OCZ Previews Fast SSDs Based on SandForce Controllers

New solid state drives from OCZ Technology are based on the latest SandForce SF-2000 controllers and deliver blazing performances.

OCZ Technology on Jan. 6 introduced solid-state drives that have delivered impressive performance numbers and are designed for gamers and enterprise systems.

The Vertex 3 SSD series and the Z-Drive R3 SSD are both based on the latest SandForce SF-2000 controllers, OCZ said. The Vertex 3 comes in two versions, with the Vertex 3 Pro for consumers and Vertex 3 EX for the enterprise.

The company joined the long line of competitors, including Micron, Intel and Toshiba, touting the latest SSDs at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The consumer-grade Vertex 3 Pro SSD features multi-level cell NAND technology while the enterprise Vertex 3 EX features single-level cell NAND flash memory, said OCZ. Both versions of the 2.5-inch Vertex SSD are based on SandForce's SF-2582 Serial ATA III/6G bps-compliant controller and are capable of performance up to 80,000 I/Os per second. The Pro has 550 M bps transfer rates while the EX delivers read speeds of 550 MB per second and write speeds of 525 MB per second, according to the company.

The Vertex 3 drives are available in capacities ranging from 64GB to 512GB, with 50GB, 100GB, 200GB and 400GB of usable storage, according to preliminary specifications available at the show. OCZ does not expect to have the 400GB Vertex 3 EX available at the time of launch.

Anand Lal Shimp of AnandTech ran real-world tests of the drives and wrote: "Surprisingly enough, the Vertex 3 Pro looks like it's really as fast as OCZ and SandForce are claiming." He said "performance may even increase" by the time the drive is officially launched and that this kind of performance on the "first beta" of the drive was "beyond impressive." He also noted that he tested a single drive with a single controller and no on-board RAID or other methods were employed to help boost the drive's performance.

The Z-Drive R3 features a PCI Express interface and is based on the SandForce SF-1565 controller. This third-generation Z-Drive will be OCZ's first SandForce-drive PCIe SSD, the company said. Engineered for Tier-0/1 data applications, the company said the Z-Drive has performance of over 135,000 IOPS and a 1GB per second transfer rate.

According to the preliminary specifications given at the show, the Z-Drive is available with MLC, eMLC or SLC NAND memory. The SLC NAND technology SSDs come in storage capacities of 150GB, 300GB and 600GB. The MLC/eMLC drives will be available in 300GB, 600GB and 1.2TB capacities.

Drives based on SandForce SF-2000 controllers would have security features like AES-256/128 and double-encryption support and management controls for throttling performance and power, SandForce said in October.

The company showed off pre-release versions of the Vertex 3 and Z-Drive at the Consumer Electronics Show from Jan. 6 to 9 in Las Vegas. The pre-release versions of the SSDs were based on 32nm Toshiba toggle-mode NAND, instead of the 25nm Intel NAND that will be used in the final version of the drives, according to the company. OCZ expects a retail launch of both drives in the second quarter of 2011. Pricing was not available at the time.

OCZ was also touting its solid-state drives at Storage Visions, also in Las Vegas, at the same time.

"At the conference we will be displaying an array of our customizable Deneva enterprise solid-state drive products as well as next-generation PCIe solutions," said Alex Mei, OCZ's chief marketing officer. The Deneva drives deliver up to 50,000 IOPS and 385 M bps bandwidth, the company said.