Articles: Storage

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Futuremark PCMark 7

The popular PCMark 7 contains an individual disk subsystem benchmark. It is not a synthetic test, but is based on real-life applications. This benchmark reproduces typical disk usage scenarios and measures how fast they are completed in popular applications. Moreover, the disk access commands are not executed as a steady uninterrupted flow, but in a more realistic manner – with certain pauses caused by the need to process the data. The benchmark generates an overall disk subsystem performance rating as well as speed readings in MB/s in individual usage scenarios. Note that the absolute speed in these scenarios is not too high because of the above mentioned pauses between individual input/output operations. In other words, PCMark 7 shows you the speed of the disk subsystem from the application’s point of view. Numbers like that show us not only the pure performance of an SSD, but mostly how big of a performance gain a certain SSD can guarantee in real life.

We ran PCMark 7 on “steady” SSDs, which is what they are going to be in actual computer systems most of the time. Their performance in this case is affected not only by their controller or flash memory speed but also by the efficiency of their internal algorithms that fight performance degradation.

PCMark 7 surprises us in two ways. First, the new SSDs from Corsair do not perform well here. These LM87800-based drives fall behind their SandForce-based opponents, which are traditionally good in this benchmark, and are also inferior to the Plextor. And, second, the ordinary Neutron is for some reason ahead of its more expensive cousin, which contradicts their market positioning.

Now let’s check out the individual tests to get a more detailed picture of what our SSDs are capable of under various types of operational load:

There are two reasons for the new Corsair SSDs to be in the lower part of the diagram. PCMark 7 uses compressible data, giving the SandForce-based SSDs an opportunity to show their very best, and creates a short request queue. In other words, the load on the disk subsystem is rather light in PCMark 7. Intel NASPT is more interesting in this respect, so let's see what it has to show us.

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