All Indilinx Drives Are Built Alike

G.Skill, OCZ, Super Talent and Patriot all sent their Indilinx MLC drives in for review. If you take the drives apart you see that most are the very same on the inside, despite differences externally:


From Left to Right: OCZ Vertex Turbo, OCZ Agility, Patriot Torqx, G.Skill Falcon and Super Talent UltraDrive GX. Only the Super Talent drive uses a different PCB design.

Even the packaging doesn’t appear to vary much between manufacturers; that part I don’t really understand. All that seems to change is the artwork on the outside.

There are some minor differences between drives. Patriot ships its Torqx with a 2.5” to 3.5” drive bay adapter, a nice addition. The Torqx also comes with a 10 year warranty, the longest of any Indilinx based manufacturer. OCZ is next with a 3 year warranty, followed by Super Talent and G.Skill at 2 years.

Indilinx is still a very small company so it relies on its customers to help with validation, testing and even provide feedback for firmware development. As far as I can tell, every single Indilinx customer gets the same firmware revisions. Some vendors choose to rename the firmware revisions, while others do not. OCZ calls its latest stable firmware 1.30, while G.Skill, Super Talent and Patriot call it 1571.


The Indilinx Barefoot controller (right), powered by an ARM core.

Of all the Indilinxites, OCZ and Super Talent work closest with the controller manufacturer. In exchange for their help in manufacturing and validation, OCZ and Super Talent also get access to the latest firmwares earlier than the rest of the manufacturers. Ultimately all manufacturers will get access to the same firmware, it just takes longer if you’re not OCZ or Super Talent.

You no longer need to use a jumper to upgrade your firmware, provided that you’re already running fw revision 1275 or later. If you have a previous version you’re pretty much out of luck as you need to upgrade to 1275 first before upgrading to anything else, and none of the manufacturers make it easy to do. Some don’t even offer links to the necessary firmware you’d need to jump to 1275. Thankfully pretty much anything you buy today should come nearly up to date, so this mostly impacts the original customers of the drive.

Performance, as you’d expect, is the same regardless of manufacturer:

There's normal variance between drives depending on the flash/controller, that's why the OCZ Vertex is slower than the Patriot Torqx here but faster than the Super Talent UltraDrive GX. The manufacturer and size of the flash has more to do with determining performance. Samsung is used on all of these drives but the larger the drive, the better the performance. The 256GB model here will always be faster than a 128GB drive, which will always be faster than a 64GB, etc...

All of the drives here use the same firmware (1571) except for one of the Super Talent drives. That drive is using the beta 1711 firmware with TRIM support that was pulled.

When it comes to the best overall package, I’d say Patriot’s Torqx is the nicest for a desktop customer. You get a 3.5” adapter bracket and a 10 year warranty (although it’s difficult to predict what Patriot’s replacement strategy will be in 10 years).


The Patriot Torqx bundle, complete with a 2.5" to 3.5" adapter.

Prices vary a bit between manufacturers, although most of the more expensive drives here have a $30 rebate to bring their prices in line:

  Price for 128GB
Corsair Extreme Series $384.00
OCZ Agility $329.00
OCZ Vertex $369.00
OCZ Vertex Turbo $439.00
Patriot Torqx $354.99

 

OCZ does do some unique things that the other manufacturers don’t such as deliver an overclocked drive (Turbo) and a drive with slower flash (Agility). There’s a Mac Edition of the Vertex, unfortunately it’s no different than the regular drive - it just has a different sticker on it and a higher pricetag.

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  • Wwhat - Sunday, September 06, 2009 - link

    If you read the first part of the article alone you would see how important a good controller is in a SSD and you would no ask his question probably, plus SSD's use the flash in parallel where a bunch of USB drives would not, the parallel thing is also mentioned in the article.
    And USB has a lot of overhead actually on the system, both in CPU cycles as well as in IO interrupts.

    There are plug in PCI(e) cards to stick SD cards in though, to get a similar setup, but it's a bit of a hack and with the overhead and the management and controllers used and the price to buy many SD cards it's not competitive in the end and you are better of with a real SSD I'm told.
    Reply
  • Transisto - Sunday, September 06, 2009 - link

    You are right, the controller is very important.

    I think caching about 4-8 gig of most often accessed program files has the best price/performance ratio, for improving application load time. It it also very easily scalable.

    One of the problem I see is integrating this ssd cache in the OS or before booting so it act where it matter the most.

    I think there could be a near x25-m speedup from optimized caching and good controller no matter what SSD form factor it rely on. SD, CF, usb , pci or onboard.

    Why it seams nobody talk about eboostr type of caching AND ,,, on other news ,,, Intel's Braidwood flash memory module could kill SSD market.

