OCZ Octane 512GB SSD Review

Author: Chris Ledenican
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Monday, March 19th, 2012
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Hardware/s/OCZ_Octane_512GB/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.

It has been nearly a year since OCZ acquired Indilinx, and today we are examining the first in-house solid state drive design to emerge since the acquisition; the Indilinx Everest controller. This is a big deal mainly because there are only a handful of SSD controllers on the market, and the largest share is controlled by SandForce. With this new controller OCZ could upend the SF dominance, as their new Everest based Octane series SSDs promise exceptional read performance, and with a quick update to the firmware is also optimized for 4k write performance.

Let us dive right into what makes the OCZ Octane SSD tick. First off, the Octane series utilizes a SATA 6Gbps interface with read speeds of up to 480MB/s and max write speeds up to 330MB/s. What makes the Octane series different is the Everest controller, which comes teamed with Intel 25nm 2-bit-per-cell MLC synchronous NAND. Additionally, the Octane drives include a 512MB DRAM chip that works as a cache buffer. The controller also boasts full TRIM support and has built-in AES data encryption.

The Octane series is available in both SATA 3Gbps and 6GBps variants and has storage capacity ratings up to 1TB! The drive we received from OCZ comes with 512GB of siorage capacity, and to ensure the best possible performance we updated the BIOS to reflect the faster 4K write performance.

Specifications
Availability
128GB, 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB capacities
Performance
  • Max Read: up to 480MB/s
  • Max Write: up to 330MB/s
NAND
MLC NAND Flash
Interface
SATA 6Gbps / Backwards compatible 3Gbps
TRIM Support
Yes
Seek Time
0.06ms Read; 0.09ms Write
Design
Slim 2.5" design
dimensions 99.8 (L) x 69.63 (W) x 9.3 mm (H)
Weight
83g
Operating Temp
0°C ~ 70°C
Ambient Temp
0°C ~ 55°C
Storage Temp
-45°C ~ 85°C
Power Consumption
 1.98W active,1.15W standby
Shock Resistant
Up to 1500G
compatibility Windows XP, Vista, 7 (32/64 bit), Linux, Mac OSX
MTBF
1,250,000 hours
Warranty
3 years

To package the Octane drives, OCZ has gone with a simple blister pack enclosure that displays the drive through the front as well as listing key features such as the drives series, capacity  and controller. Since the drive we are examining utilizes the SATA III interface, the packaging and product color scheme is orange, whereas if the drive was based on a SATA II design, the packaging would in fact be blue.

The reverse side of the packaging lists more features and technology support of the Octane series including the SATA interface, type of flash memory, controller and native TRIM support. These are then followed by a short paragraph that describes the benefits of owning this particular SSD, and an even shorter description of the drive in multiple languages. Inside the packaging, OCZ has included a quick installation guide and a product sticker that allows you to boldly proclaim, "my SSD is faster than your HDD."

All Octane series drives utilize a standard 2.5" enclosure made of both plastic and aluminum. The front of the drive is solid black, and has a product sticker that extends across the majority of the enclosure, while the reverse side has a sleek brushed aluminum panel. Like front, the rear panel also has a product sticker, however this panel also includes the SATA data and power connectors as well as a smaller sticker at the bottom left that voids the product warranty if removed.

The 512GB OCZ Octane SSD is a SATA 6Gb/s storage device that supports read speeds of up to 480MB/s and write speeds of 330MB/s, and when running v1.13 firmware the 4KB random write performance is increased from 16,000 IOPS to 26,000 IOPS. Unlike SandForce-based drives where the read and write speeds stay constant across capacity levels, the Everett controller has varying speeds depending on the storage rating. 

Additionally, the OCZ Octane SSD comes with a host of technologies to improve performance. These include native TRIM support, AES data encryption, Boot Time Reduction Optimization, background garbage collection SMART, and OCZ proprietary NDurance technology which is designed to increase the lifespan of the NAND flash memory and minimize performance degradation.

As mentioned earlier, unlike most SSD's currently on the market, the Octane series is not based on the SandForce controller. Instead, it uses an in-house Indilinx Everest controller that supports up to eight channels and 16-way interleaving. In total the PCB includes 16 25nm 2-bit-per-cell MLC synchronous NAND modules manufactured by Intel and each having a 32GB capacity. This gives a max capacity of 512GB, which translates into 476GB after accounting for the 7% over-provisioning.

Since the Indilinx Everest controller doesn't utilize a real-time compression algorithm, it relies on dual 256MB (512MB Total) DRAM modules to act as a storage cache. Additionally, the controller is based on the ARM architecture and has dual core design. These features boost the overall performance of the drive and allow data to be stored in the DRAM modules instead of compressing in real-time, which should allow the Octane drive to deliver robust performance when transferring compressed data such as MP3, JPEG and RAW files, along with better performance at low queue depths.

Test Setup

Benchmarks Used

Windows 7 Boot & Shutdown

The title of this test says it all. To test the start up speed we enter the boot manager prior to entering Windows and select the drive we are currently testing. Once we have selected the drive we record the time it takes from the time we hit "Enter" in the boot manager, until the desktop has appeared and the LAN is connected.

The Shut Down test is also recorded via a stop watch, but for this test we shut down all applications and test the time it takes for the system to fully power down after we hit the "Shut Down" button.

The Octane drive did a fantastic job when it came to shutting the test PC down, as it managed to match all the other SATA III drives we have tested thus far. However, the boot time testing didn't fare as well. Looking over the other reviews of the Octane drive, it didn't necessarily show the same results across the board, so this could be related to the v1.13 firmware instead of the inherent boot time optimization. Still, booting into Windows within 30 seconds is still incredibly fast, and well ahead of any mechanical HDD.

