AMD Athlon 64 FX-62 And X2 5000+ Socket AM2, nForce 590 SLI & ATI RD580

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Platform Performance Comparo: USB & HDD

The first series of tests we thought we would run through were a couple of I/O subsystem tests that are two of the most critical when you consider platform level solutions like those offered by NVIDIA and ATI for AMD.  While this HotHardware publication is largely targeted at the performance of the AMD AM2 platform architecture and related processors, we thought a quick look at current AM2 supportive Southbridge performance would help set the stage for a more thorough assessment of the total solutions available for AM2 on the market today.

Hard Disk Subsystem Performance
Hard Drive Tach 3.0

The four HD Tach metrics that we sampled for each drive are Random Access, which is largely dependent on spindle speed of the drive, Read Average, Write Average and Burst Read throughput. Read and Write Average scores are what we would consider the most meaningful to the end user. Whereas Burst Read performance is typically tied the drive's on-board caching and SATA interface speed. 

While newer 3Gps SATA drives have interfaces that can support higher burst throughput, we've tested with a Maxtor DiamondMax 10 SATA 150 drive and the fastest Desktop drive on the market today regardless of interface speed, the Western Digital WD1500 Raptor.


HD Tach
Maxtor Diamond Max 10
nForce 590 SLI

HD Tach
Maxtor Diamond Max 10
CrossFire Express 3200

HD Tach
Raptor WD1500
nForce 590 SLI

HD Tach
Raptor WD1500
CrossFire Express 3200 / SB600

In testing with both of these hard drives on the Asus M2N32 SLI nForce 590 board, as well as the RD580 ATI reference board, we uncovered a small driver throughput glitch related to NVIDIA's nForce 590 SLI chipset.  As you can see, HD Tach reports a 2 - 7MB/sec advantage for the RD580, in terms of average write performance, while both chipsets are very much on par with each other relative to average read bandwidth.  The WD1500 Raptor drive with its NCQ and larger on-board 16MB cache buffer tended to mask the issue a bit more as performance improved somewhat for NVIDIA with this particular drive.  We asked NVIDIA about this issue and it was reported back to us that current driver optimizations have been made with 3Gps SATA in mind (rightfully so) and a performance degradation with SATA 150 drives was confirmed.  NVIDIA will be working on this issue in future chipset drivers and BIOS releases in the months ahead.      

USB Throughput Performance
nForce 590 MCP vrs ATI SB600

We then set out to explore USB performance on ATI's new SB600 Southbridge, an area that has plagued ATI in their previous Southbridge designs.


USB Performance
nForce 590 SLI

USB Performance
CrossFire Express 3200 / SB600

Historically we've seen ATI's Southbridge trail NVIDIA's MCP and Intel's ICH7 by almost 20% in USB throughput, not so with the SB600.  It seems as though the team from Toronto has done their homework, fixed their USB stack and the SB600 is right where it needs to be, registering performance on par with the NF590's MCP. 


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