OCZ Vector 256GB SSD Review

OCZ soft launches the 256GB Vector SSD with its first OCZ-proprietary controller, the Barefoot 3. Geared for steady state performance, the OCZ Vector SSD is designed with the end user in mind. Today we take a look at the Vector and the new controller architecture and see how these fare in our steady state testing.



The big news with the OCZ Vector SSD is that the new Barefoot 3 controller onboard is in fact the first truly OCZ proprietary SSD controller. This new SSD controller was developed by the PLX and Indilinx teams which OCZ acquired for this specific purpose. The controller also utilizes the Indilinx-infused firmware which has been previously used in conjunction with Marvell controllers.

The new Barefoot 3 controller and firmware are specifically tuned for long-term performance in steady state conditions. This controller also does not rely upon compression for its performance.

The result of this hard work comes with some truly impressive specifications with the 256GB model touting 550 MB/s read and 530MB/s write speeds. The Vector also tops out at 100,000 4k random write IOPS and 95,000 random read IOPS, all delivered over a SATA 6Gb/s connection. The OCZ Vector SSD comes in a mobile-friendly 7mm form factor and three capacities of 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB.

The listed power specifications are also good at 0.9W Idle and 2.25W active power consumption. We will test these values later in the review.

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A closer look at the architecture of the Vector reveals that there is a DRAM cache for this controller, in contrast to the SandForce offerings. The 128GB and 256GB OCZ Vector models feature 512MB cache and the 512GB model holds 1GB cache. The cache leads to enhanced performance, but we aren’t sure if the Barefoot 3 controller holds any user data in the cache. Many current generation SSDs shy away from this technique for data safety purposes, instead using the cache to hold the large data tables and mapping for the SSD. This speeds up the processing time and reduces overall latency.

The Barefoot 3 controller features 8 channels, which will allow for up to eight NAND packages to be utilized. There is an ARM cortex processor in tandem with the OCZ proprietary Aragon co-processor. The Aragon is a 400MHz 32-bit processor that features an SSD-specific RISC instruction set. This instruction set is very important, as it allows for most instructions and branches to be executed in a single cycle. Utilizing a special instruction set is a key building block that will allow OCZ to innovate moving forward.

Another great element of this proprietary controller is that it gives OCZ the prospect of licensing the technology to companies that do not have the resources to develop its own processors.

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Warranty and Validation

To address consumer concerns of reliability OCZ is also doing an advanced and strenuous factory burn-in of each unit, and instituting longer firmware validation cycles. The Vector SSD comes with a five year warranty, and is good for 20 GBs of data to be written for each day of that five year period.


The SSDs are slated to be available within 48 hours of this release, and the MSRP for the 128GB is $149.99, the 256GB for $269.99, and the 512GB for $599.99.



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