OCZ Vector Barefoot 3 Solid State Drive Review

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OCZ has been carpet-bombing the solid state storage market for years now. It seemed that every time a new controller technology emerged, OCZ was at the ready with a fresh batch of products and over time built a portfolio that targeted virtually every market segment. Consumer-class solid state storage is in an interesting phase right now, though. There was a time when there were only a couple of controllers on the market that allowed OEMs to produce drives capable of effectively saturating the SATA interface, while also offering strong all-around performance. That’s part of the reason everyone and their mother started producing SandForce-based drives. But now there are multiple solutions available that all have their strong suits and offer competitive performance.

So how do you differentiate in market rife with strong products based on similar technologies? One way is to acquire a controller design firm and to create a product that uses all in-house technology, which is exactly what OCZ has done with the new Vector SSD we’ll be showing you here today. The Vector is the first drive from OCZ to utilize only technologies developed by the unified Indilinx, PLX, and OCZ teams (except for the actual NAND flash), since OCZ’s acquisitions were completed. The Vector is based on the new INDILINK Barefoot 3 controller, which in terms of its features and specifications, looks competitive with everything else on the market currently. Take a look:

 

OCZ Vector SSD
Specifications & Features
128GB Model
  • Max Read: 550MB/s
  • Max Write: 400MB/s
  • Random Read IOPS: 90,000 (4K QD32)
  • Random Write IOPS: 95,000 (4K QD32)
 
256GB Model
  • Max Read: 550MB/s
  • Max Write: 530MB/s
  • Random Read IOPS: 100,000 (4K QD32)
  • Random Write IOPS: 95,000 (4K QD32) 

 
512GB Model

  • Max Read: 550MB/s
  • Max Write: 530MB/s
  • Random Read IOPS: 100,000 (4K QD32)
  • Random Write IOPS: 95,000 (4K QD32)

Vector leverages new leading-edge Indilinx Barefoot 3 Platform. Features include:

  • SATA 3.0 6Gb/s Interface
  • 25nm IMFT NAND
  • 7mm Form Factor
  • 128GB, 256GB, 512GB models
  • High performance and endurance without compression or loss of usable capacity
  • Low Power Consumption (idle .9w / active 2.25w)
  • TRIM Support
  • 5 year warranty


Before we take a look at the actual drive, we should talk a bit about the INDILINX Barefoot 3 platform. Here's a quick block diagram of the controller...

As the diagram shows, the Barefoot 3 features a native SATA 6Gb/s interface, with a DRAM controller used for cache purposes, 8 channels to the NAND array, and a flash controller with built in randomizer, ECC engine and interface compatible with ONFI and Toggle NAND. At the heart of the chip is an ARM Cortex processor paired to an OCZ Aragon Co-Processor. Unfortunately, at this time, we don’t have any information to share in regards to the OCZ Aragon Co-Processor. Hopefully, OCZ will release details soon. The Barefoot 3 platform also offers low write amplification, idle garbage collection, TRIM support, multi-level ECC, and adaptive NAND flash management.



 
The OCZ Vector SSD: Inside and Out

The OCZ Vector drive itself uses a new, metal enclosure design that feels very strong and sturdy. The drive conforms to the standard 2.5” form factor that’s common among consumer-class SSDs, but has only a 7mm Z-height.

Inside the drive, you can see the new INDILINX controller, which is paired to some Micron DRAM cache and OCZ branded NAND. We should point out, however, that the NAND is actually 25nm IMFT flash memory. This particular drive is a 256GB model, but 128GB and 512GB models will also be available. According to its specifications, the 256GB drive is capable of max reads of 550MB/s, max writes of 530MB/s, with random read/write IOPS of 100,000, and 95,000 (4K QD32), respectively. What the specifications don't show is that the drive's performance is not affected by the compressibility of the data being transferred.

The numbers all look good; let's see how it fares in the benchmarks, shall we?

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Nice review. That 128GB is more than enough for me. I'm running an older OCZ SSD, forgot what the name was. It's 64GB and I basically just use it for the Windows partition and various apps, like Firefox. The shortened boot times alone were worth it, and $150 for a little more room isn't bad at all.

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We really dig this drive. It will be interesting to see how it shakes out in the market. I'm willing to bet, price-wise it will become even more attractive in the months ahead.

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Wow, the benchmarks are rather impressive. I'm just happy to see that were getting a more level playing field among all manufacturers. There for a while it looked like intel was going to a pull ahead, then Samsung stepped up, and since then it's been bouncing all over. Now we just need the prices to keep falling and we'll all be happy!

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