A few months ago SandForce announced its second generation SSD controller: the SF-2000 series. The specs SandForce released at the time were almost too good to be true. As a refresher here’s what we saw back in October of last year:

SandForce is promising a single enterprise level drive that can deliver 500MB/s sequential reads and writes (for highly compressible data), and up to 60K IOPS for 4KB random reads and writes. That’s not an evolutionary improvement, that’s more than a doubling of what most of the competition can do today. Even compared to existing SandForce drives it’s a huge increase in performance. But as I’ve heard many times before, anyone can put out a promising PDF.

Today at CES, OCZ previewed its first SF-2000 based drives: the Vertex 3 Pro and Vertex 3 EX. Both are based on SandForce’s SF-2582 controller, the highest end offering in the SF-2000 family. The drives won’t see the light of day for months (sometime in Q2) and what OCZ is showing today is very, *very* early silicon and hardware. The drives are using 32nm Toshiba toggle-mode NAND (effectively DDR NAND), however OCZ will go to market with 25nm Intel NAND when the drive is ready.

First let’s look at the specs OCZ is promising for these drives:


OCZ’s specs are even higher than SandForce’s. This is getting ridiculous. Thankfully, OCZ let me run some of my own Iometer tests on the drives to verify the claims. Surprisingly enough, the Vertex 3 Pro looks like it’s really as fast as OCZ and SandForce are claiming. When running highly compressible data (pseudo random in Iometer) at low queue depths, I get 518MB/s sequential write speed and nearly 500MB/s for sequential read speed. Remember this is the very first version of the drive and there’s months of tweaking ahead to get it ready for production. Performance may even increase by the time OCZ actually ships the drive. Furthermore, this is the performance of a single drive with a single controller - there’s no funny on-board RAID going on, we’re just talking about the performance of a single drive.

OCZ Vertex 3 Pro Preliminary Test Data
Iometer 2010 Test Incompressible Data Compressible Data
128KB Sequential Write (QD=3) 262.MB/s 518.2MB/s
128KB Sequential Read (QD=3) 493.4MB/s 492.3MB/s
4KB Random Read (QD=3) 186.5MB/s N/A
4KB Random Write (QD=3) 162.7MB/s 227.0MB/s

Even if we look at incompressible data (fully random), the performance is unbelievable. You get better minimum performance on the SF-2582 than peak performance on the SF-1200/SF-1500. Note that we couldn't run all of our tests given the very early nature of the hardware sample. The fact that we could get these numbers at all on the first beta of the drive was beyond impressive.  

Obviously to hit these speeds you need a 6Gbps controller. Thankfully there are at least a few ways to get those ports.

It’s looking like SandForce will be last to bring out their next-generation drive in the first half of the year with both Micron and Intel beating it to the punch, but if we can get this sort of performance, and have it be reliable, it may be worth the wait. 

OCZ's Z-Drive R3: 1GB/s over PCIe
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  • DoktorSleepless - Thursday, January 6, 2011 - link

    "50-400gb usable"
    Well, that's really disappointing. I was hoping for the 60-480 scheme from the current drives.
  • vol7ron - Thursday, January 6, 2011 - link

    I think you touched on something I wanted to bring up.

    I care less about how much manufacturers are using to make their drives work/perform and more about what can actually be used. The 50-400 is the important number and the one I urge companies to start using, uniformly. The other number should just be left in the specs for enthusiasts consideration.
  • strikeback03 - Thursday, January 6, 2011 - link

    Maybe with 25nm NAND they will go back to more spare area, but I wouldn't be surprised if the first drives out are more enterprise focused and have more spare area, like the SF-1200/1500 launch. Then maybe drives with less spare area would come later.
  • iwodo - Thursday, January 6, 2011 - link

    Once again we have Raw performance numbers.

    Tell me how an Toshiba SSD with lower Seq / Random Read Write numbers manage to beat an Sandforce or Intel SSD then we will start talking.

    Impressive as they may sound, i would like to see some real Anand benchmark before i make the judgement.
  • probedb - Thursday, January 6, 2011 - link

    Did you miss the "very, *very* early silicon and hardware"?
  • BugblatterIII - Thursday, January 6, 2011 - link

    We've seen before that the larger drives have far better performance due to their greater number of banks. Was it the 512GB drive you tested?
  • semo - Thursday, January 6, 2011 - link

    Interested about that too. The C400 for example seems still a mediocre SSD by today's standards at 64GB.

    "both Micron and Intel beating it to the punch" -- We know that the Micron/Crucials are coming out soon from your previous article but not sure what's the latest on the Intels

    "OCZ also demonstrated a new, slimmer chassis for its 3.5” SSDs like the Vertex 2 and Agility 2" -- Did you mean 2.5"? I guess they would be 7mm high?

    "Obviously to hit these speeds you obviously need a 6Gbps controller" -- obviously :)
  • jonup - Thursday, January 6, 2011 - link

    No, Anand meant 3.5" SSDs. These have been available for a while now. They are slimmer than 3.5" but fit in the normal 3.5" holes. I have the suspicion that you can fit two of these in a single 3.5" bay because of how thin they are, but I have not tested it since I have played around with only one.
  • semo - Thursday, January 6, 2011 - link

    Thanks didn't know that. I thought only the IBIS and colossus were available in 3.5"
  • vol7ron - Thursday, January 6, 2011 - link

    "I have the suspicion that you can fit two of these in a single 3.5" bay because of how thin they are"

    I'm sure you could, but are there any heat concerns?

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