Archive for January, 2011

PostHeaderIcon OCZ RevoDrive X2 240GB PCI Express SSD Review

Return of the dizzying speeds

How can you improve on OCZ Technology’s original RevoDrive (reviewed November 2010), which binds two SandForce SF-1200 SSDs to a PCI-E card? You add another two SSDs for a quad-drive SSD. That’s what OCZ did for the RevoDrive X2.

The original RevoDrive topped out at 500MB/s in very specific tests, and hovered around half that speed for most day-to-day usage, which still put it at the very top end of current-gen solid-state devices. OCZ claims the RevoDrive X2 can hit speeds up to 750MMB/s—that’s marketing megabytes per second. Oh yeah, we’re testing that.

The OCZ RevoDrive X2 ties four SandForce SSDs together—no cables, drive bays, or SATA ports necessary.

Like its predecessor, the RevoDrive X2 contains a Pericom PCI-E-to-PCI-X bridge, a SiliconImage SiI3124 PCI/PCI-X-to-SATA controller, a bunch of SandForce SF-1200 controllers, and their attendant NAND. In fact, the only hardware difference between the RevoDrive X2 and the first RevoDrive we tested is the presence of a riser card, which adds another 120GB of NAND flash memory and two more SF-1200 controllers. That’s essentially a RAID 0 of four 60GB solid-state drives. With the x4 PCI-E interface, that means this should be a blazing-fast drive.

Out-of-the-box HDTune sequential-read and -write performance topped 300MB/s, but dropped to an average of 244.8MB/s reads and 222.2MB/s writes thereafter—around the same as the first-version drive in read speeds, but a marked improvement over that drive’s write speeds. Non-HDTune benchmark scores didn’t slow down at all as the drive aged.

At queue depth 1, the Revo showed 4KB random-read and -write IOPS in the neighborhood of 12,000–13,000—a new record—but in our Iometer test, which writes 4KB files at random over the whole drive at a queue depth of 32, the score was off the charts, clocking in at over 117,000—44 percent faster than the first RevoDrive.

At larger file sizes, the RevoDrive X2 continued to impress—in ATTO (queue depth 4), which writes a variety of file sizes all over the disk, 64KB writes topped 661MB/s, and reads weren’t far behind. This is half again the speed of the first RevoDrive, and three times the speed of a single Vertex 2 on a SATA connection. The RevoDrive X2 also cooked in real-world tests, blazing through our Premiere Pro encoding test in just 317 seconds—12 percent faster than the first RevoDrive. Its PCMark Vantage x64 HDD subscore, at 57,414, is the fastest we’ve seen by far.

The Revo ain’t perfect. You still have to install drivers manually via Device Manager, and load them with F6 if you’re going to install Windows to the RevoDrive. Some motherboards require a BIOS update in order to boot from the Revo, or only allow installation in specific PCI-E slots; check for a list of those motherboards. Like its predecessor, the RevoDrive X2 lacks support for the Trim command but does include garbage-collecting algorithms that prevent it from getting too slow—indeed, after heavy use the drive was still humming along quite well.

With capacities that range from 100GB to 960GB, the RevoDrive X2 makes a disk-less PC seem almost feasible—if you don’t mind dropping a bundle of money. The 960GB version is a cool $3,300, while the 240GB model we tested goes for $600. It’s a tempting offer.

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PostHeaderIcon Why Won’t Google Use My META Description?

Posted by Dr. Pete

I’ve seen some frustration in Q&A lately with how Google is handling search snippets and META descriptions. You may have seen a schizophrenic search result that looked something like this:

Sample Search Snippet

Site owners are understandably frustrated when they see the META descriptions they’ve labored over get carelessly tossed aside. So, where do snippets come from, and is there anything you can do to stay in control?

Search Snippet Basics

Typically, search snippets come from 1 of 3 places (and we’re just talking basic snippets here, not rich snippets like sitelinks):

  1. META descriptions
  2. On-page copy
  3. Open Directory Project (ODP) data

In the example above, Google is using my query ("January 11") and pulling up page content that the algorithm thinks is relevant. Since that copy is really just dates and fragments, I end up with a strange mash-up of on-page copy.

Controlling Search Snippets

So, is there anything you can do to bend Google to your will and always use your META descriptions? Unfortunately, the short answer is "no". Like so much of SEO, though, there are some ways to nudge Google in the right direction:

1. Focus Your META Description

Let’s say that, for some reason, we really wanted that SEOmoz blog post to rank for "January 19". One solution is to make sure that phrase appears in our META description for the relevant page. If Google can find the matching copy in your description, they’re more likely to use the tag as is. It’s also just a good exercise – figuring out what your core target keywords are and targeting them naturally in your META description (don’t just make it a list of keywords, of course) will help you focus your overall on-page SEO efforts.

2. Remove Duplicate METAs

In some cases, having too many pages with duplicate TITLE tags or META descriptions can lead Google to rank the wrong page or filter that META description. De-duplicating your TITLEs and META descriptions is a good practice anyway, but making sure that each page has its own unique and relevant description can also help insure that Google sees value in those descriptions.

3. Block Your ODP Listing

If you suspect that your search snippet is coming from the Open Directory Project (this would be more common on the home-page than deeper pages and long-tail queries), you can block Google from using your ODP listing with the following META tag:

<meta name="robots" content="NOODP">

This problem isn’t quite as common as it used to be, but it does still pop up from time to time.

4. Block Your Snippet (Caution)

There’s another, much more severe META tag you can use to block your snippet entirely:

<meta name="robots" content="nosnippet">

This directive will remove your snippet ENTIRELY, though, so use it with caution. It can also effect caching. In general, I’d only use this option if Google is taking liberties with snippets that could harm your brand or cause legal problems. Typically, these issues would be better dealt with in your on-page content directly.

5. Leave It Alone

Google’s attempts to match snippets to queries don’t always work the way you’d like, but in general they’re a good thing. Matching, bolded keywords drive click-throughs, and people rarely read the whole text of a snippet. If it’s just a couple of long-tail queries, don’t worry about it.

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PostHeaderIcon Alternate Energy Source For Electricity

Electricity helps the world go round, so in a way, the means of creating this electricity also helps the world go round. For the majority of the modern world this is made possible through the use of fossil fuels such as oil and coal. However, there are other sources. This alternative electricity includes such sources as solar panels, and wind mills. It would not only make this world of ours go round much better than before but would also do so in a much cheaper and healthier way.

It is essential if we find affordable and workable sources of energy before the world completely consumes the already limited supply of energy sources. While it is essential that we become less reliant or not reliant at all on fossil fuels, many forms of alternate energy have their disadvantages as well as their obvious advantages. It has to be said though, that the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages in many cases.

Solar energy is probably the most common form of alternate energy for everyday people and you can see solar lights ad other solar accessories in many gardens. The use of photovoltaic roof tiles are easily fitted onto your roof and collect the heat from the sun. This heat can either be used to heat water or can even be converted into electricity. The advantage for the consumer is that by including a grid tie system you can actually sell unused electricity back to the grid. Photovoltaic tiles take the place of ordinary roof tiles and can be perfectly blended to fit the look of the outside of your house. With solar energy you too can help the environment.

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