Because SSD vendors are being allowed to customize their firmware, the latest SSDs based on Marvell's controller promise to perform differently. This is a pleasant change to what we're used to from SandForce-based drives, which didn't give manufacturers much flexibility to differentiate their products aside from a few different NAND interfaces.
When OCZ introduced firmware 1.4 for its Vertex 4, the company significantly altered the drive's performance profile, distinguishing it from a number of the other Marvell-based SSDs out there. But while the company delivered a significant write speed increase with that software update, it wasn't as vocal about the conditions under which you'd enjoy the extra boost.
In response to reader requests, we ran additional tests that confirmed our original findings: mainly, write performance degrades in real-life scenarios using firmware 1.4, and not just in synthetic metrics. Our first round of numbers indeed proved to be correct.
But our story doesn't simply end with vindicated testing results. Instead, in between our second and third rounds of coverage, OCZ quickly pushed out a firmware version 1.5 to alleviate some of what we observed the last time around. The latest build significantly helps the drive to remain in “performance mode” and significantly reduces the shortcomings identified in OCZ Vertex 4 128 GB: Testing Write Performance With Firmware 1.4.
The only other issue we'd be concerned about is the amount of write amplification being incurred, but that's not something we can easily test and, quite frankly, it's a lot easier to live with than the slow-downs observed from the previous firmware version.
OCZ certainly ups the Vertex 4's game with its new software, and we commend the fact that the company is striving to improve its products. If you were happy enough with Vertex 4 to buy the drive after our original review, surely you were happy to see the SSD's performance get even better in firmware 1.5. We chimed in after that update to let you know the conditions under which you'd see more performance. And now, with firmware 1.5, the efficiency in switching from storage mode to performance mode is improved. OCZ has even made mention of a firmware 1.6 in the works, suggesting further improvements are planned.
- OCZ Vertex 4 Write Performance, Revisited
- An Updated Test Procedure
- Firmware 18.104.22.168: hIOmon Disk I/O Ranger
- Firmware 22.214.171.124: AS SSD Compression Benchmark
- Firmware 1.5: HD Tune And hIOmon Disk I/O Ranger
- Firmware 1.5: AS SSD Compression Benchmark
- Firmware 1.5: Iometer Test File Monitoring
- Our Theory About How v.1.4 Changed Write Performance
- Firmware 1.5: Something Special For OCZ's Vertex 4