OCZ Octane 512GB Review

ccokeman - 2010-10-12 19:18:05 in Storage / Hard Drives
Category: Storage / Hard Drives
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: February 16, 2012
Price: $869

Introduction:

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.

Closer Look:

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.

Specifications:

 

512 GB Max Performance

 

 

All information courtesy of OCZ @ http://www.ocztechnology.com/ocz-octane-sata-iii-2-5-ssd.html

Testing:

Testing of hard drives can be done in several different ways – one method involves leaving the drive bare and connecting it as a secondary drive in an existing system. By simultaneously cleaning the drive after each benchmark run-through, this allows you to see its theoretical peaks in performance. However, these results would only represent a best-case scenario – one that you may never see unless operating a bare drive. The second method, which OverclockersClub employs, involves loading the operating system and benchmarking suite onto the test drive itself. This would give performance results that emulate real-world usage more closely. Testing will be completed with the P67-based system listed below, alongside a fresh install of Windows 7 Professional 64-bit that is updated to SP1 and fully patched as of the date of testing. The latest Intel Rapid Storage technology drivers and software have also been installed. All tests are conducted with the drive connected to a native SATA III 6 Gb/s port on the motherboard, in an effort to eliminate any possible bottlenecks with performance.

Testing Setup:

 

Comparison Drives:

Benchmarks:

  1. HD Tune 4.60 Pro
  2. HD Tach
  3. SiSoft Sandra 2012
  4. Crystal Disk Mark
  5. ATTO Disk Benchmark
  6. AS SSD
  7. I/O Meter
  8. PCMark Vantage
  9. Windows Startup / Shutdown

Testing:

HD Tune 4.60 Pro measures disk performance to make comparisons between drives or disk controllers. In the 4.60 Pro version, the user can measure not only drive performance as a whole, but run more precise file and random access benchmarks as well.

Benchmark:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

File Benchmark:

 

 

 

 

Random Access Benchmark:

 

 

 

In the HD Tune testing the OCZ Octane 512GB drive delivers average read speeds close to those of the SandForce 2281 based drives in the general test. In the file benchmark test it performed well by comparison on the read tests, but not in the write speeds. It is however faster than drives equipped with the earlier SandForce 1222, Barefoot controllers such as the Mushkin Callisto (SF 1222), and IO(Barefoot).

Testing:

HD Tach v3.0.4.0: HD Tach is another hard drive benchmark utility, much like HD Tune. This benchmark measures the average read speed, random access time, and CPU utilization during operation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SiSoft Sandra 2009 SP3: SiSoft Sandra is a diagnostic utility and synthetic benchmarking program. It allows you to view your hardware at a higher level to be more helpful.

 

 

OCZ's Octane 512GB drive delivers access times and average read throughput similar to the SandForce 2281 controller based drives.

Testing:

Crystal Disk Mark 3.0: Crystal Disk Mark is a hard drive benchmark designed to measure the read and write speeds of drives by using 4k blocks, 512k blocks, and sequential data. For the test, we chose the 1000MB option.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Octane performs well in the Sequential read/write tests and the 512K write test. In the balance of the tests the INDILINX Everest controlled Octane does not perform at a level that competes with the SandForce 2281 based drives. Still, the Octane delivers drive performance above that of the mechanical drives.

Testing:

Atto Disk Benchmark v2.47: Atto Disk Benchmark is another aged, but good hard drive benchmark utility designed to test read and write speeds for different file sizes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Above 4K reads the throughput delivered by the Octane and it's Everest Controller seems to be similar to that delivered by the SandForce drives. On the write side, the drive is slower than the SandForce 1222 equipped Callisto in the 4K test and above it in the balance of the comparison tests. The Octane was able to meet its rated specifications for the firmware on the drive for the read side at 535MB/s and came up a little short of the write spec at 360MB/s.

Testing:

AS SSD v1.1.3466.29641: AS SSD is a benchmark specifically designed to test the speed of solid state drives. However, it also works for traditional hard drives. It is designed to measure the read and write speeds, as well as access times for set block sizes. It also assigns a score to the read, write, and overall performance of the drive.






 

 

 

 

 

 






 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sequential Reads and Writes for the Octane are at the higher end of the spectrum. Access times are the best in the comparison filed and are what really make an impact to the end user. The drive struggles in the higher Que depth test, as the drive is optimized for lower QD performance seen in day to day usage.

