Last year was dominated by two SSD controller manufacturers: Intel and Indilinx. Intel delivered the performance while Indilinx offered a value alternative. Once SandForce hit early this year however, it was game over for Indilinx. We have reviewed a couple of Indilinx drives since SandForce hit but for the most part we've been enamored with SF and Crucial's offerings.

Over the summer Indilinx was supposed to have its next-generation controller ready for debut, codenamed Jet Stream. Unfortunately the 6Gbps controller has been delayed until 2011, leaving Indilinx with two options: quietly bow out of the SSD market, or update Barefoot.

And here we have the updated Barefoot:

The Indilinx Martini based OCZ Vertex Plus

The controller is still technically called Barefoot, although it is a new hardware revision. Martini apparently refers to the firmware designed for this new rev of Barefoot (no, it can't be applied to older Barefoot drives). The Martini firmware and new Barefoot revision are designed to work better with Intel's 34nm NAND. The 3Gbps controller is designed primarily to increase random write performance although there are other benefits along the way.

Spare area has increased. While the old Barefoot set aside ~7% of the NAND capacity for garbage collection and bad block allocation, Martini uses 10%. A Barefoot+Martini based drive with 128GiB of NAND will expose 115.2GiB of it to the user vs. 119.2GiB for Barefoot based drives. SandForce once told me that it expects all controller makers to begin setting aside more spare area and that seems to be the trend.

This is the OCZ Vertex Plus, the first drive based on the Barefoot+Martini platform:

The Vertex Plus will take the place of the existing Vertex in OCZ's lineup, just below the Vertex 2 and other SandForce equipped SSDs. I asked OCZ for target pricing on the Vertex Plus when it ships in a few weeks:

OCZ's Vertex Plus Lineup
  32GB 64GB 128GB
OCZ Vertex Plus $74.99 $114.99 $194.99

A 128GB SandForce drive will set you back around $229. The Vertex Plus will save you $35. The 64GB version will be $20 cheaper than Crucial's RealSSD C300.

The back

The Vertex Plus I tested is a beta sample and is rough around the edges, which is why this is branded a Preview and not a full blown Review. Thankfully I was able to run through our entire test suite (both published and unpublished tests I use internally) on the drive. From the old Barefoot camp I've got the Corsair Nova V128, one of the last popular Indilinx based SSDs so keep an eye out for that comparison to see how Indilinx has progressed.

The Test

CPU Intel Core i7 965 running at 3.2GHz (Turbo & EIST Disabled)
Motherboard: Intel DX58SO (Intel X58)
Chipset: Intel X58 + Marvell SATA 6Gbps PCIe
Chipset Drivers: Intel + Intel IMSM 8.9
Memory: Qimonda DDR3-1333 4 x 1GB (7-7-7-20)
Video Card: eVGA GeForce GTX 285
Video Drivers: NVIDIA ForceWare 190.38 64-bit
Desktop Resolution: 1920 x 1200
OS: Windows 7 x64
Random Read/Write Speed
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  • landerf - Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - link

    What SSD does Anand use personally? I see a lot of user remarks saying they've switched from this or that brand and noticed a feeling of improvement in everyday use, something that may be hard to quantify just looking at benchmarks.
  • Zoridon - Wednesday, November 17, 2010 - link

    They need to come out with a 1 TB 3.5 inch version of the Momentus XT with two 500 gb platters and 8 gigs of flash memory. Basically double up on the current 2.5 inch XT for desktops. They could charge 50 percent more for the drive over current 1TB drives and increase desktop performance greatly without sacrificing storage capacity. If they do that I'd raid two in raid 0 and give the finger to SSDs for a few years. They could update to 2TB drives after 6 months for another wave of performace / storage goodness. Am I the only one wanting a destop version of the Momentus XT with these type of stats at an affordable price?
  • Qapa - Wednesday, November 17, 2010 - link

    1 - Probably the most important one: when are we going to see the promises price cuts due to the move to lower nm? It was supposed to be this quarter right...?

    2 - When is the Jet Stream now supposed to come out? (and this also questions the sanity of creating this new Martini, and the effort put into this one which for sure delayed even more Jet Stream...)

    3 - I read somewhere that Intel G3 was put on hold due to the presentation of SandForce 2000 series?

    4 - When is this SandForce 2000 series expected to come out?

    I want a new generation SSD with 64Gb @ around $64!!
  • iwodo - Wednesday, November 17, 2010 - link

    Again we are seeing the same thing.

    While i would love to trust the benchmark from IOmeter as the raw power of SSD. PC Mark, Sysmark and Anand Test Bench are MUCH closer to real work test, or real work usage scenario.

    And after the shocking results from Toshiba new Controller which nearly wins all real world test, the new firmware from indilinx seems to be doing the same as well.

    I dont know what is missing, but the preview certainly tells you being the fastest in BOTH Seq Read Write and Random Read Write does not AUTOMATICALLY translate to fastest in real world scenario.

    I know a lot of people are focusing on Iometer test, but i to me i have been paying much more attention to Anand Bench.
  • vailr - Wednesday, November 17, 2010 - link

    Version 260.99 WHQL is the most current driver.
  • MHz Tweaker - Wednesday, November 17, 2010 - link

    I purchased a pair of of 60gb Vertex 2's about 6 months ago when there was a email blast sale at "The Egg"

    For the most part I am VERY pleased with my purchase. What I am not pleased with is all the crap I have to go through to make sure I get the best performance.

    Example: Booting various Win7 DVD's in order to clean the SSD's followed by booting a USB flash drive version of Ubuntu in order to do a secure erase. Granted, these could be considered performance tweaks but who doesn't want every ounce of speed for their money.

    My SSD's came with 1.11 firmware which has performed admirably. Just this past weekend I did my 6month re-install of Win7 x64 and of course with most versions of Windows it feels like a new PC again.

    The top of my wish list would be some type of RAID supported TRIM function for these drives, other than that it has been smooth sailing for me. Oh, also I set aside an extra 20gb for spare area in the RAID 0 array to give me 100gb vs. the 120 the pair would normally give. I really don't miss the extra 20gig as I have 9 other hard drive in my box totaling 14TB of storage.


  • ClagMaster - Wednesday, November 17, 2010 - link

    Since there is no indication the controller chip has been changed, the improvement must be from a careful rebalancing of the driver optimizations. The performance gains obtained from this optimization is impressive to say the least.

    For general usage, PCMARK shows very good performance relative to the Intel and C300 offerings.

    The OCZ Vertex Plus offers very good performance for the cost, but at ~$2/GB is still pricy.
  • ehume - Thursday, November 18, 2010 - link

    I get the feeling these tests were all run SATA II/3Gb. Yet the C300 is capable of using SATA III/6Gb. How would the results compare?

    So far it looks like the Corsair Force 100 is at or near the top in most of the tests. Given that the Force 40 is usually not far behind, the Force 80 looks like a good buy at the right size.

    But would the C300 do a lot better on a SATA III motherboard? Or would the SATA contribution not make much difference here?
  • Hrel - Tuesday, November 23, 2010 - link

    I really wish you guys would put two 7200rpm drives with 64MB of cache configured in a Stripe RAID in these performance charts for comparison. Or at least mention the score below the chart since it'd probably mess up the bars. While I know the random stuff would still be WAY lower, I'm curious what PCMark would say about system performance and how sequential activity would compare.
  • gaspard - Friday, November 26, 2010 - link

    Samsung 470 Series... would be great to see a review.

    It's the "other" controller that is up with SF, C300, Intel, Martini...

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