USB 3.0 and SATA 6G Performance Preview

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News Posted: Thu, Oct 29 2009 6:57 PM

Asus Reading SATA 6G and USB 3.0 Intel MotherboardsJust the other day, we gave you a sneak peek at a couple of motherboards Asus had coming down the pipeline that featured USB 3.0 and SATA 6G support, the P7P55D-E Premium and the P6X58D Premium. If you haven't seen the original post, be sure to check it out here. In it, we talk about the boards' PLX PCI Express Gen 2 switch implementation and how it connects to the NEC USB 3.0 and Marvell SATA 6G controller chips.


P7P55D-E Premium and P6X58D Premium with USB 3.0 and SATA 6G

It turns out that one of the boards we showed you, the P55-Express based P7P55D-E Premium is very close to hitting the market. In fact, we already have on in house were able to run a few quick tests on it. In addition to the motherboard, we got our hands on an external USB 3.0 hard drive and one of Seagate's new 2TB SATA 6G hard drives.

USB 2.0 vs. USB 3.0 Hard Drive Performance

First up, we thought we'd show you what kind of impact USB 3.0 has on performance. The two images above show ATTO Disk Benchmark runs with the USB 3.0 hard drive connected to the P7P55D-E Premium. The test on the left was run with the drive connected to a USB 2.0 port, the one of the right with it connected to a USB 3.0 port. Be sure to click on the images to pop larger versions because the graphs look to have a similar trends. You'll see that when connected to a USB 3.0 port, the drive was about 5 - 6x faster. Although these are just quick, preliminary tests, it appears that USB 3.0 will be an absolute must for users in need of fast, cheap external storage as it becomes more prevalent.


SATA 3G vs. SATA 6G Hard Drive Performance

Next up, we have some benchmarks using the Seagate Barracuda XT SATA 6G drive. The ATTO and HD Tach tests on the left were conducted with the drive connected to a common SATA 3G port, the tests on the right were conducted with it connected to the Marvell SATA 6G controller present on the P7P55D-E Premium. Save for one part of the HD Tach testing, there isn't much of a performance difference here. Due to an aggressive cache algorithm that utilizes a portion of system memory with the Seagate Barracuda XT SATA 6G connected to the Marvell SATA 6G controller on the P7P55D-E Premium, it offers a burst rate that is off the charts in HD Tach. In the remaining portions of the HD Tach test though, performance remains largely unchanged. According to ATTO, there are some slight performance benefits to be had by connecting the drive to the SATA 6G controller, but the deltas were quite small--somewhere in the neighborhood of 5MB/s.

As it stands today, it's obvious that its going to take something much faster than a current-gen, spinning-platter hard disk to tax a SATA 6G connection. Perhaps next-gen products and future SSDs will show a larger benefit.

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rapid1 replied on Fri, Oct 30 2009 1:10 AM

I thought Intel said USB3 was not coming until 2011 the other day? I was wondering though because I had already seen an active ASUS board (probably one of these) that I knew had sata3 and thought usb3 to. So when I had read the article the other day I was kind of confused, and posted a response saying so.

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acarzt replied on Fri, Oct 30 2009 3:06 AM

Wow, nice gains with the USB 3.0

SATA 6G isn't very interesting.... yet... Nice gains on the small file size reads tho... I wonder how my SSDs would do on 6G hmmm

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realneil replied on Fri, Oct 30 2009 8:52 AM

The USB figures are impressive and the SATA 6G seems to need different equipment attached to really shine.

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SATA 6G seems to need different equipment attached to really shine.

Crazy part is I think you can say the same for USB 3.0.

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kazura replied on Fri, Oct 30 2009 9:23 AM

LOL! Looks like USB is FINALLY getting up to FIREWIRE speeds! Seriously folks - I have stock equipment (bought at newegg) on my desk that performs as well or better than USB 3.0

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acarzt replied on Fri, Oct 30 2009 2:48 PM

Well those USB 2.0 numbers are only half of the theoretical speed of USB 2.0.... those USB 3.0 speeds are only 1/4th of the theoretical speed... so if USB 3.0 can at least hit half of it's theoretical speed we should see transfers of up to 300MB/s Or about as fast as 2 SSDs in a raid 0... By the way those speeds the USB 3.0 is hitting, is higher than what your Firewire can acheive. They are hitting 1200 Mb/s... Firewire 800 can only hit a theoretical 800 Mb/s, USB 2.0 is rated to 480Mb/s, this drive was hitting 240Mb/s. Please notice the difference between the capital and lower case b. Big B means Bytes, little b means bits, there is a rather large difference between the 2.

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It's time we did away with the bits nonsense, it just creates confusion.

Back tot he topic, I can't believe we're so close to a USB 3.0 solution. Early adopters will love and brag, but if you don't have SSD's, how much performance will you sacrifice?

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