OCZ RevoDrive 3 X2 240 GB Review

ccokeman - 2011-09-20 20:12:34 in Storage / Hard Drives
Category: Storage / Hard Drives
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: November 30, 2011
Price: $699


Solid-State Drives have come a long way to get to the level of performance and reliability that we see today, both on a consumer and enterprise level. As such, OCZ has been a pioneer in the Solid-State Drive market, delivering solutions that continue to impress. Having previously looked at the RevoDrive X2 in March of this year, we saw just what the performance potential of the RevoDrive series really was. Now, the new RevoDrive 3 X2 brings much more to the table with the latest SF 22XX series NAND controllers and OCZ's new SuperScale Storage Accelerator, which uses VCA 2.0 for increased scalability. The performance metrics are incredible in their own right; maximum reads of up to 1500 MB/s, writes of 1225 MB/s, and up to 200,000 IOPs 4 KB Random Write (QD64, 4K Aligned, 8 GB LBA). If this kind of performance doesn’t catch your eye, I guess speed just does not interest you. OCZ offers the RevoDrive 3 X2 in 240 GB, 480 GB, and 960 GB capacities, with pricing starting at $699 for the 240 GB variant. For those who worry about reliability, OCZ offers a 3 year warranty on the RevoDrive 3 X2. Advertising a MTBF of over a million hours, the drive should last much longer than the warranty term though. Specification-wise, the RevoDrive 3 X2 seems to offer an incredible level of performance. Let’s see if the best case numbers are real and if OCZ can back them up. Based on past history, the results should be interesting.

Closer Look:

The packaging for the RevoDrive 3 X2 continues in the same vein as the previous models. The front panel shows a picture of the drive alongside a few of its specifications and technologies, including OCZ's proprietary VCA (Virtualized Controller Architecture) 2.0 and the SuperScale Storage Accelerator. The first enables TRIM and SMART monitoring, while the latter enables "scalable performance". The back panel gives a brief synopsis of the target market and proprietary technologies.












Inside the outer sleeve, there is a dense cardboard box containing a foam-filled tray that holds the 240 GB RevoDrive 3 X2 safely in place during transit. The package also includes a manual and a sticker that points out an obvious fact – a fun way to show your support for OCZ.




While the front panel of the packaging shows a nice preview of the RevoDrive 3 X2, I’m looking to see what it has to offer outside the confines of the packaging. If the included decal is any indication, the phrase "My SSD is faster than your HDD" should not be an idle boast, but a bold statement that can be easily backed-up.

Closer Look:

The OCZ RevoDrive 3 X2 is a PCIe-based solid-state drive for use in a PCIe 4x or larger interface. What distinguishes the RevoDrive 3 X2 from its predecessors is the use of four SandForce SF-2281 controllers. On the front side of the drive, there is a heat sink covering the OCZ SuperScale™ Storage Accelerator. When coupled with VCA 2.0, it really drives the performance of the RevoDrive 3 X2. Top-line performance specifications are 1500 MB/s reads, 1225 MB/s writes, and up to 200,000 IOPs 4K aligned random writes. The RevoDrive 3 X2 comes in capacities ranging from the 240 GB tested here, to 480 GB and even 960 GB. It is important to note that the latest drivers for the RevoDrive 3 X2 allow it to be used as a boot drive in both 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems. As a full height card, the mounting plate has a sticker that displays the name of the drive – while a little bit more subtle than the decal included with the drive, it definitely allows for some bragging rights.















The X2 gets its secondary naming structure from the fact that it features a second add-on daughter card to carry additional SF-2281 NAND controllers and additional 25nm NAND flash modules, bringing the total capacity to 240 GB. The PCB is held on by four screws and an interconnection that looks much like a SATA data connector. Each board carries a total of 16 NAND modules – 12 on one side and 4 on the other. In essence, what you have here is a total of four 60 GB drives spread over two boards and one device.




The secret sauce that makes the whole ball of wax work is the OCZ SuperScale controller. Using VCA (Virtualized Controller Architecture) 2.0, it provides a scalable solution that does not need a ton of processor overhead. This controller sits under a large heat sink on the main PCB – clearly, some heat is generated in managing all the data. Each PCB has a pair of SandForce controllers to overlook 120 GB (after over-provisioning) of on-board 25nm NAND. 8 GB Micron 29F64G08CBAAA 25 nm asynchronous NAND modules are used to provide a total of 240 GB in usable NAND on this OCZ drive.




To explain OCZ’s VCA 2.0, I will pull from their product briefing to give you a better understanding of the technology and its benefits. This information can be found on the OCZ website.


"VCA 2.0 (Virtualized Controller Architecture™) is the next step in the evolution of enterprise flash virtualization layers. This is the follow up to the original VCA and presents as a complete storage subsystem, but with an improved and expanded feature-set allowing system architects unprecedented flexibility and industry-leading performance and reliability.


