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OCZ's New Blazing Fast 1TB Z SSD Drive

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 21 comments
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OCZ was demonstrating its new Z Drive with 1 TB of storage at CeBIT 2009 this week. 

The new Z Drive from OCZ is a storage device that connects to an x8 PCIe slot and offers 1 terabyte of storage capacity.  The Z Drive is about the same size a dual-slot graphics card, so its not exactly small, but the device is stated to offer maximum read and write speeds of up to 600 MB/sec. and 500 MB/sec., respectively.  According to the demo OCZ had on display at CeBIT though, the Z Drive was actually showing minimum and maximum read speeds of 654 MB/sec. and 712 MB/sec., respectively. Incredible.

In a lot of ways, OCZ's new Z Drive appears similar to Fusion-io's ioDrive, both of which connect to a PCIe slot and offer seemingly similar transfer speeds. Unlike the smaller ioDrive however, the new Z Drive is apparently comprised of just four 256 GB MLC-based SSDs in RAID 0.  The Z Drive also features a hardware-based RAID controller and 256 MB of local cache.  Lets hope the use of local cache did not unfairly inflate the results we are seeing though, as previous reviews of four Intel X-25E SSDs in RAID 0 showed transfer speeds only hitting as high as 366 MB/sec.

As expected, the new OCZ Z Drive will not be cheap.  According to Revioo.com, $1500 is the expected price, but that is still less than the cost of an 80 GB Fusion-io's ioDrive and possibly less than a do-it-yourself solution.  No word yet on availability, but the Z Drive being demoed at CeBIT was apparently a fully functioning prototype.


All photos credit of Revioo.com

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  • 3 Hide
    cctchristensen , March 4, 2009 10:11 PM
    Great news. I remember a few years ago when I was reading about FusionIO and thinking, "wouldn't it be nice if this is the future of hard drives?" Glad to see that actually come to fruition.
  • 4 Hide
    Gian124 , March 4, 2009 10:28 PM
    I just wish these PCI-based drives were bootable :( 
  • 0 Hide
    The Schnoz , March 4, 2009 10:43 PM
    Gian124I just wish these PCI-based drives were bootable

    All in due time. Are you listening Microsoft and motherboard manufacturers.
    BTW, computer geniuses out there. Since I'm too lazy to do the math how about you do it for me. What PCI Express port would be minimal to get the full bandwidth this card needs. Would PCI Express x1 or x4 be enough, or would you actually need x8 like the article suggests?
  • Display all 21 comments.
  • 0 Hide
    Harby , March 4, 2009 11:13 PM
    My thoughts exactly. If I ever get an SSD it'll be the OS host disk, not a storage medium. Thus no boot = no thanks for me.

    But apparently PCI-E based drives will become very popular so its matter of time for OS's and mobos to support booting from them.

    Seriously, who would have though a couple of years ago that we'd have drives connecting directly to a PCI-E interface.
  • 4 Hide
    cryogenic , March 4, 2009 11:23 PM
    The SchnozAll in due time. Are you listening Microsoft and motherboard manufacturers. BTW, computer geniuses out there. Since I'm too lazy to do the math how about you do it for me. What PCI Express port would be minimal to get the full bandwidth this card needs. Would PCI Express x1 or x4 be enough, or would you actually need x8 like the article suggests?


    Since you called for a genius (and I am one: because I googled "pcie speed" and got the required info from first result). Here it's how it stands:

    Transfer rates per lane (1x pcie):

    1.x 2.5 GT/s 250 MB/s
    2.0 5 GT/s 500 MB/s
    3.0 8 GT/s 1 GB/s

    so for pcie version 1.x and 1 lane (1x) the speed is 250 MB/s, for 4x (4 lanes) is 1GB/s.

    The answer for pcie 1.x and 2.0 a 4x expansion slot is needed, for pcie 3.0 (not released) even a 1x slot would suffice.

  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , March 4, 2009 11:55 PM
    Why cant we boot from them? Raid cards are bootable in pci slots....
  • 0 Hide
    Gian124 , March 5, 2009 12:56 AM
    jonathan1683Why cant we boot from them? Raid cards are bootable in pci slots....


    I don't know the specifics, I just recall reading an article on the Fusion-io drive here stating:
    "As already mentioned, the card is a storage device, but it’s not a fully-featured drive and you cannot boot from it."
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/fusioinio-iodrive-flash,2140-2.html

    some of the gurus here may be able to explain it better...

    but it would be nice to have this kind of access time, read/write time, and interface bandwidth in a bootable drive.

    Then again, it would also be nice for manufacturers and programmers to switch from binary to a tertiary language in order to increase performance based on a +5v, 0v and -5v signal

    some things are embraced by industry, others are avoided for various reasons.
  • 1 Hide
    ShadowFlash , March 5, 2009 2:03 AM
    I would think that booting from this would be likely considering it is its own RAID controller with cache. It would be nice if there were a battery backup available. It does seem a shame to waste double wide PCI-E slots instead of a single controller with a 5.25" drive bay option. Unlike the IO drive, this really is just a normal controller ( perhaps optimized for SSD ) with SSD drives mounted to it and fancy packaging. Pretty cool all-in-one solution none-the-less.
  • 3 Hide
    belardo , March 5, 2009 2:47 AM
    And considering the OLD days when PCs and most computers in the 80~90s didn't have on-board hard-drive controllers. We used to use 8bit ISA cards to connect IDE drives and those booted.

