The OCZ RevoDrive 3 X2 Preview: Second-Gen SandForce Goes PCIe

Final Words

The RevoDrive 3 X2 continues OCZ's tradition of delivering innovative technology able to serve up blistering performance to enthusiasts. And while this seems to be a bazooka in a bar fight, it's truly the workstation version of products that OCZ is also selling into more enterprise-oriented environments in the Z-Drive R3 and VeloDrive lineups. It's not a business-class product. It's for the power user who is able to tax it using the right workload. If you're not one of those folks, the RevoDrive 3 X2 is seriously overkill.

If you're an enthusiast who knows how to use this drive, OCZ's latest SSD smokes everything we've had pass through our lab. When it comes to random performance, you really only need to hit a queue depth of two to start taking advantage of the architecture's read and write performance. Once you move up to a queue depth of four, you're pushing close to 700 MB/s in both random disciplines.

Sequential performance is naturally even more impressive. Again, you really need a queue depth of at least four in order to take advantage of the RevoDrive 3 X2. Once you're operating in that realm, you hit speeds in excess of 1 GB/s with transfer sizes above 128 KB.

The RevoDrive 3 X2 really needs to run in an environment capable of bombarding it with outstanding requests, which is why you need a queue depth of at least 10 if you want to see those same impressive speeds at smaller transfer sizes (32 KB and larger).


Price
Price Per GB
 OCZ RevoDrive 3 X2 240 GB
$699.99 (MSRP)
$2.92
OCZ RevoDrive 3 X2 480 GB
$1699.99 (MSRP)$3.54
OCZ RevoDrive 3 X2 960 GB
$3199.99 (MSRP)$3.33
Vertex 3 240 GB
$540 (Market)
$2.25
Vertex 3 480 GB$1750 (Market)
$3.65


Alright, so we know that performance is impressive; we were expecting it to be. When it comes to cost, though, you're going to pay a premium for the PCI Express-based card and all of the technology OCZ developed in order to enable it. Most of us shop with some notion of value. That's why the RevoDrive 3 X2 will undoubtedly be compared to the potential of multiple 2.5" SATA-based SSDs harnessed together.

If performance and price both factor into your buying decision, striping a couple of Vertex 3s will almost assuredly enable better value. Unfortunately, that could be the limit of what you can do with an Intel-based board, since they're limited to two SATA 6Gb/s ports. Working around that limitation would require a machine based on an AMD processor, buying an add-in storage controller, or simply purchasing a PCI Express-based SSD like this one. That's the tiny (yet demanding) niche that OCZ is targeting with the RevoDrive 3 X2.

While OCZ delivers unbelievable speed, we'd like to see the company enable TRIM or Unmap support, which the SuperScale controller can purportedly handle on the hardware side. At least it worked around the RevoDrive's firmware footprint, though, by shifting away from the Silicon Image silicon and adopting its own solution.

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37 comments
    Your comment
  • reyshan
    YoT!damn fast ssd and damn expensive ssd. might buy one 5 years from now(pci-e kind).
    3
  • KingArcher
    Wish I had won a lottery :)
    So that I could afford me some drives like these.
    2
  • Why_Me
    omg this drive is fast! But way out of my budget :(
    6
  • warmon6
    Quote:
    It's not a business-class product. It's for the power user who is able to tax it using the right workload. If you're not one of those folks, the RevoDrive 3 X2 is seriously overkill.


    OVERKILL?!?!

    Nothing is overkill in the computer arena in terms of performance. :p

    Just the price can be over kill. o.0
    4
  • julius 85
    Just the price can be over kill. o.0

    For me the price is a bottleneck :)
    7
  • ElectroGoofy
    Dear Santa...
    7
  • acku
    Santa is going to need a bigger expense account... :)

    Personally, I'm hoping that OCZ adds TRIM prior to September.

    Cheers,
    Andrew Ku
    TomsHardware.com
    2
  • chefboyeb
    Jesus!
    -1
  • greenrider02
    I saw defense of the Vertex 3's occasional low numbers, but no mention of the solid (and sometimes better) performance that the cheaper and more miserly Crucial m4 showed throughout your tests.

    Perhaps you have some bias towards the Vertex 3 that needs reconsideration?

    Other than that, $700 seems like a fair price when considering the performace difference, especially if utilized properly, for instance as a high traffic web/corporate server
    -2
  • acku
    greenrider02I saw defense of the Vertex 3's occasional low numbers, but no mention of the solid (and sometimes better) performance that the cheaper and more miserly Crucial m4 showed throughout your tests.Perhaps you have some bias towards the Vertex 3 that needs reconsideration?Other than that, $700 seems like a fair price when considering the performace difference, especially if utilized properly, for instance as a high traffic web/corporate server


    If you read the first page then you know that I give a nod to Vertex 3s as the fastest MLC based 2.5" SSD. I consider that plenty of love. :).

