Articles: Storage

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Testbed and Methods

The following testing utilities were used:

  • IOMark 0.30b14
  • IOMeter 2003.02.15
  • FC-Test 1.0
  • PCMark Vantage
  • Windows 7 Disk Defragmenter
  • WinRAR 3.91

Testbed configuration:

  • ASUS P5WDG2 WS Pro mainboard
  • Intel Pentium 4 620 processor
  • IBM DTLA-307015 system disk, 15 GB
  • Radeon X600 graphics card
  • 1 GB DDR2-800 SDRAM
  • Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate

HDDs are tested with generic OS drivers. We format them in NTFS as one partition with the default cluster size (for FC-Test we create 32GB partitions), connect them to a mainboard port and enable AHCI. We have transitioned to a new method of testing HDDs, by the way.

The Western Digital drive will be tested in two ways everywhere save for the low-level tests: 1) connected to a mainboard port and 2) connected to the included HPT-RR620 controller.

Performance in IOMark

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

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

Well, it looks like it’s time we said goodbye to SATA version 1.0 just as we did to PATA earlier. 7200RPM disks have already reached the theoretical peak bandwidth of that interface, 150 MBps, and are almost as fast as 160 MBps with lucky head/surface pairs. On the other hand, the current transition to SATA 3.0 looks like reaching too far into the future because HDDs still have a long way to go up to 260 MBps which is the practical limit for SATA 2.0.

The WD drive isn’t as fast as the leaders, delivering no more than 130 MBps. Moreover, the data-transfer rate of that HDD fluctuates wildly, indicating that the manufacturer has squeezed everything possible out of the platters.

Now, what about the speed of the cache buffer?

According to the top speed diagram, the Hitachi wins at reading and the Seagate at writing. However, we prefer the smooth and neat graphs that the WD disk has drawn. We can also note that Seagate have managed to reduce the performance hit on large data blocks we observed with the company’s other products. The Hitachi seems to use firmware from the 1000.C series with some improvements. The only thing we don’t like about it is the performance hit when it is reading data blocks 32 to 256 sectors large.

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