OCZ Z-Drive R4 PCIe SSD Performance Preview

Introduction and Specifications

A few months back, OCZ took the wraps of their RevoDrive 3 product line. The RevoDrive 3 was the first product to make use of what OCZ calls their SuperScale Storage Accelerator processor with VCA 2.0, or Virtualized Controller Architecture. In short, coupled with a quartet of SandForce SF-2200 series SSD controllers, OCZ's VCA technology really turns up the juice on their new PCI Express-based SSD solutions; so much so that this "prosumer" or performance workstation class product actually leaves far more expensive enterprise class PCIe SSDs in the dust.

Today, OCZ is letting fly with the second coming of a VCA 2.0 product, this time squarely targeting the enterprise, datacenter and high-end workstation markets.  Where OCZ's RevoDrive line targets more consumer-like price points, the Z-Drive line is about no holds barred performance for the enterprise. The Z-Drive R4 with VCA 2.0, the same SuperScale Storage Accelerator, and now an octet of SandForce SF-2200 series controllers, has landed on our testbeds for a few cycles of the benchmark gauntlet.  And oh yeah, it's packing a full 1.6TB (yes, that's Terabytes) of usable capacity on board.  As the old saying goes, let the games begin!

Specifications & Features
Performance Specifications:
  • Max Read: 2800 MB/s
  • Max Write: 2800 MB/s
  • 4KB Random Write: 440,000 IOPS (QD:128, 4K Aligned, 8GB LBA)
  • Available in 800GB, 1.6TB, and 3.2TB configurations
Key Features:
  • PCI Express SSD (PCIe Gen2 x8) designed to deliver ultra-high performance for server and high performance computing (HPC) environments
  • Bootable drive (unique from competing solutions) so users can enjoy enhanced OS performance
  • OCZ SuperScale storage accelerator enables scalable SSD performance and reduces the host CPU burden inherent to competing PCIe solutions. This controller, combined with VCA 2.0, provides unique benefits to the user by allowing certain DMA and data management functions including OCZ’s unique Complex Command Queuing Structure and Queue Balancing Algorithms to be handled by the storage virtualization layer, resulting in higher drive performance and minimized burden on the host CPU.
  • Implements multiple SandForce 2200 series controllers for greater performance and endurance.
  • Cost-effective 25nm MLC flash with enhanced reliability
  • Z-Drive R4 runs optimally with 100 Linear Feet per Minute (LFM) of airflow.
  • Lower power consumption: 23W idle, 26W active
Pricing and Warranty:
  • $5 - $7 per GB - Final MSRP still TBD
  • 2,000,000 hour MTBF
  • 3 Year Warranty

Your eyes aren't deceiving you and yes, you're doing the math right.  That's 2.8GB/s for max read bandwidth and 2.8GB/s of max write bandwidth. For those of you on the datacenter side of things, that 440K IOPs spec ought to slacken the jaw a bit as well.  These are lofty claims to be sure for the Z-Drive R4. However, when there are eight total SandForce SF-2200 chips at play, along with Intel's fastest 25nm Flash technology and OCZ's new SuperScale processor, across a 5Gbps PCI Express Gen 2 x8 interface, impressive things can happen. 

Copious bandwidth, native, high-speed serial interfaces and a load balancer; this is essentially what makes up the OCZ Z-Drive R4.  Here we'll try to determine if the Z-Drive R4 offers the kind of performance that equals the sum of its high-end components.

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