Thirteen months ago OCZ announced its intention to acquire Indilinx, the SSD controller maker that gave Intel its first taste of competition in the consumer market in 2009. Eight months later, OCZ launched its first post-acquisition SSD based on Indilinx silicon. Today, just five months after the launch of the Octane, OCZ is officially releasing the Vertex 4 – based on its Indilinx Everest 2 silicon. In less than a year, OCZ has brought to market more Indilinx powered controllers than Indilinx did in the previous three years. It's rare that you see the fruits of acquisition so quickly, but if there's anything OCZ's CEO Ryan Petersen is good at it's pushing for an aggressive schedule.

Rather than call this drive the Octane 2, OCZ went with Vertex 4, indicating its rightful place at the top of OCZ's SSD lineup. The implications run even deeper. It marks the first time in two years that a Vertex drive will ship without a SandForce controller inside. Make no mistake, while Octane was a shot across SandForce's bow, Vertex 4 means war. While OCZ continues to ship tons of SandForce controllers, the future for the company is Indilinx. The Vertex 4 is just the beginning. OCZ will continue to ship Vertex 3 in parallel, and should a future SandForce controller make competitive sense to use OCZ will definitely consider it, but the intention is to build the fastest silicon internally and use it as much as possible.

The dramatic departure in naming also embodies just how different Everest 2 is from the original Everest controller. OCZ claims there's minimal shared code between the Octane and Vertex 4 firmware, and the two drives perform very differently. Write amplification was always a concern with the Octane - it is no longer a major issue with the Vertex 4. OCZ and its Indilinx team have reduced write amplification to roughly the levels of Intel's controllers:

Estimated Worst Case Write Amplification

Indeed write performance is improved significantly as a result. A look at the spec sheet gives us the first indication of what's to come:

OCZ SSD Comparison
  OCZ Vertex 4 OCZ Vertex 3 OCZ Octane OCZ Vertex 2
Current NAND 25nm IMFT MLC 25nm IMFT MLC 25nm IMFT MLC 25nm IMFT MLC
Capacities 128, 256, 512GB 60, 90, 120, 240, 480GB 128, 256, 512GB, 1TB 60, 120, 240GB
Controller Indilinx Everest 2 SF-2281 Indilinx Everest SF-1221
Max Seq Read 535 MB/s 550 MB/s 480 MB/s 285 MB/s
Max Seq Write 475 MB/s 500 MB/s 330 MB/s 275 MB/s
Max Random Read 95K IOPS 60K IOPS 26K IOPS -
Max Random Write 85K IOPS 85K IOPS 35K IOPS 50K IOPS
AES-256 Encryption Yes Yes Yes No

Regardless of the nature of the data (compressible or incompressible), the Everest 2 powered Vertex 4 promises better random write performance than any other consumer SSD on the market today. And it delivers:

Desktop Iometer - 4KB Random Write (4K Aligned) - 8GB LBA Space

Random write speed is nothing short of incredible. OCZ is able to equal SandForce's write speed on highly compressible data without resorting to any sort of data compression. This is a purely algorithmic advantage. While the original Everest was a work in progress by the time OCZ acquired the company, Everest 2 is the first Indilinx project OCZ had complete control over. Apparently OCZ's CEO, Ryan Petersen had a lot of his own input built into this design.

OCZ Vertex 4 Lineup
  512GB 256GB 128GB
NAND Configuration 16 x 32GB 25nm Intel sync NAND 16 x 16GB 25nm Intel sync NAND 8 x 16GB 25nm Intel sync NAND
DRAM 2 x 512MB DDR3-800 2 x 512MB DDR3-800*
2 x 512MB DDR3-800*
Controller Indilinx Everest 2 Indilinx Everest 2 Indilinx Everest 2
Max Seq Read 535 MB/s 535 MB/s 535 MB/s
Max Seq Write 475 MB/s 380 MB/s 200 MB/s
Max Random Read 95K IOPS 90K IOPS 90K IOPS
Max Random Write 85K IOPS 85K IOPS 85K IOPS
MSRP $699 $349 $179
*Only 512MB of DDR3 will be used, future versions will ship with 2 x 256MB devices

The Vertex 4 will be available in three capacities initially – 128GB, 256GB and 512GB, with a 1TB version following. Drives should be available today but in very limited quantities, and likely only 128GB capacities at the start. MSRP is fairly competitive with other 6Gbps drives on the market today:

SSD Pricing Comparison
  128GB 256GB 512GB
Crucial m4 $154.99 $299.99 $549.99
Intel SSD 520 $184.99 $344.99 $799.99
Samsung SSD 830 $174.99 $299.99 $779.99
OCZ Octane $199.99 $339.99 $849.99
OCZ Vertex 3 $199.99 $339.99 $1199.99
OCZ Vertex 4 $179 MSRP $349 MSRP $699 MSRP
Inside the Vertex 4
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  • Denithor - Wednesday, April 04, 2012 - link

    You seem to have forgotten Octane, 'the 1st time that ocz now owns the controller and firmware that goes into the product.'

    And, as far as I've heard, Intel was the only one to truly fix the BSOD associated with the SandForce controller. Others made improvements and reduced the frequency but Intel downright fixed it.
    Reply
  • id_aaa - Wednesday, April 11, 2012 - link

    I'm not buying a controlled, I'm buying an SSD, and they delivered a crappy SSD, why should I trust OCZ now? Reply
  • semo - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    Yep, OCZ are smiley and I won't buy a product from them as long as there are competitive alternatives. They still haven't issued a mass recall of their first 25nm drives which did not have as much capacity as per their specs. OCZ blamed it on Sandforce's RAISE technology and waited for customers to contact them before replacing the affected SSDs. No one knows how many of those duds were sold and how many were replaced. Reply
  • kristof007 - Thursday, April 05, 2012 - link

    I've been using my Vertex 2 for just over 2 years now. 120GB model. Not a single hiccup. I'd call that fairly reliable. Reply
  • PaulSabey - Wednesday, February 27, 2013 - link

    My 120gb Vertex 2 (bought March 2011) had been running without a hiccup for nearly two years. Then yesterday it just spontaneously failed (BIOS could not even see the drive as present). I guess you can think your drive is totally reliable .. until the moment it fails. Reply
  • Breach1337 - Saturday, April 07, 2012 - link

    Same here.Vertex 3 owner - although a great product for months I had a unfit for purpose product, no support and no fix from OCZ and on top of that people were treated with utter condescending arrogance on the forums, asked to effectively troubleshoot the product and if you refused to do that you were not cooperating. Sorry, but never OCZ for me ever again. Reply
  • pattycake0147 - Wednesday, April 04, 2012 - link

    I can live with the lower read speeds, but the power consumption is too high. That said if reliability holds up, sounds like I'll be getting a new drive this year.

    Great review Anand!
    Reply
  • ViviTheMage - Wednesday, April 04, 2012 - link

    If this was going in a laptop, MAYBE I would be concerned, but what's a few watts for some more tasty iops? Reply
  • pattycake0147 - Wednesday, April 04, 2012 - link

    A laptop is exactly what I would like to use it for. Both of my desktops already have SSD/HDD combos. Reply
  • vol7ron - Wednesday, April 04, 2012 - link

    Exactly, and it's where power consumption matters even more.

    I'd also like to see where the OWC drives fit in.
    Reply

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