Fusion-io vs Intel X25-M SSD RAID, Grudge Match Review - HotHardware

Fusion-io vs Intel X25-M SSD RAID, Grudge Match Review

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Our Test Methodologies
Under each test condition, the Solid State Drives tested here were installed as secondary volumes in our testbed, with a standard spinning hard disk for the OS and benchmark installations.  The SSDs were left blank without partitions wherever possible, unless a test required them to be partitioned and formatted,
as was the case with our ATTO benchmark tests. Windows firewall, automatic updates and screen savers were all disabled before testing. In all test runs, we rebooted the system and waited several minutes for drive activity to settle before invoking a test.

On a side note, thanks to our friends at DV Nation for their assistance in supplying the Fusion-io ioDrive we used for testing.  If you're looking for high end SSD storage, they're a good place to start.

Also, you'll note that we performed all of our SSD RAID testing with the Intel X25-M drives on an Intel X58 chipset-based motherboard via its ICH10R Southbridge SATA controller.  This controller offered peak RAID 0 performance versus even the hardware-based RAID controllers we had in the lab for testing.

HotHardware Test System
Intel Core i7 Powered

Processor -

Motherboard -

Video Card -

Memory -

Audio -

Hard Drives -


Hardware Used:
Intel Core i7 920

Gigabyte GA-EX58-Extreme
(X58 Express Chipset)

GeForce GTX 280

6144MB Corsair DDR3-1333

Integrated on board

Intel X25-M 80GB SSD x 4
Fusion-io 160GB ioDrive

Operating System -
Chipset Drivers -
DirectX -
Video Drivers

Relevant Software:
Windows Vista Ultimate
DirectX 10
NVIDIA ForceWare

Benchmarks Used:
HD Tach
ATTO ver 2.02
PCMark Vantage
SiSoftware Sandra 2009
Iometer 2006.07.27

In our SiSoft SANDRA testing, we used the Physical Disk test suite. We ran the tests without formatting the drives and both read and write performance metrics are detailed below.  Please forgive the use of these screen captures and thumbnails, which will require a few more clicks on your part.  However, we felt it was important to show you the graph lines in each of the SANDRA test runs, so you are able to see how the drives perform over time and memory location and not just an average rated result.

2 x Intel X25-M SSD RAID 0 - Read Performance


4 x Intel X25-M SSD RAID 0 - Read Performance


2 x Intel X25-M SSD RAID 0 - Write Performance

4 x Intel X25-M SSD RAID 0 - Write Performance

Looking at these preliminary, high level numbers from SANDRA, it's apparent that there are somewhat diminishing returns in read performance, as we scale from two to four SSDs in a RAID 0 configuration.  However, write performance almost doubles linearly. 

  Fusion-io 160GB ioDrive - Read Performance
Fusion-io 160GB ioDrive - Write Performance

The Fusion-io ioDrive however shows a much less saw-toothed performance curve, with flat 650+MB/sec performance whether looking at read or write throughput.  Looking at the graph, you can tell this technology means business and a sequential access pattern like a SANDRA benchmark run isn't going to saturate its throughput capability. 

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Nice article. I really can't wait till the Fusion-io drives come down in price. I also really like that Supermicro 2.5" rack, which I think you mean fits into a 5.25" bay, not 3.5". I currently have two SSDs TAPED to the inside of my case so you can see them facing the window.

On a related note, do you think you do do a similar set of tests on different RAID controllers? I noticed you said your X58 southbridge was faster than the controller cards you had in the lab, which is odd. I really want to know the benefits of using something like the crazy Areca RAID controllers with their own upgradeable RAM sticks, like the ones DV Nation have.

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Hey Lev,

We actually tried an Acreca 1210 card with 256MB of on board cache and the Intel array. It was actually slower than the ICH10R believe it or not. I was surprised too. However, it doesn't take much heavy lifting for RAID 0 an Intel probably has their Southbridge chipset and drivers tuned pretty well for their own SSD, so perhaps it's not all that surprising. However, with a RAID 5 setup, you definitely want hardware RAID of course.

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And Lev, we caught that typo within like 3 seconds of go-live. You're QUICK man! LOL

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What kind of alignment did you guys do on those Intel drives? And did you guys enable write-back cache? Those Intel drives didn't seem to scale as good as they should have after 2 were installed. Changing the alignment alone could result in some large gains. I know they are probably hitting the limits of the board, but i'm still curious if you could squeeze a little more out of them.

I didn't think that ioFusion card would be bootable. Once these kind of cards start to catch on tho... that might change with some BIOS updates, etc.

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You guys have 4 X25-Ms. Me wants.

Anyway thats some crazy performance on the fusion io. I can't wait until stuff like that becomes affordable on the consumer end.

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Bob, stick around for another few weeks. We'll be looking at the ioXtreme drive from Fusion-io very soon. It will be priced in the hundreds range, rather than thousands. :)

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Bob, stick around for another few weeks. We'll be looking at the ioXtreme drive from Fusion-io very soon. It will be priced in the hundreds range, rather than thousands. :)

Thats a bit more intresting. A solid SSD would perfect my desktop I think.

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Acarzt, write-back cache was definitely enabled and as far as alignment goes, the drives were setup with 128K stripe (default for RAID 0 on the ICH10R) and formatted with defaults for NTFS.

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Ahh I see... That's exactly how I have mine set... it's amazing the differece write-back cache makes.

About the alignment tho... I was talking about the volume itself after creating the RAID. I don't know if this applies to the Intel drives, but I did this with my raid...


Vista has a default allignment of 1024. 128k is more common for RAID'd drives. I've seen guys pick up over 100MB/s by changing it. So instead of

"create partition primary align 64"

like in the walkthrough... you would use...

"create partition primary align 128"

It's worth a shot... it might make a difference :-P

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Awesome review, $7200 wouldn't really justify for any home-use though. I saw a PCI-E add-on card where it has 8 DIMM slot for you to add old memory modules and make it into a cheap fast storage, non-bootable, and it only takes 32GB, MSRP at $499 (without the ram).

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