Understanding Key Performance Metrics of OCZ’s Z-Drive R4 PCIe SSDs

PCIe SSD Blind Performance Test Survey Conducted by Calypso Systems

Scott Harlin
Mark Hayashida

Published February 2014

Introduction

PCI Express (PCIe) SSDs are being deployed in the enterprise as primary mass storage, tiered storage, non-volatile flash cache and persistent memory that has resulted in exponential demand for these devices and significant industry growth. Many leading storage intelligence groups forecast that within the next few years PCIe will become the dominant SSD storage platform for the enterprise. With this prevalence, there is a number of PCIe-based enterprise SSDs available to customers each with their own set of features, benefits, capabilities and characteristics. In order to fully understand the landscape of what these products are capable of accomplishing, especially from a performance perspective when accelerating applications or data I/O access, an unbiased competitive matrix is highly desirable.

To fill this customer need as part of its ongoing series of enterprise SSD product comparisons, Calypso Systems, Inc., a leading provider of solid-state solutions testing and measurement, conducted a state-of-the-industry, PCIe Blind Survey which reported performance comparisons (from June 2013 through September 2013) of five leading enterprise-class PCIe SSD edge card vendors. This included drives from OCZ (Z-Drive R4 Model RM88), Fusion-io (ioDrive2), Intel (Model 910), Micron (Model P320h), and Virident (FlashMAX II). It should be noted that all SSDs tested in Calypso’s PCIe Blind Survey were configured with Multi-Level Cell (MLC) NAND flash with the exception of one drive, Vendor 5, which was based on Single Level Cell (SLC) NAND flash.

Z-Drive R4 Half Height PCIe SSD
Z-Drive R4 Half-height PCIe SSD

Z-Drive R4 Full Height PCIe SSD
Z-Drive R4 Full-height PCIe SSD

When compared to these leading enterprise-class PCIe edge cards, OCZ’s Z-Drive R4 was dominant in small block to large block sequential performance, CPU utilization, and application workload performance (regardless of block size, access pattern mix or percentage of read and write operations) even when compared to an SLC-based device. In some cases, the Z-Drive R4 SSD delivered more than 12% faster input/output operations per second (IOPS) and close to 24% faster data transfers than the closest PCIe solution tested as shown in the Calypso results that follow.

As each SSD vendor has their own testing methodology and evaluation process for presenting product specifications and performance to the industry, Calypso developed an

unbiased, industry-standard methodology and process that provides an equal playing field for this type of evaluation. All of the testing for the PCIe Blind Survey was conducted using Calypso’s proven Reference Test Platform/Calypso Test Software (RTP/CTS) which is the official test platform used by the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) in support of the Solid State Storage Initiative’s (SSSI’s) Performance Test Specification (PTS) and is the official SSSI certified PTS testing facility.

The PCIe cards surveyed ranged in capacity from 350GB to 1,847GB and the identity of each card was intentionally blinded for results reporting by Calypso. In this white paper, the OCZ results are evident while the four other product brands are denoted as Vendor 1, Vendor 2, Vendor 4 and Vendor 5. The drives were tested in phases to include synthetic stress tests, SNIA benchmark tests and CTS enterprise application workload tests, and the results ranked PCIe performance, compared specific application workload results, and tested to different types of pre-conditioned write history states such as brand new/Fresh-out-of-the-Box (FOB), relatively new, and well-used (or seasoned).

The purpose of this white paper is to present some of the key findings and test results from the Calypso PCIe Blind Survey that positions OCZ’s Z-Drive R4 Series as one of the foremost SSDs in its class. What the Calypso performance test results demonstrate is that the Z-Drive R4 SSD is particularly strong in small block random performance, large block sequential performance, CPU utilization and application workload acceleration. The paper will briefly review the highlights of the testing, provide testing methodologies and graphically present key results.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Test Procedures
  3. Test Results
  4. Conclusion
  5. About Calypso Systems
  6. About The PCIe SSD Blind Survey 2013