Last week, Corsair announced its new 128GB Voyager flash drive, a super-capacious thumb drive with a super-high price tag ($400). At the exact opposite end of the spectrum, OCZ today announced a new line of USB flash drives, dubbed Zee, aimed at users on a tight budget.
"Designed for the consumer on the go, the compact Zee is an economical USB drive that makes it easy to transfer images, multimedia, and essential data between multiple computers," commented Alex Mei, CMO of OCZ. "The Zee is designed to be affordable to the complete range of consumers, and is available in large capacities up to 16GB yet is both lightweight and compact so that it is highly portable."
In addition to 16GB, the Zee is also offered in 2GB, 4GB, and 8GB capacities. Other details remain sparse, including rated transfer speeds, price, or availability.
We've longed bemoaned the real-world write performance of most SSDs, which often falls short of the much speedier read speeds. Even worse, surmises HotHardware, is the potential for an SSD's write performance to degrade over time.
"The flash memory used on today's SSDs is comprised of cells that usually contain 4KB pages that are arranged in blocks of 512KB," writes HotHardware. "When a cell is unused, data can be written to it relatively quickly. But if a cell already contains some data -- no matter how little, even if it fills only a single page in the block -- the entire block must be re-written. That means, whatever data is already present in the block must be read, then it must be combined or replaced, etc., with the new additional data, and the entire block is then re-written."
The good news is most manufacturers are attacking the problem head on via firmware. One such example is OCZ's implementation of the Indilinx firmware, which the company plans to include on all Vertex series drives. When the drives are idle, Indilinx and other similar SSD firmware sweep through an SSD's cells looking for and removing so-called "garbage data."
HotHardware got its hands on one of OCZ's new Vertex drives outfitted with the Indilinx firmware and the results are pretty surprising. After "dirtying" the drive with chunks of data, performance degradation became apparent while running the ATTO Disk Benchmark. But after letting the drive sit idle for 5 minutes, performance numbers were nearly restored to new condition.
Adding to its growing power supply line, OCZ this week announced the immediate availability of its new Z-Series Gold power supply line. Each new model boasts 80+ Gold certification, which means they must remain at least 90 percent efficient at 50 percent load, and never drop below 87 percent efficiency at any load level.
The new models are available in 850W and 1000W in either modular or non-modular form. Taking a page from PC Power & Cooling, which was acquired by OCZ in 2007, the Z-Series sports a single, beefy +12V rail (83A on the 1000W and 71A on the 850W) rather than spreading the amperage through multiple +12V rails.
All the other standard essentials are accounted for, including active PFC, a large cooling fan (135mm), oodles of SATA connectors, and SLI certification.
The Z-Series is available now for $300 (Z1000M), $290 (Z1000), $240 (Z850M), and $220 (Z850).
Much to the delight of power users who avoided the temptation of spending too much for too little capacity in Intel's first-generation X25-M solid state drives, the chip maker earlier this week announced a second generation of SSDs with a die shrink (34nm down from 50nm) and reduced pricing. Even better, Intel's latest pricing has at least one competitor reevaluating its own price points.
That competitor is OCZ, who said it plans to reduce prices on its Vertex, Agility, and Colossus SSD lines. Pricing for Intel's 80GB and 160GB X25-M (34nm) check in at $2.81 and $2.75 per GB respectively, while all but one of OCZ's nine drives receiving a price cut will undercut Intel by at least a few cents per GB, with the 128GB Agility expected to cost $2.11 per GB.
While OCZ is so far the only manufacturer to announce price drops, don't be surprised to see other third-party SSD makers forced to do the same as a result of Intel's comparatively aggressively pricing strategy.
Look for OCZ's price cuts to go into effect in the coming weeks.
Last month, we learned that OCZ would be releasing a Turbo Vertex SSD line with hand picked parts, but no specifications had been finalized at the time. That's no longer the case, as OCZ officially introduced the new series this week, which is being aimed at the performance sector.
"The new Vertex Turbo makes use of the fastest SDR DRAM cache available and a proprietary FTL level firmware that provides an even faster solid state drive for enthusiasts looking for the ultimate desktop or laptop storage upgrade," said Ryan Edwards, Director of Product Management for OCZ.