OCZ SuperScale™ storage controller enables infinitely scalable performance. VCA 2.0™ in OCZ enterprise PCIe devices supports the creation of a virtual pool of logical units (LUNs) and features best-in-class configurable performance aggregation. VCA 2.0 is the only virtualization layer in the industry with TRIM and SCSI Unmap Support to enhance sustained performance by significantly reducing the overhead associated with garbage collection. Consolidated SMART support provides system administrators with advanced features for monitoring analyzing and reporting device attributes. User-selectable data recovery and non-stop modes allows for unprecedented data protection. Unlike other flash virtualization layers, OCZ VCA 2.0 supports complete power fail protection; OCZ enterprise PCIe devices store all metadata in nonvolatile memory while power fail protection completes all in-progress transactions in the event of an unexpected system power loss.


OCZ SuperScale™ storage accelerator enables infinitely scalable performance. The OCZ SuperScale™ storage controller combines processing and full DMA (direct memory access) cores, as well as internal PCIe, SATA and SAS interfaces. This controller, combined with VCA 2.0 provides unique benefits to users by allowing certain DMA and data management functions including OCZ’s unique command queuing and queue balance algorithms to be handled by the onboard processing core, resulting in higher performance and reduced burden on the host CPU. OCZ is currently offering single slot PCIe solutions with up to 2 SuperScale™ accelerators per slot as standard parts.


New LUN Addressing with VCA 2.0™ in OCZ Enterprise PCIe Devices; in the enterprise PCIe implementation of VCA 2.0, users have the option of treating each SuperScale™ accelerator as one more Virtual Logical Drive (LUNs). Storage management software such as file systems, volume managers, and applications are able to access a number of LUNs allowing unprecedented flexibility in storage, while maintaining the hardware assisted features of VCA 2.0 and enabling the host to boot from the PCIe device.


User Friendly -SCSI Over PCIe Functionality allows seamless installation. OCZ VCA 2.0 supports the industry standard SCSI command set over our PCIe interface. Because SCSI is the command set of choice of enterprise storage architects, this feature makes installation of OCZ PCIe devices in enterprise applications seamless. VCA technology can interpret and execute both SCSI and ATA commands across any physical interface and utilize any available internal interface to facilitate communication across multiple elements of the overall drive architecture. Current OCZ hardware implementations support SCSI commands over PCIe (Z-Drive) and Serial (Talos). This storage virtualization currently allows SCSI commands to be sent through PCIe or SAS physical interfaces to an internal virtualized array of NAND devices.


Configurable Performance Aggregation; VCA provides highly efficient performance aggregation across physical LUNs via an intelligent complex command queuing structure that utilizes both native and tagged command queuing (NCQ, TCQ). This is a unique technology that enables command switching and balancing based on OCZ’s proprietary Queue Balancing Algorithm (QBA™) algorithm; this balances drive loading while maximizing internal bandwidth for nearly linear performance aggregation. VCA 2.0 LUNs can be further aggregated through cascading with host-side striping dependent on the storage architects needs.


OCZ’s proprietary VCA 2.0 is the next step in the evolution in enterprise flash virtualization layers. Supporting a rich enterprise feature-set, VCA enables system architects unprecedented flexibility and industry-leading performance and reliability when designing the high throughput storage systems of the future."


Usable Capacities (IDEMA)
240 GB, 480 GB, 960 GB
NAND Components   
25 nm Multi-Level Cell (MLC)
PCI-Express Gen. 2.0 4x
Form Factor   
PCIe Full Height
Storage Controller
OCZ SuperScale
NAND Controller
SandForce® 2281 x 4
Dimensions (L x W x H)
167.64 x 98.42 x 15.25 mm (dimensions do not include bracket)
184 g (may vary slightly due to capacity)
1,000,000 hours
ECC Recovery
Up to 55 bits correctable per 512-byte sector (BCH)
Data Reliability
Read unrecoverable bit error rate (UBER) 10e-16 (<1 in 1016 bits read)
Data Encryption
128-bit & 256-bit AES-compliant
Product Health
Monitoring Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology (SMART) Support
Power Consumption
Idle: 13.5 W Active: 14.3 W
Temperature 0°C ~ 70°C
Storage Temperature
-45°C ~ 85°C
Shock Resistance
1500 G
Fully compliant with the PCIe Electromechanical Specification Rev. 2.0, and PCI-Express Base Specification Rev. 2.0
Operating System
Windows 7 32-bit and 64-bit
Power Requirements
PCI-Express 12 V & 3.3 V
Additional Features
Flash Virtualization Layer
OCZ VCA (Virtualized Controller Architecture) 2.0
Performance Optimization
TRIM/SCSI Unmap (requires OS support), Drivers; www.ocz.com/drivers
Secure Erase
Enabled via OCZ Toolbox; www.ocz.com/ssd_tools
Service & Support
3-Year Warranty, Toll-Free Tech Support, 24 Hour Forum Support






All information courtesy of OCZ @ http://www.ocztechnology.com/ocz-revodrive-3-x2-pci-express-ssd.html


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 are set to only represent a best case scenario – one that you may never see unless operating a bare drive. A 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 on 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:


  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


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.















