OCZ RevoDrive Hybrid PCI Express SSD Review
Introduction and Specifications
While they’re designed for completely different target markets, the OCZ RevoDrive 3 X2 and Z-Drive R4 have a number of things in common. As we’ve mentioned, they both leverage OCZ’s SuperScale Storage Accelerator with VCA 2.0, they both interface with a system through PCI Express, and they both feature SandForce SF-2200 series storage controllers paired to various amounts of MLC NAND flash memory. The latest OCZ product to hit the lab, the RevoDrive Hybrid also shares these traits, but its flash memory is paired to a 1TB traditional hard drive. With the RevoDrive Hybrid, the device’s flash memory is meant to be used as cache for the most frequently accessed data on the hard drive, speeding up access times and transfer speeds dramatically, while the hard drive is there for bulk storage.
Pairing a small to mid-sized SSD to a standard hard drive has been the preferred configuration of enthusiasts for a while now. But the RevoDrive is more akin to other hybrid solutions, like Seagate’s Momentus XT or Intel’s Rapid Storage Technology where the SSD is virtually invisible to end user and is used transparently for caching purposes only. OCZ simply uses a much speedier array of solid state storage than a standard SSD and links it to an HD on a PCI Express expansion card. Take a look at the specs and then we’ll dig in a little deeper before taking the RevoDrive Hybrid for a spin.
The RevoDrive Hybrid’s hard drive resides on a daughterboard and is connected to the main PCB via the same method used on the RevoDrive 3 X2—instead of a mezzanine with additional SandForce controllers and NAND flash, there’s a hard drive.
Installing and configuring the RevoDrive Hybrid proved to be extremely quick and painless. For it to work properly, the RevoDrive Hybrid must be configured as your boot device and have the OS installed on its integrated HD. If installing the RevoDrive Hybrid as a secondary storage volume, the included software will cache data from the system’s boot volume which will result in unpredictable behavior (at least at this time, with the current software).
To install the card, simply insert it into a compatible slot and install Windows to it HD. During the Windows installation, users will be required to select the RevoDrive Hybrid’s drivers, but that’s par for the course. Once the drivers are installed, simply select the RevoDrive Hybrid’s HD as the destination volume and let Windows install as normal (32- and 64-bit editions of Windows are currently supported).
The Dataplex Software Installation Couldn't Be Any Easier
When the Windows installation is complete, users are then required to install the bundled Dataplex caching software. Simply download the latest version from OCZ’s website (you’ll be required to enter a product key to access the download), run the installer, and during the installation select the cache (SSD) and target (HD) drives. When the installation is complete, reboot the system, and that’s it. The hybrid drive configuration is complete.
Like other SSD caching solutions, the OCZ RevoDrive Hybrid and Dataplex software monitors data access and stores the most commonly accessed bits of data onto the device’s SSD. This process can take a bit of time, but generally speaking the performance benefits are apparent immediately.