As most of you who listen to the podcast know, I have been having some some issues with the new Vertex 3 MAX IOPS. After my initial impressions, I started getting some periodic system pauses and lockups which I wrongfully assumed was the motherboard. As it turns out, all the BSOD and lock up issues were a result of the Vertex 3 firmware and its interaction with the system and system drivers. The unit shipped to me with firmware version 2.02 and shortly after installing it, a newer version of the firmware version was available on the OCZ site (version 2.06). So in hopes that it would repair the problem, I upgraded to Version 2.06 and after just a couple days of testing, I found the problem was still there so I contacted OCZ tech support to establish an RMA. They responded very quickly to my request for an RMA and in this communication back and forth, they noted that in they had just released version 2.08 that was addressing “some” of the issues and asked I was interested in trying it first before sending the drive back. I decided to try the new firmware before returning the drive as I really wanted to see this though and regain the performance I was after. During my testing of version 2.08, I saw a post from OCZ stating that version 2.08 did not correct the BSOD issues that some customers where experiencing and that they where working delinquently with Sanforce to address the problem. They stated that Sanforce was aware of the issue and was working hard to resolve it. It appeared the issue was not just related to OCZ drives, but rather any MFG that used the Sanforce controllers. OCZ promised they would rush the fix as soon as they tested it, and provided it passed testing, promised to have it released in a couple of days. While waiting for the actual version that would address the problem, I continued running version 2.08. Although it was certainly better, about three and half days into testing, I got the familiar BSOD. As I was maintaining a clone of the system drive throughout this experiment on a Vertex 2, switching between a stable system and testing the Vertex 3 was a simple matter of moving a sata cable so I opted again to wait for one more version optimistic that a fix was imminent. The problem with trying out something faster is that you can never go backwards, so I was bound and determined to wait this out get the speed back I witnessed running the Vertex 3.
As promised, about two days later OCZ released version 2.09 which was to specifically addressing the BSOD and lock up issues some people where experiencing. Honestly I was pretty optimistic with this version as I saw the dedication that OCZ put into not only resolving this but communicating to their customers. The concern I had was in the release notes they stated that in order to correct the BSOD and lock up issues, they had to alter some of the write performance. Considering that I bought this drive for shear performance, I was certainly worried that I would be disappointed.
In summary, I am pleased to report that all is stable, with no more BSOD’s, lockups or stalls, and that the hit on performance is very minor making it still the fastest thing out there. As you can see the release notes, they also leave us with the promise of some upcoming optimizations and potentially regaining some of the minor performance losses. I detailed below the changes in performance for each release, and as you will see the impact to performance is pretty minor.
All in all I am now happy again and still very impressed with this drive. I realize that when you release new hardware there are bound to be some initial issues especially when you are pushing the envelope of performance. What impressed me was that during this entire event, OCZ was quick to react to problem and despite getting battered in their support forums, they remained positive and professional. The team over at OCZ deserves allot of credit for being upfront with the information and getting a resolution quickly. I was certainly an OCZ fanboy before, but there interaction with me convinced me I have made the right choice. I also want to extend a special thanks to Eric Ryder on the OCZ forums for his help and follow through. In todays environment where poor support is common place, it is really nice to see that there are companies and people that stand behind their product, and maintain a high level of customer service.
Initial Version Received (2.02)
Version 2.09 (problems corrected)