In our last SSD roundup, we took a look at a variety of drives with different controllers and NAND configurations. We found that those two factors make up a big part in dictating how a drive will perform. The drive that we're reviewing today, OCZ's 240GB Vertex 3 Max IOPS SSD, has a controller and NAND configuration that we haven't examined before, so it will be interesting to see how it compares. Positioned up-market compared to the Vertex 3 that was awarded our Editor's Choice award in our SSD Roundup, we'll see what the Max IOPS variant brings to the table.
• MLC NAND Flash
• Interface: SATA 6Gbps / Backwards Compatible 3Gbps
• Native TRIM support
• Seek Time: .1ms
• Slim 2.5" Design
• 99.8 x 69.63 x 9.3mm
• Lightweight: 77g
• Operating Temp: 0°C ~ 70°C
• Ambient Temp: 0°C ~ 55°C
• Storage Temp: -45Â°C ~ 85Â°C
• Low Power Consumption: 3W Active, 1.65W Idle
• Shock Resistant up to 1500G
• RAID Support
• Included 3.5" Desktop adapter bracket
• Compatible with Windows 7, Vista, XP 32-bit/64-bit, Mac OSX
• MTBF: 2 million hours
• 3-Year Warranty
If you've recently read our last SSD Roundup, then OCZ's Vertex 3 Max IOPS drive should look familiar. On the outside, it looks almost exactly the same as the original Vertex 3 drive. The only differences are that the references to the "Vertex 3" model name now have "Max IOPS" appended to them. The same two piece metal enclosure is used for the Max IOPS drive as the original Vertex 3.
The long sides of the drive have two screw holes each. These are for installing/mounting the drive. The holes are in standard location, so compatibility should be fine as long as the drive bay/slot supports standard 2.5" drives with 9.5mm height. Apple based computers with 2.5" drives conform to this standard.
The bottom of the Max IOPS is basically a metal plate with screw holes and stickers. There are two sets of four screw holes, one set for mounting and the other to hold down the top cover. The stickers contain product information and handling/usage warnings.
The only connectors on the Vertex 3 Max IOPS drive are standard SATAIII (6Gbps) data and power connectors.
As the Vertex 3 Max IOPS series was designed for top end performance, it's no surprise that LSI's SandForce SF-2281 SSD controller is found under the hood. What differs from the other SandForce based drives we've tested previously is the choice of NAND. Sixteen modules of 32nm toggle NAND from Toshiba are used.
Each of the toggle NAND modules contains four dies, which each die contributing 4GB of storage capacity each. This adds up to 256GB, with 16GB reserved for overprovisioning. There are a whopping 64 dies across all of the modules, which results in 8 dies per SF-2281 flash channel, and thus 8-way interleaving. We found earlier in comparing drives with 2-way vs 4-way interleaving, that the higher level of interleaving results in higher performance in some situations due to reduced latencies. There may be a benefit in going to 8-way interleaving with the Max IOPS drive, but the gains will probably be much less compared to 2-way vs 4-way.
One of the benefits in using 32nm NAND for the Max IOPS instead of 25nm MLC NAND that is present in most other current generation SSDs, is longer life expectancy. The 32nm NAND is rated for 5000 program/erase cycles, whereas 25nm MLC NAND is rated for 3000 cycles. Performance wise, synchronous MLC NAND and 32nm toggle NAND modules are rated the same at 133MB/s. While most users will never come close to going over the usage cycle rating, having extra durability and longevity of flash cells is a good thing.