Introduction and Packaging
Since the Vertex LE hit the streets a couple of months back, we’ve been waiting for a larger market push of the excellent SandForce controller. Today we review three new models that have just arrived on the market, comparing offerings from both Corsair and OCZ.
Back in January we took our first look at SandForce, in the form of the OCZ Vertex 2 Pro. While that model never saw the light of day, OCZ followed it up in February with the Vertex LE. The LE dropped some of the enterprise level features and backed off on the overprovisioning, leaving more flash available for the user. While this caused a slight performance hit over the previous SuperCap-equipped model, performance was still quite good.
Two months later we see three more units hit the market, hopefully pushing the SandForce controller into the mainstream:
OCZ has chosen to produce two different variants of the SandForce – the Vertex 2 and the Agility 2. Back in the Indilinx days, the Vertex used Samsung flash, while the Agility used flash conforming to the ONFi standard. While the Agility was meant to be a cheaper and slower drive, it ended up besting the Vertex in some specific areas, namely small random access. With these new drives there has been a complete shift to ONFi flash, meaning you will find chips from either Intel, Micron, or Toshiba inside. With both OCZ models sharing the same flash parts, the difference between them now boils down to firmware tuning, with the Vertex reportedly more resilient to sustained small random writes.
Corsair has kept things simple by producing a single model line in the form of the Force Series. Part numbers were also kept simple, as all Force Series drives will start their model number with an ‘F’. The Corsair Force models use the standard SandForce firmware.
The SandForce controller functional block diagram.
There appears to have been a mentality shift in packaging of SSD’s. Lately nearly everyone has included some form of 3.5″ mounting bracket. While not as beefy as those old school floppy drive adapters, a simple adapter tray does the job just fine for a lightweight SSD. While laptop users will just leave this added piece in the box, it is a welcome addition for when it’s needed.