The first drives to appear in the market using the new controllers are both from OCZ, the enterprise class Vertex 3 Pro using the SF-2582 and the more readily available desktop Vertex 3.
First revealed to the world at CES in January 2011, OCZ's Vertex 3 uses SandForce's desktop flagship controller, the SF-2281, and is currently available in three capacities; 120GB, 240GB (our review sample) and 480GB.
To get to its storage capacity of 240GB, OCZ has used sixteen 16GB Micron 29D128G08CF AAB 25nm NAND chips, eight per side of the PCB. So far so good, but when formatted in a Windows environment you're left with just 223.5GB of usable storage space, so that's 17GB or 8 percent of the storage space taken up by over provisioning - redundancy in the event of NAND failure, data compression, block recycling and spare area for bad block allocation.
That's is a fair old chunk of space being taken away from you.
The SF-2000 supports up to 60,000 sustained random read/write IOPS (Input-output Operations Per Second) which is some 20 percent faster than the SF-1000 while the sequential read/write performance has risen 40 percent to 550MB/s and 520MB/s respectively (the close ratio between the two is a result of SandForce's data management algorithms), which puts it very close to the bandwidth limit of the SATA 6Gbps interface.
Under test conditions the claims made by OCZ for the performance of the Vertex 3 can be seen not to be marketing hype, but more a true reflection of what the drive is capable of.
In the ATTO sequential read/write benchmark the Vertex 3 gives a result of 552MB/s and 513MB/s respectively, the more intensive AS SSD benchmark gives figures of 502MB/s and 292MB/s read/writes, the reason for the lower write speed score in this benchmark is because AS SSD uses incompressible data.
The 4k read and write scores are pretty impressive too, bettered only by OCZ's own RevoDrive X2 which uses four of the previous generation SandForce controllers in one hell of a RAID array.
But enough of synthetic benchmarks, what does it perform like in real world situations? An idea of just how fast the drive is can be gleaned by the fact it took just 16 minutes to load Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 from the time the system was booted from the optical drive, to the start of the Windows load operation, to the time Windows was ready for the motherboard drivers to be loaded.
And that was via an PATA DVD drive, not a SATA interfaced one - impressive to say the least.
Booting into Windows 7 took 35 seconds from a cold boot, i.e. from pressing the power button.
You could speed that up even further by disabling un-used items in the BIOS, but even so that's the fastest boot time of any SSD we have tested lately, including the RevoDrive X2. Moving a 4.5GB file from another SSD (with a 3Gbps interface) took 33 seconds while un-zipping a 1GB file made up of lots of little bitty files took 26 seconds.