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What? A performance SSD from OCZ not based on SandForce's tech? The new Octane SSD features an Indilinx controller. Does OCZ rectify the controller company's past mistakes, or does it need more time to marinate? The truth lies somewhere in the middle.
We've seen OCZ enjoy a lot of success over the past two generations of utilizing SandForce's technology in its solid-state drives. Successively, the company has pushed performance boundaries in a way that redefined what you could expect from an SSD.
Naturally, as SandForce's launch partner, OCZ was always the first one to enjoy the benefits of a new controller, and the company tended to earn the biggest collection of awards for jumping out of the gate with new controller hardware. Over the years, then, OCZ's Vertex family has acquired quite a collection of accolades.
There's a flip-side to that position, though. In earning itself recognition for its SandForce-based SSDs, OCZ also helps sell its competitors' products based on the same technology.
The uncomfortable truth is that two SandForce-based SSDs of the same capacity, employing the same NAND interface, are going to perform nearly identically. That's something that SandForce itself won't dispute. SSDs that center on SandForce's technology employ a slightly tweaked version of the company's reference firmware. That's what makes an OCZ Vertex 3 equivalent to Corsair's Force GT. Both drive use a second-generation SandForce controller along with synchronous ONFi flash. There are some implementation differences. However, a performance comparison reveals near-identical performance.
Understandably, OCZ is looking to frame itself as a company willing to take big risks in the interest of staying competitive. For that reason, its most recent SATA 6Gb/s-based offering doesn't employ a SandForce controller. Rather, its new SSD, dubbed Octane, leverages technical expertise gained from the company's Indilinx purchase. This is somewhat of a historic SSD because it leverages OCZ's own Everest controller, the newest piece of storage hardware to land in our labs since Samsung sent over its 830-series drive.
Where are we told to expect this drive to compete? It exists in the company's performance series, strategically placed under the Vertex 3 models. However, it's still armed with 6 Gb/s connectivity, smoking-fast read specs, a large data cache, and capacities that span up to 1 TB. Could this be a contender at the very upper end of the SSD segment? We ran across a couple of issues that compel a closer look at our benchmark results. However, we also see lots of potential here. Read on for a thorough analysis of OCZ's first evening out with its own controller hardware.