Things move in real time around here. Just yesterday we published an article detailing the differences between SandForce's SF-1200 and SF-1500 controller. We also pointed out that the mass production firmware for the SF-1200 controller (v3.0.5) caps 4K random write performance on all drives except for OCZ's upcoming Vertex 2. The only problem (aside from the obvious) is I had no way of determining how much of a real world impact the lower 4K random writes would have on a SF-1200 drive. Until today that is.

The Agility 2 is OCZ's standard SF-1200 SSD, using the same firmware that's been made available to all of SandForce's partners. The performance of this drive should tell us what we can expect from all other SF-1200 drives on the market. My Vertex 2 sample won't be here until next week.  I also received a reference SF-1200 drive from SandForce to verify the performance results.

The drive just arrived this morning and I snapped some shots of (and took it apart) for a quick This Just In post before I got to testing. As a reminder, these posts are designed to give you all a glimpse into what is dropped off at our doorstep on a regular basis. The full review will follow.

Observations? OCZ bundles the 3.5" drive tray we've seen with a few SSDs now. The Agility 2 PCB has a silkscreened location for a super cap, which indicates that the layout/routing differences between the SF-1200 and SF-1500 are negligible. You can catch these details and more in the Gallery.

Update: Our full review is up!

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  • gfody - Wednesday, April 21, 2010 - link

    they mention in the patent that the compression technique is non conventional but don't describe the technique they use:
    http://www.freepatentsonline.com/7058769.html

    also interesting: the system was apparently designed for spinning disks.
    Reply
  • synt4x - Sunday, April 18, 2010 - link

    Though I guess Anand doesn't use the latest SVN version of IOmeter; from the Corsair Force review:

    "Using the 6-22-2008 build of Iometer I ran a 3 minute long 2MB sequential test over the entire span of the drive."

    So the data random data written is easily compressible if they're all 4k chunks of ones or zeroes right?
    Reply
  • TGressus - Sunday, April 18, 2010 - link

    Excellent follow through shawkie.

    It would seem that the most probable resolution will be for Anand to get a hold of the custom SandForce builds of Iometer he referred to in the Corsair Force review comments.

    Synthetics aside, I'm most interested in how the Anandtech Storage Benches might differ with FW 3.05.
    Reply
  • Wrish - Saturday, April 17, 2010 - link

    Similar to the TrueCrypt question, I wonder what performance degradation may appear with NTFS volume compression. Some of us like to make the most of expensive flash! Reply
  • Lonyo - Saturday, April 17, 2010 - link

    +1 for that.
    Can't say I use NTFS compression much on mechanicals, but on SSDs it would definitely be more worthwhile.
    Reply
  • Jaybus - Monday, April 19, 2010 - link

    That would vary quite a bit. I/O to and from the drive itself is reduced. But the compression and decompression is a CPU intensive function and isn't dependent on the drive. I suspect the ratio of compressed speed vs. uncompressed will be the same on a given system, regardless of the drive. Reply
  • Kary - Monday, April 19, 2010 - link

    Yeh, but there is the difference between putting the CPU intensive? task of compressing on the drives CPU (I guess that's how they are doing compression..I'm still confused by this because I would expect it to take RAM for dictionaries, too) vs a Dual, Quad, Hex....core main CPU on the motherboard.

    Also, I've watched the CPU during compression for NTFS. It is either HDD bound or Microsoft has something in there to slow it down because it doesn't peg out a CPU core
    Reply
  • Mr Perfect - Saturday, April 17, 2010 - link

    Anand,

    SandForce's original market line was you could buy their expensive controller and then pair it up with cheap flash that wouldn't normally be up to the task of SSD use. Are you seeing any evidence of this when opening them up? The idea of using cheap flash makes me nervous, even if it's mitigated by the controller.

    Thanks,
    MP
    Reply
  • 529th - Saturday, April 17, 2010 - link

    Did anyone see the 50g version of the Vertex LE ???

    What's that all about?!?
    Reply
  • BanditWorks - Saturday, April 17, 2010 - link

    I'm looking forward to the full review! For me, I am more willing to sacrifice some performance in exchange for more reliability/durability and a cheaper price. Speed is nothing without stability!

    Hopefully SandForce will be able to deliver on their promises. But I know it's in good hands with Anand torture testing them for us. ;)

    Keep up the great work! It does not go unnoticed my friend. :)
    Reply

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