    Modifed Commodore 64/128s can boot and load data from HDs and CD drives! These things were made in 1980~1990!

    So making a bootable drive with PCIe should be some-what easy. Such as the BIOS option "boot other" device... like SCSI, RAID or IDE/SATA controllers.

    I wouldn't mind seeing 500GB version for $200~300. ;) 

    Give it 2-3 years, that 1TB SSD drive will be 1/4 the size and at least 1/4~1/8 the price.
  • 1 Hide
    tenor77 , March 5, 2009 1:23 PM
    BelardoAnd considering the OLD days when PCs and most computers in the 80~90s didn't have on-board hard-drive controllers. We used to use 8bit ISA cards to connect IDE drives and those booted.Modifed Commodore 64/128s can boot and load data from HDs and CD drives! These things were made in 1980~1990!So making a bootable drive with PCIe should be some-what easy. Such as the BIOS option "boot other" device... like SCSI, RAID or IDE/SATA controllers.I wouldn't mind seeing 500GB version for $200~300. Give it 2-3 years, that 1TB SSD drive will be 1/4 the size and at least 1/4~1/8 the price.



    Ahh those were the days. Anyway I have to agree with you that this should be a BIOS issue. The storage medium should have no bearing on loading up the data. If it provides 1's and 0's it should work with the proper BIOS.
  • 0 Hide
    hellwig , March 5, 2009 3:39 PM
    This SHOULD be bootable. This is a PCIe-based SATA RAID controller, and assuming you can load the drivers into Vista or XP during installation, you should be able to install to and boot from this drive.

    The FusionIO is NOT bootable because it bypasses the SATA interface all together. Since FusionIO doesn't present a known interface to the BIOS, the BIOS can't boot from it. That's my guess at least.
  • 0 Hide
    joebob2000 , March 5, 2009 3:48 PM
    Its technically possible to boot from these devices, without a doubt. They are attached, nonvolatile storage and that is all that's required from a literal "is it possible" standpoint. The question is, will a special motherboard bios build be required for it to recognize it, or will the device eventually appear as just another hard disk to the system.
  • 0 Hide
    blackened144 , March 5, 2009 4:32 PM
    Gian124I just wish these PCI-based drives were bootable

    We bypass this at work by PXE booting our test servers. They copy their OS off the network directly into memory. That combined with the Fusion IO we are testing makes for an uber fast system. Unfortunately our production servers each have 2 1tb drives. The 640gb FusionIO drive costs around $20k, not necessarily cost effective for 400 node clusters. But I still want one.
  • 0 Hide
    The Schnoz , March 5, 2009 4:46 PM
    CryogenicSince you called for a genius (and I am one: because I googled "pcie speed" and got the required info from first result). Here it's how it stands:Transfer rates per lane (1x pcie):1.x 2.5 GT/s 250 MB/s2.0 5 GT/s 500 MB/s3.0 8 GT/s 1 GB/sso for pcie version 1.x and 1 lane (1x) the speed is 250 MB/s, for 4x (4 lanes) is 1GB/s. The answer for pcie 1.x and 2.0 a 4x expansion slot is needed, for pcie 3.0 (not released) even a 1x slot would suffice.

    Thanks Cryogenic, you da space man/alien/borg thingy!
  • 0 Hide
    zads , March 5, 2009 7:27 PM
    I work for an SSD builder,
    $1500 is hardly enough to cover the components cost.
    I'm guessing $2000+ at bare minimum.
  • 0 Hide
    jawshoeaw , March 5, 2009 9:02 PM
    zads - they may be anticipating upcoming plummet in flash storage prices. Also, never trust your employers numbers. Like "invoice price" at a car dealer.
  • 0 Hide
    zads , March 5, 2009 9:22 PM
    jawshoeawzads - they may be anticipating upcoming plummet in flash storage prices. Also, never trust your employers numbers. Like "invoice price" at a car dealer.


    We go through over 100k flash chips per week average,
    so I think we're pretty in tune with high volume NAND flash chip pricing :) 
    Flash storage prices took a small bump after Qimonda closed shop,
    but they're still essentially being sold at a loss.
    It really can't "plummet" anymore, it can only get eventually cheaper in the long run.
  • 0 Hide
    killerb255 , March 6, 2009 12:11 AM
    I'm pretty sure EFI-based motherboards will be able to boot from them. EFIs are needed to boot from any drive larger than 2 TB anyway...
  • 0 Hide
    eklipz330 , March 6, 2009 1:46 AM
    i think i busted a nut when i read this...
  • 0 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , March 6, 2009 6:58 AM
    BelardoModifed Commodore 64/128s can boot and load data from HDs and CD drives! These things were made in 1980~1990!

    How'd you mod your c64 to load from cd drive? I assume you mean cd-rom drive - and you couldn't do that for all I know. You could buy a converter, and load data from a cdplayer in the same manner you could from tape, but not from cd-rom.
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