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OCZ Octane Series SATA III Solid State Drive Review
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Date: Nov 23, 2011
Section:Storage
Author: Marco Chiappetta
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Introduction and Specifications

OCZ had been a strong partner of Indilinx, dating all the way back dating back to the original Vertex series of SSDs, which featured the Indilinx Barefoot controller. Due to stiff competition from Intel and SandForce, on both the price and performance fronts back then, Indilinx-based SSDs ultimately fell out of favor with enthusiasts. And when the company failed to launch a next-gen SATA 6.0Gbps capable controller on time it all but fell off the map. There were rumblings of an upcoming controller that would compete favorably with newer offerings, but nothing ever materialized.

Then, in March of this year, OCZ announced that they had plans to acquire Indilinx. A few months have passed since the acquisition, but today the combined forces of OCZ and their recently assimilated team members from Indilinx are ready to officially unveil the OCZ Octane series of solid state drives, which are based on the new Indilinx Everest platform. Everest builds upon the previous gen Indilinx Barefoot controller, but offers a SATA 6.0Gbps interface and support for the latest NAND flash technologies, among other things.

We’ve had an OCZ Octane 512GB SSD in the lab for a few days now and have run it through a series a tests, comparing it to a handful of other popular drives throughout. Check out the pages ahead for the full scoop...

   
512GB OCZ Octane SSD

OCZ Octane Series Solid State Drives
Specifications & Features
Physical
Usable Capacities (IDEMA)

  • 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB
NAND Components
  • 2Xnm Synchronous Multi-Level Cell (MLC)
Interface
  • SATA III / 6Gbps (backwards compatible with SATA II / 3Gbps)
Form Factor
  • 2.5 Inch
NAND Controller
  • Indilinx Everest
DRAM Cache
  • Up to 512MB
Dimensions (L x W x H)
  • 99.8 x 69.63 x 9.3 mm
Weight
  • 83g
Reliability/Protection/Security
MTBF
  • 1.25 million hours
Data Path Protection
  • BCH ECC corrects up to 78 random bits/1KB
Data Encryption
  • 256-bit AES-compliant, ATA Security Mode Features
Product Health Monitoring
  • Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology (SMART) Support
Flash Endurance Management
  • Indilinx NDurance Technology
Environmental
Power Consumption
  • Idle: 1.15 W Active: 1.98 W
Operating Temperature
  • 0°C ~ 70°C
Ambient Temperature
  • 0°C ~ 55°C
Storage Temperature
  • -45°C ~ 85°C
Shock Resistance
  • 1500G

Compatibility
Serial ATA (SATA)

  • Fully compliant with Serial ATA International Organization: Serial ATA Revision 3.0.
  • Fully compliant with ATA/ATAPI-8 Standard Native Command Queuing (NCQ)
Operating System
  • Windows XP 32-bit /64-bit; Windows Vista 32-bit / 64-bit; Windows 7 32-bit / 64-bit
  • Linux; Mac OS X

Additional Features
Performance Optimization

  • TRIM (requires OS support), dynamic and static wear-leveling, background garbage collection, boot time reduction optimization
Other Performance Features
  • Industry-low latency: Read: 0.06ms; Write: 0.09ms, strong performance at lower queue depths (QD1-QD3), optimized for 4K to 16K compressed files
Service & Support
  • 3-Year Warranty, Toll-Free Tech Support, 24 Hour Forum Support

The OCZ Octane series of solid state drives will be offered in both SATA III (6.0Gbps) and SATA II (3.0Gbps) varieties, with orange decals designating the former and light-blue decals the latter. The drive we have pictured here is a nearly top-of-the-line SATA III model sporting a 512GB total capacity.

  

OCZ has made some changes to their packaging with these drives and have replaced the flat, cardboard boxes of older drives with a transparent plastic blister pack that showcases the drive prominently. Included within the package—along with the drive itself, of course—were a user’s manual, an installation guide, and a “My SSD is faster than your HDD” decal. Notably missing was a 2.5” to 3.5” adapter, but they’re becoming less and less necessary.

