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Patriot Inferno 120GB SandForce-Based SSD
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Date: Oct 05, 2010
Section:Storage
Author: Marco Chiappetta
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Introduction and Specifications

For a time, Intel’s X25 series of solid state drives stood head and shoulders above the rest of the SSD pack. But with the influx of new players along with the rapid pace of innovation in the SSD space, Intel’s aging offerings—while still very good—are no longer a cut above. In fact, in enthusiast circles, it’s drives based on upstart SandForce’s controllers that currently garner the lion’s share of interest. And you don’t have to take our word for it. Just take a look at SandForce’s current list of partners; it reads like a list of” who’s who” in the memory market with names like OCZ, Corsair, Mushkin, G.SKILL, and Patriot, among others.

It’s a Patriot drive that we have on tap for you today. Patriot has employed SSD controllers from a number of manufactures including JMicron and Indilinx in a few of their product lines, but in the newest Inferno series of SSDs, Patriot went with SandForce’s SF-1200 series controller. The specifications for the Patriot Inferno 120GB drive we’ll be testing here are listed in the table below. If you’re familiar with other enthusiast-class SandForce based offerings, many of the features and specifications should come as no surprise. Check them out below and then read-on for the full scoop.

Patriot Inferno 120GB SATA II SSD
Specifications & Features
Maximum sequential read speed up to 285MB/s

Maximum sequential write speed up to 275MB/s

SandForce SF-1222 SSD processor paired with qualified MLC NAND flash for best performance, value and reliability

Includes 3.5" bracket

TRIM support (O/S dependent)

DuraClass technology

DuraWrite extends the life of your SSD

Intelligent Block Management and Wear Leveling

Intelligent Read Disturb Management

Intelligent Recycling improves management of free space

RAISE (Redundant Array of Independent Silicon Elements)

Intelligent Data Retention optimization

Power/Performance balancing
Best-in-class ECC protection for longest data retention and drive life

SATA I/II interface

Native Command Queuing (NCQ)

MTBF: > 1,500,000 Hours

Data Retention: 5+ years at 25 C

Data Reliability: Built in BCH 16-bit ECC & 24-bit ECC

Operating Temperature: 0C ~ 70C

Storage Temperature: -40C ~ 85C

Shock Resistance: 1,500G (@ 0.5msec half sine wave)

Vibration Resistance: 15G / 10 ~ 2000Hz w/ 3 axis

4K Random Write IOPS up to 14K

4K Random Read IOPS up to 5K

O/S Support: Windows XP / Vista / 7 / Mac OS / Linux



Patriot's Inferno 120GB Drive Includes A 2.5" to 3.5" Adapter Plate...

Unless you’re buying an upgrade kit with the cables and software included to facilitate the migration of an existing installation to a new solid state drive, most standalone SSDs don’t ship with many accessories. The Patriot Inferno 120GB drive we’ll be testing here is a standalone offering, and as such, the only things included with the drive are a basic user’s manual, a 2.5” to 3.5” adapter plate, and the screws necessary to mount the drive to the plate.
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Patriot Inferno 120GB SSD

As is the case with the vast majority of solid state drives currently on the market, the Patriot Inferno 120GB conforms to the standard 2.5” form factor, with a 9.3mm Z-Height.

  

The casing on the drive is a sturdy aluminum, anodized with a deep red color. The top of the drive is outfitted with a large decal with branding and basic model information, while the removable bottom side is a plain sheet of brushed aluminum with nothing but serial and model number information.

Removing the four screws holding the bottom plate to the casing, allows for easy access to the PCB within. An additional four screws hold the PCB itself securely in place as well, but once those screws are removed we can inspect the entire PCB assembly.

  

As you can see, the Patriot Inferno 120GB drive uses a SandForce SF-1222 controller, mated to Intel MLC NAND flash memory. Although the drive is sold as a 120GB model, there is actually 128GB of NAND populating the PCB—the additional flash memory is used for wear leveling, bad block management, garbage collection, etc.

  

Because the Inferno is built around the same SandForce controller as a number of other drives from various manufactures, its features and specifications are essentially identical to many competing offerings. The Patriot Inferno offers ready speeds of up to 285MB/s with max sequential write speeds of up to 275MB/s, a SATA II interface, and support for all of the proprietary features that have made SandForce’s controllers so popular with enthusiasts.

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Test System and IOMeter

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, Vantage, and CrystalDiskMark benchmark tests. And all drives were secure erased prior to the start of any testing. 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.

