The last year or so has seen the initial trickle of SSDs turn into a full blown torrent as new devices are announced on an almost weekly basis by a whole host of manufacturers. Unfortunately, while availability has soared prices have failed to fall. As such the £340 demanded by the drive I'm looking at today still only gets you 120GB of storage. Nevertheless, if you want the ultimate in system performance then nothing but a fast SSD will do, so the OCZ Vertex series could be right up your street.
As with the OCZ Apex we looked at a few months ago, the Vertex arrives in an underwhelming slim, padded cardboard box that has nothing but the drive inside. This isn't uncommon and some of you may not require any accessories but alternatives like Kingston's SSDNow V Series come with extras like 2.5-to-3.5in drive mounts, mounting screws and cables.
The drive itself is a typical 2.5in SATA device so will fit in most 12in or bigger laptops and, with the help of a 2.5-to-3.5in adapter, most full size PCs as well. On the inside (something you won't be seeing unless you want to void your warranty) are the usual banks of NAND flash memory chips and in between them and the SATA interface pins is what will make or break the Vertex series; it's Indilinx controller chip and 64MB SDRAM cache memory chip.
You see, up until recently, most SSDs (with the notable exception of Intel) used a slow JMicron controller chip to manage the distribution of information between the chips and the SATA interface. This meant that despite relatively speedy NAND chips to store all your information, drives exhibited slow performance due to bandwidth issues with the controller. Several solutions to this bandwidth issue have been tried including using RAID-0 controllers within the drive itself, adding cache memory, and in some cases switching to better controller chips. It's the latter two courses that OCZ has taken with its Vertex range. So, hopefully this means the drive will give much more consistent performance than the JMicron controlled Apex series.
The drive is rated at up to 230MB/s read speed and up to 135MB/s write speed with a sustained write speed of 80MB/s and seek time of less than 1ms. These are impressive figures and compare very favourably with Intel's X25-M 80GB drive, which currently holds our performance crown.
As well as improved performance, this new Indilinx controller is supposed to provide more reliable wear-levelling. This should mean the drive stands a good chance of keeping to its reported 1.5million hours MTBF.
Right! Time to put the theory to one side and take a look at how this drive performs under test conditions.