    We'll discuss the lower capacity m4s in another article. FYI, I suggest that you read page 5 and page 6. We are not testing FOB. We are testing steady state. That's part of the reason the SF-based drives are behaving differently with incompressible data.

    On your second point, this is in no way targeted toward an enterprise environment (that's what Z-drives are for). There is no redundancy in the array if a single SF controller fails. The whole card is a dud afterward. You can add higher level redundancy, but enterprise customers have so far been nervous on SandForce products. Plus, there's a general preference for hardware vs. software redundancy. (That's them talking not me). Overall, this makes it unacceptable for any enterprise class workload.
    0
  • Supertrek32
    You know, almost any application that would actually benefit from these speeds won't be very effective on these drives. Why? Not enough storage space.

    It's like having a car that can do 300 miles an hour, but can only carry enough fuel to go 20 miles. Does it have a niche? Yeah. Is it practical? Not really.
    0
  • cronos177
    In a couple of years I see them for like 1/2 the price. ONLY worth it for people who earn their paychecks based on the ability to finish task faster. that's the sole purpose at the moment.
    0
  • guzami77
    I have the X2 100GB... im not that impressed. The speed isnt meeting specs, and other hardware/software doesnt always like a PCIe(non-standard) hard drive. Also dont forget you cant overclock your PCIe voltage with one of these...
    1
  • acku
    guzami77I have the X2 100GB... im not that impressed. The speed isnt meeting specs, and other hardware/software doesnt always like a PCIe(non-standard) hard drive. Also dont forget you cant overclock your PCIe voltage with one of these...


    I really recommend that you update the firmware. I do notice a speed difference. If you've seen our compressible benchmarks, then you know that over time the RevoDrive X2 can perform poorly. The lack of TRIM doesn't help. :(
    0
  • chefboyeb
    The prices are too steep tho...
    1
  • compton
    This is an excellent exploration of SSD performance in general. Without the benefit of storage benches I myself have been wondering why one of my SSDs seems so much faster that the other, when it seems at face value that the answer should be clear.

    As far as OCZ goes, people who can benefit from this drive are a small group, but I'm not exactly sure who that is. Sure, its fantastically fast, and faster is better, but most people would tragically under-utilize a product like this. Since it's clearly not for enterprise use, I just have to guess what a typical user looks like for this device. Is it the high end media creation freelancer? Someone who makes their bones with Photoshop? Who knows? I want one, even though I'd clearly be better served by a more pedestrian drive. It's clearly destined for the "Cool Wall".
    0
  • acku
    Ok. I feel like I need to clear up some confusion. Some sites are reporting TRIM support and we're saying there is no TRIM support.

    The RevoDrive 3 X2 has hardware support for TRIM through VCA 2.0. This much is true, but you can't use TRIM because of a software problem. As for why?

    OCZ has a problem getting the TRIM command to the RevoDrive 3 X2, because it uses SCSI commands over PCIe, hence StorPort SCSI drivers. The TRIM command is out of the question because it's technically part of SATA. The only alternative is Unmap, which is to SCSI what TRIM is to SATA. Unfortunately, Windows does not support Unmap as part of its native driver stack. Furthermore, TRIM commands are only issued by Windows 7 when you empty the Recycle Bin, but you must have your SSD set to AHCI (part of SATA). Obviously this different from SCSI. So effectively no TRIM. :(

    We have been in contact with the Windows driver team and OCZ, so we know that a fix is being explored. If it materializes, that's another matter....

    (RevoDrive and RevoDrive X2 don't don't support TRIM at the hardware level, so the issue is moot for them.)

    Cheers,
    Andrew Ku
    TomsHardware.com
    2
  • Niva
    Ideal user would run massive databases that need tons of accesses all the time. Are there drivers for linux for this? Small business server with the right usage will make this worth it. Also the 'trim' issue should be a non-issue under linux whereas win 7 apparently doesn't include the unmap command.
    2
  • christop
    Crazy fast!!!
    2
  • warmon6
    __-_-_-__$700?! wow that's a nice price. Though performance @1.25gbps is kind of low for a pci-e solution. there's already on the market +2gbps. anyway those cost +$7000!I'm going to wait and see if there's any defect with this ssd's...


    Where you get Gbps (= Gigabits) from? ;) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data_rate_units#Suffix:_b_vs_B

    Were talking about GBps (Gigabytes). :p
    0