In June, we tested OCZ’s Vertex Limited Edition, one of two drives we had that used the SandForce SF-1200 controller. At the time, we wondered why OCZ would artificially limit supplies of an SSD with such great performance. And now we know: It was a trial run to help SandForce, a recent startup, gain capital to scale up production. It’s since done that, and in gratitude to OCZ has granted the company exclusive random-write-IOPS-boosting firmware for its Vertex 2 drives. The new firmware will be available to other SF-1200 drives (probably by the time this issue hits stands)—but as of press time, it’s an OCZ Vertex 2 exclusive deal. Ethics of “exclusive firmware” aside, is the Vertex 2 any better than its Limited Edition stable mate?
If you're not up to speed on your storage form factors, here's the quick and dirty rundown. Most desktop setups come with 3.5-inch drive bays, traditional notebooks typically ship with one or two 2.5-inch drive bays, and devices like ultra-thins, netbooks, some nettops, and tablet PCs usually employ 1.8-inch bays.
Now that you've graduated Storage 101, let's move on to solid state drives (SSDs), and specifically, a pair of new models from OCZ. Put more accurately, the memory maker took two existing SSD families -- the Vertex 2 and Onyx -- and put them under a shrinking ray, much like the one used in the movie "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids," only far less powerful. The result is OCZ was able to deliver 1.8-inch versions of each drive without sacrificing any performance in the process.
"Solid State Drives provide numerous benefits to mobile users including improved performance and reliability as well as lower power consumption versus traditional hard drives," said Alex Mei, CMO of the OCZ Technology Group. "We are now introducing two new drives that are designed to cater to the entire range of mobile applications including the Vertex2 1.8-inch which delivers the same performance as our popular 2.5-inch version in a smaller form factor for customers looking to achieve maximum performance on the go, and the new Onyx 1.8-inch which is designed for consumers looking for a quality SSD that is aggressively priced and is ideal for netbooks."
In other words, these are the exact same drives, only smaller, so you can expect the same 285MBs read (Vertex 2) and 275MB/s write (Vertex 2) speeds.
The problem with solid state drives is two-fold. First, they're bloody expensive, putting higher performing models out of reach of most mainstream shoppers. And secondly, SSDs don't offer a ton of storage space. It's this latter shortcoming OCZ is trying to address, and towards that end, they've gone and released some high-capacity Vertex 2 and Agility 2 SSDS, both of which are now available in 400GB and 480GB capacities.
"Solid state drives have long delivered on exceptional performance and reliability but capacity has been a barrier to adoption for some clients," said Ryan Petersen, CEO of the OCZ Technology Group. "Building on our popular Agility 2 and Vertex 2 SSD lines our new high capacity models give customers up to 480GB of storage space allowing them to enjoy all the benefits of SSDs with plenty of room for even the largest applications and files, making this the ideal solution for customers that place a premium on speed, reliability and capacity."
What this means is that if you have deep enough pockets, you could ditch your mechanical hard drive entirely. A pair of 480GB SSDs checks in at nearly 1TB, enough space to boot your OS, run your applications, and store a whole lot of data. According to OCZ, both Vertex 2 and Agility 2 400GB editions feature 250MB/s read and 240MB/s write speeds. OCZ didn't disclose performance numbers on the 480GB models, nor did the company mention a release date or price. Our guess? "Soon" and "you don't want to know."
It seems like every few weeks OCZ comes out with a new SSD, and this time around, the company announced two new products to its flash-based storage lineup. Both the Vertex 2 and Agility 2 target enthusiasts with high transfer rates and relatively high capacities.
"OCZ’s original Vertex Series of solid state drives have become a top seller due to the product’s exceptional performance and reliability," said Ryan Petersen, CEO of OCZ Technology Group. "The new Vertex 2 and Agility 2 SSD lines continue that tradition by incorporating the latest controller and firmware technology. They are an excellent solution for customers who are looking for improved transfer rates and best-in-class input/output per second (IOPS) for a wide range of uses, ranging from entertainment to workstation and tier 2 storage applications. Additionally, this new product line highlights our continuing determination to be the market leader in the high reliability memory and flash-based storage market."
Both drives come rated at up to 285MB/s read and 275MB/s write speeds, and both are available in 50GB, 100GB, 200GB, and 400GB capacities. So what separates the two? According to OCZ, the higher-end Vertex 2 has been tuned for 4KB random writes up to 50,000 IOPs, while the Agility 2 boasts random writes up to 10,000 IOPS.