2. Package, installation
Package - aesthetics
Below you see the slim package of the 2.5" Vertex 3 MAX IOPS 240GB SSD. The basics are listed on the front side of the box: interface, capacity, controller and type of flash memory:
The SSD comes into plastic packaging. An installation guide/ warranty info as well as a 3.5" SSD adapter are also found in the retail box:
The drive measures 99.8 x 69.63 x 9.3mm and its weight is just 77 grams.
The drive uses a SATA III interface, which offers a maximum data rate of 6Gbps. Although it is backwards compatible with SATA II (GBps) the drive will show its strength in the faster interface. So you need to connect it to a proper SATA III controller, such as those found on the Intel series 6 chipset based products (H67/P67/Z68).
The 240GB Vertex 3 MAX IOPS SSD has uses 32nm Toshiba NAND and not the Intel 25nm MLC NAND used in existing Vertex 3 drives. The standard 240GB Vertex 3 has 32 die spread across 16 chips. The MAX IOPS version doubles that to 64 die in 16 chips. This brings the total capacity of the drive to 256GB to which one module (16GB) is utilized for over provisioning (7%) and firmware which brings the total user capacity before formatting to 240GB. Of course, formatting then leaves the user with a 223GB total available user capacity.
The Vertex 3 Max IOPS uses the SandForce SF-2281 processor, also met in the Vertex 3 SSDs. We have already talked about SandForce's DuraWrite technology , which optimizes writes to the flash memory over conventional controllers increasing the overall endurance and reliability of the SSD. Intelligent block management and wear leveling also extends the overall endurance.
The SandForce controllers also use a "trick" as they can write to the FLASH memory less then the other controllers by using real time compression. The controller stores information about the data and not the actual data itself in a partition of the available NAND flash memory. This means that SandForce's controller throws away around 40% of all of the stored data thanks to its real time compression/deduplication algorithms, reducing the NAND bandwidth requirements.
The 240GB Vertex 3 MAX IOPS SSD is compatible with OCZ's Toolbox software utility. Developed by OCZ and SandForce, the software is packed full of features that you are going to find useful over the lifespan of the drive.
Through the software you can control all the main functions of your SSD, like formatting, completely erase your SSD, installing new software or password-protect your data.
Once we fired up the utility, OCZ's Toolbox identified the the installed SSD as "OCZ-VERTEX3 MI" with firmware v2.06 installed:
A little bit later the software found a new firmware for the drive (v2.08), which we easily downloaded and installed it:
The SSD can be easily installed in your chassis. The procedure is no different than installing any other drive. Connect the SATA and power cable, and you are good to go.
After installation, Intel's software in our test PC provided some information about the drive. As you see in the screen shot below, the drive is offering 228.936 MB of storage:
More information about the drive is provided by the CrystalDiskInfo utility:
For better performance under Windows Vista, you may need to disable any HDD optimizations such as drive indexing, prefetch superfetch disabled and defragmentation.
Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 support the TRIM function, which the operating systems use when they detect that a file is being deleted from an SSD. Here is how it works: When the OS deletes a file on an SSD, it updates the file system but also tells the SSD via the TRIM command which pages should be deleted. At the time of the delete, the SSD can read the block into memory, erase the block, and write back only pages with data in them. This will result in no performance degradation for writes because the pages are already empty. As you realize TRIM only improves performance when you delete files and not when you overwrite an existing file.
You may also consider enabling the AHCI mode, which could give your SSD a little extra performance boost.