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Patriot Pyro SATA III Solid State Drive Review
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Date: Aug 03, 2011
Section:Storage
Author: Marco Chiappetta
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Introduction and Specifications
Just a few short weeks after the release of its high-end WildFire-branded solid state drives, Patriot is at the ready with a new family of drives, dubbed Pyro. Like the WildFire, the similarly fire lovin’ Pyro is built around SandForce’s sought after SF-2200 series solid state storage processor. But with this newer series of drives, Patriot has paired the controller to less expensive asynchronous NAND flash memory. This pairing results in a much more affordable solid state drive that offers very similar performance to higher-end models with synchronous NAND flash memory in the vast majority of scenarios. There are exceptions, however, which we’ll show you on the pages ahead. For now, take a gander at a fancy product shot taken from the Pyro’s good side and the full specifications below, then we’ll dig in a little deeper and see what makes the new Patriot Pyro tick.


The SATA III, SandForce-based Patriot Pyro SSD

Patriot Pyro 120GB Solid State Drive
Specifications & Features
  • SandForce SF-2200 series SSD processor paired with qualified MLC NAND flash
  • SATA 6Gb/s, 3Gb/s and 1.5Gb/s
  • TRIM support (O/S dependent)
  • DuraClass technology
  • DuraWrite extends the endurance of SSDs
  • Intelligent Block Management and Wear Leveling
  • Intelligent Read Disturb Management
  • Intelligent “Recycling” for advance free space management (Garbage Collection)
  • RAISE (Redundant Array of Independent Silicon Elements)
  • Intelligent Data Retention optimization
  • Best-in-class ECC protection for longest data retention and drive life
  • Power/Performance Balancing
  • Thermal Threshold Management.
  • Native Command Queuing (NCQ) - Up to 32 commands
  • ECC Recovery: Up to 55 bits correctable per 512-byte sector (BCH)
  • Sequential Read & Write Transfer:
    • 240GB & 120GB models 550MB/s read | 515MB/s Write
    • 60GB model; 520MB/s read | 490MB/s Write.
  • Max Random Write IOPS:
    • Up to 85,000 (4K aligned), 240GB & 120GB models
    • Up to 80,000 (4K aligned), 60GB model
  • O/S Support: Windows XP / Vista / 7 / Mac OS / Linux
  • ** Capacities stated are unformatted. The total formatted capacity for the drive will differ, depending on the operating system and file system used.

 

 
The Patriot Pyro, Inside and Out

The Patriot Pyro conforms to the same 2.5” form factor that is typical of current solid state drives. We should point out that Patriot does not included a 2.5” to 3.5” adapter with the Pyro, however, which is an obvious, but easily forgivable, cost-cutting move.

Inside the Pyro’s hard metal enclose, we find a PCB outfitted with a SandForce SF-2281 storage processor and 16 Micron-made 25nm MLC NAND flash memory chips. As we’ve mentioned, this NAND is of the asynchronous variety, which is more affordable than the synchronous NAND used on some higher-end SandForce-based drives due to its lower performance with some workloads.

The 120GB Pyro you see pictured here features 8 flash chips on each side of its PCB, with a capacity of 8GB a piece, for a total capacity of 128GB. That spare 8GB is provisioned for wear leveling, garbage collection, and other SandForce proprietary features to ensure long-term reliability and more consistent performance.

The 120GB Patriot Pyro is rated for 550MB/s read throughput, with 515MB/s writes, with up to 85,000 (4K aligned) random IOPS, putting the drive on right par with similarly configured SandForce-based offerings on the market currently.

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Test Setup, IOMeter 1.1 RC and SANDRA

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. Out testbed's motherboard was updated with the latest BIOS available as of press time and AHCI mode was enabled. The SSDs were secure erased and left blank without partitions wherever possible, unless a test required them to be partitioned and formatted, as was the case with our ATTO, PCMark 7, and CrystalDiskMark 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.

HotHardware Test System
Intel Core i7 and SSD Powered

Processor -

Motherboard -


Video Card -

Memory -

Audio -

Hard Drives -

 

Hardware Used:
Intel Core i7-2600K

Asus P8Z6-V Pro
(Z68 Chipset, AHCI Enabled)

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 285

4GB Kingston DDR3-1600

Integrated on board

WD Raptor 150GB (OS Drive)
Patriot Pyro (120GB)
OCZ Agility 3 (200GB)
Corsair Force GT (120GB)
Corsair Force 3 Series (128GB)
Patriot Wildfire (120GB)
Crucial M4 (256)

OS -
Chipset Drivers -
DirectX -

Video Drivers
-


Relevant Software:
Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 x64
Intel 9.2.0.1030, iRST 10.5.1027
DirectX 11

NVIDIA GeForce 275.33

Benchmarks Used:
IOMeter 1.1.0 RC
HD Tune v4.61
ATTO v2.47
AS SSD
CrystalDiskMark v3.01 x64
PCMark 7
SiSoftware Sandra 2011

IOMeter
I/O Subsystem Measurement Tool

As we've noted in previous SSD articles, though IOMeter is clearly a well-respected industry standard drive benchmark, we're not completely comfortable with it for testing SSDs. The fact of the matter is, though our actual results with IOMeter appear to scale properly, it is debatable whether or not certain access patterns, as they are presented to and measured on an SSD, actually provide a valid example of real-world performance for the average end user. That said, we do think IOMeter is a gauge for relative available throughput with a given storage solution. In addition there are certain higher-end workloads you can place on a drive with IOMeter, that you really can't with most other benchmark tools available currently.

