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OCZ RevoDrive 3 X2 480GB PCIe SSD Review

Although the latest SSDs are out with SATA 6Gbps interfaces and putting out some impressive performance, it’s not enough for some who have taken to build RAID 0 arrays to eke out as much performance as possible. The downside to that is not only the cost of the extra drive and RAID card but you miss out on TRIM which can really hinder performance over time. Not to mention the double risk of data loss should a drive fail. OCZ made RAID 0 SSD configurations easy and less risky with their first two iterations of the PCI-E based RevoDrive, but still lacked the ability to pass the TRIM command from the OS. That changes with the all new RevoDrive 3 X2 drive as the line matures and offers staggeringly fast performance.

With just sick read and writes speeds of 1500MB/s and 1250MB/s respectively, the PCI-E (Gen2 x4) based bootable drive also busts out some serious IOPS – up to 200k. All this and yes, it supports TRIM. Of course, it comes at a price as all things do. OCZ informed us that the MSRP on the three available capacities is $699.99, $1699.99 and $3199.99 for 240GB, 480 GB and 960 GB respectively. Obviously, these are aimed squarely at the high-end enthusiast, prosumer and enterprise crowd. Like the former X2 drive, driving the performance is a quartet of SandForce controllers although these are of the SF-2281 variety.

OCZ RevoDrive 3 X2 480GB SSD Features and Specifications:

  • Max Read: 1500 MB/s
  • Max Write: 1250 MB/s
  • 4KB Random Write (QD64, 4K Aligned, 8GB LBA): 200,000 IOPS
  • PCI-Express SSD (PCIe Gen2 x4) designed to deliver both ultra-high performance and affordability for high-power users, multimedia designers, and workstation applications.
  • Bootable drive (unique from competing solutions) so users can enjoy enhanced OS performance
  • OCZ SuperScale™ storage accelerator enables scalable SSD performance and reduces the host CPU burden inherent to competing PCIe solutions. This controller, combined with VCA 2.0, provides unique benefits to the user by allowing certain DMA and data management functions including OCZ’s unique command queuing and queue balancing algorithms to be handled by the onboard processing core, resulting in higher drive performance and minimized burden on the host CPU.
  • Utilizes OCZ proprietary VCA 2.0 (Virtualized Controller Architecture) which provides features including TRIM and SMART data monitoring. This follow up to VCA presents as a complete storage subsystem, but with an improved and expanded feature-set allowing users unprecedented flexibility and industry-leading performance and reliability.
  • VCA 2.0 also provides a highly intelligent Complex Command Queuing Structure (CCQS) that utilizes both Native and Tagged Command Queuing. This is a unique technology that enables command switching and balancing based on OCZ’s proprietary Queue Balancing Algorithm (QBA), which balances drive loading, while maximizing internal bandwidth for nearly linear performance aggregation.
  • Implements multiple SandForce 2200 controllers for greater performance and endurance.
  • Cost-effective 25nm MLC flash with enhanced reliability

What makes all of this possible (get ready for the technical jargon) is OCZ’s VCA 2.0 (Virtualized Controller Architecture) and their SuperScale storage controller. The VCA 2.0 technology aggregates performance across a pool of Virtual Logical Drives (LUNs) through virtualization. It allows some DMA or data management functions, including OCZ’s command queuing and Queue Balance Algorithms (QBA), to be handled on the drive which abates the load placed on the host CPU keeping overhead on the system low. What all this means is that they forgo a traditional RAID controller and rely on NAND Array virtualization, accessing the NAND in parallel. Since there is no actual RAID controller, they are able to pass the TRIM command which is not found in other drives of similar design.

A version of this technology has been present on OCZ’s Z-Drive R3, so it’s not exactly brand new but it puts OCZ in a unique position offering a product that’s in reach of consumers financially (as compared to other PCI-E drives), as well as offering a combination of performance and features not found elsewhere. Compared to the very capable Vertex 3 drive, you can see the performance is leaps and bounds better while the price per GB is relatively close – at least on the smaller 240 GB drive (source: OCZ).

Let’s a have a closer look at this beast.

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