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OCZ announces successful transition to 25nm SSDs, consumers disagree

by Parm Mann on 16 February 2011, 12:50


Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qa4m6

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With its memory business cast aside, OCZ is pouring all its efforts into the SSD market and has today proclaimed itself as "the first SSD manufacturer to successfully complete the transition to 2Xnm NAND flash-based storage solutions".

The shrink in die size carries the promise of lower SSD prices, but there appear to be a few important details missing from OCZ's press release.

As it turns out, the manufacturer's newer 25nm models carry the same product names as their older 32nm siblings, but are in fact smaller in more ways than one. Despite outwardly appearing identical, a 25nm drive will provide consumers with less capacity than a 32nm model and performance may decrease, too.

This is because the new high-density 25nm NAND flash is cheaper to produce but offers less write-cycle endurance, forcing OCZ to reserve additional space for long-term performance and reliability - a process known as over-provisioning. By doing so, the available drive capacity decreases significantly. For example, a 32nm OCZ Vertex 2 60GB drive will offer a formatted capacity of 56GB, while a newer 25nm version - despite being marketed as a 60GB drive - will offer just 51GB.

Adding to the confusion, the 25nm models may also see a drop in performance. Equipped with higher-density 64 Gbit NAND Flash memory, the new drives have fewer modules interfacing with the SandForce controller and should, in theory, benchmark slower than their 32Gbit, 32nm counterparts.

As expected, the confusion has led to an uproar from OCZ's customers, many of whom are disgruntled by the fact that OCZ is marketing the seemingly-inferior new drives with the same model numbers, capacities and speeds as the superior 32nm Vertex 2.

Hoping to put out the flames, OCZ has issued an official response and introduced a program through which customers can trade in their 64 Gbit die-based drive (25nm) and receive a credit toward the more expensive 32 Gbit die-based drives (32nm). Trouble is, it's currently difficult to tell which version you've purchased without opening the drive and voiding the warranty in the process. OCZ representatives have confirmed that a software tool will be launched next week to help consumers identify whether a drive has has 32Gbit or 64Gbit NAND Flash memory.

What a palaver. And OCZ calls this is a successful transition.

[Update] OCZ has put together a Q&A based on queries received from the media. All the information can be found below, but here's the important bit; OCZ is happy to waive the cost of exchanging a 64 Gbit die-based drive for a 32 Gbit die-based solution.

  • Q: When did OCZ start using 25 nm NAND ?
    • A: it was a slow process that started in mid-January
  • Q: Are you still shipping 34 nm drives ?
    • A: Yes, there are still drives that make use of the older process in the channel.
  • Q: Are you still manufacturing 34 nm drives ?
    • A: Yes, though we have completed the transition to 2Xnm based drives on a number of SATA drives there are some products that still make use of the older process, this includes our PCIe solutions.
  • Q: How much does the exchange for a 25 nm 32 Gbit part cost ?
    • A: We are waiving this cost. We are happy to take care of any and all customers that are unsatisfied for any reason and will swap them out with a 32Gbit die based solution at no cost to the consumer. We want to make sure all our customers are happy with their purchase and anyone that has any questions/concerns is encouraged to come to us directly so we can make sure that we take care of them.
  • Q: Can you disclose information regarding 25 nm part performance ? I saw a table on Vertex 2 product page, but I can't tell if it only covers 25 nm or 25 nm and 34 nm parts.
    • A: It covers all. There is a lot of misconception regarding the 2Xnm parts. Our published specifications cover all drives, that means that a 2Xnm and a 3Xnm part both meet our published specifications. We have always used benchmarks like ATTO to rate our drives and that has not changed. In addition, we have added a dual spec using other benchmarks like AS-SSD to provide more information to customers.  All 2Xnm parts also carry the same exact warranty as previous generation rives making use of older NAND.

In short:
If people have an issue with their capacity on their 25Nm drive [64Gbit x 8 die], they can contact us and we will swap it without any charge to the new 25Nm drive [32Gbit x 16 die]. In order to determine if a customer has such a drive, we will be publishing a tool on our forum shortly, so they know what they have. 34Nm drives are obviously not in need for exchange.

HEXUS Forums :: 10 Comments

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Dear oh dear. How hard would it have been to call the drives something different? They're seriously going to the hassle of (presumably) paying customers' postage to return inferior drives to them so they can buy the right ones? Instead of letting them buy the ones they want in the first place?
ROLL UP ROLLUP, Buy our new, cheaper, faster, more reliable drives.

Oh wait, there no cheaper, slightly slower, and a smaller capacity to make them reliable.
They're seriously going to the hassle of (presumably) paying customers' postage to return inferior drives to them so they can buy the right ones? Instead of letting them buy the ones they want in the first place?

errrrrr….. no. They're suggesting customers can pay to go to a drive with the same number of flash chips as the old 35nm drives. That's what I understand from the link in the article.

They still don't seem to be getting why people are upset at the change in the model specs without telling people. e.g. (http://www.ocztechnologyforum.com/forum/showthread.php?84821-New-update-on-the-25nm-OCZ-SSD-drives):
5 Remember the 60 and 120GB drives are all built with 64GB and 128GB of Nand, the issue is RAISE takes roughly 8GB of space on a 64Gbit IC drive where it takes 4GB on a 32GB IC drive…this is why the drives format with what looks like 4GB less capacity…RAISE is part of the OP and Duraclass…the drives still use it, it is NOT lost or missing.It just does not format for you all to use.

I get his point that the capacity of the flash chips are the same, but suggesting the missing usable capacity is still being used for the over-provisioning and so is not lost seem a bit misleading to me.

And yes, we're not talking huge amounts of space here. But when you've bought a 40 or 60GB drive as a boot disc, a few GB here or there can actually make a difference!

As for performance difference, even with the exchange program they apparently still can't give a formal answer:
2… Replacement drives are 25nm 32Gbit IC. You will not lose any capacity to RAISE. Speed…I have NO idea on. I have asked to see benches and I fully expect some performance gain to be had (due to channel efficiency with more nand attached) WE will know more when I see the benches or end users start posting results with their replacements.

As I read that, they're waiting for customers to start posting benchmark results with the replacement drives?? :surprised:
The corsair. 32nm doesn't need the same over provisioning so they've enabled you to make more use of the capacity.