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OCZ RevoDrive 3 X2 480GB PCI-E SSD Review

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AkG

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IOMETER

IOMETER


IOMeter is heavily weighted towards the server end of things, and since we here at HWC are more End User centric we will be setting and judging the results of IOMeter a little bit differently than most. To test each drive we ran 5 test runs per HDD (1,4,16,64,128 queue depth) each test having 8 parts, each part lasting 10 min w/ an additional 20 second ramp up. The 8 subparts were set to run 100% random, 80% read 20% write; testing 512b, 1k, 2k,4k,8k,16k,3xk,64k size chunks of data. When each test is finished IOMeter spits out a report, in that reports each of the 8 subtests are given a score in I/Os per second. We then take these 8 numbers add them together and divide by 8. This gives us an average score for that particular queue depth that is heavily weighted for single user environments.

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The reason for the two lines in our charts is simple: The solid red line represents what this drive can do in our standard configuration while the second shows the results while using OCZ's recommended way of testing the RevoDrive 3 with 2 managers and 2 workers.

While the standard results are indeed lower they are still very impressive to say the least. The only exception to this being the single queue depth numbers, which are barely better than an ONFi 1.0, 120GB SF2281 drive. Single queue depth tests are simply not enough to fully engage this device’s abilities.

As per OCZ instructions the second line almost fully engages the RevoDrive's four processors at even “single” queue depths. The flattening of the performance curve also shows that our 2500 was not enough to fully harness this powerful device. We hesitate to even prognosticate what it would be if our test-bed used a workstation class dual processor setup. Even without such unattainable equipment the RevoDrive 3 x2 absolutely blew the doors off everything else.
 
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AkG

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Windows 7 Start Up / Adobe CS5 Load Time

Windows 7 Start Up with Boot Time A/V Scan Performance


When it comes to hard drive performance there is one area that even the most oblivious user notices: how long it takes to load the Operating System. Since Windows 7 has become nearly ubiquitous for solid state drive enthusiasts we have chosen Windows 7 64bit Ultimate for our OS testing. In previous load time tests we would use the Anti-Virus splash screen as our finish line; this however is no longer the case. We have not only added in a secondary Anti-Virus to load on startup, but also an anti-malware program. In addition, we have set Super Anti-Spyware to initiate a quick scan on Windows and the completion of the quick scan will be our new finish line.

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There are no ifs ands or buts about it, this drive is extremely quick at real world, I/O heavy tasks. This test does play to the RevoDrive's strong points but loading an OS and running a malware scan are two tasks which everyone does anyways.


Adobe CS5 Load Time


Photoshop is a notoriously slow loading program under the best of circumstances, and while the latest version is actually pretty decent, when you add in a bunch of extra brushes and the such you get a really great torture test which can bring even the best of the best to their knees. Let’s see how our review unit faired in the Adobe crucible.

adobe.jpg


It seems that while Adobe does indeed take advantage of some of the added horsepower of the RevoDrive 3 x2, it doesn't fully harness it. The results are still much improved over what a single 240GB SF2281 drive can accomplish, but it is less than what we know this drive is truly capable of achieving.
 
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AkG

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Firefox Portable / Real World Performance

Firefox Portable Offline Performance


Firefox is notorious for being slow on loading tabs in offline mode once the number of pages to be opened grows larger than a dozen or so. We can think of fewer worse case scenarios than having 100 tabs set to reload in offline mode upon Firefox startup, but this is exactly what we have done here.

By having 100 pages open in Firefox portable, setting Firefox to reload the last session upon next session start and then setting it to offline mode, we are able to easily recreate a worse case scenario. Since we are using Firefox portable all files are easily positioned in one location, making it simple to repeat the test as necessary. In order to ensure repetition, before touching the Firefox portable files, we have backed them up into a .rar file and only extracted a copy of it to the test device.


firefox.jpg


For all intents and purposes this is a very touch test of read read performance and while the typical SF2281 drive is indeed powerful, it has issues accomplishing this test in acceptable time. Luckily, the RevoDrive 3 x2 has four controllers to deal with the load. The result is of course spectacular.

If you deal with programs that will hammer your storage device continuously and in deep queue depths this really is the storage device you want. These results are in such a different league that it will be many generations before we see a single SSD with the abiklity to even match this level of performance.


