OCZ, one of the leading manufacturers of Solid State States is getting ready to launch a new set of Vertex 2 drives that have new firmware, which gives about 15% more capacity over the existing Vertex 2 drives.  These will be available in capacities of 60GB, 120GB, 240GB and 480GB, up from 50GB to 400GB with the current series.

While the existing generation and new generation still have the same raw NAND capacity, the SandForce SF-1200 controller in the current Vertex 2 range reserves 28% of the total capacity for wear levelling.  Between this and its DuraWrite technology, this increases its lifespan by more than a factor of 20, making it rival SSDs that use the much more expensive SLC NAND.  However, as the DuraWrite technology already reduces the write amplification drastically and the average consumer is not going to write anywhere near that of a drive used in an enterprise environment (e.g. database server), the new firmware reduces this spare area to 13%, which is still much more than that reserved by SSDs that use other controllers.

Despite the reduced reserved area, the performance impact is negligible in benchmarking as carried out by AnandTech and is simply not going to be noticed in real world usage.  So like the original Vertex 2 drives, these feature read and write speeds of 285MB/s and 275MB/s respectively as well as the much higher IOPS performance made exclusively available to OCZ for the SandForce SF-1200 controller.

Similar to how Corsair expanded its Force Series , OCZ will be adding to the Vertex 2 family a 60GB, 120GB, 240GB and 480GB SSD, all featuring a 2.5-inch form factor, MLC memory, the SandForce SF-1200 controller and a SATA 3.0 Gbps interface.

The firmware achieves this by taking a somewhat different approach to the allocation of spare area. Spare area is a part of the total available capacity used for such operations as wear-leveling, among other things. Many SSDs have about 28 percent of their total capacity allocated as such. The more recent firmware, however, reduces said area to only 13%. For the SandForce SF-1200 controller, this doesn’t qualify as a significant impediment. In fact, AnandTech has already published a review, in which it proves that, according to tests, performance loss is negligible, if not non-existent.

News Sources: TechConnect Magazine and Softpedia

These new 60GB, 120GB, 240GB and 480GB Vertex 2 models are available for pre-order for €220, €415, €717 and €1,786, respectively.  Interestingly, the 60GB model is not much more than competitive offerings, making it an ideal OS boot drive.

It is unclear at this time when or if OCZ will make the new firmware available to existing Vertex 2 owners.  On the other hand, even if they do, the firmware update will most likely require a complete wipe of all data on the SSD.

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