|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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Closer Look: OCZ RevoDrive 3 X2 SSD
In this article, Benchmark Reviews tests the new workstation-class OCZ RevoDrive 3 X2 PCI-Express SSD. As one of OCZ's first SSDs to incorporate Virtualized Controller Architecture 2.0 (VLC 2.0), the RevoDrive 3 X2 is advertised to reach maximum speeds of 1500 MB/s sequential reads and 1250 MB/s sequential writes. Additionally, the OCZ RevoDrive 3 X2 SSD is expected to produce 4KB random writes (QD64, 4K Aligned, 8GB LBA) up to 200,000 IOPS.
The OCZ RevoDrive 3 X2 PCI-E SSD builds up storage capacity by combining four independent SandForce SF-2281 SSD controllers to Micron-Intel NAND flash contained in this SSD are allocated for data use. The OCZ RevoDrive 3 X2 PCI-E SSD comes in three capacities: 240/480/960GB, and all models receive OCZ's three-year product warranty support.
Most all modern desktop motherboards with PCI-Express 2.0 expansion slots will support the OCZ RevoDrive 3 X2 SSD as a boot device, especially Intel's 5x series and AMD's 8xx series, however older motherboards may require a BIOS update. OCZ offers a list of compatible motherboards on their product website.
SSDs are catching on quickly because they will work equally well in PC, Linux, or Apple Mac computers; but the OCZ RevoDrive-series is different. Instead of packaging the NAND and drive controller into a SATA-connected enclosure, OCZ has built the RevoDrive series to utilize a single 4x PCI-Express 1.1 slot. Because it requires a 4x PCI-Express 1.1 slot to operate, the OCZ RevoDrive 3 X2 SSD is best suited for workstation-class computer systems and performance-orientated application servers where 200,000 IOPS could really make a difference on productivity. SandForce SF-2281 SSD controllers have been designed with a focus on high-performance operational and data transfer speeds, and include encrypted data protection and improved NAND wear-leveling through their proprietary DuraWrite technology.
Present on both the main and daughter boards are Enpirion Corporation EN5364QI 6-Amp low-power switching converters with integrated inductors. A single Lattice Power Manager II ispPAC-POWR1014 sequence controller chip monitors power supply with programmable digital and analog circuitry.
OCZ SuperScale Storage Controller ICT-0138
Specific to the OCZ RevoDrive 3 X2 SSD models, the Silicon Image RAID chip and Pericom PI7C9X130 PCIe-to-PCIx reversible bridge chip found on previous RevoDrive-series SSDs has been replaced with the OCZ SuperScale Storage Controller ICT-0138 located under an aluminum heatsink. As of this writing, OCZ Technology has declined to share the specifications or source manufacturer for their SuperScale Storage Controller, so very little technical detail is known about this component.
OCZ's PCB-0151-X02 printed circuit (mother)board contains two SandForce SF-2281 controllers, while allowing an elevated daughter board to connect that houses supplemental NAND flash and two additional storage controllers. The image below illustrates how the OCZ RevoDrive 3 X2 PCI-E SSD has room to spare in a single PCI-Express expansion slot. While a PCI-Express interface excludes notebook consumers, it opens up a market to users in need of Hot-Plug drive support.
The new SATA 6Gb/s SandForce SF-2281VB1-SDC processor is part of their SF-2200 family of retail SSD controller chips, although an identical SF-2181 also processor exists for older SATA 3Gb/s connections. Offering eight total 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.
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. VCA 2.0 also provides a highly intelligent Complex Command Queuing Structure (CCQS) that utilizes both Native and Tagged Command Queuing. This is a unique technology that enables command switching and balancing based on OCZ's proprietary Queue Balancing Algorithm (QBA), which balances drive loading, while maximizing internal bandwidth for nearly linear performance aggregation.
NOTE: While the SandForce controller supports TRIM, the OCZ RevoDrive 3 X2 is based on SCSI architecture which Microsoft Windows StorPort does not currently support with either TRIM or SCSI UNMAP. Since these controller commands are not generated by the OS as a result, OCZ's VCA 2.0 is prevented from executing them. OCZ are working with Microsoft to have this functionality enabled as soon as possible.
SandForce SF-2281VA1-SDC-ES Controller
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.
Micron/Intel 29F64G08CBAAA 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 OCZ RevoDrive 3 X2 PCI-Express SSD, sixty-four multi layer cell Micron/Intel 29F64G08CBAAA NAND flash modules are joined to four SandForce SF-2281 controllers.