OCZ has announced a new firmware update that boosts performance of fourth-generation Vertex drives by up to 110% in certain situations. The update (v1.4RC) increases 128KB sequential reads from 535MB/s to 550MB/s on 128GB, 256GB and 512GB Vertex 4s, while 128KB sequential writes have increased from 200MB/s to 420MB/s, 380MB/s to 465MB/s. No gains are touted for 4KB random reads and writes.

  Vertex 4 128GB Vertex 4 256GB Vertex 4 512GB
Sequential Read 535MB/s (550MB/s) 535MB/s (550MB/s) 535MB/s (550MB/s)
Sequential Write 200MB/s (420MB/s) 380MB/s (465MB/s) 475MB/s (no gain)
Random Read IOPS 90,000 90,000 95,000
Random Write IOPS 85,000 85,000 85,000
Max IOPS 120,000 120,000 120,000

With the improvements, OCZ says mainstream users of the 128GB model can now enjoy the 512GB version's enterprise-grade performance. The company isn't particularly candid about what knobs it turned, saying only that the faster rates were achieved via "proprietary algorithms which orchestrate the sequence of physical NAND programming operations to ensure that each NAND device is optimally utilized."

Storage Review has retested the Vertex 4 to demonstrate the firmware's changes. The site's real-world benchmarks (latter half of the article) show notable gains in various StorageMark workloads, bumping productivity performance from 168MB/s to 192MB/s while read-heavy game tests jumped from 228MB/s to 368MB/s. Power consumption has also been reduced by a smidgen during reads and writes.

Despite those improvements, you may want to wait until the final version is released in the coming weeks as Storage Review experienced stability issues. We don't see v1.4RC listed publicly, but a fixed version (v.1.14RC) should appear very soon considering the site has already received the revision (and is working on a fresh round of tests). If you aren't afraid of the release candidate status, you can download the new RC firmware from our driver section.