General OCZ SSD information.

OCZ Vertex SSD Drive

Vertex/Agility/Solid2 is a 2.5″ SSD drive, primarily intended for use in portable laptop machines, however due to the massive performance they offer they are also making it into desktop machines also.

The drive has 2 connections, 1 for power and the other for data transfer. VERTEX is a SATA 2 drive meaning it has transfer speeds that works below the SATA 2 maximum of 300MB/s but above the SATA 1 maximum of 150MB/s.

Regarding the power supply requirements the drive actually only needs a 5V and ground connection as it is 5V rated, most SATA power connections contain 12V, 5V, and ground.

Connections

 

Before you install an Operating System to the VERTEX you need to consider the following.

Does my machine support IDE mode as well as AHCI? More on this further down

Does it have the newest firmware installed?

At this time AHCI mode has created problems for Firmware upgrades, if possible always use IDE mode for updating VERTEX firmware.

With SSD technology being pretty new it is important to remember there will be bug fixes you may need in the new Firmware.
Which SATA/Chipset drivers are best to use with Vertex?

1 Intel chipset IDE mode = Intel driver

2 Intel chipset AHCI mode = Microsoft driver

3 Intel chipset raid mode = Intel driver

4 AMD chipset IDE mode = Microsoft driver

5 AMD chipset AHCI mode = Microsoft driver

6 AMD chipset raid mode = AMD driver

7 Nvidia chipset IDE mode = Microsoft driver

8 Nvidia chipset AHCI mode = Microsoft driver

9 Nvidia chipset raid mode = Nvidia driver
List of Firmware revisions:

Initial release 0112.
First update 1199…this Firmware has instability issues and should be upgraded ASAP.
Second update 1275…this FW should be regarded as the first Official release.
Third Update 1.10 or 1370, many bug fixes within this release.
Forth Update 1.30 or 1571, again many bug fixes in this release.
Fifth Update 1.4/1.42 /1.41, 1.4/1.42 brought native TRIM within Firmware, 1.41 has aggressive garbage collection useful on raid and OS with no TRIM support. Sixth Update 1.5, a combined TRIM and Garbage Collection Firmware, it also fixes some bugs found in 1.4/1.41.
Firmware 0112, 1199,1275 and 1.10 (although there is an updater also for 1.10 from DOS) all needed what we call a “full flash” to update. This means going from 0112 to 1199 or 1199 to 1275 you will have to flash within Windows using a 3 file update and place the drive into engineering mode by applying a jumper to the engineering header on the drive.

Once 1275 is flashed Fimware upgrade can be carried out where the drive is flashed within freedos (booted too) and the data on the drive is left untouched.

OCZ does NOT guarantee the data will be undamaged, so it is still advisable to make a backup of the data.

Most shipping drives will have at least 1.4 or 1.5 FW (updated Feb. 17,2010) Firmware update guides will focus from this FW onwards.

Firmware releases usually come early on the ocztechnology forum, later they are also released on ocz.com. As of Feb 2010 shipping Firmware on all drives is 1.5. if you buy a drive and it has an earlier revision firmware we do suggest you update ASAP.

All current firmware revisions can be found at http://www.ocztechnologyforum.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?252-Firmware-and-Other-Downloads-(Read-Only)

If looking on ocz.com under the flash section you will find updates listed:

OCZ Product Page

Now I have installed the new Firmware what is next?

For Microsoft Windows users this will usually mean loading the operating system to the drive. There are different requirements for each operating system which i will outline below.

Microsoft Windows XP (all service pack levels)

By default this operating system does not create aligned partitions that suit SSD. It is upto the end user to do this manually to ensure the drive will work at optimum speed.

There are many ways to align the partition on the drive before you install XP to it. By far the easiest way is to create the partition on the drive from an existing XP installation connecting the vertex as a SPARE.
(Please note that this will only work with later than versions 5 of Diskpart, like those in Vista and Windows 7. If the version you have does not work, then you can download a Vista or Windows 7 32 Bit Recovery CD ISO from the Neosmart link below).

Open CMD.exe either from the run box or by navigating to programs>accessories> CMD.exe and type the following:

CD C:\

Then Type:

DISKPART.EXE

This should now load Diskpart and you should see something close to what I have here:

Alignment via Diskpart

next we need to find what drive number the VERTEX is on your system…so we alter the following command:

list disk and hit enter…you should see something like:

Alignment via Diskpart

 

With your VERTEX being connected as SPARE you will find Diskpart lists 2 disks with the VERTEX being Disk 1. On my laptop here I have 1 drive attached so the SSD is listed as DISK 0.

Keep this in mind, you have to select the appropriate disk and the following commands will destroy all data on the drives.

So…If the VERTEX is connected as a SPARE drive and is shown as Disk 1 then type the following, hitting ENTER after each bold line.

