OCZ Octane 512GB Reviewccokeman - February 16, 2012
Category: Storage / Hard Drives
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OCZ is a name we all know for a variety of products, both good and bad. From power supplies to DRAM, cooling products to brain controlled hardware, and finally to storage solutions in the form of solid state drives. At this point in time OCZ is primarily a storage solution company, after backing out of the DRAM market. They currently specialize in NAND based storage solutions and their line of power supplies. OCZ offers solid state drives in many capacities and form factors to fit both the consumer and enterprise market, from PCIe drives like the Z Drive R4, to the more mundane Agility series. Last year OCZ announced their intentions to acquire the controller manufacturer Indilinx. The Octane series of drives are the the first fruits of this acquisition, with the addition of the Everest NAND controller. This new drive boasts specifications that include up to 535MB/s read and up to 400MB/s write, Latency reduction technology, Trim Support, AES Encryption, NDurance technology to increase the lifespan of the NAND, 25nm MLC flash, and come in capacities from 128GB to 1TB. Add in a 3 year warranty and the drive looks ready to compete with the SandForce equipped drives on the market. Using proprietary page mapping algorithms, this drive is built to work well with compressed data that replicate everyday work loads. Pricing for the Octane series drives starts at around $179 for the 128GB version and is currently $899 for the 512GB version that I will be testing today. The 512GB drive at $899 puts the price per GB at $1.76. Lets find out if OCZ's acquisition of Indilinx can deliver a drive that is competitive in both price and performance.
OCZ has done away with the foam filled cardboard box that has been used in the past for their consumer drive series. Instead they have opted for a blister pack, similar to that used to display DRAM modules. This full disclosure packaging shows the drive and all that is included with it, save for some documentation and a decal. Noticeable on the front of the ad card is the capacity of this drive at 512GB, along with the INDILINX Infused logo that lets you know this drive is equipped with OCZ's newest controller, their in-house build and design named Everest. The back side of the card goes into the sales pitch on what makes OCZ's INDILINX Infused Octane drive superior to other drives on the market. The SKU and model number are along the bottom edge. Inside the ad card is an installation guide and a decal that boasts "My SSD is faster than your HDD." No false advertising there and straight to the point.
OCZ's Octane 512GB SSD is built within the 2.5 inch form factor for use in both desktop and notebook computers. As mentioned, the Octane series drives come in capacities from 128GB to 1TB in size and are OCZ's first solid state drives equipped with their Everest controller. The outer shell of the drive that houses the 25nm synchronous NAND is a two piece assembly, one half plastic and the other steel. Nothing out of the ordinary with this design, as it saves weight. The drive is held together with four screws, with one of these screws covered with an anti-tamper seal. Mounting the Octane is the same as any other 2.5 inch form factor drive, with mounting points on the sides and bottom of the drive casing. Connectivity is what you would expect from a SATA III 6Gb/s drive, with SATA power and data connections. The drive is backwards compatible with SATA 3Gb/s and 1.5Gb/s equipped motherboards, but performance drops significantly when using these connections. Inside the chassis is the OCZ built PCB.
Built around OCZ's Indilinx Everest 8 channel NAND controller, the Octane has a total of 16 25nm Micron asynchronous MLC NAND modules on the PCB, 8 on each side. The controller has an onboard 512MB cache, with a DRAM module on each side of the PCB. Specifications for the 512GB Octane vary with the firmware version. With the release firmware offering higher read and write speeds, but with the latest firmware the improvements have been targeted at the 4K random workloads. This drive with the release firmware has read speeds of up to 535MB/s and writes of 400MB/s. The Everest controller is labeled IDX300M01. It offers TRIM support, AES Encryption, Proprietary NDurance technology to level the wear cycles, Boot time optimization, and SMART support.
The Octane sports an all new controller that looks like it could be competitive with the SandForce offerings. Its time to see if OCZ's acquisition of Indilinx will pay off in a product that offers tangible benefits to the end user.