OCZ Octane in Detail
By now, OCZ has already announced three series of Everest-based SSDs: Octane, Octane S2 and Petrol. We are going to focus on the Octane series which is positioned as a high-performance one. The other two are compromise solutions: the Octane S2 is meant for older computers with SATA 3 Gbit/s whereas the Petrol is an affordable series. When announcing the Octane, OCZ put a special emphasis on the fact that the storage capacity of the senior Octane model is as high as 1 terabyte. This is a unique feature indeed, yet high-capacity SSDs are expensive and thus can hardly appeal to the average PC user. Fortunately, the Octane is also available in capacities of 128, 256 and 512 GB. The latest version of their specs (significantly redacted after the release of firmware version 1.13) reads like this:
The Octane series doesn’t look very fast compared to SSDs based on second-generation SandForce controllers. For example, the Vertex 3 features higher specified speeds both at sequential operations and when processing 4KB data blocks. On the other hand, the performance of SandForce controllers depends heavily on how well the processed data can be compressed, therefore it wouldn’t be correct to directly compare the specs of the Octane and Vertex 3 series. We’d better wait and see what we have in practical applications.
OCZ provided a 512GB Octane for us to test. Judging by the specs, its performance is not much different from that of the 256GB model. So our test results will be indicative of the latter’s behavior, too. Let’s take a look at our 512GB sample, though.
It comes in a plastic blister wrap with a colorful paper insert.
The SSD is hardly different visually from other OCZ products, even those with SandForce controllers. It’s got the same case but the sticker is colored gray and terracotta.
The most interesting things are hidden inside, of course. There are as many as three kinds of chips populating the PCB.
First of all, it is the Indilinx Everest controller itself, labeled IDX300M00-BC.
Then, we’ve got NAND flash memory here: 16 chips known as 29F32B08JCME2. Manufactured by Intel, they have 32 GB storage capacity and consist of four 64-gigabit 25nm dies. The flash memory is connected via synchronous ONFI 2.2 interface. Considering that this Octane has a total of 64 NAND devices, the Everest controller can enable 8-way interleave in each channel.
Finally, there are two 2-gigabit DDR3-1600 SDRAM chips from Micron that make up a 512 MB cache.
All in all, we have an Everest-based SSD with a 512MB cache and 512 GB storage capacity. It must be noted, however, that you can only use 512 GB out of the true 512 gibibytes. And the SSD will only offer 477 GB in the operating system, the remaining 35 GB being reserved for garbage collection procedures and for replacing failed NAND cells. By the way, this amounts to only 7% of the total capacity whereas SandForce-based SSDs allot 13% for the reserve pool.
OCZ offers the Toolbox utility for working with Octane series SSDs on a low level.
That’s a useful tool considering that ordinary utilities do not work well with Everest-based SSDs. You can use it to update the SSD’s firmware, view its S.M.A.R.T. information and perform a Secure Erase. The utility is not yet polished off and requires Microsoft’s AHCI driver to run.