OCZ CES 2012: Z-Drive R5, Kilimanjaro and Everest 2

OCZ CES 2012 Product Tour, Z-Drive R5, Everest 2 Step Out

Prior to the start of this year's CES 2012 show, a number of OEMs were showcasing their latest products at various hotel venues throughout the bustling city of Las Vegas, Nevada.  Of course OCZ Technology was first on our list of suites to visit, in an effort to satiate our need for blinding storage speed -- and as usual, Team OCZ did not disappoint.

This year, it was actually pretty surprising how many announcements the company was rolling out, from new co-developed solutions with Marvell, to acquisitions and the second coming of their Indilinx Everest controller, dubbed Everest 2.

The OCZ Indilinx Everest 2 SSD controller is the second SATA-based platform controller to roll out of OCZ since the company made the acquisition in 2011.  The SATA 3.0-based (6Gbps) Indilinx controller is "designed for I/O-intensive workloads in a wide range of applications, supporting sequential speeds of up to 550MB/s, and up to 105,000 random read and 90,000 random write IOPS with the newest 2xnm flash technology. The Everest 2 platform supports up to 2TB capacity in a compact 2.5-inch form factor."

Right: OCZ's Indilinx Everest 2-based SSD -  Left: The mammoth Chiron 4TB SSD

Next we scoped out OCZ's new Chiron 4TB SSD that the company claims is "The world's fastest and highest capacity SATA SSD for the enterprise. The Chiron Series provides a staggering 4TB in a compact 3.5-inch form factor. With performance exceeding SATA 3.0 bus capabilities, Chiron delivers speeds above 560MB/s and 100,000 IOPS. Eliminating the need for high capacity HDDs as anything other than backup devices, the Chiron Series enables mass SSD storage and is capable of deploying up to 96TB of storage in a 4U rackmount server chassis" 

The real question, beyond performance and capacity here is price. OCZ wasn't quoting numbers as of yet, but at 4TB you can bet it's going to be expensive.  Also of note is the DRAM drive laying back casually in the background here, sporting 140K IOPS and crazy fast, almost instantaneous random access in the nanosecond range.  It's of course supported by an NRVAM (non-volatile RAM) backup so it doesn't wind up forgetting data.  This drive is for niche customer applications to be sure.

OCZ mSATA Kilimanjaro-based SSD and OCZ's Lightfoot Thunderbolt-based external SSD

In terms of more minimalistic form-factors, we had a chance to glimpse a new Marvell/OCZ co-developed mSATA solution sporting their new Kilimanjaro controller (more on this later).  This little bad-boy offers 500MB/sec of throughput in its tiny form-factor.  Also, perhaps even more interesting was their prototype of "Lightfoot," which is an external Intel Thunderbolt™ SSD capable of 750MB/sec of throughput, over its external TB copper connection.

OCZ Z-Drive R5 PCI Express SSD

For us, the stars of OCZ's family came from their more enterprise-targeted offering. The Z-Drive R5 employs the OCZ and Marvell co-developed Kilimanjaro platform, OCZ notes: "The fifth generation Z-Drive R5 is designed to accelerate 'big data' like never before. As the world's first PCIe x16 Gen 3 SSD, which supports up to 16GB/s of total bandwidth, the R5 will be 2012's most advanced SSD, featuring performance that reaches up to an incredible 2.52 million IOPS and 7.2GB/s sequential transfers per card, with unlimited scalability and performance aggregation capability. With optional power fail protection the R5 will be available in a range of form factors including full height, half height, and 2.5-inch PCIe."  In two words, that's what you call "crazy fast."

 Of course OCZ was demoing many of their solutions and we grabbed footage of all the action.

The OCZ enterprise showcase demonstration (seen in the video above) included an IBM System x3650 M3 highlighting the performance potential of the new Z-Drive R5 PCIe Gen 3 in a Linux server environment, as well as an HP ProLiant DL370 G6 server equipped with two Z-Drive R4 RM1616s delivering 1,400,000 IOPS per card with Windows Server 2008.  The demo showcased the benefits of heavily virtualized workloads where dozens of operating systems and user sessions are driven simultaneously.  Of course, versus the HDD-driven solution, the OCZ Z-Drive-powered setup offered a 5 - 6X performance and response time boost that affords new usage models and implementations just not possible on a standard HDD array.  The caching and virtualization technology employed in the demo was developed by SANRAD, a just-announced OCZ acquistion.  It's clear OCZ is big time serious about big iron platforms and the enterprise.

Opposites ends of the spectrum:
Z-Drive R4 RM1616 X16 PCIe SSD and LG Z-330 Ultrabook w/ mSATA SSD

Finally, OCZ was demoing two platforms as complete opposite ends of the spectrum but both blindingly fast.  On the left above are a pair of OCZ Z-Drive R4 RM1616 X16 PCI Express cards running in aggregation. Together, the cards offer up to 2M (yes million) IOPS of throughput, though the workstation they had them running in (Intel Core i7-3960X-based) could only push 1.4M.  Sheesh, pick up the pace Intel, will ya?

And of course, if you stayed around for end of the video demo above, you would have seen the LG Z-330 boot Windows 7 in about 6 seconds by our calculations (yeah, go watch it again, it's just too fun for geeks).  The drive in that machine is an OCZ Indilinx Everest-Driven mSATA solution and OCZ was proud to show off their new design win, as well as its killer performance, of course.

That about wraps up our tour of OCZ's technology showcase. More from CES 2012 in the days ahead.  Stick around.

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