Articles: Storage

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Testbed Configuration

All SSDs were tested in a system built around an Intel H67 based mainboard. This chipset provides support for two SATA 6 Gbit/s ports, which we use to connect the tested SSDs.

For our review OCZ Technology provided us with two most popular and fastest Vertex 4 models – 256 GB and 512 GB storage capacity. We will compare them against the competitor SSDs with the same storage capacity based on different Indilinx Everest 2 controllers. SandForce based products with 240 GB storage capacity were represented by a typical SSD with 32 nm Toggle NAND (OCZ Vertex 3 Max IOPS), a typical SSD with 25 nm synchronous ONFI memory (Corsair Force Series GT – analogue to OCZ Vertex 3), a typical SSD with 25 nm asynchronous memory (Corsair Force Series 3 – analogue to OCZ Agility 3) and a unique Intel SSD 520 Series using regular 25 nm synchronous memory but featuring exclusive firmware. The 512 GB Vertex 4 will be competing against 480 GB OCZ Vertex 3 with 25 nm synchronous ONFI memory. Moreover, we also included the results of an SSD based on Marvell 88S9174 controller – Corsair Performance Pro with 256 GB storage capacity and OCZ Octane 512 GB based on Indilinx Everest controller.

Overall our testbed was configured as follows:

  • Intel Core i5-2400 (Sandy Bridge, 4 cores, 3.1 GHz, EIST and Turbo Boost turned off);
  • Foxconn H67S mainboard (BIOS A41F1P03);
  • 2 x 2 GB DDR3-1333 SDRAM DIMM 9-9-9-24-1T;
  • Crucial m4 256 GB system disk (CT256M4SSD2);
  • Tested SSDs:
    • Corsair Force 3 Series 240 GB (CSSD-F240GB3-BK, firmware version 1.3.3);
    • Corsair Force GT Series 240 GB (CSSD-F240GBGT-BK, firmware version 1.3.3);
    • Corsair Performance Pro 256 GB (CSSD-P256GBP-BK, firmware version 1.0);
    • OCZ Octane 512 GB (OCT1-25SAT3-512G, firmware version 1.13);
    • OCZ Vertex 3 Max IOPS 240 GB (VTX3MI-25SAT3-240G, firmware version 2.22);
    • OCZ Vertex 3 480 GB (VTX3-25SAT3-480G, firmware version 2.22);
    • OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB (VTX4-25SAT3-256G, firmware version 1.4);
    • OCZ Vertex 4 512 GB (VTX4-25SAT3-512G, firmware version 1.4).
  • Microsoft Windows 7 SP1 Ultimate x64
  • Drivers:
    • Intel Chipset Driver;
    • Intel Graphics Media Accelerator Driver;
    • Intel Rapid Storage Technology


Random and Sequential Read and Write

We use CrystalDiskMark 3.0.1 benchmark to test the random- and sequential read and write speed. This benchmark is convenient to work with as it can measure the speed of an SSD with both incompressible random and fully compressible recurring data. This feature is important for testing SSDs based on SF-2281/2282 controller, which tries to compress the data before writing it into memory. So, there are two numbers in the diagrams below that reflect the maximum and minimum SSD speed. The real-life performance of an SSD is going to be in-between those two numbers depending on how effective the controller data compression is.

Note that the performance tests in this section refer to SSDs in their “Fresh Out-of-Box” state (FOB). No degradation could have taken place yet.

The problem with the Vertex 4 series is that their sequential read speed is too low. They are inferior in this parameter not only to the modern SSDs with second-generation SandForce controller and synchronous flash memory but even to their predecessor, the Octane SSD with the original Everest controller.

Apart from the results in the first diagram, the Vertex 4 series look really good. They can offer a record-breaking speed at any write operations as well as at random reading with a long request queue depth. When reading 4KB data blocks, which is a highly popular operation in practical applications, the Indilinx Everest 2 controller secures them second place, behind the Corsair Force GT, a typical SandForce-based SSD with synchronous memory.

Overall, the Vertex 4 series offers a combination of characteristics which are not quite typical of desktop solutions. It is not particularly good at reading but can beat any opponent at writing. Its reading performance improves at longer request queue depths, i.e. at high “intellectual” loads on the controller. This indicates that the computing part of the Everest 2 is indeed strong but its interaction with the flash memory interface is not as efficient as the SandForce’s. The cache memory helps to conceal this deficiency, but not quite well.

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