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Review-OCZ Agility 3 SSD: SandForce 2 Goes Mainstream
This is the fourth drive from OCZ sent to our lab in relatively quick succession. Indeed, things are getting more interesting. Agility 3 is OCZ’s more affordable line of SSD that offers the same SandForce 2 controller chip found in their flagship Vertex 3 models, and the same SATA 6 Gbps interface too. As such, it promises lighting fast performance right out of the box. Our sample comes with 240 GB of on-board capacity.
Despite using the same controller and interface, Agility 3 is placed firmly at a lower price point than the company’s top-of-the-line Vertex 3. Presumably, it shouldn’t be faster than the Vertex 3, otherwise Agility 3 would cannibalize its sibling’s sales. So, what are the differences between these two?
One of the most fundamental differences that sets the Agility 3 and Vertex 3 apart is their NAND flash memory standard and specification. Vertex 3 uses Open NAND Flash Interface (ONFi) 2.0, in which data transfer performance is determined by the host clock (synchronous). It also sports Double Data Rate (DDR) feature, with a theoretical transfer rate of 133 MB/S per channel.
Agility 3, on the other hand, uses the older ONFi 1.0 standard with a transfer rate of 50 MB/s per channel, thereby limiting the performance of the NAND memory being used. It is also known as the “asynchronous” standard because it is not synchronized to the host clock. By using the SandForce 2281 in Agility 3, OCZ promises an impressive 500 MB/s transfer rate. This particular SandForce controller does its job (real-time compression, read and write operations, etc.) very fast indeed. 500 MB/s seems easily possible. However, SandForce’s super-high data processing speed applies only to compressible files. It is, therefore, unlikely to reach the same level of performance with uncompressible files (zip, 7zip, rar, jpg, mp4, etc.).
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