File Benchmark:



Random Access Benchmark:



In just about every test in HD Tune, the Revodrive 3 X2 outperforms the rest of the drives by a significant margin. The only exceptions are the 4K read and CPU Usage benchmarks.


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 2011: SiSoft Sandra is a diagnostic utility and synthetic benchmarking program. It is helpful in allowing you to view your hardware at a higher level.



Again for your performance dollar, the RevoDrive 3 X2 shows exceptional performance. The drive index rating in the Sandra testing shows almost 3x the performance upswing over the Vertex 3.


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 1000 MB option.














In this test, the RevoDrive shows that once file size and number of threads starts increasing, so does its relative performance.


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.

















In our Atto Disk Benchmark, the RevoDrive 3 X2 seems to struggle at the 4K file size, but easily moves to 2 and almost 3 times the level of performance delivered by the SF-22XX equipped drives. The RevoDrive 3 X2 easily reaches its read/write targets of up to 1500 MB/s and 1225 MB/s, respectively.


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.
















While not the fastest in every test, the RevoDrive 3 X2 triumphs as the overall performance king.


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.

















Given the minimal difference in results, the RevoDrive 3 X2 was not able to significantly flex its muscles in the standard testing. One exception is in a random write workstation load, where multiple threads are simultaneously accessing the drive – the RevoDrive was able to excel and deliver close to 200,000 IOPs 4 KB Random Write (QD64, 4K Aligned, 8GB LBA).


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, with the scoring for each test broken down individually. 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.















This is a scenario where the overall score really cannot be indicative of a drive’s performance. In seven out of eight tests, the RevoDrive 3 X2 is far and away the highest performing drive.


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 your set tasks that much quicker. Not to mention 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. While fast boot and shut down times are possible with conventional hard drives, it can be 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 the startup test, 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 shutdown test, I began timing from the click of the shutdown button in the start menu, and stopped when the system power was off.
















The RevoDrive 3 X2 delivered startup and shutdown times that were comparable to the fastest drive in the comparison. Startup speed for the RevoDrive 3 X2 is quick at 27 seconds, while shutdown is on par with the other drives at 4.0 seconds. There is no doubt that it is a quick booting drive.


There is no doubt about it – the RevoDrive 3 X2 is a fast drive that offers incredible performance across the board. As a PCIe based solution, it is not bound by the limits of the SATA bus. This allows its performance to drive even higher. Keep in mind that if you are using multiple video cards, they may reduce the number of available PCIe lanes for the drive. When you look at the performance of the RevoDrive 3 X2, it is clear that it excels in random workloads with larger file sizes and multiple threads. In the ATTO testing, the RevoDrive 3 X2 easily reaches its advertised read performance target of 1500 MB/s and comes quite close to the 1225 MB/s specification on the writes. Keep in mind that this was done with the RevoDrive 3 X2 as the primary boot drive – not a bare drive. However, the RevoDrive 3 X2 can be used as either a primary boot drive or additional storage drive – a unique characteristic. Either way, a driver installation is required. The earlier drivers were not WHQL certified, but at this time, they have been and are ready to go. Although TRIM is supported by the drive, it is not in use due to the problems with Microsoft's Starport architecture support – it supports neither TRIM nor the SCSI UNMAP, so at this point, VCA cannot issue the commands necessary for its function. However, OCZ Toolbox can be used to perform a secure erase on the drive. The catch is it cannot be done on the drive if it is the primary drive. That aside, the RevoDrive 3 X2 is undoubtedly designed for the power user and carries a cost indicative of the performance it delivers. At $699, the pricing for the 240 GB drive is on the high side for anyone but the power user. Even so, the price tag is only about $260 more than the SATA III Vertex 3 for double to triple the performance. The larger 480 GB ($1659) and 960 GB ($3199) devices scale in price, even though 25 nm MLC flash modules are used to contain costs. Also while SandForce 22XX-equipped drives have gotten a bad rap lately with random blue screens, I never had this specter show its ugly head throughout several OS installations and secure erase cycles. Extended testing did not show any issues either. The RevoDrive 3 X2 has a 1,000,000 hour MTBF, making the 3 year warranty seem less than adequate. That being said, the pace of technology drones steadily on most and will likely make this drive obsolete before the warranty period even ends. Obsolete or not, a longer warranty for the price point would have been nice. Any which way you cut it, the RevoDrive 3 X2 is fast and offers incredible performance when dealing with multiple workloads.