It's quite common that updated software means improved performance in hardware, particularly when that hardware is quite recent. Newly released graphics cards are a case in point. As soon as a new GPU appears you can be sure that a few months later new drivers will drastically improve frame rates. The same holds true for SSDs. We've said before that the performance of an SSD primarily depends on how smart the algorithms in the controller are. This is because flashchips have the impractical quality of reading data in small blocks (4 kB usually) but writing and removing data in larger 512 kB blocks. A controller has to figure out the most efficient way of storing the data in a way that requires the least amount of read and write activity. The smarter the algorithm, the less work and the better the performance.
OCZ introduced the Vertex 4 SSDs in the beginning of April, based on the new Everest 2 controller from Indilinx, which was acquired by OCZ last year. A couple of weeks after the launch OCZ revealed to Anandtech that the Everest 2 actually is a new-generation Marvell controller with firmware developed by Indilinx. That actually did the image of the Vertex 4 a lot of good, as Marvell controllers have proven their reliability in recent years.
The people at Indilinx have done their best with the new firmware and made the Vertex 4 one of the fastest SSDs currently around. Development has since continued, and now there is a new version of the firmware (1.4) available, which OCZ claims will significantly improve the performance of the Vertex 4. The Vertex 4 was launched with version 1.3. You can download the new firmware here. Keep in mind that if you have version 1.3 and want to update to 1.4 you will lose all data. In other words, it is what is known as a destructive upgrade. We would therefore recommend making a back-up of you Vertex 4 first.
We tested the Vertex 4 128 GB, 256 GB and 512 GB again with the new firmware. The charts on the following pages show the performance improvement you can expect.