OCZ RevoDrive 50GB PCI Express SSD Reviewajmatson - October 31, 2010
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At first glance, the RevoDrive looks nothing like a hard drive. It looks more like a sound card to me but don’t let that deceive you because this card packs a lot into it. OCZ chose to use a black colored PC board which makes this card look sleek and unique. It measures a little over seven inches long and just less than five inches tall. So, it is a fairly small design which will not take up much room in your system. To transfer data, the RevoDrive uses your PCI Express bus and not the SATA interface which allows it to use the faster bus for quicker read and writes and higher IOPS. Unlike some of the older first generation PCIe drives, the RevoDrive is bootable. Which means you can now install your operating system to the drive with no problems. I was able to install both Windows 7 Professional for the review tests as well as Ubuntu 10.10 Linux and had no issues booting either one of the operating systems. The RevoDrive comes in 50GB to 480GB versions depending on your requirements (and budget) and offers read speeds of up to 540MB/s for all versions. The write speeds do vary by model however. For the 50 - 80GB versions they top out at 450MB/s for the maximum write and 350MB/s sustained. For the 120 - 480GB versions you will get a bit more with a maximum write of 480MB/s and sequential writes at 400MB/s. The particular model we are going to be taking a look at today is the RevoDrive 50GB version which is part number OCZSSDPX-1RVD0050. One thing to note is on the PC Board there are a series of LEDs soldered onto the board near the bracket. While the idea for these are great because they indicate activity and faults, when the card is installed they are upside down and not visible, which negates their purpose.
Now on to what makes the RevoDrive work. As you may have noticed, there are rows of chips near the back of the card. These are the MLC NAND flash chips which make up the storage capacity for the device. In this particular version, only half of the space is populated with the flash chips since it is only a 50GB version. However, the larger capacity models have all of the flash space populated. This drive uses the Intel 29F32G08AAMDB NAND Flash chip which we have seen in other SSDs on the market. This chip is a 4GB chip which makes for a total of 64GB NAND on the board. That leaves 50GB for the storage and 14GB for wear leveling and DureWrite technology through the controller. Speaking of the controller, the RevoDrive uses the SandForce SF-1222 controller that has become popular in many of the high performance SSDs currently on the market. The difference with the RevoDrive is that it uses two SandForce SF-1222 controllers. That is right, two controllers means two SSDs. OCZ has outfitted the RevoDrive with two physical solid state drives on one device. The two drives run in a RAID-0 configuration which is what contributes to its high performance. Each drive is 25GB making up the 50GB total space. If you look at the board, the top two rows of NAND (both front and back) make up one drive and the bottom two rows make up the other.
To tie in the two drives and make them operate as one, OCZ uses a Silicon Image SiL3124 Silicon Image RAID Controller. The SiL 3124 controller allows up to four SATA channels to communicate to a PCI-X bus in a RAID configuration. This means that two more channels can be used when paired with a daughter card and that shows a possibility with the build design of the PC board. Since the Silicon Image RAID controller is built to operate on a PCI-X bus, a bridge chip is installed to facilitate the communication. The Pericom PI7C9X130 chip comes in to handle just that. This chip bridges the communication from the PCI-X bus of the SiL 3124 RAID controller and turns it into data for the PCIe bus to communication with the PCIe x4 slot on your motherboard. Of note, there are several mounting points and a location on the board just to the right of the RAID controller which shows the ability to add daughter cards for increased capacity. There has been talk of the RevoDrive 2 at this year’s IDF, so we may see some more things coming from OCZ regarding the RevoDrive.
Now that we have seen the specs and parts of the RevoDrive, how about we get it in for some high speed testing?