In the following tables, we're showing two sets of access patterns; our Workstation pattern, with an 8K transfer size, 80% reads (20% writes) and 80% random (20% sequential) access and IOMeter's default access pattern of 2K transfers, 67% reads (34% writes) and 100% random access.

The Patriot Pyro performed well in our IOMeter tests, besting all of the other drives slightly in terms of IOps, MBps, and response time using the default assignment. It trailed the OCZ drive by a bit in our workstation access pattern, however. All of the SandForce-based drives ultimately performed similarly, though.

SiSoft SANDRA 2011
Synthetic HDD Benchmarking

Next we ran 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.

The Pyro also performed well in the SiSoft SANDRA tests, taking the top spot in the Read test by a couple of percentage points. In the write test, however, it finished in the middle of the SandForce-based pack.

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ATTO Disk Benchmark
ATTO is another "quick and dirty" type of disk benchmark that measures transfer speeds 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 and a queue depth of 6 over a total max volume length of 256MB. ATTO's workloads are sequential in nature and measure raw bandwidth, rather than I/O response time, access latency, etc. This test was performed on blank, formatted drives with default NTFS partitions in Windows 7 x64.

ATTO Disk Benchmark
More Information Here: http://bit.ly/btuV6w

There's not much to see in the ATTO Disk Benchmark. Here, the Patriot Pyro performed just like the other SandForce-based drives, which is to say it performed quite well.

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HD Tune Benchmarks
EFD Software's HD Tune is described on the company's web site as such: "HD Tune is a hard disk utility with many functions. It can be used to measure the drive's performance, scan for errors, check the health status (S.M.A.R.T.), securely erase all data and much more." The latest version of the benchmark added temperature statistics and improved support for SSDs, among a few other updates and fixes.

HD Tune v4.61
More Info Here: http://www.hdtune.com





Once again, we see the new Patriot Pyro performing right on par with the other SandForce-based drives (all of the drives with the exception of the Crucial M4) in the HD Tune benchmark.
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CrystalDiskMark Benchmarks

CrystalDiskMark is a synthetic benchmark that tests both sequential and random small and mid-sized file transfers. It provides a quick look at best and worst case scenarios with regard to SSD performance, best case being larger sequential transfers and worse case being small, random transfers.

CrystalDiskMark Benchmarks
Synthetic File Transfer Tests





The CrystalDiskMark benchmark uses incompressible data, which slows drives l like the Patriot Pyro, OCZ Agility 3, and Corsair Force 3 down in its transfer tests, due to the drives' use of asynchronous NAND flash memory. With that said, the Pyro still perform on-par with the similarly configured SandForce-based drives here.
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AS-SSD Compression Test

Next up we ran the Compression Benchmark built-into AS SSD, an SSD specific benchmark being developed by Alex Intelligent Software. This test is interesting because it uses a mix of compressible and incompressible data and outputs both Read and Write throughput of the drive. We only graphed a small fraction of the data (1% compressible, 50% compressible, and 100% compressible), but the trend is representative of the benchmark’s complete results.

AS SSD Compression Benchmark
Bring Your Translator: http://bit.ly/aRx11n


This AS-SSD test demonstrates the sharp drop-off in performance, especially in writes, when transferring incompressible data to an SSD equipped with a SandForce controller and asynchronous NAND flash memory. Again though, the drop-off is expected and the Patriot Pyro performs on par with competing offerings.

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PCMark 7 Storage Benchmarks
We really like PCMark 7's Secondary Storage benchmark module for its pseudo real-world application measurement approach to testing. PCMark 7 offers a trace-based measurement of system response times under various scripted workloads of traditional client / desktop system operation. From simple application start-up performance, to data streaming from a drive in a game engine, and video editing with Windows Movie Maker, we feel more comfortable that these tests reasonably illustrate the performance profile of SSDs in an end-user / consumer PC usage model, moreso than a purely synthetic transfer test.

Futuremark's PCMark 7 Secondary Storage
http://www.futuremark.com

The new Patriot Pyro finished right in the middle of the asyncrounous-NAND equipped pack in the PCMark 7 tests. The overall score shows the drive falling right in between the OCZ and Corsair Force 3 drives. The higher-end SSDs with syncrounous NAND (the Patriot Wildfire and Corsair Force GT) finished out in front though.

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Our Summary and Conclusion

Performance Summary: The Patriot Pyro 120GB SSD we tested performed as expected, considering the drive’s similar configuration to a couple of others we evaluated in a recent round-up. With highly-compressible data and in most transfer tests, the Patriot Pyro performs extremely well and keeps pace with every other SandForce-based drive we’ve seen. With incompressible data, however, the asynchronous NAND flash memory and SandForce controller combo used on the Pyro falter a bit, as shown in the AS-SSD and CrystalDiskMark tests, but this is expected behavior with a drive of this type, and performance is still very good overall.

The Patriot Pyro will initially be available in 60GB, 120GB, and 240GB varieties, with various price points. The 120GB model we’ve featured here will be sold for about $209.99.

At that price, the 120GB Patriot Pyro comes in at approximately $1.87 per gigabyte, which put it on par with Corsair’s Force Series 3 drive and makes it one of the more competitively priced SandForce SF-2200 based drives out there. Looking back at its performance and knowing that the drive is backed by a 3 year warranty, we can’t help but recommend the Patriot Pyro. If you’re looking for a fast, relatively affordable solid state drive the Patriot Pyro should be on your short list of considerations.

  • Competitive Pricing
  • Strong Performance
  • 3 Year Warranty

 

  • Slows Down With Incompressible Data
  • Asynchronous NAND

 



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