OCZ RevoDrive X2 100GB PCI Express Hard Drive Review

ajmatson - 2011-02-11 05:21:04 in Storage / Hard Drives
Category: Storage / Hard Drives
Reviewed by: ajmatson   
Reviewed on: March 20, 2011
Price: $374.99

Introduction:

There are some of us out there that love to live on the bleeding edge of speed. Having the fastest, latest and greatest keeps you on the forefront of technology and ahead of the pack. When it comes to storage, there is a fine line between the speeds that a user wants and the capacities that they need. Solid State Drives (SSDs) have always used the trade off of less space for faster access. To add storage you can combine multiple drives into a RAID array, but you would need an additional drive for each expansion when using a traditional drive setup. SSDs have come a long way since their first introduction with higher capacity memory and faster controllers, such as the SandForce SF-1200 series. Before the RevoDrive, if you wanted to run a RAID setup for SSDs, you needed multiple physical drives and a decent RAID controller. OCZ changed the industry when it released a single drive configuration that runs RAID on a one "drive" setup and onboard RAID all tossed into a PCI Express based configuration with the RevoDrive.

OCZ has been in the SSD business for some time and is no stranger to PCI Express based drives, as we have seen with the original RevoDrive and other lines. The original design was amazing in offering PCI Express based storage technology to consumers and the RevoDrive X2 builds on that model and makes it even faster and with higher capacities. The RevoDrive X2 offers capacities up to 960GB in size with a maximum read speed of 740MB/s and a maximum write speed of 720MB/s based on the drive configuration. Top that off with a three year warranty and a two million hour mean time before failure and you have a solid piece of hardware ready to do some damage. The RevoDrive series was made with speed in mind. Combining multiple banks of SSDs onto a PC Board and linking them together in a RAID-0 design improves read and write speeds for maximum throughput. If you were impressed with the two drive setup, as I was with the original RevoDrive, then you will be just as excited with the RevoDrive X2.

 

Closer Look:

The OCZ RevoDrive X2 packaging looks the same as the original RevoDrive we reviewed here at OCC last year. The package is made of a sturdy cardboard material that provides excellent protection to the precious drive inside. On the front is the RevoDrive X2 and OCZ logos along with some key features of the device, including having internal RAID functionality, using SandForce controllers, and most intriguing, the ability to be bootable using the unique PCI Express x4 interface. On the back, there are more of the features as well as the specifications and size, alongside a picture of what the PCI Express drive looks like. This particular model we are going to be looking at is the 100GB version.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The RevoDrive X2 is secured very safely in a foam casing. This protects the PC Board and components from damage during movement. It is also wrapped in an anti-static bag to prevent electromagnetic static from damaging the electrical components. Included with the drive are the quick start guide and a sticker that says "My SSD is faster than you HDD". There is not much documentation included with the drive and there is no driver CD, so you will need to access OCZ's website for the necessary drivers for installation of your OS to the drive.

 

 

Now that the RevoDrive X2 is out of the box, we can take a closer look at the design.

Closer Look:

Just as with its little brother, the RevoDrive X2 is a PCI Express based drive that connects directly into an available x4 PCI Express port. This design allows the drive to eliminate the SATA II bottleneck of 3.0Gbps, giving the RevoDrive X2 the ability to reach top sequential speeds of 740MB/s and random small file writes of up to 120,000 IOPS. The RevoDrive X2 uses a unique onboard RAID-0 setup that offers a performance boot in a single drive configuration with the main and daughter board connecting to each other. The RevoDrive X2 comes in capacities from 100GB to a massive 960GB and all are supported with a three year warranty from OCZ to give you piece of mind when using your hardware. In addition, the drive is not only fast, but is bootable as well so there is no need for an additional boot drive to access the data on the RevoDrive X2.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Each bank of drives has its own SandForce SF-1222 controller chip. The NAND flash used for the drives are Intel model #29F32G08AAMD. The NAND is a 4GB chip that offers a total space of 128GB, minus the necessary amount set aside for the wear leveling and DureWrite technology through the controller. There are four total drives on this card, two directly attached and two on the daughter card. This setup gives you the ability to run all four in a RAID-0 setup for faster speeds or a combination of RAID-0, RAID-1, and RAID-5. Toward the front bracket, there are a series of activity LEDs that show the connection and activity of each drive bank. As I mentioned above, like its little brother, the RevoDrive X2 uses a PCI Express x4 interface for the faster transfers. This is connected to a bridge chip that turns the PCI data into data the RAID controller can read, which then passes to the drives.

