USB 3.0 and SATA 6G Performance Preview

Just 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.