OCZ Vertex 4 128 GB: Revisiting Write Performance With Firmware 1.5

Firmware 1.5: Something Special For OCZ's Vertex 4

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.

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34 comments
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  • DeusAres
    Good idea I suppose. Nothing that's going to particularly influence my decision. Probably gonna be sticking with either a Crucial or Corsair SSD. :)
    -3
  • mayankleoboy1
    on pages 6 and 7, the author of the article is shown as "Chris angelini"
    the rest of the pages show "Richard Hart"
    0
  • mayankleoboy1
    does the rearrangement of data occur only during a reboot cycle?
    how much idle time is needed for the data rearrangement to take place?
    And what is the authors recommendation on a Vertex4? should a user buy Vertex 4 over a Samsung/Sandforce?
    0
  • lutel
    Does this SDD support full disk encryption with any of the Intel desktop mainboards (Ivy Bridge)? AFAIK Intel is not supporting FDE since Q67 and although Q77 is capable of FDE, there is no mobo with BIOS that can support it. Could Tomshardware investigate it?
    0
  • TheSandman
    So keep the disk under half full and it wears out twice as fast?
    Does the performance mode mean that the wear leveling is constrained to the first bit of every cell and therefore the drive wears out quicker compared to normal mode?
    0
  • Anonymous
    I went from firmware 1.3 to 1.5, the performance increase is huge, but the down side is that the drive is not 128GB anymore but only 120GB. Has anyone else seen this issue also? Did OCZ reserve more spare?
    -2
  • JohnnyLucky
    How many additional firmware updates are needed before OCZ gets it right?
    -4
  • redgarl
    AnonymousI went from firmware 1.3 to 1.5, the performance increase is huge, but the down side is that the drive is not 128GB anymore but only 120GB. Has anyone else seen this issue also? Did OCZ reserve more spare?

    It is actually occuring with update 1.4. Hmm, damn I need to do another clone disk before doing the update.
    -2
  • kissingman
    Bother! I just purchased one.The more worse is this one has updated to firmware 1.4.
    -3
  • blazorthon
    JohnnyLuckyHow many additional firmware updates are needed before OCZ gets it right?


    Do you dislike manufacturers improving their products without demanding that you pay more money for the improvements?
    7
  • Anonymous
    ohnnyLucky :

    How many additional firmware updates are needed before OCZ gets it right?

    such a stupid comment. don't download any more updates from nvidia or amd then!
    8
  • rebel1280
    iceman343431ohnnyLucky :How many additional firmware updates are needed before OCZ gets it right?such a stupid comment. don't download any more updates from nvidia or amd then!

    i agreed and i gave you a thumbs up to bring you back to level insead of -1, some people are just ignorant.
    -4
  • fausto412
    i am confused, all the hand wringing over SSD performance...does it matter to the end user who just uses internet browsers, windows and loads a game or two?
    0
  • theconsolegamer
    And still SSD's are better suited to boot drives.
    -1
  • blazorthon
    fausto412i am confused, all the hand wringing over SSD performance...does it matter to the end user who just uses internet browsers, windows and loads a game or two?


    The average user and even somewhat above average users probably won't be able to effectively use very high end SSDs any better than much lower end SSDs. Many people can use the performance advantage, but most people probably won't unless they really try to in an unrealistic situation, such as a storage benchmark. End users who do more than minor internet browsing and such can find the performance advantage of high end SSDs almost vital to their usage.
    1
  • husker
    fausto412i am confused, all the hand wringing over SSD performance...does it matter to the end user who just uses internet browsers, windows and loads a game or two?

    Are you also confused about 4 bedroom houses, cars, and gourmet cooking? Because there are some people who live alone, prefer to walk, and eat salads.
    -2
  • Traum
    Anonymous said:
    So keep the disk under half full and it wears out twice as fast?
    Does the performance mode mean that the wear leveling is constrained to the first bit of every cell and therefore the drive wears out quicker compared to normal mode?

    I think you are mis-interpreting that a bit. I would look at it as an either or scenario -- either you keep the disk less than half full, or you suffer from the drive wearing out faster. Only 1 of the 2 will occur.

    Having said that, it does raise some concerns for me when the drive is more than 1/2 full. Realistically speaking, I think the market would be better served if manufacturers simply go with 2 tiers of SSD drives -- one using MLC for slower but high capacity drives, and the other using SLC for faster but lower capacity drives. Using MLC chips and making them behave like SLC at the cost of significantly reduced life seems like a poor idea to me.
    -1
  • blazorthon
    TraumI think you are mis-interpreting that a bit. I would look at it as an either or scenario -- either you keep the disk less than half full, or you suffer from the drive wearing out faster. Only 1 of the 2 will occur.Having said that, it does raise some concerns for me when the drive is more than 1/2 full. Realistically speaking, I think the market would be better served if manufacturers simply go with 2 tiers of SSD drives -- one using MLC for slower but high capacity drives, and the other using SLC for faster but lower capacity drives. Using MLC chips and making them behave like SLC at the cost of significantly reduced life seems like a poor idea to me.


    The lifetime is unlikely to change because of this. The NAND flash cells are almost always the longest lasting part of a drive by far. If anything, the drive would probably fail due to the power circuitry, firmware, controller, etc. etc. before flash cells start failing.
    0
  • fausto412
    huskerAre you also confused about 4 bedroom houses, cars, and gourmet cooking? Because there are some people who live alone, prefer to walk, and eat salads.


    first let me call you ASSHOLE.
    second, let me answer: SSD's are complicated and still evolving storage instruments, you can't find 2 web sites testing them the same as you do with video cards, results change with each firmware update and from brand to brand even when the same controller and nand is used. If the shit isn't confusing to you then pint a rose on your nose but I wasn't an early adopter and haven't followed the ins and outs over the last 4 years. Now that i am considering an SSD I would like to find out from people who have paid attention what the deal is.

    No i don't get confused by 4 bedroom houses, cars, and gourmet cooking? that i've visited before, driven before or ate before.
    Smart ass.
    -2
  • apache_lives
    JohnnyLuckyHow many additional firmware updates are needed before OCZ gets it right?


    another patch or 10

    this is why i stick to Intel SSD's - they WORK
    -6