Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Fusion-io vs. OCZ

I've seen a lot of interest in my past posts regarding the testing of the Fusion-io ioDrive and the OCZ Z-Drive. I felt that I needed to clarify my position and opinions on the two products a bit.

If you are an end-user or enthusiast and your livelihood doesn't depend on the data stored by the product, the OCZ Z-Drive would probably be the better product for you because of the cost difference between the two.

If you are a business user using the products in servers where critical data is stored, your ONLY option at that point is the Fusion-io products, no question. DO NOT trust your critical business data to the OCZ-ZDrive, do not even think about it. I experienced a failure firsthand within 3 days of receiving the one I ordered, and I returned it. Fusion-io has well engineered and backed products. They perform extremely well, and are not "built upon another product" like the OCZ product is.

Let me clarify that, the OCZ product is simply an LSI RAID controller with MLC or SLC NAND memory modules. The RAID controller BIOS only allows RAID0 and RAID1. With 8 banks of memory, that means with RAID0, ONE big drive with no redundancy in the event of failure. With RAID1, that means 4 logical drives in which to store your data. One NAND bank can fail and you're still in business. With RAID0, how it is out of the box, one failure = TOTAL data loss. You're out of business if that was critical data.

Fusion-io has consumer-level products for the enthusiast users. I'd tend to recommend it to those types whom doesn't need large high performance storage needs. If you need 200+gb, then the OCZ Z-Drive would make sense if the data stored isn't critical. If so, reconfigure the RAID BIOS to use RAID1 and divide your data across the 4 logical drives. You'll still get great performance, but not as much as it would be with 8-way RAID0 with the threat of data loss present.

If you are a business needing high performance data storage,  I urge you to look into Fusion-io and their products. I can think of no better performing and robust product on the market that the Fusion-io ioDrive, ioDrive Duo, or ioDrive Octal.

For shops whom need the absolute highest level of performance for their SQL Server, Oracle Database environments, or any other I/O intensive workloads, nothing can beat the Fusion-io Octal drive for the money. Yes, it is VERY expensive, but not to those companies whom need that level of performance. If it is too much for you, the ioDrive and ioDrive Duo is your best bang-for-the-buck choice. Hands-down, you will not be disappointed with the level of performance or support that you get from Fusion-io.


  1. Noel,

    Very interesting reads. Our company has been considering both the Fusion-IO and OCZ cards, for a very high IOPS application. Your posts have raised a few questions. First, why would you not have configured the OCZ card as a RAID-5 volume in Windows (after setting up the card as four pairs of RAID-1), or use two cards and mirror them (again through Windows)? We had a discussion with Fusion-IO representatives last week, and that was something even they recommended for their cards. As we may be installing them in remote locations, we would require some level of fault tolerance, and replacement cards could be days away. As a card failure would render useless whatever level of built-in RAID is available, we opted to consider any failure (whether a module or entire card) as a total failure of the card, as the replacement process is the same. As such, they suggested using software RAID, through Windows. They remarked that unless you were pushing the card to the limits, the reduction in performance that this would create would be undetectable.

    You also have not indicated what support (if any) was given from OCZ, or what they suggested. I would be curious to hear that as well.

  2. Tyson,

    You're right. Fusion-io recommends multiple cards in RAID using Windows soft-raid. From my testing, the OCZ is nowhere near the Fusion-io in multi-threaded IOPS. If your application(s) are IO intensive, I think you'd be far better served with the Fusion-io product just for that reason alone.
    Support from OCZ was, honestly, I could barely understand a word they spoke on the phone. I was referred to their forums and email. At that point, I decided to cut my losses and return it. I don't have time for that kind of foolishness on an enterprise-marketed product.

    The failure I experienced was losing an entire bank of NAND. All of a sudden, it was reporting in the RAID BIOS about 120ishGB less space during boot. After logging in, the drive reported that it was not formatted and asked if I wanted to format it. All data was gone. That's when I looked into the BIOS of the card and saw RAID0 and RAID1 were the only options. Upon removing the card, I saw soot and burned out transistors covering a ~1" square area on one of the NAND modules.

    In my honest opinion and experience, the OCZ Z-Drive is not even a second-class product in the enterprise SSD market. I've not mentioned it before, but every few reboots caused the Z-Drive to disappear in Windows. A hard, cold reboot fixed it each time until a few reboots later upon which it happened again. I felt that I could not rely on it and decided my combined experiences warranted scrapping the product all together and moving on.
    Maybe your experiences would be different, I would hope so. I can say, I know for a fact that the Fusion-io product will not disappoint you like that. Add those issues to the lower IOPS from the OCZ product, and in my mind, that would be plenty cause to disqualify it.

  3. Hi Noel,

    This is Karin from Fusion-io. I came across your blog and wanted to thank you for sharing your experience with our ioDrives with your readers!

    Speaking of Oracle, we recently conducted a third-party survey and found: 90% of IT organizations that use Fusion-io for Oracle achieved 3x or more performance improvement by using the Fusion-io ioDrive and 46% of IT organizations that use Fusion-io for Oracle realized $50,000 or more in TCO savings by using our drive. Please check out the survey site for more TechFacts: http://t.co/WZUIgYi

    If you are on Twitter, please follow us @fusionio and we'll follow you back. If you have any questions or comments, please DM us!


  4. Wonder if you have heard or have different feelings about OCZ now. Seems like they may be getting their act together as they have increased sales quite a bit in the enterprise space. Would love to get your thoughts/feelings. Thanks


  5. Thanks for the article. I have been an avid Fusion-io card user to this point and have 8 of their cards used in 3 different SQL Servers. I have found them very reliable and due to budget constraints, have picked most of them up on E-Bay at lower prices. Every single card has worked flawlessly. However, even with the dicounts on the re-sale market, I really am looking more seriously at the OCZ cards as the R4 outperforms a DUO card in most areas (over 2 GBPS throughput and over 500K IOPS). The new Fusion duo (IODuo2) looks to regain the edge again, but I'm afraid the cost might force me to change. It looks like the 2 x R4s in a RAID-1 will still be cheaper than just 1 of the new DUOs and give comparable performance.