HotHardware Test System
Intel Core i7 Powered


Processor -

Motherboard -


Video Card -

Memory -


Audio -

Hard Drives -

 

Hardware Used:
Intel Core i7 965

Gigabyte GA-EX58-Extreme
(X58 Express Chipset)

GeForce GTX 280

6144MB Corsair DDR3-1333
CAS 7

Integrated on board

OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 100GB
OCZ Vertex 2 100GB
OCZ Agility 2 100GB
Corsair Force 100GB
Patriot Memory Zephyr 128GB

OS -
Chipset Drivers -
DirectX -

Video Drivers
-


Relevant Software:
Windows 7 Ultimate
Intel 9.1.1.1025 w/ Matrix Storage
DirectX 11

NVIDIA ForceWare v196.34

Benchmarks Used:
HD Tach v3.0.1.0
ATTO v2.46
CrystalDiskMark v3
PCMark Vantage
SiSoftware Sandra 2010 SP1

IOMeter
I/O Subsystem Measurement

In the following tables, we're showing two sets of access patterns with IOMeter; one with an 8K transfer size, 80% reads (20% writes) and 80% random (20% sequential) access and one with IOMeter's default access pattern of 2K transfers, 67% reads and 100% random access. Both tests were conducted with 8 worker threads.

Considering the Patriot Inferno is based on the same SandForce SF-1200 series controller as its OCZ, Corsair and OWC contemporaries here, it comes as no surprise that it performs similarly. The Patriot drive, however, did suffer from longer than usual max response times, which were repeatable after secure erases and multiple test runs.

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SiSoft SANDRA 2010

For our next set of tests, we used SiSoft SANDRA, the the System ANalyzer, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant. Here, we used the Physical Disk test suite and provided the results from our comparison SSDs. The benchmarks were run without formatting and read and write performance metrics are detailed below. We have also included SANDRA's detailed graph so you are able to see how the drive performs over time along with the average rated result.

SiSoft SANDRA 2010
Synthetic Benchmarks


Patriot Inferno 120GB
(Read)

 


OCZ Vertex 2 120GB
(Read)
 


Corsair Force 120GB
(Read)


Patriot Zephyr 128GB
(Read) 
 

The Patriot Inferno performed just like the OCZ Vertex and Corsair Force series solid state drives in the SiSoft SANDRA Read test. The Inferno, however, significantly outpaced the Zephyr.
 


Patriot Inferno 120GB
(Write)
 


OCZ Vertex 2 120GB
(Write)
 


Corsair Force 120GB
(Write)


Patriot Zephyr 128GB
(Write)

The same holds true in SiSoft SANDRA's write benchmark, where the Patriot Inferno performs just like the other SandForce based OCZ and Corsair drives.

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ATTO Disk Benchmark

ATTO is a more straight-forward type of disk benchmark that measures transfers across a specific volume length.  It measures raw transfer rates for both reads and writes and graphs them out in an easily interpreted chart.  We chose .5kb through 8192kb transfer sizes over a total max volume length of 256MB.  This test was performed on blank, formatted drives with NTFS partitions.

ATTO Disk Benchmark
Version 2.46


Patriot Inferno 120GB
 


OCZ Vertex 2 120GB
 


Corsair Force 120GB
 


Patriot Zephyr 128GB
 
 

At virtually every block size, the Patriot Inferno performed just like the other SandForce based drives in the ATTO Disk Benchmark. Only a couple of MB/s separate the OCZ, Corsair, and Patriot Inferno drives, here. The JMicron based Patriot Zephyr, however, couldn't keep pace with the other drives.

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CrystalDiskMark Benchmarks

CrystalDiskMark is another synthetic test we've started looking at that evaluates both sequential as well as random small and large file transfers.  It does a nice job of providing a quick look at best and worst case scenarios with SSD performance, best case being large sequential transfers and worse case being small, random 4K transfers.

CrystalDiskMark Benchmarks
Synthetic File Transfer Tests


Patriot Inferno 120GB
 


OCZ Vertex 2 120GB
 


Corsair Force 120GB
 


Patriot Zephyr 128GB
 

The CrystalDIskMark benchmark reveals one of the differences between the Patriot Inferno and other SandForce based drives here. As we mentioned in our initial round-up that featured the Corsair and OCZ drives, there is an artificial limitation imposed on some SandForce SF-1200 series controller based drives that will lower performance at higher queue depths. As you can see here, in the 4K QD32 write test, the Patriot Inferno offers half the performance of the OCZ and Corsair drives.

