Intel SSD 910 PCI Express SSD Performance Review

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IOMeter Test Results

As we've noted in our previous SSD coverage, 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 bandwidth with a given storage solution.  In addition there are certain higher-end workloads you can invoke on a drive with IOMeter, that you really can't with any other benchmark tool available currently.

 I/O Subsystem Measurement Tool

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 our Database access pattern of 4K transfers, 67% reads (34% writes) and 100% random access.

As we saw in a few of the previous benchmarks, random read performance is not the SSD 910's strong suit.  It's only as the IO queue depth begins to scale that Intel's solution starts to join the hunt.

Our database access pattern showed much of the same performance grouping as we saw in the Workstation setup.  However, with a higher write workload and smaller 4K transfers, the Intel SSD 910 begins to show signs of strength.  Still Fusion-io's ioDrive and OCZ's Z-Drive far and away lead the pack in this test pattern.

The workload you see represented in this graph has become a bit "industry standard" as of late, though we'd offer that it still should be taken with a grain of salt.  Again, what we're looking at here is one set access pattern that is concurrently sprayed across the drive volume by IOMeter until the drive reaches its saturation point.  In this IOMeter run, we should note that drives were formatted, blank and were allowed to sit idle for several hours before invoking a test, so that each drive's maintenance algorithms had a chance to maximize performance.

This access condition is clearly where Intel's SSD 910 shines.  We didn't have access to the OCZ Z-Drive R4 here unfortunately but we'd offer it would likely be a close race.  With a full write-only workload, small transfer sizes and a high queue depth, the Intel SSD 910 actually takes the top spot here by a comfortable ~ 15% margin.

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