OCZ Octane 512GB Review (Page 2 of 10)

Page 2 - A Closer Look, Installation, Test System

Before we move onto the fancy technical details about OCZ's Indilinx Everest based solid state drive, let's briefly discuss the physical attributes of the SSD first. The OCZ Octane 512GB appears to be identical to every other OCZ drive we have reviewed in the past, with the exception of the sticker in the middle now modified to reflect this change. However, once you pick it up, you will notice where the difference is. Rather than the usual aluminum housing, the top cover is actually made out of plastic. Usually, aluminum is desirable because it is lightweight and dissipates heat well, but I don't see the Octane running too hot during operation anyway, haha. On top of the flat plastic finish is a large label across the center to ensure the user will make no mistake that this is an OCZ Octane drive. Measuring in at 99.8 x 69.63 x 9.3mm, these are pretty much standard dimensions for a 2.5" internal drive. It is also quite lightweight, with a manufacturer's specification of 83g. OCZ Octane 512GB drives will have no problems fitting into your laptop hard disk bay if you want to boost mobile computing performance, but if you want to use it in your desktop and your chassis has no 2.5" mount, then you will need to find your own solution. Fortunately, most modern cases have 2.5" drive bays, so that should not be too much of a concern.

Turning the SSD around reveals a familiar metal backplate -- except this time, there is no exposed printed circuit board like you would normally see with a traditional hard disk drive. The only thing that is common between the Octane SSD and a traditional hard disk drive is its SATA 6Gb/s and corresponding power connector at the end. As shown in our photo above, you will find a large label with the usual series certification logos and warning statements, along with information on drive model and capacity. In case you missed it, our particular unit is the OCZ Octane 512GB, haha. (On a side note, it is kind of scary how this SSD has a bigger capacity than most of my 2.5" hard drives we have here around APH Networks.) The smaller adjacent label with a barcode has the SSD's part number and serial number printed on it. As with all OCZ SSDs, they are all made in Taiwan, and this one is no exception.

The OCZ Octane's shell is attached to the metal backplate by four small screws. One of the screws has a warranty seal over it, so in order to take a peek inside the SSD, you will have to inevitably void your warranty. Therefore, to save you some trouble, I cracked mine open to take some photos of its internals for you to see. And by doing so, it is unsurprising to find how simple an SSD is inside compared to a traditional HDD -- it makes you almost wonder they cost would an arm and a leg to the end user (Yes, I understand NAND flash chips are still quite costly, haha). It is really nothing complicated -- just a small OCZ designed green printed circuit board, and that's it. Of course, there is more than what that meets the eye. The heart of OCZ's Octane is the new Indilinx Everest controller. Yep, you have read that correctly. It is not a SandForce SF-2281, like almost every solid state drive we review here at APH Networks. I know, it is weird to find a drive that is not SandForce. As the drive controller is fundamentally very important to any SSD, let's dig more into the details of this chip.

To go back into a little bit of history, OCZ purchased Indilinx for $32 million in March last year. Prior to this, while OCZ has been designing and building their own PCBs, there was nothing that really differentiated their products from the competition -- every drive consists of pretty much off-the-shelf hardware. Companies like G.Skill, Corsair, and Patriot has been doing this as well, and other than optimizations you do on the firmware level, they are all essentially the same thing under the hood.

With the release of the Indilinx Everest controller, OCZ finally has something done completely in-house -- so to say -- that sets it apart from the competition. This ambitious acquisition plugs OCZ into the ranks of being a genuine SSD manufacturer, and not just a run of the mill company slapping together parts available to every kid on the block. While Indilinx Everest based drives are part of the company's value oriented line of solid state disks, and are not intended to compete with performance SandForce units such as the OCZ Vertex 3 Max IOPS we have reviewed in June last year, the OCZ Octane is, in fact, the top dog based on this controller. Rated at 480MB/s read, 330MB/s write, and 35000 IOPS over SATA 6Gb/s, these figures are substantially slower than even the OCZ Agility 3 on firmware 1.14, but nevertheless, we will pit them against each other to see how this mega capacity drive steps up against SandForce based drives in the next seven pages or so.

Unsurprisingly, the Indilinx Everest IDX300M01 is a very major upgrade from the low end Barefoot controller found in solid state drives three generations back. OCZ withholds quite a bit of information on the innermost workings of the chip, but from what I have gathered, the Everest IDX300M01 is a 275MHz ARM architecture dual core processor. The eight-channel, sixteen-way interleave NAND controller can address up to 1TB of flash memory, but at press time, it is still a very rare drive, and priced pretty outrageously. It is also versatile enough to accommodate SLC, MLC, and TLC ONFI 2.2 compliant flash ICs.

While SandForce takes significant pride on their ability to do on-the-fly compression and the lack of need for external cache, the Indilinx Everest does just the opposite. All Everest controllers have 512MB of memory, in which we will take a look at in just a moment. Also, it does not compress information before writing, making performance identical regardless of the data written is compressible or not. Of course, you are going to sacrifice some speed (And possibly higher write amplification, but we have no information on that) when dealing with compressible data, but the speed rating of OCZ's Octane 512GB is quite competitive nonetheless.

Finally, we have the usual array of features from the controller that works in the background, such as automatic garbage collection and TRIM. Indilinx's proprietary nDurance technology takes care of the wear leveling algorithm. The IDX300M01 also has an ECC engine capable of correcting more than 70 bits of data per kilobyte, along with a TGC OPAL compliant 256-bit AES hardware encryption engine.

A total of 16 NAND flash chips are found on the OCZ Octane 512GB solid state disk, with 8 on each side. The chips used are Intel 29F32B08JCME3 synchronous flash memory, with a capacity of 32GB per integrated circuit chip. These are multi-level cells manufactured on the 25nm fabrication process. Unlike SandForce based SSDs, there is no over-provisioning, so they all come together and make up for its 512GB storage capacity. You will see 476GB in Windows. Two Micron D9PFJ 256MB DDR3 chips are present for a total of 512MB RAM; used with the Indilinx Everest IDX300M01 controller to ensure smooth operation.

Our test configuration as follows:

CPU: Intel Core i5-2405S
CPU Cooling: Thermaltake Frio (Noctua NF-P12)
Motherboard: ASUS P8P67 PRO
RAM: Kingston HyperX KHX1600C9D3X2K2/8GX 2x4GB
Graphics: Gigabyte Radeon HD 6870 1GB SOC
Chassis: Lian Li PC-Z60 (Noctua NF-S12B ULN)
Power: Cooler Master Silent Pro Hybrid 1050W
Sound: Auzentech X-Fi Bravura
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Professional x64 SP1

Compared Hardware:
- OCZ Octane 512GB
- G.Skill Phoenix EVO 115GB
- Kingston HyperX 120GB
- Kingston SSDNow V+200 120GB
- 2x Kingston SSDNow V+200 120GB RAID 0
- OCZ Agility 3 240GB
- OCZ Vertex 2 160GB 25nm
- OCZ Vertex 2 60GB 34nm
- OCZ Vertex 3 Max IOPS 240GB
- Patriot Pyro 120GB
- Patriot Pyro SE 240GB
- Western Digital Caviar Blue AAKS 500GB

Page Index
1. Introduction and Specifications
2. A Closer Look, Installation, Test System
3. Benchmark: AIDA64 Disk Benchmark
4. Benchmark: ATTO Disk Benchmark
5. Benchmark: Crystal Disk Mark 3.0
6. Benchmark: HD Tach
7. Benchmark: HD Tune Pro 4.60
8. Benchmark: PassMark PerformanceTest 7.0
9. Benchmark: PCMark Vantage
10. Conclusion