At this years Computex conference this week OCZ has been showing off their latest storage technology for us to drawl over. With the RevoDrive 3 PCIe SSD card they have set the benchmark for consumer oriented Uber storage solutions. Like greased lightning for your computers insides, this is the newest gadget that every noid computer builder wants. It’s not as glamorous as and new 3D transistor CPU from Intel or the latest Über video card but PCIe storage makes up for it with exclusivity. This is leading edge technology that few people have.
Just like a standard SSD – Solid State Drive – the RevoDrive 3 replaces the hard drive in your system instantly converting your old beige box into a sleek performance machine. This card is fully bootable allowing it to be plugged into any motherboard and used as your systems boot drive, not all PCIe SSD’s are capable of this. What makes the RevoDrive different from hard drives and typical SSD’s is the way it connects to your computer. In the Revo’s case it uses a PCIe slot – Peripheral Component Interconnect Express, motherboard slots -, instead of the slower SATA interface . By connecting directly to your computers motherboard the RevoDrive is able to achieve speeds much higher than the old SATA hard drive interface.
Mechanical hard drive technology has been the standard in storage for the last 25 years. No one will argue that hard drives were a huge improvement over tape, punch card and far more convenient than cartridges. The history of hard drives actually stretches back over 55 years to 1956 when IBM invented and were first to use rotating magnet storage disks, hard drives. The original IBM hard drive was the size of a washing machine and had replaceable disks that could be switched out, by a crane. Mechanical hard disks are still going to remain an important part of the storage equation well into the future. For sheer space mechanical hard drives are still the best value, when a 2TB drive can be had for under $100 you can be sure it’s a it’s the best value storage. It will be many years before Flash Ram memory is dense enough – amount of storage per chip – and cheap enough to compete with mechanical drives on value.
The problem with the way hard drives connect to computers is the interface/plug – SATA interface – which was designed to work with old mechanical hard drives. It may be a sign of how quickly the technology is changing that the interface standard for connecting hard drives – SATA 3– is only just keeping up with the new flash drives. The PCIe interface has three times the bandwidth at its disposal – 2GB/sec in this case for a PCIe x4 – so it’s always going to make for faster storage. For the immediate future both types of drives will have their place which will probably ensure the SATA interface will be with us for a while still as well.
Flash based storage is the new speed king of storage. By comparison fast mechanical hard drives can approach 100MB/s, SATA SSD’s can read and write at over 400MB/s, the RevoDrive’s are up to 3 times faster again. There are even faster PCIe SSD’s available at the extremely expensive part of the market, The Enterprise Market. Usually purchased by companies that run large server farms and data centres the extreme end of the market cards like RadSan-70 are able to achieve 2,000MB/s, Micron has an enterprise card capable of 3,000MB/s.
All of the high-speed PCIe cards use the same trick to achieve extreme speeds, they use multiple hard drive controllers. The controller technology is one of the main drivers in this new era of solid state storage. The other being the Flash ram chips themselves. These two things working together are responsible for a drives performance. Every time there is a new generation of drive announced you can bet it’s because the controllers have been updated by the manufacturers. In the case of these OCZ announcements the controller has been updated, these new drives are all based on the new SATA 6Gbps INDILINX controller. The base RevoDrive 3 configuration has 120GB of memory and two controllers, these specs can be expanded up to four controllers and 960GB of storage. Even the base spec is twice the speed of a standard SSD.
3rd Generation RevoDrive 3 Specs:
- Interface: PCIe x4
- Sizes: 120GB – 960GB
- Controller: SandForce SF-2281
- Trim Support: Yes
RevoDrive 3 Base
- Dual INDILINX Controlers
- Read speed upto 900MB/s
- Write speed upto 700MB/s
- IOPS 120,000 on 4k random writes
RevoDrive 3 X2
- Quad INDILINX Controllers
- Read speed upto 1,500MB/s
- Write speed upto 1,200MB/s
- IOPS 200,000 on 4k random writes
Also on show at Computex was OCZ’s enterprize ready Z-Drive R4 PCIe SSD line, capable of up to 2.7GB/s and 330,000 4KB random write IOPS. The Z-Drive series are OCZ’s high-end drives for companies with big money to spend on solving big problems. Continuing the PCIe card theme OCZ’s other surprise was a Hybrid storage device that had both a mechanical hard drive and flash mounted on a PCIe card. The hard drive was a compact 2.5″ laptop hard drive allowing ample storage space and the Flash ram on the card is used to cache and accelerate the hard drive, speeds of over 500MB/s for read / writes are being achieved by the hybrid.
In truth the RevoDrive 3 won’t change the external appeal of your computer but it will improve boot time, accelerate loading times and make your machine snappier. Flash is well and truly established as the way of the future for high-speed storage. At $699 for the 240GB model it is more expensive than the current generation RevoDrive x2, which might be considered better value if any such thing exists at this end of the market.
Further information OCZ’s Press release
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