4-Way SSD Round-Up, OCZ, Corsair, Kingston, ST
Test System, IOMeter, 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. 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. In the table above, we're showing two sets of access patterns; 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. What you see in the table above is an example of how random write operations kill I/O throughput of most SSDs in IOMeter. There is no question random write performance is the Achille's Heel of most MLC SSDs, though SLC-based SSDs have a much easier time with it.
The IOMeter Question:
As we noted in a previous SSD round-up article, though IOMeter is clearly thought of as a well respected industry standard drive benchmark, we're becoming increasingly uncomfortable with it for testing SSDs, as well as comparing their performance to standard hard drives. The fact of the matter is, though our actual results with IOMeter appear to be accurate, 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, at least for the average end user. Regardless, here's a sampling of our test runs with IOMeter version 2006.07.27 on our SSD sample lot.
As you can see in the chart above, the Corsair, OCZ, and Super Talent drives perform similarly according to IOMeter, with a slight edge overall going to the OCZ Vertex series drive. The Kingston drive, which is based on Intel's technology, simply domintes, however. Intel has tweaked their SSD platform for strong random write performance and it shows in the IOMeter tests.
In the table above, we're showing two sets of access patterns; 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. What you see in the table above is an example of how random write operations kill I/O throughput of most SSDs in IOMeter. There is no question random write performance is the Achille's Heel of most MLC SSDs, though SLC-based SSDs have a much easier time with it.
Video Card -
Hard Drives -
Intel Core i7 920
(X58 Express Chipset)
GeForce GTX 280
6144MB Corsair DDR3-1333
Integrated on board
Western Digital Raptor - OS
OCZ Vertex Series 120GB
SuperTalent UltraDrive ME 64GB
Kingston SSDNow M Series 80GB
Operating System -
Chipset Drivers -
Video Drivers -
Windows Vista Ultimate
NVIDIA ForceWare v182.50
HD Tach 126.96.36.199
ATTO ver 2.02
SiSoftware Sandra XII SP2
In our SiSoft SANDRA testing, we used the Physical Disk test suite. We ran the tests without formatting the drives and read 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.
All of the drives tested here had drive index ratings well above the 220MB/s mark according to SANDRA. The OCZ drive had the higest rating at just over 243MB/s, followed by the Corsair P256 and Kingston drives with ratings of about 235MB/s, and finally the Super Talent drive at roughly 222MB/s.
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