    I am quite of a performance seeker.

    But I don't think I need 80gig of SSD in my desktop,just some 8gb of good caching. Mabe a 60gb ssd on a laptop.

    Well... I'm gonna pay for that controller once, not twice (160gb?)
    Reply
  • Wwhat - Saturday, September 05, 2009 - link

    Not that it's not a good article, although it does seem like 2 articles in one, but what I miss is getting to brass tacks regarding the filesystem used, and why there isn't a SSD-specific file system made, and what choices can be made during formatting in regards to blocksize, obviously if you select large blocks on filesystem level a would impact he performance of the garbage collection right? It actually seem the author never delved very deeply into filesystems from reading this.
    The thing is that even with large blocks on filesystem level the system might still use small segments for the actuall keepin track, and if it needs to write small bits to keep track of large blocks you'd still have issues, that's why I say a specific SSD filesystem migh be good, but only if there isn't a new form of SSD in the near future that makes the effort poinless, and if a filesystem for SSD was made then the firmware should not try to compensate for exising filesystem issues with SSD's.
    I read that the SD people selected exFAT as filesystem for their next generation, and that also makes me wonder, is that just to do with licensing costs or is NTFS bad for flash based devices?
    Point being at the filesystem needs to be highlighted more I think,
    Reply
  • Bolas - Friday, September 04, 2009 - link

    Would someone please hit Dell with the clue-board and convince them to offer the Intel SSD's in their Alienware systems? The Samsung SSD's are all that is stopping me from buying an Alienware laptop at the moment. Reply
  • EatTheMeat - Friday, September 04, 2009 - link

    Congratulations on another fab masterclass. This is easily the best educational material on the internet regarding SSDs, and contrary to some comments, I think you've pitched your recommendations just right. I can also appreciate why you approached this article with some trepidation. Bravo.

    I have a RAID question for Anand (or anyone else who feels qualified :-))

    I'm thinking of setting up 2 160GB x25-m G2 drives in RAID-0 for Win 7. I'd simply use the ICH10R controller for it. It's not so much to increase performance but rather to increase capacity and make sure each drive wears equally. After considering it further I'm wondering if SSD RAID is wise. First there's the eternal question of stripe size and write amplification. It makes sense to me to set the stripe size to be the same as, or a fraction of, the block size of the SSD. If you choose the wrong stripe size does it influence write amplification?

    I'm aware that performance should increase with larger spripes, but I'm more concerned about what's healthy for the SSD.

    Do you think I should just let SSD RAID wait until RAID drivers are optimised for SSDs?

    I know you're planning a RAID article for SSDs - I for one look forward to it greatly. I've read all your other SSD articles like four times!
    Reply
  • Bolas - Friday, September 04, 2009 - link

    If SSD's in RAID lose the benefit of the TRIM command, then you're shooting yourself in the foot if you set them up in RAID. If you need more capacity, wait for the Intel 320GB SSD drives next year. Or better yet, use a 160 GB for your boot drive, then set up some traditional hard disk drives in RAID for your storage requirements. Reply
  • EatTheMeat - Friday, September 04, 2009 - link

    Thanks for reply. I definitely hear you about the TRIM functionality as I doubt RAID drivers will pass this through before 2010. Still though, it doesn't look like the G2s drop much in performance with use anyway from Anand's graphs. With regard to waiting for 320 GB drives - I can't. These things are just too enticing, and you could always say that technology will be better / faster / cheaper next year. I've decided to take the plunge now as I'm fed up with an i7 965 booting and loading apps / games like a snail even from a RAID drive.

    I just don't want to bugger the SSDs up with loads of write amplification / fragmentation due to RAID-0. ie, is RAID-0 bad for the health of SSDs like defragmentation / prefetch is? I wonder if anyone knows the answer to this question yet.
    Reply
  • jagreenm - Saturday, September 05, 2009 - link

    What about just using Windows drive spanning for 2 160's? Reply
  • EatTheMeat - Saturday, September 05, 2009 - link

    As far as I know drive spanning doesn't even the wear between the discs. It just fills up first one and then the other. That's important with SSDs because RAID can really help reduce drive wear by spreading all reads and writes across 2 drives. In fact, it should more than half drive wear as both drives will have large scratch portions. Not so with spanning as far as I know.

    Does anyone know if I'm talking sh1t here? :-)
    Reply
  • pepito - Monday, November 16, 2009 - link

    If you are not sure, then why do you assert such things?

    I don't know about Windows, but at least in Linux when using LVM2 or RAID0 the writes spread evenly against all block devices.
    That means you get twice the speed and better drive wear.

    I would like to think that microsoft's implementation works more or less the same way, as this is completely logical (but then again, its microsoft, so who can really know?).
    Reply

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