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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.

Frankly speaking, we’ve come to regard Intel NASPT with the SSD Benchmarking Suite traces as the most adequate test of general SSD performance. The results of the Agility 4 series make us even more convinced in that. As opposed to PCMark 7, Intel NASPT puts it in between the SandForce-based disks with synchronous and asynchronous flash, which agrees with the synthetic benchmarks.

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.

The Agility 4 series are especially good at copying large files and installing software, which is explained by the high writing performance of their Everest 2 controller. On the other hand, these SSDs are inferior to all their opponents in such scenarios as software compilation, copying of small files from the disk, searching data and launching the OS and applications. It’s easy to note that all these tasks involve reading small blocks of data with a short request queue, which is the main weak spot of the Agility 4 series.

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