 

 

 

With the daughter card removed, you can see how identical it is to the lower portion of the main card. The daughter card is secured on the main board using four screws and the connector itself. The board only adds a bit of height to the main card while maintaining the single slot profile for space. The daughter card itself is the same length and width as the drive portion of the main card, so it will fit snug and not hang over the main card.

 

 

To show the difference in the original RevoDrive and the RevoDrive X2, I took a couple of side-by-side shots of the two together. The bottom card is the original RevoDrive card and the top is the RevoDrive X2. As you can see, the physical dimensions are the same with the exception of a little bit of extra thickness on the RevoDrive X2 for the daughter card expansion.

 

 

Now that we have seen the RevoDrive X2 up close, let's pop her in and get on to the testing.

Closer Look:

Like other controllers or RAID cards, when you boot your system you are presented with the card's BIOS output. When the RevoDrive starts, it will display the BIOS output shown below. The information displayed shows you the BIOS version for the firmware on the drive for the SiL 3124 RAID controller. It also lists the individual drives that are present on the card — in this case, the four 23GB devices, as well as the RAID set and the drives assigned to it. To enter the configuration utility, just press F4 or Ctrl+S at the BIOS prompt and you will be able to configure the settings for the controller.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you enter the RAID Configuration Utility, you are presented with a series of options — Create RAID set, Delete (current) RAID set, Rebuild RAID-1 set (which is really pointless since the drives are soldered to the PC Board), Resolve Conflicts, Perform Low Level Format, or view the Logical Drive Information. In the Low Level Format section, you can format the first part of the drive, perform a secure format for each drive, or perform a quick format to erase any old information before making a new RAID array. In the Logical Drive Information menu, you can view the current RAID setup details, such as the stripe size for the RAID array.

 

 

When you click on the Create RAID Set menu, there are several options for you. Since this drive has four physical onboard SSDs, you have the options to create them in a RAID-0, RAID-1, RAID-5, or a RAID-10 setup, or even a combination of RAID-0 or RAID-1, based on your needs. When you select the Create RAID Set option, you are presented with an option to select the number of disks you want to use and then the stripe size. You also have the option for the system to manually configure the RAID set for you if you are not sure what you are doing. In the last screen, I also created two separate RAID-0 arrays on the same disk (46GB each) to show how you can set up the drives.

 

 

 

 

Now that we have the array created, we can install Windows 7 Professional and get on to the testing.

Specifications:

 
RevoDrive 100-160GB
RevoDrive 240-960GB
PERFORMANCE
Max Read:
Up to 740 MB/s
Up to 740 MB/s
Max Write:
Up to 690 MB/s
Up to 720 MB/s
Sustained Write:
Up to 550 MB/s
Up to 600 MB/s
4KB Random Write:
100,000 IOPS
120,000 IOPS
Seek Time:
0.1 ms
0.1 ms
PHYSICAL
Usable Capacities (IDEMA):
100GB, 160GB, 240GB, 360GB, 480GB, 720GB, 960GB
NAND Components:
Multi-Level Cell (MLC)
Interface:
PCI-Express Gen. 1
Form Factor:
PCI-Express x4 slot
Controllers:
4 x SandForce1222
Dimensions (L x W x H)
181.07 x 21.59x 126.39 mm
Weight
171g (may vary slightly depending on capacity)
ENVIRONMENTAL
Power Consumption:
Idle 4.3 Watts     Active: 8.3 Watts
Operating Temperature:
0°C ~ +70°C
Storage Temperature:
-45°C ~ +85°C
Shock Resistance:
1500G
Certifications:
RoHS, CE, FCC
RELIABILITY
MTBF:
2 million hours
ECC Recovery:
ECC:27 bytes of redundancy per 512bytes data. Up to twelve 9-bit symbols correctable
COMPATIBILITY
PCI-Express:
Fully compliant with the PCIe ElectromechanicalSpecification Rev. 1.1, and with the PCI-Express Base Specification Rev. 1.1
Operating System:
Windows XP 32/64-Bit; Windows Vista 32/64-Bit; Windows 7 32/64-Bit
Power Requirements:
Powered by the PCI-Express x4 Bus
ADDITIONAL FEATURES
Performance Optimization:
Onboard RAID 0
System Integration:
Bootable
Service & Support:
3-Year Warranty, Toll-Free Tech Support, 24 Hour Forum Support

 

Features:

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

Testing:

