Return of the dizzying speeds
How can you improve on OCZ Technology’s original RevoDrive (
reviewed November 2010
), which binds two SandForce SF-1200 SSDs to a PCI-E card? You add another two SSDs for a quad-drive SSD. That’s what OCZ did for the RevoDrive X2.
The original RevoDrive topped out at 500MB/s in very specific tests, and hovered around half that speed for most day-to-day usage, which still put it at the very top end of current-gen solid-state devices. OCZ claims the RevoDrive X2 can hit speeds up to 750MMB/s—that’s marketing megabytes per second. Oh yeah, we’re testing that.
The OCZ RevoDrive X2 ties four SandForce SSDs together—no cables, drive bays, or SATA ports necessary.
Like its predecessor, the RevoDrive X2 contains a Pericom PCI-E-to-PCI-X bridge, a SiliconImage SiI3124 PCI/PCI-X-to-SATA controller, a bunch of SandForce SF-1200 controllers, and their attendant NAND. In fact, the only hardware difference between the RevoDrive X2 and the first RevoDrive we tested is the presence of a riser card, which adds another 120GB of NAND flash memory and two more SF-1200 controllers. That’s essentially a RAID 0 of four 60GB solid-state drives. With the x4 PCI-E interface, that means this should be a blazing-fast drive.
Out-of-the-box HDTune sequential-read and -write performance topped 300MB/s, but dropped to an average of 244.8MB/s reads and 222.2MB/s writes thereafter—around the same as the first-version drive in read speeds, but a marked improvement over that drive’s write speeds. Non-HDTune benchmark scores didn’t slow down at all as the drive aged.
At queue depth 1, the Revo showed 4KB random-read and -write IOPS in the neighborhood of 12,000–13,000—a new record—but in our Iometer test, which writes 4KB files at random over the whole drive at a queue depth of 32, the score was off the charts, clocking in at over 117,000—44 percent faster than the first RevoDrive.
At larger file sizes, the RevoDrive X2 continued to impress—in ATTO (queue depth 4), which writes a variety of file sizes all over the disk, 64KB writes topped 661MB/s, and reads weren’t far behind. This is half again the speed of the first RevoDrive, and three times the speed of a single Vertex 2 on a SATA connection. The RevoDrive X2 also cooked in real-world tests, blazing through our Premiere Pro encoding test in just 317 seconds—12 percent faster than the first RevoDrive. Its PCMark Vantage x64 HDD subscore, at 57,414, is the fastest we’ve seen by far.
The Revo ain’t perfect. You still have to install drivers manually via Device Manager, and load them with F6 if you’re going to install Windows to the RevoDrive. Some motherboards require a BIOS update in order to boot from the Revo, or only allow installation in specific PCI-E slots; check http://bit.ly/gRCZzT for a list of those motherboards. Like its predecessor, the RevoDrive X2 lacks support for the Trim command but does include garbage-collecting algorithms that prevent it from getting too slow—indeed, after heavy use the drive was still humming along quite well.
With capacities that range from 100GB to 960GB, the RevoDrive X2 makes a disk-less PC seem almost feasible—if you don’t mind dropping a bundle of money. The 960GB version is a cool $3,300, while the 240GB model we tested goes for $600. It’s a tempting offer.