With the Vertex 3.20 OCZ officially launches their first product that features 20 nanometer NAND from the Intel/Micron joint venture. This step is quite a critical one for OCZ since it means that have to do a balancing act between endurance and price. There are quite a few manufacturers out there in the market that already offer TLC based SSD with significantly lower prices. At this point we just want to tell you, that OCZ does not got for TLC NAND, they stick to MCL chips and we think it's a good compromise between not only price and endurance but also performance.
Specifications / Delivery
||OCZ Vertex 3.20 240 Gigabyte
||2.5'', 9.3 mm
||0.55 Watt idle, 2.1 Watt active
||Synchronous NAND, 20nm, 3'000 P/E-cycles
550 MB/s reading, up to 520 MB/s writing
up to 65'000 IOPS, random
||< 0.1 ms
As soon as we read the product name "Vertex", a high-performance solid
state drive comes to our mind. Over the past years OCZ has brought four
different different versions of this drive to the market and the successors were
always faster than the predecessors. Since last year, OCZ's CEO stepped down
things started to change. The company went through a thorough restructuring
process, where consolidating the product portfolio was an important part too.
One crucial decision OCZ has taken was to remove the Agility and the Solid
series from their lineup. In other words the means that they got ride of their
entry level products and they now needed something to step into this gap.
And that's where the Vertex 3.20 jumps in. Since nowadays, the american
SSD manufacturer has the Vertex 4 and the Vector, to take care of the
high-performance client space, the Vertex 3.20 is covering the entry level
market. But how does a former high-performance product fit into the entry level
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The most important update OCZ deployed with the Vertex 3.20, when
comparing it to the Vertex 3, concerns the NAND flash memory. Like the product
name of the Vertex 3.20 suggests, this drives features NAND flah, that has been
manufactured using 20 nanometer structures. In case of the original Vertex 3,
OCZ has been using NAND flash memory with 25 nanometer structures. When it comes
to the manufacturing process of NAND flash, then a customer gets an upside as
well as a downside at the same time. Let's talk about the upside first: a shrink
enables the manufacturer to put more memory chips on one 300 millimeter wafer.
In other words the manufacturing process becomes more cost efficient. This cost
efficiency is going to be carried to the end user who actually buys these
products for a lower price. The downside however is, that making the structures
smaller causes the P/E-cycles to drop. Most 25 nanometer MLC NAND flash chips
featured a P/E-cycle count of either 5'000 or 3'000. Intels 29-F16B08CCMF3 20
nanometer chips - the ones you find on the Vertex 3.20 - are validated at 3'000
P/E-cycles. So basically, these 20 nanometer chips offer the same level of
endurance like the 25 nanometer chips one can find on Kingston HyperX 3k SSD.
Furthermore there is another interesting fact. Quite a few entry level SSDs make
use of TLC NAND flash meanwhile. These chips offer 1'200 P/E-cycles, which
means, that the OCZ entry level drive offers about 2.5 times the reliability
judging only by the P/E-cycle count.
Enough said now: let's see what the
Vertex 3.20 with 240 Gigabyte and SandForce SF-2281 controller can do, when it
comes to performance. This will be interesting, because a shrink usually brings
a performance drop. Comparing the results from the Vertex 3.20 to the Vertex 3
will show how well a job the firmware engineers at OCZ did. If the performance
is on about the same level, then the work they did was excellent.