Call of Juarez

This time, the score used is not the benchmark score, but rather the time it takes to load.

Far Cry 2

It's the same principle here for Far Cry 2's built-in benchmark.

Once again the Octane drive didn't prove to be the fastest drive, but it performs at roughly the same level as the SandForce SATA III drives.

Futuremark PCMark Vantage

PCMark is a benchmarking suite from FutureMark, who also make the renown 3DMark. It includes many tests to calculate overall system performance including hard drive performance. The hard drive suite performs tasks such as scanning for viruses, streaming, recording and more. It is a fairly good indicative of general real-world performance.

Futuremark PCMark 7

PCMark resembles a lot to the 3DMark suite from FutureMark, except the fact that it includes many other tests like hard drive speed, memory and processor power, so it is considered as a system benchmark and not just a gaming benchmark.

The results in our labs continue to highlight how the Everest controller underperforms compared to the SandForce based drives, though not by a wide margin.

Futuremark PCMark 7

PCMark resembles a lot to the 3DMark suite from FutureMark, except the fact that it includes many other tests like hard drive speed, memory and processor power, so it is considered as a system benchmark and not just a gaming benchmark.

The categorized results in this benchmark go a long way in explaining why the Octane drive is not performing at the same level as the SandForce drives. While the Octane drive has great performance when it comes to importing images and running Windows defender, it falls flat in other areas such as starting apps and gaming. So, while the drive does have great performance in some areas, others are just not at the same level as the fastest SandForce drives.

SiSoftware Sandra 2009

Sandra, by SiSoftware, is a tool capable of benchmarking about every component found inside a computer. In this case, we are using the physical disk tool, which measures read and write performance of a given drive.

The Sandra physical disk benchmarks really show off the great read performance of the Octane drive, but unfortunately the write performance wasn't at the same level. Just calling this a win for SandForce isn't entirely accurately though, as the difference between the two controllers would not necessarily be noticeable to the average consumer. Of course things would be different in the enterprise market, but for the average user the difference in write performance is not going to have a noticeable impact in their daily computing tasks.

 

ATTO Disk Benchmark

The ATTO disk Benchmark, developed by a company of the same name, measures the storage systems performance with various transfer sizes and test lengths for reads and writes. Once again, the first graph in order shows results from the Corsair Performance Pro, 120GB Patriot Pryo SE, 240GB Patriot Pyro SE, RAID 0 Patriot Pyro SE, Patriot Pyro, Corsair Force GT, Corsair Force.

 

 

 

The Octane drive displayed solid numbers when it came to read performance, but the SandForce-based drives again offer better overall write performance.

File Copy

This test consists of copying our standard 100MB, 500MB and 1GB folder also used in our WinRAR test from one partition to the other, thus requiring reads and writes. The chronometer is started as soon as the "paste" button is clicked and is stopped whenever the window indicating the copy status disappears.

Our file copy tests show no difference between the SandForce drives and Everest drive when it comes to transferring small to medium sized files.

AS SSD

While most other storage benchmarks are designed with mechanical hard drives in mind, AS SSD, developed by Alex Schepeljanski, is built specifically for solid state drives. The application measure sequential and random read and write performance as well as access time. The performance charts below are as followed: Corsair Performance Pro, 120GB Patriot Pryo SE, 240GB Patriot Pyro SE, RAID 0 Patriot Pyro SE, Patriot Pyro, Corsair Force GT, Corsair Force.

 

 

 

Like the previous tests, here the Octane drive delivered mixed results. The sequential read and write performance was excellent, as was the the 4K write performance. The Octane drive did take a hit in the 4K-64 write testing though,  but overall it came out quite well.

It was nice to test something new in the form of OCZ Octane SSD, as the majority of SSDs entering our labs on a daily basis are all powered by the SandForce controller and only vary in the type of NAND flash being used. The Octane series however is an entirely new architecture that leverages the architecture of the previous generation Indilinx controller, but updates it enough to take advantage of SATA 6Gb/s speeds. This allowed the Octane series to deliver performance similar to drives based on the SandForce controller in most cases, but since the Octane series doesn’t rely on real-time compression it excelled when it came to transferring compressed data such as MP3, JPEG and RAW files, as well as anything with low queue depths. So, when it comes to all out performance the Octane series is able to hang with even the best SandForce based drives.

That said, the write performance just wasn’t at the same level as drives based on the SandFoce controller. We used the updated firmware in our review to improve the random 4K write performance, which did make a considerable difference and nearly doubled the 4K write performance. However, the write performance and random-address operations as a whole were not quite as fast as the Sandforce drives. This isn’t necessary going to have a major impact on day-to-day tasks unless massive amounts of data are being written to the drive for whatever reason, so the lower write performance would really only be noticeable in an enterprise system. Additionally, read performance is going to make a larger impact on performance in the consumer market and in this regard the Octane drive is able to keep pace with most SandForce drives.

Of course, one of the biggest issues with any Indilinx based drive is the varying performance between larger and smaller drives. We tested the 512GB model, which is currently the highest capacity available in the Octane series. This means the performance seen in this review will not be indicative of those for lower capacity models. There is also the issue of write amplification, which in our testing was minimal due to the on-board cache and TRIM support, but we did notice some performance loss when testing the drive.

Overall, the Octane series proves an excellent alternative to SandForce based drives, but OCZ is going to have to fine tune the controller just a bit more before it is able to compete against SandForce drives on all fronts.

»Neoseeker.com

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