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Testbed Configuration

For our today’s SSD test session we decided to slightly upgrade our traditional testbed. From now on we are going to use a unified system for our performance tests, which will be built on an Intel H77 based mainboard, which features two SATA 6 Gbit/s ports. We will use these ports to connect the tested SSDs.

As for the today’s testing participants, it is obvious that the new Kingston SSDNow V300 240 GB must be compared against different incarnations of the second generation Sand Force platform as well as against other popular SSDs. Therefore, you will see on the diagrams performance numbers for other products based on SandForce controller: Intel SSD 520, Corsair Force GS and Corsair Force GT, which is a total analogue of the Kingston HyperX 3K. Other platforms will be represented by the following participants: Corsair SSDs on LAMD LM87800 controller (Neutron GTX and Neutron), OCZ Vertex 4 on Indilinx Everest 2 controller, the newest OCZ Vector SSD on Indilinx Barefoot 3 controller, Crucial m4 on Marvell 9174, and Plextor SSDs on Marvell 9174 controller (M5S) and Marvell 9187 controller (M5 Pro). All above mentioned drives used synchronous MLC flash memory.  In particular, Crucial m4, Corsair Force GT, Corsair Neutron, Intel SSD 520, OCZ Vertex 4, OCZ Vector and Plextor M5S use 25 nm IMFT memory with ONFI-interface. And Corsair Force GS, Corsair Neutron GTX and Plextor M5 Pro use Toggle Mode MLC NAND manufactured using 2x nm or 19 nm technology.

Overall our testbed was configured as follows:

  • Intel Core i5-3470S (Ivy Bridge, 4 cores, 2.9 GHz, EIST and Turbo Boost turned off);
  • Intel DH77DF mainboard (BIOS 0108);
  • 2 x 2 GB DDR3-1333 SDRAM DIMM 9-9-9-24-1T;
  • Crucial m4 256 GB system disk (CT256M4SSD2);
  • Tested SSDs:
    • Corsair Force GS Series 240 GB (CSSD-F240GBGS-BK, firmware version 5.03);
    • Corsair Force GT Series 240 GB (CSSD-F240GBGT-BK, firmware version 5.03)
    • Corsair Neutron GTX 240 GB (CSSD-N240GBGTX-BK, firmware version 2.06);
    • Corsair Neutron 240 GB (CSSD-N240GB3-BK, firmware version 2.06);
    • Crucial m4 256 GB (CT256M4SSD2, firmware version 070H);
    • Intel SSD 520 240 GB (SSDSC2CW240A3K5, firmware version 400i);
    • Kingston SSDNow V300 240 GB (SV300S37A/240G, firmware version 5.0.5);
    • OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB (VTX4-25SAT3-256G, firmware version 1.5);
    • OCZ Vector 256 GB (VTR1-25SAT3-256G, firmware version 2.0);
    • Plextor M5S 256 GB (PX-256M5S, firmware version 1.03);
    • Plextor M5 Pro 256 GB (PX-256M5P, firmware version 1.03).
  • Microsoft Windows 7 SP1 Ultimate x64
  • Drivers:
    • Intel Chipset Driver 9.3.0.1026;
    • Intel Graphics Media Accelerator Driver 15.22.54.2622;
    • Intel Rapid Storage Technology 11.7.0.1013.

Performance

Random/Sequential Reading/Writing

We use Anvil's Storage Utilities 1.0.51 to measure random and sequential speeds. The synthetic benchmark integrated into that software suite provides a good general picture as it allows to check out the key speed parameters of an SSD.

The results you see here refer to the fresh out-of-box performance of SSDs. Moreover, we use incompressible data, which is the least favorable scenario for the LSI SF-2281 controller that employs on-the-fly data compression. Our testing shows, however, that the compression algorithms do not have a big effect on the real-life performance of SandForce-based SSDs when applications use hard-to-compress data and the flash memory has a high-speed synchronous interface. Testing such SSDs with highly compressible data wouldn’t have any practical worth today.

But progress doesn’t rest and the results on the diagrams are a great illustration of this fact. We viewed SandForce-based SSDs as high-performance products just a year ago but now they do not deserve such positioning. Based on platforms introduced over the past year, the new generation of SSDs are ahead of the SF-2281 based solutions. Today, a SandForce-based SSD may only aspire to be a mainstream product irrespective of what flash memory it contains.

Meanwhile, the Kingston SSDNow V300 isn’t a typical representative of its class. It differs for the better from the majority of SandForce-based SSDs, almost matching the performance of the Intel 520 which is superior to its counterparts thanks to its exclusive firmware. The firmware customization from Kingston and LSI leads to very clear benefits for the end-user, making the SSDNow V300 one of the fastest SandForce-based solutions available. Interestingly, it is going to be faster than the more expensive Kingston HyperX 3K (which is the same as the Corsair Force GT) since the latter employs typical hardware components as well as reference firmware.

 
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