Specifications, Pricing and Availability
To get past Intel's P67/Z68 chipset's 2 SATA III port limit, OCZ Technology had to get creative and deliver the RevoDrive 3. Two versions are available; the RevoDrive 3 which uses two SandForce SF-2281 controllers and the larger RevoDrive 3 X2 that packs four SandForce controllers. Unlike previous RevoDrive branded products, the PCIe to PCI-X to SATA bridges have been burned and replaced with a new, proprietary technology that OCZ calls Virtualized Controller Architecture 2.0. VCA 2.0 comes straight from OCZ's new enterprise Z-drive R4 product class. Here is how OCZ describes it:
The RevoDrive 3 X2 provides unique benefits to users by incorporating features from the VCA 2.0 flash virtualization software that allow certain direct memory access (DMA) and data management functions. Included in this feature-set are OCZ's exclusive command queuing and queue balancing algorithms, which can be handled by the onboard processing core for higher performance and reduced burden on the host resources. VCA 2.0 is also the only virtualization layer in the industry with TRIM and SCSI unmap support to enhance sustained performance and provide greater endurance by significantly reducing the overhead associated with garbage collection. Furthermore, VCA also offers consolidated SMART support and provides system administrators with advanced features for monitoring, analyzing, and reporting device attributes.
You can read more about VCA 2.0 in OCZ's product brief here. The Cliff Notes sound like this; VCA 2.0 is a scaling architecture with unlimited potential and a solid foundation for a new class of products. OCZ Technology has managed to figure out TRIM, SCSI unmap and SMART monitoring in their new SuperScale Architecture which allows your RevoDrive 3 to deliver sustained performance without the need of garbage collection.
Garbage collection adds to the number of P/E cycles and isn't used on SandForce controllers. TRIM has become the best way to retain performance, but until now hasn't been supported in RAID and RAID like products like the RevoDrive Series. Actually, using TRIM is now the issue. Microsoft has yet to release a patch, but is working with OCZ to make it happen. How long you have to wait is going to be a big issue when making a purchasing decision.
As we mentioned previously, there are two distinct flavors of the RevoDrive 3. The baseline RevoDrive 3 uses two SandForce SF-2281 controllers and is available in capacities of 120GB, 240GB and 480GB. The RevoDrive 3 X2 that we are looking at today is available in 240GB, 480GB and a massive 960GB capacity size (I think my heart skipped a beat while I typed it). All flavors use a PCIe 2.0 4-lane interface that has around 2GB/s bandwidth before ECC and various other bits that produce overhead which reduces actual performance. The 480GB RevoDrive 3 X2 that we are looking at today has a stated read performance of up to 1500MB/s read and 1225MB/s write. That is a massive amount of performance and well over the available performance offered by Intel's P67 / Z68 native two SATA III ports.
The RevoDrive 3 and X2 are full height PCIe cards, so 1U and 2U installations would be a bit tricky. For a half-height solution you'll have to turn to the enterprise class Z-Drive R4 products. The latest RevoDrive has been moved out of the Enthusiast Class Category on OCZ's website and placed in the newly formed Workstation category. I think most reading this article would agree that the line dividing workstation and enthusiast is fairly vague these days, but the current pricing digs a little deeper in the sand. OCZ has never had any real competition for their RevoDrive products other than paper launches and phantom products. There are enterprise PCIe solutions, but their cost per GB has always been well above any of the RevoDrive products.
The entry level RevoDrive 3 120GB is priced at just 399.99 at Newegg. This is the current price for two Vertex 3 120GB drives (after a small mail in rebate) which can be used in RAID 0 on a chipset with native Intel SATA III ports. The RevoDrive X2 240GB, the entry level for the X2 line will set you back 719.99 USD. The 480GB R3 X2 that we are looking at today has a true workstation price of 1,659 USD.
The OCZ Vertex 3 uses IMFT ONFi 2.0 synchronous flash, the preferred type for performance and sustained performance when data is populating a drive. The RevoDrive 3 Series uses ONFi 1.x flash, the same used on the Agility 3 line. We'll have to keep an eye on performance and how well the RevoDrive 3 X2 480GB scales when we start adding data into the equation.