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Intel NAS Performance Toolkit 

Intel NASPT is another disk sub-system test that uses real-life usage scenarios. Like PCMark 7, Intel NASPT reproduces predefined disk activity traces and measures how fast they are executed. However, the default traces are designed for network attached storage devices rather than for SSDs. Therefore during our test session we replace them with the specially developed SSD Benchmarking Suite which offers more relevant usage scenarios such as compressing and decompressing files, compiling large projects, copying files and folders, loading 3D game levels, installing software, batch-processing photos, searching a digital library for data, mass-launching applications, and transcoding video.

Like PCMark 7, this benchmark gives us a true-to-life illustration of disk subsystem performance. Here the SSDs are again tested in their “steady” state.

Intel NASPT is generally more optimistic about the Kingston SSDs than the other benchmarks, yet we don’t see anything extraordinary. Kingston’s HyperX and HyperX 3K can be characterized as average in performance whereas the SSDNow V+200 is but a little faster than the slowest Corsair Force 3. For the popular SandForce-based SSDs to get back to the leading position in terms of performance, an all-around revision rather than minor updates of firmware is necessary but only big companies like Intel can do it. The rest of the makers have to wait for Intel’s firmware to become publicly available.

The detailed INASPT results help us see what usage scenarios are the most suitable for our today’s testing participants. Take note that the data-transfer rate is higher than the SATA III interface bandwidth in some subtests. That’s because INASPT is a high-level test that uses standard Windows functions to access the disk subsystem. As a result, the OS caching mechanisms also affect the results.

We’ve been criticizing the SandForce platform throughout this test session but there are still usage scenarios such SSDs are very good at. They involve processing of a large number of small files because the SandForce controller is better than others at handling 4KB data blocks. That’s why the SF-2281 based SSDs are especially efficient in the archiving, program compilation, file copying, gaming, search and application launch tests.

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