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HD Tach Testing

 

Simpli Software's HD Tach is described on the company's web site as such: "HD Tach is a low level hardware benchmark for random access read/write storage devices such as hard drives, removable drives, flash devices, and RAID arrays. HD Tach uses custom device drivers and other low level Windows interfaces to bypass as many layers of software as possible and get as close to the physical performance of the device being tested."

 

HD Tach v3
http://www.simplisoftware.com/


Patriot Inferno 120GB
 


OCZ Vertex 2 120GB
 


Corsair Force 120GB
 

 
Patriot Zephyr 128GB
 
The Patriot Inferno 120GB drive didn't perform quite as smoothly as the OCZ and Corsair drives in HD Tach. Transfer speeds were a notch behind the other SandForce based drives and the Patriot drive's performance spiked downward somewhat at regular intervals in both the read and write portions of the test.
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PCMark Vantage

 

Next we ran the three drives through a battery of tests in PCMark Vantage from Futuremark Corp. We specifically used only the HDD Test module of this benchmark suite to evaluate all of the drives we tested. Feel free to consult Futuremark's white paper on PCMark Vantage for an understanding of what each test component entails and how it calculates its measurements. For specific information on how the HDD Test module arrives at its performance measurements, we'd encourage you to read pages 35 and 36 of the white paper.

 

 

Futuremark's PCMark Vantage
http://www.futuremark.com

We really like PCMark Vantage's HDD Performance for its real-world application measurement approach to testing.  From simple Windows Vista start-up performance to data streaming from a disk drive in a game engine and video editing with Windows Movie Maker, we feel confident that these tests best illustrate the real performance profile of our SSDs in an end user/consumer PC usage model.

The Patriot Inferno 120 GB performed just a bit below the Corsair and OCZ SandForce-based drives in this first batch of PCMark Vantage tests. The Patriot drive ended up offering somewhat lower performance in three of the four tests here, but about the same performance in the Vista Startup test. All of the drives significantly outpaced the JMicron based Zephyr, however, as has been the case throughout.

 

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PCMark Vantage (Cont.)

 

Our next series of Vantage tests will stress the write performance. Applications like video editing, streaming and recording are not what we would call a strong suit for the average SSD, due to their high mix of random write transactions.  We should also note that it's not so much a weakness of the memory itself, but rather the interface and control algorithms that deal with inherent erase block latency of MLC NAND flash.  SSD manufacturers are getting better at this, as is evidenced by our results below...

Futuremark's PCMark Vantage
http://www.futuremark.com

The remainder of the PCMark Vantage tests show a similar performance trend. The Patriot Inferno finished slightly behind the other SandForce based OCZ and Corsair drives in three of four tests, but in the fourth test (media player) it was actually the best performer of the bunch.

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Our Summary and Conclusion

Performance Summary: As we’ve come to expect from SandForce driven solid state drives, the Patriot Inferno 120GB offers excellent performance overall. In every one of our tests, the Patriot Inferno competed favorably with other SandForce-based products from OCZ and Corsair, which is to say it performed very well. Slight differences in the design and firmware of the SandForce-based drives we tested, however, yielded the OCZ and Corsair drives somewhat better performance than Patriot’s offering in a few tests. But the differences weren’t dramatic by any means.


Patriot Offers Inferno SSDs In A Variety of Capacities...

 With all of the similarities between the current crop of SandForce based solid state drives on the market, choosing one over another can often come down to price. At this point in time, pricing on SandForce based drives has dropped considerably, and while still expensive in light of standard spinning hard drives, they are much more affordable than ever before. The 120GB Patriot Inferno can be found for about $269, or roughly $2.24 per GB. That’s about 43% less expensive than the $3.90 per GB SandForce based drives commanded back at the end of June when we rounded-up an array of offerings from the likes of OCZ, Corsair, and others. While we’re happy with the drastic price reduction in SSDs as of late, unfortunately for Patriot, the Corsair and OCZ offerings we tested alongside the Inferno are even more affordable (relatively speaking, of course). The 120GB OCZ Vertex 2 can currently be found for $240, or $2 per GB, and the Corsair Force 120GB can be found for $260, or $2.16 per GB. If you’re not loyal to any particular brand, the OCZ drive is the logical choice.

With all that said, the Patriot Inferno 120GB is still an excellent SSD. Performance is very good all around and the drive worked flawlessly throughout weeks of testing. If you’re in the market for a new solid state drive, Patriot’s offerings should be on your short list of considerations.

 

  • Solid Performance
  • SandForce Controller
  • 3 Year Warranty

 

  • Somewhat Higher Cost Per GB Than Competing Offerings

 



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