Like most other SSDs available today, the OCZ Octane series drives conform to the standard 2.5” form factor and, other than a few stickers, there’s little to differentiate one drive from another, looking at the external design. Crack the OCZ Octane open, however, and it’s a whole different story.

  

As we’ve mentioned, the OCZ Octane is based on the Indilinx Everest controller platform. The exact model of the controller pictured here is the Indilinx IDX300M00-BC. The controller will be offered in both SATA 3.0 and SATA 2.0 flavors, and it features support for up to 8 channels with up to 16-way Interleaving and it does not have any data-compression related limitations, meaning it should perform consistently with both highly-compressible and incompressible data.

The Everest-based OCZ Octane also offers Dynamic and Static wear-leveling and background garbage collection algorithms to maintain strong long-term performance and features “Indilinx nDurance” technology to help minimize write amplification and increase life-span of its NAND Flash memory. The drive also features Indilinx “Fast Boot” technology, which is designed to decrease boot and wake-from-sleep times, but OCZ hasn’t released many details on how the technology works.

Paired to the Indilinx IDX300M00-BC Everest controller in our drive is 512GB (16 x 32GB) of 25nm IMFT synchronous NAND flash memory and 512MB of DRAM cache, comprised of two Micron chips which reside on the top and bottom sides of the PCB.

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Test Setup, IOMeter 1.1 RC and SANDRA

Our Test Methodologies: Under each test condition, the Solid State Drives tested here were installed as secondary volumes in our testbed, with a standard spinning hard disk for the OS and benchmark installations. Out testbed's motherboard was updated with the latest BIOS available as of press time and AHCI mode was enabled. The SSDs were secure erased and left blank without partitions wherever possible, unless a test required them to be partitioned and formatted, as was the case with our ATTO, PCMark 7, and CrystalDiskMark benchmark tests. Windows firewall, automatic updates and screen savers were all disabled before testing. In all test runs, we rebooted the system and waited several minutes for drive activity to settle before invoking a test.

HotHardware Test System
Intel Core i7 and SSD Powered

Processor -

Motherboard -


Video Card -

Memory -

Audio -

Hard Drives -

 

Hardware Used:
Intel Core i7-2600K

Asus P8Z6-V Pro
(Z68 Chipset, AHCI Enabled)

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 285

4GB Kingston DDR3-1600

Integrated on board

WD Raptor 150GB (OS Drive)
Samsung SSD 830 (256GB)
OCZ Vertex 3 MaxIOPs (240GB)
Corsair Force GT (240GB)
Patriot Wildfire (120GB)
Crucial M4 (256)
OCZ Octane (512GB)

OS -
Chipset Drivers -
DirectX -

Video Drivers
-


Relevant Software:
Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 x64
Intel 9.2.0.1030, iRST 10.5.1027
DirectX 11

NVIDIA GeForce 275.33

Benchmarks Used:
IOMeter 1.1.0 RC
HD Tune v4.61
ATTO v2.47
AS SSD
CrystalDiskMark v3.01 x64
PCMark 7
SiSoftware Sandra 2011

IOMeter
I/O Subsystem Measurement Tool

As we've noted in previous SSD articles, though IOMeter is clearly a well-respected industry standard drive benchmark, we're not completely comfortable with it for testing SSDs. The fact of the matter is, though our actual results with IOMeter appear to scale properly, it is debatable whether or not certain access patterns, as they are presented to and measured on an SSD, actually provide a valid example of real-world performance for the average end user. That said, we do think IOMeter is a gauge for relative available throughput with a given storage solution. In addition there are certain higher-end workloads you can place on a drive with IOMeter, that you really can't with most other benchmark tools available currently.

