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OCZ Z-Drive R4 C PCI Express 1.6TB SSD Review – OCZ Z-Drive R4 versus FUSION-IO ioDrive Duo

Z-R4 COMPONENTS

The Z-R4 is built on a mother and daughter printed circuit board (PCB) with a PCI Express Gen2 x8 interface.  The PCB contains eight SandForce SF-2281 6Gbps processors (four on each board) and, in the case of our 1.6TB SSD, thirty-two modules of NAND flash memory on each side of each board.  This totals 128 modules of Intel 25nm synchronous NAND flash memory (29F16B08CCME2) for a RAW capacity of 2048GB, however, standard enterprise over provisioning is set at 28% and their are other firmware needs.

To break it down further, each SF-2281 processor controls 256GB of flash NAND memory which is provisioned to 200GB for  the advertised total of 1.6TB.  Thats a total of 448GB of over provisioning alone! Formatting takes its toll, as well, which leaves the end user with a total of 1.49TB of available storage.

Z-R4 DISASSEMBLY

There was a great deal of discussion when I first suggested we take apart the Z-R4 which is only on loan and tops out at approximately $11400 according to the $7/GB formula discussed earlier.  Actually, it became a very loud discussion as I wanted a shot with those four hidden SF-2281 processors and, in the end, it simply came down to removal of four screws.  We even took a shot of the moment I started!

I think that disassembly was a great decision as we were able to get pictures of the front and back of each board.  A quick click on any of our pictures will bring up some great closeups.

INSTALLATION

Installation for the Z-R4 and the io-D differed significantly and this round was an easy decision for the OCZ Z-Drive R4 SSD.  We had the Z-R4 installed in less than 2 minutes with quick installation of the driver, slipping the card into our motherboards PCIe x8 slot, reboot and format.

Installation of the io-D was a bit more difficult and required a call to their tech support.  In the box we found the io-D, a power cable and a small ‘Quick Start’ card that directed us to the site.  We went to Fusionio.Com and found the drive easily enough but not the required driver.  We then followed the support menu and had to register before access to the software.  Once registered, we were able to select ioDrive but could not find ioDrive Duo specifically.  As well, the next option was to select a version and our latter assumption of it being versions of software was correct. We initially thought that this pertained to a version of the drive and examined the drive for a version or firmware number without success.

The software offers the opportunity to install several files and, in the end, we found ourselves contacting FUSION-IO support as we were not clear on the use of their GUI, ioManager.  Support explained that we needed to format the drives from within the software and then ‘attach’ each within ioManager for them to become visible as drives in our system.  Once visible, we can we RAID each (2×320) for full performance to be achieved.

Looking at ioManager, its a simple misconception to believe the RAID is achieved within this software as both drives must be attached and there is a small icon to the left designated as ioDrive Duo 640GB.  In the end, FUSION-IO utilizes your systems ‘soft-RAID’ and we set tested in RAID 0.

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