OCZ's New SSD RAID Promises Speed, Bankrupcy

The ribbons came off on OCZ's latest solid-state creation yesterday. Dubbed the "Z-Drive," the new solid-state storage device more resembles a videocard than your average flash-based, 2.5-inch drive. That's because the company is packing four of its Vertex SSD drives into a single enclosure, then connecting this RAID 0 of drives to your motherboard via a PCI Express x4 interface.

Depending on the size of the Z-Drive, read and write speeds are expected to range from up to 450 MB/s and 300 MB/s for the company's 250GB offering to 500 MB/s and 470 MB/s on OCZ's top, terabyte offering. OCZ splits the difference by offering a 500GB version of the Z-Drive as well. All three versions come with 256MB of onboard cache, a significant size given that conventional solid-state drives max out at 64MB.

So how much will a four-drive array of SSDs set you back? OCZ hasn't released the pricing yet, but a European retail leak puts the Z-Drive between $1,200 and $3,000 dollars, depending on the model. Give that you can pick up a 60GB version of the Vertex SSD for around $250 retail right now, that's just a tiny bit of an overhead for the PCI Express functionality and onboard RAID controller.

Although a number of SSD manufactuers are turning toward these PCI Express-based SSDs--including Fusion-io and, most recently, Super Talent--it's hard to believe that these devices are marketed toward the average consumer. The most compelling adoption issue facing solid-state drives remains their price. Asking $200-$300 for a low-capacity solid-state drive is one thing; pushing $1,000 for an array of drives is going to be a tough sell, even for enthusiasts. But to be fair, had you a nickle every time a publication said that about solid-state drives, you'd have your terabyte RAID in no time.

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