In the following tables, we're showing two sets of access patterns; our Workstation pattern, with an 8K transfer size, 80% reads (20% writes) and 80% random (20% sequential) access and IOMeter's default access pattern of 2K transfers, 67% reads (34% writes) and 100% random access.

The OCZ Octane put up IOMeter scores that were competitive or somewhat better than SandForce-based offerings using our particular access patterns. The Samsung drive took the lead in most tests, but the OCZ Octane remained competitive in our workstation access pattern and even outpaced the remaining drives using IOMeter's default access pattern. The Octane's maximum response times, however, trailed all the others.

SiSoft SANDRA 2011
Synthetic HDD Benchmarking

Next we ran SiSoft SANDRA, the the System ANalyzer, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant. Here, we used the Physical Disk test suite and provided the results from our comparison SSDs. The benchmarks were run without formatting and read and write performance metrics are detailed below.

The new OCZ Octane performed well in the SiSoft SANDRA Physical Disk benchmark. Here, the drive offered competitive read speeds that were on par with other high-end SSDs and strong write speeds approaching the 400MB/s mark. The SandForce-based drives, however, held onto a big lead here in terms of write performance.
 

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ATTO Disk Benchmark
ATTO is another "quick and dirty" type of disk benchmark that measures transfer speeds across a specific volume length. It measures raw transfer rates for both reads and writes and graphs them out in an easily interpreted chart. We chose .5kb through 8192kb transfer sizes and a queue depth of 6 over a total max volume length of 256MB. ATTO's workloads are sequential in nature and measure raw bandwidth, rather than I/O response time, access latency, etc. This test was performed on blank, formatted drives with default NTFS partitions in Windows 7 x64.

ATTO Disk Benchmark
More Information Here: http://bit.ly/btuV6w



Although the deltas are quite small, the OCZ Octane trailed the other drives in read throughout with block sizes smaller than 32K. With larger block sizes, however, all of the drives are tightly grouped in terms of read performance.

Writes are a different story, though. Once again, the SandForce-based drives led the pack in writer performance. The OCZ Octane outpaced the Crucial M4, but Samsung's 830 Series SSD was a notch faster.
 
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HD Tune Benchmarks
EFD Software's HD Tune is described on the company's web site as such: "HD Tune is a hard disk utility with many functions. It can be used to measure the drive's performance, scan for errors, check the health status (S.M.A.R.T.), securely erase all data and much more." The latest version of the benchmark added temperature statistics and improved support for SSDs, among a few other updates and fixes.

HD Tune v4.61
More Info Here: http://www.hdtune.com





The OCZ Octane's CPU utilization and access times are right in-line with competitive offerings, although its access times during writes are much better than the SandForce-based drives. Burst rates are somewhat low, however. Like we saw in the ATTO tests, sequential reads are on-par with the other drives, but writes trail the SandForce and Samsung drives.
 
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CrystalDiskMark Benchmarks

CrystalDiskMark is a synthetic benchmark that tests both sequential and random small and mid-sized file transfers. It provides a quick look at best and worst case scenarios with regard to SSD performance, best case being larger sequential transfers and worse case being small, random transfers.

CrystalDiskMark Benchmarks
Synthetic File Transfer Tests





The OCZ Octane drive's performance is all over the map in CrystanDiskMark. This series of tests uses incompressible data, which exposes a weakness of the SandForce based drives. As such, in the sequential read tests, the OCZ Octane is able to outpace the SandForce-based drives in terms of write throughput. With small block sizes, however, the Octane trails significantly. And matters worsened once the queue depth is increased to 32.
 
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AS-SSD Compression Test

Next up we ran the Compression Benchmark built-into AS SSD, an SSD specific benchmark being developed by Alex Intelligent Software. This test is interesting because it uses a mix of compressible and incompressible data and outputs both Read and Write throughput of the drive. We only graphed a small fraction of the data (1% compressible, 50% compressible, and 100% compressible), but the trend is representative of the benchmark’s complete results.

