OCZ is taking the solid state drive in a different direction with the RevoDrive and I personally believe they are on to something much bigger than most may realize. Sure, as we mentioned earlier, storage over add-in card slots isn't new, but it hasn't yet been implemented in a mainstream cost efficient and user friendly method. The bandwidth on PCI-E lanes is much greater than current SATA controllers can provide which is exactly why hardware RAID controllers use them. The RevoDrive produced the highest numbers we have seen to date in ATTO and Sandra and did very well in other tests. As was discussed on the previous page, results in some of our tests were a bit lower than anticipated for several viable reasons.
Aside from the increased bandwidth, using a PCI-E SSD like the RevoDrive eliminates the need for an extra SATA power and data cable. I'm a stickler about cable management inside my systems, so any opportunity I get to eliminate wiring is a plus. In the case of the RevoDrive, one would need a RAID 0 setup consisting of two SSDs in hopes of matching this level of performance, which means two SATA cables and two power cables.
There are a few things that you will need to consider before picking up a RevoDrive for your system, however. First, you need to make sure that your system is able to boot over PCI-E. OCZ maintains an unofficial RevoDrive compatible motherboard list in their forums that's worth checking out.
Zahn was originally sent the RevoDrive but it turned out that his AMD system wasn't 100% compatible with the SSD. A BIOS update was needed and on the way, but we decided to let someone else (myself) test it to stay on schedule with our deadline. I had zero issues with the RevoDrive on my Intel X58 system. Windows installed flawlessly and everything has been running without a hiccup since.
Second, the RevoDrive will consume one of your PCI-E x4 or larger slots. This probably isn't a concern for most, but if you are running multiple video cards or other PCI-E devices, it's something to take into consideration.
Also note that the activity LEDs on the front of your case will no longer work. There are LEDs on the back of the RevoDrive itself, but this does little good while hidden away inside your PC. Perhaps future RevoDrives could include headers for the HDD activity cable.
Finally, since the RevoDrive works in a RAID0 configuration, there is no TRIM support. Under normal operations, the SandForce controller (or two, in this case) should be able to regulate wear and keep the drive running smoothly for some time to come. As shown in our testing, however, benchmarking the drive senseless will certainly take its toll on performance. This is true for all current SSDs.
As anticipated by the clues on the RevoDrive, OCZ has since released the RevoDrive X2 which uses the data port on the original Revo to add two additional SandForce controllers and more memory capacity. The X2 increases speed by around 200 MB/s read / write, which is a substantial amount. Hopefully we will bring you a review of the X2 in the near future for comparison.
The OCZ RevoDrive PCI-E 50GB SSD retails for $215 at our favorite online retailer. As with all SSDs, you have to "pay to play", but if performance is what you are after and you haven't upgraded to a SSD yet, the RevoDrive should be at the top of your hardware wish list this holiday season.
OCIA.net awards the OCZ RevoDrive PCI-E SSD our Gold Seal of Approval!