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- Firmware 007 for the Crucial C300
- New IM flash factory
- 19nm flash from Toshiba!
- MLC 20nm from Intel / Micron
- OCZ Vertex 2 and Flash continued…
- Samsung’s toggle DDR 2.0 flash memory
- Solid 3 & Agility 3, disappointing specs
- OCZ Solid 3 and Agility 3
- OCZ VeloDrive PCI-Express
- OCZ Vertex 3 Max IOPS
- OCZ announces the Indilinx Everest
- Crucial M4 vs C300 at 64, 128 and 256 GB
- SSD 2011 roundup: M4, Vertex 3, i510/320
- A miracle firmware for Indilinx?
- SSDs at $1/GB end 2012?

 Samsung’s toggle DDR 2.0 flash memory
  Posted on 12/05/2011 at 11:09 by Marc
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Samsung are the first to announce the production of an 8 GB flash memory using the toggle DDR 2.0 interface. This interface gives an impressive 400 Mbps transfer rate compared to 133 Mbps for the toggle DDR 1.0 introduced by Samsung in 2009 and also supported by Toshiba, and 40 Mbps for standard flash.

For comparison, the competitor ONFI 2.x interface supported by Hynix and IMFT gave 200 Mbps and the next 3.0 version also has a transfer rate of 400 Mbps. The two interfaces should eventually be compatible, with both groups working on their standardisation within JEDEC.

With a sinlge chip interfaced with an 8 bit bus it will be possible to manage 400 MB/s as long as the memory itself can keep pace, which is unlikely to be the case at first. This will open the door to high performance flash memory storage device designs which don’t require an increasing number of channels, unlike SSDs, as long as the chip capacity is sufficient of course. Samsung says that its chip is engraved at a “20nm class” process but hasn’t detailed the fineness of the engraving exactly (20? 25? 29?).

 Solid 3 & Agility 3, disappointing specs
  Posted on 11/05/2011 at 21:11 by Marc
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OCZ has just officially announced the Solid 3 and Agility 3 SSDs that we recently announced here. These SSDs aim to be more affordable than the Vertex 3s and Vertex 3 MAX IOPS’, using less expensive flash memory the origin of which is still unknown.

OCZ has put some stats on line regarding the performance of these new SSDs and we have taken the time to compile them and analyse them Here for example are the official OCZ stats for the 60 GB versions, compared to the Vertex 2 34nm 60 GB and Vertex 2 25nm 80 GB, OCZ not having yet published the numbers for the Vertex 2 25nm 60 GB or those using Hynix memory (see OCZ Vertex 2 and Flash continued…)

While with highly compressible data the Solid 3s and Agility 3s have very good sequential speed scores, with incompressible data the performance levels are very disappointing and we can only salute OCZ for officially releasing these statistics. Read performance is divided by three and writes by 7.5x! This puts them down on the Vertex 2 34nm but they still have an advantage over the Vertex 2 25nm. When it comes to random 4K accesses, the level of performance for the Solid 3 isn’t very good and the Agility 3 is only any better with writes.

You can see the same phenomenon on the 120 GB versions. All’s good with highly compressible data but in a more realistic context, with incompressible data, reads are down on the Vertex 2 34nm and writes are slightly lower (Solid 3) or the same (Agility 3). With random accesses there’s a big improvement in reads which are double the performance with the 60 GB versions. Writes are equivalent to the scores with the 60 GB versions. Sure, in reads they don’t compare to the Vertex 2 34nm or the Vertex 3 Max IOPS, but they are on a par with the Vertex 3 120.

While the arrival of more affordable SSDs based on SF-2000 generation SandForce controlers is a good thing, the Solid 3 and Agility 3 60 GB SSDs seem fairly limited. The 120 GB versions less so however and may well be worth a look. In both cases, unless they can count on maximum theoretical speeds, OCZ will have to position these SSDs pretty aggressively in comparison to the Crucial M4s – they aren’t yet priced lower than the Crucials however. OCZ’s circumstances are not as good as Crucial or Intel however, as they don’t produce their own flash memory and this is the main component in terms of the cost of an SSD. Let’s hope however that OCZ will manage to move forward in spite of this handicap and that this new competition will bring prices down!