Real World Data Transfers


No matter how good a synthetic benchmark like IOMeter or PCMark is, it can not really tell you how your hard drive will perform in “real world” situations. All of us here at Hardware Canucks strive to give you the best, most complete picture of a review item’s true capabilities and to this end we will be running timed data transfers to give you a general idea of how its performance relates to real life use. To help replicate worse case scenarios we will transfer a 10.00GB contiguous file and a folder containing 400 subfolders with a total 12,000 files varying in length from 200mb to 100kb (10.00 GB total).

Testing will include transfer to and transferring from the devices, using MS RichCopy (set to 1 file depth) and logging the performance of the drive. Here is what we found.


copy_lg.jpg


copy_sm.jpg


The reason there is very little difference between the various drives has nothing to do with the RevoDrive 3 x2, nor does it have to do with our i5 2500 CPU. Rather, it is because there is nothing faster in our stable of which is able to even come close to stressing the RevoDrive 3 x2 and keep up with the ridiculous amount of data it can send over to a secondary drive. It is simply in a completely different league. On the positive side, we now have a device which will be able to saturate even the most powerful of single controller based devices so expect to see our charts have a much larger performance spread in future reviews.
 
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AkG

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Conclusion

Conclusion


OCZ has been trying for years to break into the professional market in a meaningful way and though the original RevoDrive was indeed groundbreaking, it was never considered to be a true workstation-class device. Rather, it felt like a crossover product which fell somewhere between enthusiasts and lower tier workstations consumers. This was due to the simple reason that it lacked crucial features IT administrators demand: easy sanitary erasure, TRIM capabilities and even basic features like SMART reporting. Most –but not all- of these points have been rectified with the RevoDrive 3 series.

Even though the RevoDrive 3 x2 relies on Asynchronous NAND – something very odd for this market niche– it still posts some downright ridiculously fast results. The amount of power it offers makes even the fastest SSD’s performance look slow by comparison. Even in real world scenarios our test bed cried uncle long before the RevoDrive 3 x2 reached its maximum potential. For the most part, OCZ has shown us what it’s like to live on the bleeding edge and they have introduced a product which is any storage enthusiast’s wet dream.

Unfortunately, there are some pretty significant downsides here as well. The RevoDrive 3 X2 may “support” TRIM but due to the limitations Microsoft has imposed on their current driver stack, the command just can’t be passed along quite yet. We also saw that it can be downright finicky about performance and only offers up the best of its substantial horsepower in certain scenarios. Luckily, these scenarios tend to favor program and OS load times but don’t expect a substantial performance boost over a flagship SSD in other day to day tasks.

The main issue with the RevoDrive 3 x2 is unfortunately much more serious than a lack of TRIM and hit or miss performance: it is a glutton for system resources. VCA 2.0 seems to be a tad unrefined at this moment and will cause a modern i5 3.3GHz quad core system to idle at a whopping 75% and 80-90% CPU utilization when under load is something you’ll get used to seeing. Granted, anyone who can afford this $1600 drive will likely have a higher end CPU but even an eight thread processor will see a good amount of its performance dedicated to the RevoDrive’s software overhead.

One of the most important things to remember about the RevoDrive 3 X2 is that OCZ isn’t targeting this at home users, “enthusiasts” or even well heeled gamers since it performance curve really doesn’t cater to those usage patterns. The Workstation and power user markets are where it plays and in that respect, every one of its goals has been achieved. OCZ now offers nearly all the features professional consumers demand at a price point which is significantly less than the competition and that alone may allow them to shake things up in a market niche that has somewhat stagnated. For that, it wins our Dam Good Innovation Award.

While OCZ’s new RevoDrive 3 X2 series lives in a world that very few can afford to buy into, it gives a tantalizing view of what the future of SSD performance may look like.


Pros:

- Extremely good read, write and real world performance
- Good price for its class
- Does not require a free SATA port
- Bootable
- Four high performance SF2281 Controllers
- Potential for TRIM support in the future
- SMART reporting
- OCZ Toolbox works with it
- Single bay form factor


Cons:

- VCA 2.0 requires a ton of processing power
- Increased ESD risk as there is no protective case or covering
- Requires deep queue depths to achieve best performance
- Only available driver is made for Windows 7
- TRIM support will require 3rd party driver update
- Requires PCI-E x4 gen2 slot to achieve best performance
- Not a native PCI-E solution

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