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Primary Storage: OCZ RevoDrive X2

Tom's Hardware's 2010 Gift Guide: Part 1, For System Builders
By: William Van Winkle

If you appreciate fast storage, then you’re no stranger to either SSD technology or to RAID architectures. And if you’ve stayed abreast of our SSD coverage, you know that we’re big fans of SandForce SSD controllers, which consistently help deliver some of the fastest read and write performance in today’s storage market. With the RevoDrive X2, OCZ now gives us the best of all worlds on a single four-lane PCI Express card.

Of course, we’ve been able to achieve high-performance SSD RAID for years simply by taking two or more SSDs and joining them in a RAID 0 through either the chipset’s integrated software-based support or a third-party controller card. Of course, this approach has several drawbacks. Unless you’re the foam and duct tape type, you probably needed a drive bay and mounting bracket for each SSD. Chipset-based RAID is an adequate but rarely optimal solution, and good discrete RAID controllers don’t come cheap.

OCZ solves all of these problems with the RevoDrive X2. The original RevoDrive took the same bank of eight Intel 34 nm MLC NAND chips you might expect to find on a quality SSD, bonded them with a SandForce SF-1222 controller, and planted them on a PCI Express card (rather than in a 2.5” drive enclosure). Then OCZ took another bank of eight MLC chips, another SF-1222 controller, planted it on the same PCB alongside the first set, and used a Silicon Image SiL 3124 PCI-X controller to tie the whole affair together in any of several possible RAID configurations, including top-speed RAID 0. With the X2, OCZ simply adds another deck of MLC memory, accompanied by another pair of SF-1222 controllers, fulfilling the quad-channel potential of that Sil3124.

Like the original RevoDrive, the X2 can be configured as a boot drive or as a secondary storage drive. All told, those four bonded channels of insanity spec out read speeds of up to 740 MB/s and writes of up to 720 MB/s. Sustained writes should level off at right around 600 MB/s. Using 4 KB random writes, expect up to 120,000 IOPS—a huge plus if Santa also happens to leave a data center-caliber ecommerce platform under your tree.

Capacities on the RevoDrive X2 range from 100 GB to 960 GB, with the top-end model currently listing for a snowball-busting $3259. OCZ warranties the X2 for three years, and the drive features a 2 million-hour MTBF. Check back for our official review of the X2 in the days to come. We haven't seen the performance figures that OCZ cites in its tech specs, but the drive is unquestionably the fastest SSD aimed at enthusiasts today.

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