With the launch of its Vector SSD today, OCZ has given itself good reason to celebrate. No – it’s not because Vector is one of the fastest 2.5-inch SSDs on the planet, nor because it has one of the coolest names from OCZ’s entire line-up. Instead, it’s because the company has released one of the fastest 2.5-inch SSDs on the planet with the coolest name from its entire line-up and accomplished all this using an in-house built controller and in-house built firmware. With Vector, OCZ has proven itself to be completely self-sufficient with its SSD development.
You may recall that last spring, OCZ picked-up popular SSD controller vendor Indilinx for a cool $32 million, the first fruits of which were seen with Octane, Agility 4 and Vertex 4. Those SSDs didn’t use an actual Indilinx controller, however, but rather a Marvell one infused with Indilinx’s firmware. That leads us to why Vector is so special. OCZ itself constructs the SSD, while in-house Indilinx crafts both the controller and the firmware. The controller, as we learned long ago, is called Barefoot 3.
So, what makes the Vector different from other SSDs? According to our friends at The Tech Report, the drive itself is a bit heavier than the norm, but that’s thanks to its “practically bombproof” chassis. Of course, that doesn’t mean too much for desktop users, but no one complains about a well-built product.
Under the hood, two processors can be found; an ARM-based Cortex and OCZ-built Aragon. Aragon is designed to efficiently manage some SSD duties, though the company is (understandably) not being too vocal about the hows and whys. Oddly, the block diagram for Barefoot 3 lists a Randomizer – generally used for encryption – but that feature has been disabled on Vector. While this may rub some the wrong way, the next-best thing, software encryption, is going to be suitable when dealing with a drive as fast as this. Could there be a better opportunity to pimp Mario’s recent in-depth look at TrueCrypt? I didn’t think so.
Obviously, Barefoot 3 has been tuned for performance, and as it stands, the controller supports eight NAND channels – each of which can address up to eight flash dies – bringing the current possible maximum to 64. Utilizing 64Gbit dies, OCZ uses 16 in its 128GB Vector, and 64 in its 512GB model.
So, how about some specs?
|Dies||16 x 64Gb||32 x 64Gb||64 x 64Gb|
|Seq Read||550 MB/s||550 MB/s||550 MB/s|
|Seq Write||400 MB/s||530 MB/s||530 MB/s|
|4K Rand QD32 Read||90K IOPS||100K IOPS||100K IOPS|
|4K Rand QD32 Write||95K IOPS||95K IOPS||95K IOPS|
It’s clear that OCZ isn’t being super-competitive on the pricing here, so we hope to see it become a bit kinder sooner than later. In releasing Vector, OCZ knew it had a good thing on its hands, and as such, decided on premium pricing. However, with its higher price comes one of the most attractive SSDs we’ve seen released in a good while. The Tech Report has stated that the Barefoot 3 “chip was worth the wait“, while HotHardware has said that the Vector “is one of the fastest, most consistent performing” SSDs it has ever tested.
Overall, an extremely impressive showing my OCZ – and something much-needed given the company’s recent roller-coaster ride. You can expect to see our look at OCZ’s Vector very soon.