AS SSD Compression Benchmark
Bring Your Translator: http://bit.ly/aRx11n



The AS-SSD Compression benchmark reports competitive read speeds across the board for the OCZ Octane. In the write tests, the Octane offered the second best speeds with incompressible data, but the SandForce-based drives are able to catch up with highly compressible data.
 
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PCMark 7 Storage Benchmarks
We really like PCMark 7's Secondary Storage benchmark module for its pseudo real-world application measurement approach to testing. PCMark 7 offers a trace-based measurement of system response times under various scripted workloads of traditional client / desktop system operation. From simple application start-up performance, to data streaming from a drive in a game engine, and video editing with Windows Movie Maker, we feel more comfortable that these tests reasonably illustrate the performance profile of SSDs in an end-user / consumer PC usage model, more so than a purely synthetic transfer test.

Futuremark's PCMark 7 Secondary Storage
http://www.futuremark.com



The OCZ Octane put up the lowest overall score in the PCMark 7 secondary storage benchmark, but that result is somewhat deceiving. If we tunnel into the individual test results, the OCZ Octane has some of the best scores in 6 of the 7 tests. It's only in the "Starting Applications" test that the Octane trails, and that drags its overall score down.

Having recorded this result, we spent some time launching applications on the OCZ Octane and compared them side-by-side with a SandForce-based drive and there was no perceptible difference.
 
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Our Summary and Conclusion

Performance Summary: The OCZ Octane 512GB drive we tested here performed very well throughout our entire battery of tests. In terms of its read performance, the drive is roughly on par with other high-end offerings, taking top honors in some tests and trailing in others. The 512GB Octane’s write performance is also very good, but generally speaking, it trailed the SandForce-based and Samsung drives we tested. With highly compressible data, the SandForce-based drives were the clear leaders. However, with incompressible data the OCZ Octane 512GB drive led the SandForce-based drives and competed favorably against the Samsung and Crucial drives, which use Samsung and Marvell controller, respectively.

Before bringing this article to a close, we'd also like to talk about some rudimentary testing we performed with Windows 7 boot times and the OCZ Octane (as well as a couple of other drives) configured as the boot volume, with no other drives in the system. Although details are sketchy at the moment, we wanted to put OCZ’s claim of up to “50% faster” boot times to the test. Ultimately, the OCZ Octane was the fastest drive we tested in terms of boot speeds, but it was only slightly faster than an enthusiast-class SandForce-based drive. That claim of 50% faster boots is likely in comparison to older drives, and not current-generation offerings.


The OCZ Octane SSD

The OCZ Octane will initially be offered in three capacities, 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB, with prices of $199, $369, and $879. Those prices equate to approximately $1.55 (128GB), $1.44 (256GB), and $1.72 (512GB) per gigabyte, which is competitive with other solid state drives in the Octane’s class. Keep in mind though, lower capacity Octane-series drives will have decreased write performance versus the drive we tested in this article.

Read performance is mostly consistent across the line-up, until you get to the 1TB model which boasts a maximum read speed of up to 560MB/s. Writes, however, peak at up to 170MB/s on the 128GB model and top out at 400MB/s on the 512GB and 1TB drives. The next capacity down from the 512GB drive, the 256GB mode, has a max write speed of 270MB/s.

At their expected price points and performance levels, the new OCZ Octane series SSD seems to be a viable option in the upper-mainstream and high-end market segments. Their feature set is competitive, read performance is very good, and writes, while not as high as some other enthusiast-class drives, are still plenty quick. OCZ has also offered excellent support for their drives throughout the years, and with OCZ and Indilinx now a single entity, we expect support for the Octane series to be top notch as well.

 

  • Strong Read Performance
  • Fast boot times
  • Competitive Pricing
  • Consistent performance with different data types

  • Write speeds below SansForce-based drives
  • Lower capacities have lower write performance



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