Earlier this year, we reviewed OCZ's flagship Vertex 4 SSD, which we believed at the time to be based on a proprietary second-generation Everest controller. After OCZ acquired IP and assets from Solid Data in 2010 to expand OCZ's controller and interface portfolio, followed by the acquisition of Indilinx, manufacturer of the renowned Barefoot SSD controller, OCZ was in a good position to develop its own controllers to work.
When OCZ announced the introduction of the Octane SSD series based on the Indilinx Everest controller, this seemed pretty plausible despite the surprisingly fast processing time. Just a few months later, OCZ released a second Veril 4 based on Indilinx Everest 2. Some wondered how quickly these new controls were being developed.
Eventually it was revealed and later confirmed by OCZ that the Octane and Vertex 4 drives actually used Marvell controllers, while Indilinx's firmware was developed in-house (hence the "Indilinx Infused" moniker). This meant that these SSDs used the same controller that controlled the Crucial m4 and Intel SSD 510, at least in the case of the Octane.
Needless to say, many consumers were not happy with the deception. We admitted that it was very sneaky for OCZ, but it didn't change much for us either. Regardless of who made the controller or not, the drives kept performing well, and in the case of the Vertex 4, that meant it was one of the best performing and best in the high-end SSD segment.
With the controversy surrounding the Vertex 4, it seems that OCZ is finally ready to introduce its first truly internal SSD controller. It's been three years since Indilinx released a brand new controller, and they do that today with the Barefoot 3 which will be featured in OCZ's newest line of SSDs called Vector.
OCZ Vector SSD
The Vector series is aimed at performance improvers. The first models based on Indilinx Barefoot 3 offer capacities of 128 GB, 256 GB and 512 GB. The drives have a slim 2.5-inch design, are 99.8 x 69.63 x 9.3 mm in size and weigh up to 83 grams.
The power consumption is low compared to conventional hard drives, as the Vector only consumes 2.25 watts in active mode and 0.9 watts in standby mode. While this is less than OCZ's claimed performance for the Vertex 4, it is more than Samsung's for the latest SSD 840 Pro series.
The 128 GB model offers read and write speeds of 550 MB / s and 400 MB / s. The 256 GB and 512 GB models offer the same reads of 550 MB / s, but the writes are increased to 530 MB / s. Compared to the Vertex 4 series, the read performance has decreased by 10 MB / s, while the write performance has increased by 20 MB / s.
All Vector models are equipped with a synchronous 25 nm IMFT NAND flash memory. Our test device contains 16 16 GB NAND ICs with the designation OCZ M2502128T048SX22, which corresponds to a total capacity of 256 GB. Of course, OCZ is not able to create its own NAND flash storage, but instead buys and packages the NAND flash wafers which allow them to pass the cost savings on to their customers. The NAND flash memory is believed to be manufactured by Micron.
Once formatted in Windows, the original 256GB will be converted to 239GB, even though Windows shows it as 239GB. So it seems that 7% of the original capacity has been lost. With a suggested retail price of $ 270, the Vector 256 GB is priced at $ 1.05 per gigabyte – great value for a high-performance SSD.
The Indilinx Barefoot 3 controller has an ARM Cortex processor and is coupled with a 1 GB DRAM cache. OCZ used a pair of Micron DDR3-800 512MB chips, one on each side of the circuit board.
The Vector SSD series delivers 20 GB of writes per day for 5 years, which corresponds to a total of 36.5 TB of written data. OCZ also offers a 5-year warranty on all Vector drives, so users can rest assured.
As a side note, OCZ says the Barefoot 3 controller went through a robust and long validation cycle and was distributed to a large network of beta testers. OCZ has talked a lot about quality, which is important when it comes to storage devices, and I'm sure they want to move away from the problems caused by the Vertex 3 series second generation SandForce controller.