Available in 30GB, 60GB, 128GB, and 250GB capacities, the new drives sport 64MB of 180MHz DRAM cache. Primed for performance, the flagship 250GB model registers up to 270MB/s read and up to 210MB/s write speeds (the 128GB model checks in with a slightly slower 200MB/s write speed, while both the 30GB and 60GB offer up to 240MB/s and 145MB/s read and write speeds, respectively).
While no official announcement has yet been made, word on the web is that OCZ will expand its Vertex Series SSDs with Turbo editions. As the name implies, these will be faster than the already speedy Vertex drives.
If the rumblings hold true, look for the Turbo edition to ship in 30GB, 60GB, 120GB, and 250GB capacities. According to OCZ rep Tony, the new SSDs will feature hand picked controller and hand picked NAND along with dedicated firmware, all of which will result in a 10 percent performance increase over existing Vertex drives. While the specs may change between now and release, Tony says you can expect up to 278MB/s read and 213MB/s write speeds.
No word yet on price or availability, although Tony did say the Turbo drives will carry about a 10 percent pricing premium over current Vertex drives.
First shown at CES earlier this year and more recently at CeBIT, OCZ this week officially announced the Sabre OLED gaming keyboard, a plank the company promises will be "affordable."
"The OCZ Sabre Keyboard offers the best of both worlds when it comes to OLED technology and a truly functional yet affordable gaming keyboard," commented Eugene Change, VP of Product Management at OCZ.
Nine OLED keys sit on the left side of the Sabre, each one user-programmable and capable of converting digital images or text into icons. Furthermore, the Sabre's proprietary software makes it possible for the OLED keys to change their icons and command tiers on the fly based on whatever application is running. Fire up your favorite FPS, for example, and the icons and macros change to whatever was programmed.
Other features include "glowing amber LEDs", blue side lighting, 128MB of onboard flash memory, "super tactile, low-noise key feedback," and a 5-10 degree tilt design.
Worried your RAM might go up flames from the extra voltage you're pumping through? You can worry a little less with OCZ's XTC (Xtreme Thermal Convection) Memory Cooler Revision 2, the latest in a limited field of active RAM coolers.
"The first revision of the OCZ XTC Memory Cooler proved to be a very popular product with a wide range of enthusiast and power users," said Ryan Edwards, Director of Product Management for OCZ. "We are excited to offer a follow-up design with improved performance, an enhanced feature set, and a sleek new look, all at the same affordable price point as the original."
Made of brushed aluminum, OCZ's newest XTC cooler installs over the top of your RAM modules by snapping into your motherboard's DIMM socket retention levels. Two 60mm fans provide airflow for your memory, and according to OCZ, a new, taller profile means you can use the second revision XTC cooler with memory kits sporting taller heatsinks. Fan speed is adjustable (low or high), and of course tricked out with blue LEDs.
In what's fast become a crowded lineup, OCZ has released yet another SSD series, this latest one called the Agility. The 2.5-inch SATA II SSD is being aimed at mainstream desktop and notebook users not looking to spend a fortune on solid state storage.
"The new Agility Series of SSDs are the latest addition to the OCZ lineup of solid state drives and are designed for cost-conscious consumers seeking the performance and reliability benefits of SSDs at an aggressive price," said Ryan Edwards, Director of Product Management at OCZ.
On the surface, that sounds like another way of saying the new drives will be slow, but that isn't the case, OCZ says. Helped in part by a 64MB cache buffer, the 60GB and 120GB models will offer read, write, and sustained write speeds of up to 230MB/s, 135MB/s, and 80MB/s respectively. The 30GB model will check in a little slower at 185MB/s, 100MB/s, and 60MB/s for its read, write, and sustained write speeds.
Earlier today at Computex OCZ unveiled their latest SSD, the 3.5-inch Colossus.
The Colossus will pack either 512GB or 1TB of storage inside its 3.5-inch enclosure, that has been made to fit in the spaces that you’ve come to know over the years. In order to make a drive of this size, OCZ commissioned a new PCB design with flash chips and SSD controllers rather than slapping together two SSDs into a larger enclosure.
It’s expected that it’ll be available in around eight weeks, but there’s no official word on the price.