Since this is a beta marketing sample and not a 100% finished product, our Vertex 3 arrived in a plain brown box. Even the drive casing itself is totally plain and has no identifying stickers on the top. With a Photoshopped sticker in place, however, the drive suddenly looks just like the retail model will.
Since there isn't much to look at on the outside, I proceeded to open the drive by removing four small Phillips screws on the underside. This releases the metal covering, allowing access to the bottom of the PCB. Four additional screws hold the PCB inside the case.
On the front of the green PCB we find eight MLC memory chips labeled 29F128G08CFAAB. As of writing, a Google search of this model number returned zero results although we do know that these are the new 2Xnm NAND components that OCZ referenced in a press release last week. According to the release, OCZ is the first SSD manufacturer to successfully complete the die-shrink.
There are also eight additional memory chips on the back of the drive for a total of 16. Each chip has a 16GB capacity for a total physical capacity of 256GB although the drive is only advertised as 240GB. This figure drops down to 223GB once formatted in Windows. The additional 16GB (just over 6%) of inaccessible pre-formatted space is reserved for Over Provisioning and is actually significantly lower than the 22% we found on the Vertex 2.
The crowning jewel of the Vertex 3, however, is the new SandForce 2281 controller. This new controller is responsible for nearly doubling performance over traditional SF-1200 series chips, bringing the read / write numbers well over 500MB/s with 60K+ IOPS. SandForce also claims the new controller is much more reliable and secure, with 55 bit/512 byte sector ECC and AES-256 double encryption.
I won't even pretend to know the detailed inner workings of SandForce's baby as I only had a single day with the (somewhat limited) marketing data, but if you are looking for a super detailed breakdown on exactly how all of these new features work, I would suggest you check out Tom's Hardware's Vertex 3 Pro Preview article.
For the rest of us curious about how the upcoming Vertex 3 performs, let's move ahead, check out the testing procedure and get some results!