OCZ has been on the forefront of the SSD revolution, with their affordable Core (v1/v2) series they have made a name for themselves, and lately with the performance previews of the new Apex SSD which features internal RAID-0 they are aiming to strike a balance between price/performance higher than the competition.
Using RAID-0 with SSD they quickly hit a bottleneck when using a SATA300 interface, with the next SATA interface speed bump still a few months away, they looked into an alternative method to squeeze more performance from a SSD RAID setup. Using a hardware based x8 PCI Express raid controller and 4x250Gb SSDs in RAID-0 they can offer an out of the box 1TB super speedy drive. PCIe 1.x x1 offers 250mb/s throughput, so their x8 card on a first generation PCIe motherboard has a theoretical limit of 2000mb/s, so there’s some headroom left!
They are using a ~$400 Highpoint RocketRAID 3520 PCI Express RAID card with 256Mb of DDR2 ECC memory as the local cache, and four MLC SSDs. They rate the Z-Drive as follows:
• Max Read: up to 600MB/s
• Max Write: up to 500MB/s
• Sustained Write: up to 400MB/s
Those are some extremely high figures, double of what the competition is currently offering in best case scenarios.
The physical drive doesn’t look like an SSD or HDD at all, since it’s based around a PCIe raid card it looks a lot more like a high end video card, size, depth and height wise!
Installation is plug and play, the only thing you’ll have to do is install the raid controller’s drivers in your OS of choice.
We only had a short time to play with the card and it was on a public booth using a OCZ configured system, the specs were:
It’s definitely not the most affordable system out there, but taking into account that the target audience for the Z-Drive will be very high end, it does make sense to match it with the appropriate hardware.