OCZ throws its support behind PCI-Express instead of SATA

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OCZ, now a subsidiary of Toshiba, has released several new solid-state drives (SSD) using PCI Express form factors instead of the standard drive form with a SATA interface. These drives plug into PCIe slots on the motherboard and are a fraction of the size of a video card, but can be much faster than your typical hard drive.

The RevoDrive 350 is aimed at "professional workstations and high performance gaming applications." It comes in three capacities: 240GB, 480GB, and 960GB, all using 19nm Toshiba NAND flash and a PCI Express Gen2 x8 interface.

OCZ says the drives use up to four SandForce SF-2282 controllers, enabling sequential read speeds of up to 1.8GB/sec., sequential write speeds of up to 1.7GB/sec. and 4K random write IOPS of up to 140,000, which beats out the old Vertex 4, its previous top of the line, especially in terms of sequential read and write speed.

These are also fairly tough drives, with a three-year warranty and support for up to 50GB of host writes per day for 3 years. OCZ estimates its mean time between failures at two million hours.

An interesting new feature in the drive is its Virtualized Controller Architecture 2.0, which makes multiple RevoDrive 350 SSDs appear and act as a single drive to the host system for drive-level management features such as secure erase, SMART, and TRIM.

However, you will pay for these drives. The RevoDrive 350 is available 240GB ($530), 480GB ($830), and 960GB ($1,300). The Vertex 460, its current consumer products, are $169 for a 240GB drive and $299 for the 480GB drive.

Now these drives certainly sound tempting. Who wouldn't be tempted by just plugging the drive into a motherboard slot rather than go through the headache of snaking power cables and a SATA cable to the drive? But you have to make sure you can actually use them.

For example, my motherboard has 16x PCIe slots for video cards, but only PCIe 1x for non-video cards, like the RevoDrive. That design is to take advantage of the small form factor, not PCIe's speed. With one PCIe lane, I'm no better off than with a SATA.

If you use a SSD with 10 NAND channels, then SATA and PCIe are equal. But if you use 20 channels, SATA gets saturated and doesn't scale up in speed, while PCIe can handle it because it supports more bandwidth. So you want to make sure your motherboard has the high speed slots.

Nice to see OCZ still alive and kicking, though.

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