 

select disk 1 with 1 being the number given for your ssd

clean this destroys all partition/volume data on the disk

create partition primary align=1024

active

format fs=ntfs quick

exit

You can now power off the system and remove the VERTEX, it is ready for installation into the machine you intended. With XP once you hit the installation page where XP asks where to install to…highlight the C drive (VERTEX) but do NOT delete the partition show…you will NOT have to format it either as it is already formatted. Just install to it.

An alternative to this and by far the easiest method is to download the Vista recovery CD available here:http://neosmart.net/blog/2008/windows-vista-recovery-disc-download/
Or you could use the Windows 7 RC1 disk that is freely available from Microsoft.

The beauty of using the Vista or Windows 7 install disks is there now is no need to install and run diskpart on another machine to align VERTEX as Vista and Windows 7 align partitions by default correctly.

All that is needed for VERTEX is that using the install tools you delete any partition already on the VERTEX then create a new one and format it. Once the drive is formatted and checked just power off the machine and replace the Vista/Win7 disk with an XP disk and continue to install again without deleting any partition on the drive…just install to it.

This is by far the easiest method although it will need you to download either of the disks first…but they do come in handy for the partition aligning tools they have inbuilt and are worth having around. If you have a normal Vista install DVD this can be used also, just remember to power off the system before Vista installs any files to the drive.

Windows Vista

As mentioned above, Windows Vista aligns partitions by default correctly, so there is no need for preparations before installing Vista. Just make sure to delete any partition on the Vertex and create a new one using the Vista DVD.

 

Windows 7

As mentioned above, Windows 7 aligns partitions by default correctly, so there is no need for preparations before installing Win7. Using the install DVD its best to delete any partitions or volumes present on the disk (new disks will have none present) and just hit NEXT at the install/format screen. Windows 7 will create and format partitions on the SSD automatically, there is no need to create and format a partition UNLESS you are going to have more than 1 partition on the disk. Just hitting NEXT will result in 2 partitions on the drive, 1 around 200MB big and the other filling the remaining space on the drive…this is totally normal and the partitions are aligned.

Windows operating system tweaks with VERTEX

Before we get started with what tweaks are needed we need to first understand why SSD drives are so fast:

The data seek time on the drive is usually 0.1 to 0.25ms, this means VERTEX will seek out and serve data to your system before a standard spinning platter HDD has even finished seeking.

VERTEX has huge random read and random write performance which is how Windows reads and writes from and to the drive.

So what tweaks do I need to run?

keeping things very simple the following have no need to be enabled on XP.

1 Windows defragmenter
2 prefetch
3 drive indexing
Moving to Vista:

1 Superfetch
2 Windows Defragmenter
3 Drive Indexing
Last Windows 7:

1 Superfetch
2 Windows Defragmenter
3 Drive Indexing
These are the bare minimum you need to turn off, with these off you should see lightening performance from VERTEX, further tweaks can be applied BUT they are more involved and more for those looking to squeeze the extra 3% of performance from their systems.

Windows 7 should by default turn off the following:

Superfetch
Defragger

All you need do now is turn off windows search indexing service and drive indexing.

More on windows tweaks on a new article soon:

Drive maintenance…what can I do to keep it running at full speed?

For use within windows 7 there is absolutely no maintenance needed apart from allowing the machine to idle at the login screen for a few hours each week, this allows the garbage collection time to recover the drive and free up space TRIM has not been able to deal with. For all other windows based OS with no TRIM support…The simple answer is an application called Wiper.exe. The latest version available to use is 0525 and is linked here for download.

From a fresh brand new drive wiper.exe if run each day will take around 2 minutes max to run and will reset the deleted blocks on the drive to ensure you see full speed. VERTEX works best in IDE mode but AHCI is supported. There are issues with AHCI that need slightly different rules to be applied which i will outline below.

1 Wiper.exe used on a drive in IDE mode will work very fast and is only needed 2 to 3 times per week.

2 Wiper.exe used on a drive in AHCI mode does best when Wiper is run at the start of each new session. If the drive is moving and deleting large amounts of data within a session it may be best to run wiper a few times within that session also. In general at the start of each session should be all that is needed.

Wiper.exe 0525 has proven very safe with both 32bit and 64bit windows OS’s, it is a tool supplied to OCZ by Indilinx ( the manufacturer of the SSD controller within the drive) and is free for use by OCZ customers.

What does wiper.exe do?

By default all MLC based SSD drives slow down when each Nand cell has been written to at least once. Even though the data on that cell may have been deleted this means that the controller within the VERTEX has to erase the whole cell before any data can be written to it…this adds latency and so slows the drive down.

Wiper.exe is a brute force method of resetting all those erased cells so that they work at full speed with no added latency..IE they have already been erased.

We have a thread on the SSD forum that shows some good methods for scheduling wiper to run each day or 3 times a week etc…this thread can be found here: http://www.ocztechnologyforum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=57590

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