Articles: Storage

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Performance in IOMark

We use our internal IOMark tool for low-level tests. Let’s begin with sequential reading.

Let’s compare the HDDs according to the speed at the beginning and end of the full-capacity partitions created on them.

We can see that new platters improve performance, but not by much. We should not expect any breakthroughs from HDDs such as we used to see in the past. Anyway, the 320GB platters are generally 5 to 10 MBps faster than their 250GB predecessors. The transition to 375GB platters seems to have allowed Western Digital to speed up by about 5 MBps more and get very close to the 100MBps milestone which has already been left behind by 7200RPM products.

Take note that the read graphs of all the drives, save for the high-capacity products from Western Digital, are very smooth. The WD models, on the contrary, have a large difference between the head/platter pairs. Interestingly, this difference is smaller in the new 750GB model than in the older 640GB ones.

Now what about reading from the cache buffer and writing into it?

Hitachi Travelstar 5K500.B, 500 GB

Hitachi Travelstar 7K500, 500 GB

The Hitachi 7K500 is much better at writing large data blocks into the cache than its 5400RPM cousin, and both are overall good in this test.

Samsung Spinpoint M7, 500 GB

Samsung Spinpoint M7E, 640 GB 

Dramatic changes can be observed in the Samsung camp: the M7 used to be downright slow at writing data blocks larger than 320 sectors (160 KB) whereas the new M7E produces a near-ideal graph. This radical improvement comes at the expense of the burst read speed which has lowered somewhat. We guess the price is acceptable.

Seagate Momentus 5400.6, 500 GB

Seagate Momentus 5400, 640 GB

Seagate Momentus 7200.4, 500 GB

Seagate HDDs do not improve. They only deliver decent speeds when processing small data blocks. At large blocks, the write speed plummets down and the read speed follows it, although in a less dramatic fashion. The 640GB model seems to differ for the better, but we can hardly call that a serious improvement.

Western Digital Scorpio Blue (BEVT), 500 GB

Western Digital Scorpio Blue (BEVT), 640 GB

Western Digital Scorpio Blue (BPVT), 640 GB 

Western Digital Scorpio Blue (BPVT), 750 GB

The Western Digital drives show some improvement. Their graphs get smoother in the right part of the diagram and the fluctuations of speed get smaller. This result is not perfect, but good. Hopefully, they will be improving even more in the future.

Oddly enough, it is the Hitachi 5K500.B that boasts the highest top speeds of burst reading and writing. Its reading is excellent indeed but its writing, as we have seen above, is actually far from ideal.

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