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OCZ Vertex 4 Indilinx Everest 2-Infused SSD
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Date: Apr 04, 2012
Section:Storage
Author: Marco Chiappetta
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Introduction and Specifications

OCZ Technology’s Vertex series of solid state drives have been consistently popular with enthusiasts since their initial arrival in 2009. OCZ has made significant changes with each successive generation of Vertex solid state drives, but generally speaking, each one has offered strong performance and was considered among the best overall values in the consumer SSD space. OCZ has also been good about providing regular firmware updates and proprietary tools to make it easy to flash a drive, perform a secure erase, or just monitor health data.

The original Vertex SSD was built around the Indilinx Barefoot controller, which was competitive when first released, but didn’t quite perform as well as some of the higher-end drives available at the time. The Vertex 2 and 3, however, featured SandForce controllers and both drives proved to be among the best performing SSDs of their generation. In fact, the Vertex 3 is still one of the best performing consumer-class solid state drives available. With the new Vertex 4 we’ll be showing you here today though, OCZ once again turns to Indilinx—now wholly owned by OCZ. The new Vertex 4 series of solid state drives are built around the Indilinx Everest 2 controller platform, which offers a host of leading-edge features like a SATA 3.0 6Gb/s interface, Auto-Encryption and AES-256 Support, and “Ndurance 2.0 Technology” for reduced write amplification (without Compression), Multi-Level ECC, adaptive NAND management, and support for Redundant NAND Array (RNA) technology.

In light of the Vertex 3, however, the new Vertex 4’s specifications may leave some of you scratching your head’s. As you’ll see below, the Vertex 4 offers max read bandwidth of 535MB/s and max writes in the 200MB/s to 475MB/s range, depending on the model, which is lower than the SandForce-based Vertex 3. However, OCZ’s new baby is tuned for higher IOps and doesn’t suffer from any compression-related performance limitations. To put it simply, the drives are optimized for different workloads.


OCZ Vertex 4 Indilinx Everest 2.0-based Solid State Drives

OCZ Vertex 4 SSD
Specifications & Features
128GB Model
  • Max Read: 535MB/s
  • Max Write: 200MB/s
  • Random Read IOPS: 90,000 (4K QD32)
  • Random Write IOPS: 85,000 (4K QD32)
  • Max IOPS: 120,000 (512B Random Read, Iometer 2010)
256GB Model
  • Max Read: 535MB/s
  • Max Write: 380MB/s
  • Random Read IOPS: 90,000 (4K QD32)
  • Random Write IOPS: 85,000 (4K QD32)
  • Max IOPS: 120,000 (512B Random Read, Iometer 2010)

512GB Model

  • Max Read: 535MB/s
  • Max Write: 475MB/s
  • Random Read IOPS: 95,000 (4K QD32)
  • Random Write IOPS: 85,000 (4K QD32)
  • Max IOPS: 120,000 (512B Random Read, Iometer 2010)

Vertex 4 leverages new leading-edge Indilinx Everest 2 Platform Features of Everest 2 include:

  • SATA 3.0 6Gb/s Interface
  • Ndurance 2.0 Technology
  • Reduced Write Amplification without Compression
  • Advanced Multi-Level ECC
  • Adaptive NAND Flash Management
  • Redundant NAND Array (RNA) Technology
  • Auto-Encryption and AES-256 Support
  • Advanced ECC Engine (up to 128bits per 1KB)
  • Superior Flexibility (extensive NAND compatibility; vendor-specific NAND commands)


From the outside, the new OCZ Vertex 4 looks just like the vast majority of consumer-class solid state drives currently available. The drive you see pictured here is a 512GB OCZ Vertex 4, but we’ve also received a 256GB model, which looks virtually identical.

    
OCZ Vertex 4 512GB SSD

The OCZ Vertex 4 uses a 2.5” form factor with 9mm Z-Height. The top casing of the drive is made from a plastic / composite material, while the bottom is a brushed metal. The top is adorned with a large Vertex 4 decal with “Indilinx Infused” emblazoned in one corner, while the bottom only has another decal with serial and model number details.

    

   
Inside The OCZ Vertex 4 SSD

Crack the drive open, however, and you can see all of the really good stuff. As we’ve mentioned, the OCZ Vertex 4 is based on the Indilinx Everest 2 controller platform. The exact model of the controller pictured here is the Indilinx IDX400M00-BC. The controller features a SATA III interface, support for up to 8 channels with up to 16-way Interleaving, and unlike SandForce’s current designs, it does not have any data-compression related limitations, meaning it should perform consistently with both highly-compressible and incompressible data.

The Everest 2-based OCZ Vertex 4 also offers TRIM support, and dynamic and static wear-leveling and background garbage collection algorithms to maintain strong long-term performance. The drive also features “Indilinx Ndurance 2.0” technology to help minimize write amplification and increase the life-span of the attached NAND Flash memory.

Paired to the Indilinx IDX400M00-BC Everest 2 controller in this drive is 512GB (16 x 32GB) of 25nm Intel MLC NAND flash memory and 512MB of DRAM cache, comprised of two Micron chips which reside on the top and bottom sides of the PCB. The 256GB drive we tested was also outfitted with 16 pieces of NAND, but with half the capacity.

