSD Review
Manufacturer: OCZ Technology Group, Inc.
Full Disclosure: The product sample used in this article has been provided by OCZ.
Solid State Drive storage began as a technology best suited for durable computer devices, then slowly evolved into the notebook and desktop space with affordable high-speed SATA-based SSD solutions. Once SSDs became mainstream for power users, the demand for high-performance workstations and servers soon followed. Most personal computers are capable of offering 3.0 GB/s bandwidth via second-generation SATA controllers, which is fast enough for conventional power-users. The latest generation of desktop motherboards incorporate third-generation SATA controllers good for up to 6.0 GB/s bandwidth, ideal for hardware enthusiasts. For high-performance professional workstations, PCI-Express is an ideal alternative because it delivers 5.0 GB/s bandwidth without any add-on chips or upgrades.
Over the past four years, OCZ have transformed themselves from an enthusiast system memory brand into a recognized name for high-performance solid-state storage devices. They have traditionally offered several different options for performance enthusiasts, from economic yet responsive storage to premium high-speed enthusiast solid state drive solutions. They've earned consumer praise for their ability to deliver Solid State Drive technology at a reasonable price, and they push the boundaries with their High Speed Data Link project. There's a solid middle ground between SATA and HSDL, and that's the PCI Express bus, which has been the focus of OCZ Virtualized Controller Architecture technology.
Not long ago Benchmark Reviews tested the SandForce-driven OCZ RevoDrive and OCZ RevoDrive X2, both of which OCZ designate as enthusiast strorage solution. Stepping-up to the professional workstation segment, OCZ offers the RevoDrive 3 X2. In this article, Benchmark Reviews tests the OCZ RevoDrive 3 X2 PCI-E workstation-class solid state drive against several enthusiast options. Available in 240-960GB capacities, the model RVD3X2-FHPX4-480G PCI-Express workstation-class SSD uses OCZ's SuperScale storage controller to produce up to 230,000 IOPS with transfers up to 1500 MB/s.
Even after decades of design improvements, the hard disk drive (HDD) is still the slowest component in any personal computer system. Consider that modern desktop processors have a 1 ns response time (nanosecond = one billionth of one second), while system memory responds between 30-90 ns. Traditional hard drive technology utilizes magnetic spinning media, and even the fastest spinning mechanical storage products still exhibit a 9,000,000 ns / 9 ms initial response time (millisecond = one thousandth of one second). In more relevant terms, the processor receives the command and must then wait for system memory to fetch related data from the storage drive. This is why any computer system is only as fast as the slowest component in the data chain; usually the hard drive.
In a perfect world all of the components operate at the same speed. Until that day comes, the real-world goal for achieving optimal performance is for system memory to operate as quickly as the central processor and then for the storage drive to operate as fast as memory. With present-day technology this is an impossible task, so enthusiasts try to close the speed gaps between components as much as possible. Although system memory is up to 90x (9000%) slower than most processors, consider then that the hard drive is an added 1000x (100,000%) slower than that same memory. Essentially, these three components are as different in speed as walking is to driving and flying.
Solid State Drive technology bridges the largest gap in these response times. The difference a SSD makes to operational response times and program speeds is dramatic, and takes the storage drive from a slow 'walking' speed to a much faster 'driving' speed. Solid State Drive technology improves initial response times by more than 450x (45,000%) for applications and Operating System software, when compared to their mechanical HDD counterparts. The biggest mistake PC hardware enthusiasts make with regard to SSD technology is grading them based on bandwidth speed. File transfer speeds are important, but only so long as the operational IOPS performance can sustain that bandwidth under load.
Bandwidth Speed vs Operational Performance
As we've explained in our SSD Benchmark Tests: SATA IDE vs AHCI Mode guide, Solid State Drive performance revolves around two dynamics: bandwidth speed (MB/s) and operational performance (IOPS). These two metrics work together, but one is more important than the other. Consider this analogy: operational IOPS performance determines how much cargo a ship can transport in one voyage, and the bandwidth speed is to fast the ship moves. By understanding this and applying it to SSD storage, there is a clear importance set on each variable depending on the task at hand.
For casual users, especially those with laptop or desktop computers that have been upgraded to use an SSD, the naturally quick response time is enough to automatically improve the user experience. Bandwidth speed is important, but only to the extent that operational performance meets the minimum needs of the system. If an SSD has a very high bandwidth speed but a low operational performance, it will take longer to load applications and boot the computer into Windows than if the SSD offered a higher IOPS performance.