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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.

  • Tanya

    Would be more fair if you compared it to the 1.28 TiB variant of the Duo.
    Brilliant article none the less…

    • I agree totally but we have to work with the hardware that we have access to. As for the compliment of it being a brilliant article, totally unexpected and thank you very much.

      • “we have to work with the hardware that we have access to”

        OK, so you have access to the fastest OCZ hardware but not the fastest FIO hardware…and this makes for a subjective test? Seriously? When do you expect to have current hardware for live testing? Any chance we might get actual server-side testing to show off the true strength of FIO hardware and, more importantly, software? Oh wait, then we couldn’t have a test could we…you’d need a competitor other than OCZ….

      • WE would be pleased to hear suggestions as to other sources of competition for the card. Thanks ahead.

      • Vmdaversa

        not sure why the harsh response or love affair with Fusion. Why do you care which company? I say Fusion should put up the hardware like OCZ and do real life tests within applications. Both companies can put there money where their mouth is.

      • Harsh response? Love affair? I guess I am a bit confused because, well, myself, when I read an article I want to know the reviewers opinion and feelings just as much as I do facts alone. This is what keeps my interest.

        It is also an important factor to help the reader. Take for instance the stuttering 602 controller a few years back. Can you imagine a reviewer saying, ” The drive stalls and stutters a bit but is still a large step up from a hard drive” Say it like it is I believe and hope our fellow members feel the same.

        Thank you for taking the time to respond and expressing your feelings.

      • Xman

        This is subjective because the z-drive r4 is cheaper than the FIO drive.

      • You find it subjective because one performs alot better yet is alot cheaper? How so?

  • DatabaseFire

    Please update using the ioDrive 2 they just released, also

  • Anonymous

    Finally SSDs start approaching the RAM speeds. Not very useful yet for the regular users without deep pockets. So meantime we still get 2-5 times of these speeds with software based QSoft RAMDrive and, thanks to DRAM price drop, at the $5/GB. While many even never heard of that but we are enjoying such crazy RAMDrives’ speeds for our apps for almost a quarter of century since the DOS times.

    Suggestion to authors – test it just for fun. The latest QSoft Enterprise edition or one of Romex Software have a lot of nice functions allowing to auto backup the RAMdrive and load it back when you switch on and off your computer. Yes it might be lost if PC crash if you do not autobackup things, but this typically never happen, It is not for servers or critically important files but in its turn it is soooooo much faster and is eternal (well, lifetime guarantee) and no wearing off, TRIM, problems with compressed or 4K files.

    I do not know while similar board designs of RAMDrives as these two SSDs are not making its road to the world (with just the battery backups) – they are so much faster t yet

  • VMD

    nice review. I like both of these companies, but I think you need to compare the iodrive II DUO if you really want to compare head to head what each manufacture would put against another. Another addition that would be nice is to see performance of actual work like indexed data using lucene. What is the performance gain on these working enviornments.

    • We have been in contact with FusionIO during CES and just may be able to appease your request soon enough.

      • MySchizoBuddy

        OCZ Z-R5 is also coming

  • VMD

    Sorry, but thinking this through HP should donate some equipment or Dell as well as updating the cards and also add tests of real applications to see performance gains. This was a great article none the less. Thank You

  • MySchizoBuddy

    “Is there really a need for anything that fast?” with 4 dual GPUs being used for CUDA/OPenCl application you do need even more than what is being provided to keep the GPUs filled with data with bottleneck.

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