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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 (or RAID) 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, ensured all temp and prefetch data was purged, and waited several minutes for drive activity to settle and for the system to reach an idle state 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 (480GB)
Corsair Force GT (240GB)
Crucial M4 (256GB)
OCZ Octane (512GB)
Intel SSD 520 (240GB)
OCZ Vertex 4 (256GB & 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 reliable gauge for relative available throughput within a given storage solution. In addition there are certain higher-end workloads you can place on a drive with IOMeter, that you an't with most other storage benchmark tools available currently.

In the following tables, we're showing two sets of access patterns; our custom 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 Vertex 4 drives performed very well, leading the other drives, when using IOMeter's default access pattern, which uses small 2K transfer size and 100% random access. With out custom access pattern that uses a somewhat larger transfer size and a mix of random and sequential access, however, the Vertex 4 drives stumble a bit and land somewhere around the middle of the pack.

In terms of total transfers, we see a similar trend. The OCZ Vertex 4 offers best of class bandwidth with the default access pattern, but middling performance with our custom test.

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.

Things seemingly take a turn for the worse in the SiSoft SANDRA physical disk test. The new Vertex 4's trail the pack in terms of read bandwidth, but put up excellent write numbers. We do not, however, thing these read scores translate into a real-world performance penalty. We'll explain a little later.

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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


The ATTO Disk Benchmark shows the new Vertex 4 drives trailing the pack in read bandwidth, by a few megabytes per second. In the write tests, however, the Vertex 4 drives perform much better and trail only the SandForce-based drives.

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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







For the most part, our HD Tune tests correlate with what we saw in SANDRA. The Vertex 4 drives offer excellent write performance here, and the best access times, but sequential reads seem to pale in comparison to the other drives we tested.

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CrystalDiskMark Benchmarks

CrystalDiskMark is a synthetic benchmark that tests both sequential and random small and mid-sized file transfers using incompressible data. 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 Vertex 4 drives offer some of the best small file performance we have seen in CrystalDiskMark. And the Vertex 4 drives simply crush everything else in the 4K / QD32 test. Sequential reads are much better here, but still trail the SandForce drives. However, write performance remains very strong.

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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 OCZ Vertex 4 drives offer very consistent read and write performance, regardless of the compressibility of the data. In the read test, all of the drives are bunched close together. In the write test, however, there is a significant spread. The SandForce-based drives' performance takes a nosedive with incompressible data, whereas the other drives are more consistent. The Vertex 4 drives offer some of the best performance in the write test, sandwiching the Samsung SSD 830.

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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

There is only about a 7.5% delta separating all of the drives we tested in PCMark7. But the best performance overall comes by way of the two SandForce-based drives, followed closely behind by the Samsung drive and the new OCZ Vertex 4s.

If we tunnel deeper into the individual PCMark7 storage benchmark tests, we can see how the overall score is derived. the Vertex 4 drives trade victories with the Samsung SSD 830 series drive here, with the SandForce-based OCZ and Corsair drives leading by a tiny amount in the majority of the tests.

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Our Summary and Conclusion

Performance Summary: The new OCZ Vertex 4 performed very well in the majority of our tests, but there were some obvious strong points that standout. Random reads and writes are where the Vertex 4 really shines, and performance got better as queue depths increased. The drives put up some of the best scores we’ve seen in IOMeter with 100% random access, performance is consistent with both incompressible and highly-compressible data, and in the CrystalDiskMark 4K QD32 test, the new Vertex 4 drives obliterated all of the other drives we tested. In the trace-based PCMark7 storage benchmark, the Vertex 4 drives also performed well, but trailed the SandForce-based drives by a small margin. With respect to sequential reads, however, the Vertex 4 drives seemed to falter in the SANDRA and HDTune tests. The numbers we saw in those tests don’t seem to correlate to real-world performance though.

To test sequential reads (and writes) we also did some real-world file copy tests using a 5.7GB compressed file and timed the results. As you’d expect looking back at the Vertex 4’s write performance, it came in with the best write speeds. The Vertex 4’s read performance trailed the SandForce-based Vertex 3, but only by a small amount.


The OCZ Vertex 4

The new OCZ Vertex 4 solid state drives proved to be solid performers according to our tests, although the drives do not offer the generational leaps in performance some might have come to expect from OCZ’s Vertex series. The Vertex 2 was a much better performer than the original. And the Vertex 3 crushed the Vertex 2 upon its arrival. The Vertex 4, however, doesn’t clearly lead the Vertex 3 across the board. There are some obvious improvements in random access performance and at higher queue depths, and the Indilinx Everest 2 platform does not suffer from any compression-related performance degradation like SandForce’s current controllers, but the Vertex 4 can’t match the Vertex 3’s (and other high-end SandForce-based drives) with sequential reads.


*Pricing as of April 3, 2012

Regardless, the Vertex 4 is still a very good performing solid state drive. OCZ has set the MSRPs of the Vertex 4 512GB and 256GB drives we tested at $699 and $349, respectively. That works out to about $1.47 per GB, although we expect street prices to be somewhat lower once drives are widely available. At those prices, the Vertex 4 is less expensive than competing SandForce-based drives, but somewhat more expensive than Crucial’s Marvel-based M4 or the Samsung SSD 830. That’s fair considering the Vertex 4 offers class-leading performance in a number of scenarios. We should also point out that OCZ is offering a 5-year warranty on these drives, which is two years longer than the Vertex 3, and a testament to OCZ’s faith in their long-term reliability.

  • 5-Year Warranty
  • Competitive Pricing 
  • Great Random Access Performance
  • Relatively Low Sequential Transfers
  • Not Clearly Faster than Vertex 3



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