Testing:

IOMeter is an I/O subsystem measurement and characterization tool for single and clustered systems. It was originally developed by the Intel Corporation and announced at the Intel Developers Forum (IDF) on February 17, 1998. Since then, it has seen widespread use within the industry.





 

 

 

 

 

 








 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Octane fares well by comparison to the SandForce drives in total ops and throughput. Average response times are consistent with the majority of the drives tested. While the maximum response time goes from a lowest in the test comparison on the read side, to the worst on the write testing.

Testing:

PCMark Vantage: With this benchmark, I will be running the hard drive test suite. The measurement for the hard drive suite will be the total score, then the scoring for each test will be broken down. There are a total of eight hard drive tests within PCMark Vantage and all eight will be run to gauge the performance of each drive tested.








 

 












 

 

 

 

 

 

Depending on the test the Octane delivers performance within 10 to 12% of the top performing drives. In some of these real world work scenarios the Octane does not fare as well.

Testing:

In the world of computing, everyone likes a computer that can start up and shut down quickly. The ability to boot into your system as fast as possible allows you to start the tasks you set out to do that much quicker. Not to mention that the older you get, the greater the chance you'll forget what you wanted to use the computer for in the first place! The sweet spot is about 30 seconds or less. It is possible with conventional hard drives, though very difficult to attain this "golden" 30-second time. This should be easier with the speed of an SSD, but the only way to tell is to test it out. To run these tests, I used a stopwatch to calculate the number of seconds it took from pressing the power button on the case, to having a fully-functioning desktop. For the shut down test, I began timing from the click of the shut down button in the start menu, and stopped when the system power was off.




 

 

 

 

 

 

 






 

 

 

One of the real tangible benefits of an SSD are the access times, as well as reduced start up and shut down time frames. The Octane drives are optimized to reduce boot times for an almost instant on start. On a desktop the drive does well delivering the same boot time as what is considered to be the best in class Vertex 3 at 26 seconds. Shutdown times are excellent and compare favorably with the rest of the drives tested. In a net book an SSD does deliver an almost instant on experience and in this case that is the expectation that is delivered upon.

Conclusion:

Does OCZ's Octane drive equipped with their in-house designed and built INDILINX Everest series NAND controller have what it takes to compete with the SandForce steam roller? Yes and no! It keeps up with the massive read speeds in many of the benchmarks, but falls off on the write side in some of the tests, especially at greater que depths. But that's not where this drive is designed to excel. It is designed to deliver a better user experience with compressed data and impressive access times, more along the lines of what the end user will notice and feel. Along that line, the OCZ Octane delivered Windows Start-up and Shutdown times that were identical to the OCZ Vertex 3, a drive seen as the best in the category. The PCMark Vantage tests show that it is not the fastest drive out there, but it does deliver within about 11% of the fastest drive. In the IOMeter testing, the OCZ Everest based Octane kept up with the SandForce based drives in the Total I/O and data throughput tests. In the Crystal DiskMark and AS SSD Sequential read and write testing, the Octane was well within a small percentage point envelope of the highest performing drives in the read testing and the highest performing drive in the write testing.

The Octane boasts an all new controller and proprietary technologies that put it in a position well above the previous generation INDILINX based products and poised to deliver even higher performance metrics. NDurance technology is used to extend the life span of the 25NM NAND, while proprietary page mapping algorithms help drive performance in real world applications. The numbers do not tell the whole story, as the way a drive performs is judged mainly on how responsive it is when working day to day. The Octane was smooth and offered great responsiveness in my little netbook. Instant on is what people want and are conditioned to when working with a mobile device. In the desktop testing the Octane booted into windows in 26 seconds from the push of the power button. It's not instant on, but is pretty quick to say the least. In my netbook this drive is just fast and I make no bones about it. It is now being used in that capacity for some long duration testing. OCZ as a company have taken a beating over the years for the reliability of their SSDs and as one of the larger suppliers, you will hear more grumbling about a bad drive due to the volume on the streets. Just in case anything should go wrong, OCZ has a 3 year warranty on the Octane, along with 24 hour support via their forums. The Octane series is available in capacities from 128GB to 1TB. Pricing will definitely be higher for those looking for a larger drive, with the 512GB Octane seen here setting you back just over $869. Sure that's a steep price, but when you work out the math, it comes down to around $1.75 a GB. Overall OCZ's introduction of the Everest Controller has been a positive one in many ways.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: