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Flash storage company OCZ is in a huge restructuring phase

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May 15, 2013

Flash storage provider OCZ CEO Ralph Schmitt has replaced almost twelve of his top executives, and he's now talking about overall quality as he tries to rejuvenate the now almost defunct OCZ flash business.

To a large degree, OCZ actually over-extended itself in a big way under its original founder and previous CEO Ryan Petersen, who was asked to let go last year, leaving the company with far too many under-performing SSD product brands.

Many of those brands had a bad history of product quality problems and caused some serious financial issues to OCZ as a company.

Schmitt is now fighting to keep OCZ's Nasdaq listing in the face of a failure to file the last two quarter's financial results with the SEC and to rebuild the battered company.

The company is trying to rebuild itself after a loan agreement with Hercules Technology Growth Capital gave it a last-minute $30 million cash infusion and some credit lifeline.

The terms of the loan agreement are partially contingent upon the company being current in its SEC filings and achieving certain revenue levels for two consecutive quarters.

IT has seen a copy of an OCZ presentation for customers discussing the OCZ Quality System as of Q2 2013. It declares: "There is no substitute for quality. It’s created, maintained, and improved upon every day by every employee in the company."

In the document is also a list of new people as evidence of OCZ's new found zeal for quality control and increased revenues:

  • New VP Engineering
  • New VP of Operations
  • New VP Global Sales
  • New Director of Quality
  • New Senior Manager Quality Systems
  • New Director of Product Engineering
  • New Director of Software Engineering
  • New Manager Test Engineering
  • New Manager Product Compliance
  • New Director Enterprise Sales
  • New Director OEM Sales
  • There is more on the improvement of in-house manufacturing as well as new quality control measures and vendor and supplier monitoring processes and then a review of how OCZ's Vertex product quality has improved over three generations of product.

    Some observers in the IT industry say that Schmitt deserves a commendation for trying hard to rescue OCZ from its demise, and he probably does.

    In other IT news

    Late last year, Intel launched its new line of Centerton server processors, the first in its new series of Atom-based server processors designed for lower-power, less intensive applications. In an effort to cut down seriously on ARM's near invasion of the data centre as of late, Intel's new low-power server processors are targeted at an emerging "Metal as a Service" (MaaS) iteration that sees a return of unique and fairly stable workloads to individual server processors mounted on the same motherboard.

    Sun Hosting provided us a Supermicro test unit in the small 101i mini-ITX chassis. This particular motherboard and chassis was our idea in the first place. Supermicro showed us its new "display computer" based on this chassis, but for various reasons we were far more interested in the idea of an IPMI-enabled microserver in a chassis with a VESA mounting kit.

    We like the server chassis a lot. A mini-ITX core-series motherboard in this unit would be the sort of server we'd buy in bulk. The Centerton S1260 has a max TDP of 8.5 watts. The whole system, when redlined, doesn't hit 20 Watts of power.

    The chassis itself takes DC power from an external adapter. This makes using a larger, more efficient power supply to handle multiple units easier.

    Supermicro claims an operating temperature range of 0 to 60°C for the motherboard on its product page. This is a passively cooled processor and we disabled the sole chassis fan for the duration of the test. The server kept humming all along with no signs of overheating anywhere.

    Intel and Supermicro have both done very well on the thermals front, and Sun Hosting would know, since it's been buying thousands of servers from Supermicro every quarter for the past 10 years or so.

    We find it hard to categorize the performance of the system, however. This is the first Atom server-class processor. We have yet to get the opportunity to test an ARM server processor of the class that is supposed to compete with these units, so we'll have to wait a bit more for that.

    To be sure, Atoms CPUs aren't what is called in the industry as 'out-of-order execution' processors. They are a completely different from older, more traditional Intel CPU cores that the last major point of reference for the design was the P5 microarchitecture in the Pentium MMX. Yes, that's quite a long time ago, for most people anyway.

    Even the Pentium Pros were out-of-order processors as well. The S-1260 CPU is a 2 GHz processor rated at 8.5 Watts, with the full system drawing about 14 Watts on average.

    The Pentium MMX I out from the old archives is a 200 MHz CPU rated at 15.7 Watts, and the full system (after upgrading it to a more efficient power supply and newer hard drive) pulls in at about 60 Watts of power.

    That makes the Atom about nine to ten times faster on CPU clock frequency (on two cores and a total of four processor threads) for 23 percent of the operational power load. Given the age delta between the two systems, there wasn't a whole lot of benchmarks we could run in common between them.

    The few things we could run showed the S-1260 to have at least sixty times the performance of the Pentium MMX 200, so a minimum of 60x the performance for about a quarter of the power usage. That's pretty good by any standards.

    Comparing this directly to a modern out-of-order processor (which can reschedule instructions in code to run software more efficiently) has proven to be far more difficult, however. Additionally, Intel's new Centerton Atom has no graphics acceleration hardware of its own so we wanted to choose a test that would completely remove that from the equation.

    Source: ITNO.

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