Now we can get to the part everyone has been waiting for, including myself! To test the RevoDrive X2 100GB, I installed it into the PCI Express x4 slot on the M4A89GTD PRO/USB motherboard running version 1606 for the BIOS. I used a clean install of Windows 7 Professional 64-bit and updated the OS before performing any of the benchmarks. All the tests for the RevoDrive X2 and the comparison drives were performed with the same updated fresh install of Windows 7 so you can get a real world look at the performance while using it as a boot drive. For the comparison drives, I included the original RevoDrive 50GB drive, several SandForce SF-1200 based drives, and a few Indilix based drives to show the differences. I also included a comparison RAID array made up of two SandForce SF-1222 based solid state drives running RAID-0 using the onboard controller running through the SB850 chipset of the motherboard. Throughout the testing, all the hardware remained at the same speeds, timings, voltages, and latencies to keep any variables from interfering with the scores.

 

Testing Setup:

 

Comparison Drives:

 

Benchmarks:

  1. HD Tune 3.50 Pro
  2. HD Tach
  3. SiSoft Sandra 2009
  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 3.50 Pro measures disk performance to make comparisons between drives or disk controllers. In the 3.50 Pro version, the user can measure not only drive performance as a whole, but more precise file benchmarks and a random access benchmark as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Benchmark:

 

 

 

File Benchmark:

 

 

 

 

 

Random Access Benchmark:

 

 

 

In the HD Tune tests, the lower file size tests were a bit slow, but when the larger sizes came into play, the RevoDrive X2 showed its true colors.

Testing:

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

Physical Disks

 

 

For the HD Tach and Sandra tests, the RevoDrive X2 held its stance, remaining on top.

Testing:

Crystal Disk Mark 2.2: Crystal Disk Mark is a hard drive benchmark designed to measure the read and write speeds for the drives in 4k blocks, 512k blocks, and sequential data. For the test, we chose the 100MB option.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Again, the RevoDrive X2 started off slow, but picked up and slammed the rest of the competition in the sequential tests.

Testing:

Atto Disk Benchmark v2.34: Atto Disk Benchmark is another aged, but good, hard drive benchmark utility designed to test read and write speeds for different file sizes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In ATTO, the 4k blocks started off slow, but in the 128k, 512k and 1M blocks, the RevoDrive X2 surpassed the rest of the test group.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In AS SSD, the RevoDrive X2 struggled a couple of times, but overall was the best drive in the bunch.

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, its use has become very wide spread within the industry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read:

 

 

 

Write:

 

 

 

In the IO Meter tests, the RevoDrive X2 was clearly the better drive.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The RevoDrive X2 was behind a bit in a couple of the sub tests, but overall it was the fastest drive.

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 the older you get the greater the chance is that you'll forget what you wanted to use the computer for in the first place! The sweet spot is about 30 seconds or less. With conventional hard drives it is possible, but very hard to attain this "golden" 30 second time. With the speed of SSDs, it should be easier, but there is only one way to tell and that 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 timed from the click of the shut down button in the start menu, until power was off to the system.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In both the Windows Startup and Shutdown tests, the RevoDrive X2 had the fastest times between all the comparisons.

Conclusion:

Just as with the original RevoDrive, the X2 version lives up to its reputation and delivers a massive boost of speed as a unique PCI Express hard drive platform. While the drive did have some issues with small file sizes, the overall transfer speeds were on par with the specifications that OCZ has designed the drive around. Some of the tests were almost dead on with the 700MB/s+ speeds, which are amazing for a single device setup. The ability to use the PCI Express BUS for transfers gives the RevoDrive X2 the edge. Installation was extremely simple — just install the drive, set the mode to AHCI and select the RevoDrive X2 as your boot device and away you go. Installing Windows 7 Professional 64-bit was a breeze with the high speeds of the drive, as were the startup and shutdown times, beating all other SSDs and mechanical drives I have ever tested.

One thing that carried over from the original RevoDrive series that I hoped would be re-adjusted is the heavy over provisioning for the SandForce controller — there is only 100GB of "space" on the drive despite there being 128GB of physical space on the NAND chips. That is a big chunk taken out and with the tweaks on standard SSDs giving back some of that room, it would be nice to have that done here as well. Another quirk, although not necessarily OCZ's fault, is that there is no TRIM support for RAID setups as of yet. While this is still not necessarily going to shorten the life of your drive, it would be nice to have that safeguard.

All in all, OCZ has taken an already awesome product and made it faster and better. If you are a speed junkie such as myself, you will really appreciate what the RevoDrive X2 has to offer. If you are wanting something to knock your socks off, then take this drive for a spin. You will not regret it.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: