So, where's the value? It ought to be fairly obvious to technophiles, particularly those craving an SSD solution for a multi-boot setup. Based on our conversations with the company, this guy is "designed to be a multipurpose drive used especially in mixed OS environments," with the (admittedly optional) onboard storage useful for storing a third-party bootloader to handle Windows, OS X and Ubuntu on your Mac Pro. Meanwhile, the expansion module storage would carry out your OS duties, and in rapid fashion, too. An extreme case, sure, but those dabbling in the superweird
would undoubtedly see the utility.
The other upside here is the flexibility. If you've only got the outlay for two 60GB modules now, you can start with that. Down the road, another pair of 60 giggers would allow you to run a mirrored combo of 120GB striped RAID arrangements, or you could rebuild the entire thing to double your storage and increase your speed potential. Granted, there's no telling how long the company will continue making its existing 60GB / 240GB modules (the world of NAND moves fast
), but at least the option exists for now.
In our test, we utilized a 2009 Mac Pro (OS X 10.6.7) with a 2.66GHz quad-core Xeon CPU, 6GB of 1,066MHz DDR3 memory, NVIDIA's GeForce GT 120 and the aforesaid Angelbird / Hitachi hard drives. In our initial install, we attempted to raid two 60GB cards -- based on SandForce's SF-1222, by the way -- into a striped 120GB array (and then repeat it on the other two), in order to create a RAID set with 120GB of mirrored storage. Pricey redundancy, sure, but it was worth a shot; turns out, the initial drivers we were sent weren't tailored to handle such a setup, forcing numerous crashes and plenty of tears. Eventually, we were given a new driver package that addressed the issue, so those looking to do likewise will benefit from our early misfortune.
For our actual benchmarking, however, we striped all four modules into a 240GB RAID 0 array, with 32GB leftover for -- well, whatever else. Our bootup time improved from around 105 seconds to 70 seconds, while launching applications took but a fraction of the time. As an example, launching Google Chrome after a fresh reboot took around four "Dock bounces" on the HDD; with the Wings solution, it was fired up on the first downbeat. Firefox, Photoshop, Excel, Word and every other application we loaded saw similarly impressive improvements. Given our consumer focus here, we didn't put the drive through any insane enterprise-level stress testing. Instead, we simply used the device and ran it through a number of calculated file transfers while also putting it up against our DiskTester benchmarking suite. For smaller reads and writes, we routinely saw measurable transfer rates approaching 200MB/sec. On larger groups of files -- between 1GB and 8GB -- those speeds averaged between 230MB/sec and 260MB/sec. To be perfectly clear, this is us copying files on the Wings RAID set with a precision clock, and then calculating the actual
transfer rate that was realized on our machine. Compare that to the 45MB/sec - 65MB/sec that we saw on our Hitachi magnetic drive, and it's pretty clear which is more enjoyable to use.
DiskTester's Sequential Read Test: Wings PCIe SSD (4x60GB RAID 0)
In test scenarios, the company claims that a four-drive arrangement can approach 750MB/sec, and with monolithic video exports relocating themselves, perhaps that's accurate. In the Sequential Read test within DiskTester, we saw average speeds of 538MB/sec to 730MB/sec -- just about what was claimed. In the full Sequential Suite, the drive clocked ~138MB/sec whilst handling diminutive 32KB files, but soared to 825MB/sec when transferring 256MB chunks. But even still, OCZ's RevoDrive can hit similar speeds at a lower price point, leaving Wings without a pedestal to stand on outside of its flexibility. What we're left with is a clever design and solid execution, but a price point that simply has to come down if it hopes to compete for consumer dollars in this space. Thankfully, that's in the cards. We're told that a proper US store and distribution channel are nearly done, and hopefully that'll provide the pricing necessary to have folks truly consider the upstart. Make no mistake -- the real-world speed gains here will truly change the way you compute, but is the form factor worth the premium? Depends on how many SSDs you've got sitting around, now doesn't it?