 OCZ Solid 3 and Agility 3
  Posted on 09/05/2011 at 11:33 by Marc
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Following the Vertex 3 and the Vertex 3 Max IOPS SSDs, OCZ is set to continue to roll out its SandForce SF-2000 SSD range with three new models that are starting to be listed in European shops:

- The OCZ Agility 3 60, 120 and 240 GB
- The OCZ Solid 3 60 and 120 GB

These SSDs are based on the SandForce SF-2281, while the Vertex 3s use an SF-2282. This more affordable version simply supports half as many flash chips. These new models are available at Alternate.de which is offering no fewer than four 120 GB models at the following prices:

- €199.90 for the Solid 3
- €214.9 for the Agility 3
- €239.9 for the Vertex 3
- €259 for the Vertex 3 Max IOPS

These new models are therefore much better positioned pricewise, notably compared to the Crucial M4 (€219.90 on Alternate.de), even though the number of different available models may well confuse the consumer somewhat. The arrival of the 60 GB versions is also a good thing at €119.90 and €109.90 for the Agility 3 and Solid 3 respectively.

It remains to be seen what the real performance levels of these models will be, particularly with incompressible data, an area which would suffer from the choice of inappropriate flash memory, as happened recently with the Vertex 2s.

 OCZ VeloDrive PCI-Express
  Posted on 29/04/2011 at 09:18 by Marc
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OCZ is launching a new PCI-Express SSD, the VeloDrive, as part of its enterprise range. With a PCI-Express x8 interface, namely 4 GB/s in each direction, it frees users up from Serial ATA interface throughput limitations. Announced in 300 GB, 600 GB and 1.2 TB versions, it combines four SSDs based on the SandForce SF-1565, like the Z-Drive R3, also from OCZ. What is new is that the VeloDrive PCI-Express can be used in either hardware or software RAID mode, which means the four SSDs can be recognised independently by the system if you wish.

In hardware RAID mode, the read speeds announced vary depending on SSD capacity between 925 and 950 MB/s for compressible data and 450 to 600 MB/s for incompressible data, with OCZ wisely giving both sets of figures this time. Reads vary from 825 to 1000 MB/s and 225 to 420 MB/s. Random 4K accesses vary between 55K and 70K IOPS for reads and 55K and 75K IOPS for writes, all with 32 simultaneous commands and compressible data. With just one command and incompressible data, in AS-SSD, we were between 5550 and 7250 IOPS in reads and (just) 4500 and 14500 IOPS in writes.

As you can see, compared to a standard SSD, the gains are for sequential speeds and not random accesses. Even here the gains are quite limited as two Vertex 3 240 GB SSDs in RAID will be faster. Note that in contrast to the OCZ Z-Drive R3, OCZ VCA (Virtualized Controller Architecture) is not used on the VeloDrive, which therefore doesn’t support TRIM. This is very probably why there’s such an impact in terms of its flexibility in RAID.

 OCZ Vertex 3 Max IOPS
  Posted on 27/04/2011 at 14:19 by Marc
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OCZ has launched a new version of its Vertex 3, the Vertex 3 Max IOPS. Using 3xnm MLC NAND, compared to 25nm MLC NAND, this version has been specifically designed to give the best possible performance with random 4 KB accesses. More than the engraving, it’s the choice of chips using 4 KB pages, and not the 8 KB pages used on high capacity 25nm engravings, which will make the difference.

550 MB/s reads and 500 MB/s writes have been announced for compressible data and 500-510 MB/s (reads) and 230-240 MB/s (writes) with incompressible data. With incompressible data, we measured the Vertex 3 120 and 240 GB SSDs at 163 MB/s and 279 MB/s respectively, which represents a big gain for the 120 GB version and a slight fall on the 240 GB.

In terms of IOPS, we got 35,000 and 55,000 reads on the 120 GB and 240 GB MAX IOPS versions respectively, compared to 20,000 and 40,000 on the standard versions. Writes are up from 60,000/60,000 to 75,000/65,000.

These very high numbers should however be put into context as they were achieved with very compressible data and 32 simultaneous commands. OCZ is showing willing and has also given the scores obtained in AS-SSD with incompressible data and a single command. You then get 14 and 19 MB/s with 4K reads (3500 and 4750 IOPS), 60 and 65 MB/s in writes (15,000 and 16,250 IOPS), which are standard scores, even strangely low for the 120 GB version with 4K reads.

When it comes down to it then, even in intensive usage the difference between the Vertex 3 and Vertex 3 Max IOPS are likely to be inexistant. The Vertex 3 Max IOPS has higher numbers to appeal to benchmark fanatics, as well as 3xnm MLC that is reputed to last longer, but will come in at between €20 and €40 more than the Vertex 3.

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