PCMark05 Hard Drive Tests
Next up is PCMark05 from FutureMark Corp. We specifically used only the HDD Test module of this benchmark suite to evaluate all the drives and configurations we tested versus the Gigabyte i-RAM. We consulted Futuremark's white paper on PCMark05, for an understanding of what this test component entails and how it calculates its measurements.
Courtesy, FutureMark Corp. -
For these tests, we use RankDisk, an application developed and copyrighted by Intel. In our testing, we found RankDisk to be suitable for a neutral benchmark. RankDisk is used to record a trace of disk activity during usage of typical applications. These traces can then be replayed to measure the performance of disk operations for that usage. RankDisk records disk access events using the device drivers and bypasses the file system and the operating system's cache. This makes the measurement independent of the file system overhead or the current state of the operating system. In replaying traces, RankDisk always creates and operates on a new "dummy" file. This file is created in the same (or closest possible) physical location of the target hard disk. This allows the replaying of traces to be safe (does not destroy any existing files) and comparable across different systems. The traces contain different amount of writing and reading on the disk; total ratio in the HDD test suite disk operations is 53% reads and 47% of writes. The following input traces are used:
Windows XP Startup: This is the Windows XP start trace, which contains disk activities occurring at operating system start-up. The test is 90% reading and 10% writes. This trace contains no user activity.
General Hard Disk Drive Usage: This trace contains disk activities from using several common applications.
- Opening a Microsoft Word document, performing grammar check, saving and closing
- Compression and decompression using Winzip
- Encrypting and decrypting a file using PowerCrypt
- Scanning files for viruses using F-Secure Antivirus.
- Playing an MP3 file with Winamp
- Playing a WAV file with Winamp
- Playing a DivX video using DivX codec and Windows Media Player
- Playing a WMV video file using Windows Media Player
- Viewing pictures using Windows Picture Viewer
- Browsing the internet using Microsoft Internet Explorer
- Loading, playing and exiting a game using Ubisoft™ Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon
The General Usage trace is 60% reads and 40% writes.
Virus Scanning: Virus scanning is a critical task in today's PC usage. As the major bottleneck of scanning
viruses is in hard disk activity, it is reasonable to include virus scanning as a HDD test. The test consists of HDD
activity of scanning 600MB of files for viruses. The Virus Scanning test is mostly disk reading (99.5%).
While SANDRA's tests were generally mixed when it came to comparing the i-RAM with a RAID 0 setup, PCMark05's results were much more aligned in Gigabyte's favor. The Virus Scanning benchmark relies almost solely on reading performance, and as such, the cache found on the Barracuda and SE16 drives helps make up some ground on the i-RAM. The General Usage and WinXP Startup tests, on the other hand, are simply blowouts. It used to be enough to look at RAID vs. single drive setups and point out the 30-40% increases. When looking at the i-RAM's performance though, the differences were more on the magnitude of 1500% over a single drive's general usage and 1000% better than RAID 0.
PCMark05's overall performance score is huge victory for the i-RAM. We're quite familiar with seeing performance numbers in the four digit range, but to see 33067 show up at the end of the test ensures a double-take. As with the General Usage and WinXP Startup tests, there's really no way to compare standard hard drives to the Gigabyte i-RAM.