Articles: Storage

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Testbed and Methods

The following testing utilities were used:

  • IOMeter version 2003.02.15
  • IOMark 0.30b14
  • FC-Test version 1.0
  • PCMark Vantage
  • Windows 7 Disk Defragmenter
  • WinRar 3.91

Testbed configuration:

  • ASUSTeK P5WDG2 WS Pro mainboard
  • Intel Pentium 4 620 processor
  • IBM DTLA-307015 system disk (15 GB)
  • Radeon X600 grpahics card
  • 1GB DDR2-800 SDRAM
  • Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate

The HDDs were tested with the generic OS drivers and formatted in NTFS (wherever formatting was required) as one partition with the default cluster size. 64-gigabyte NTFS partitions with the default cluster size were created for FC-Test. The HDDs were connected to a mainboard port and worked with enabled AHCI.

Performance in IOMark

We use our internal IOMark tool for low-level tests. Let’s begin with sequential reading.

Let’s compare the HDDs according to the speed at the beginning and end of the full-capacity partitions created on them.

The 2.5-inch drives are all close to each other in this test since they have the same recording density and the same spindle rotation speed. The differences that you can see are only because one HDD is luckier than another in terms of the head/surface pair at the beginning and end of the partition. The 3.5-inch HDD looks much better than its 2.5-inch cousins. Having larger platters rotating at the same speed, it can read more sectors in a given period of time and thus deliver higher speed. The recording density being roughly the same, the 3.5-inch drive is faster by a third.

You should keep it in mind that the Momentus XT is going to behave just like an ordinary HDD in most tests. For its flash memory to become useful, the same data should be read again, but synthetic benchmarks do not do that.

Now what about reading from the cache buffer and writing into it?

Hitachi Travelstar 5K500.B, 500 GB

Seagate Momentus 7200.4, 500 GB

Seagate Momentus XT, 500 GB

Toshiba MKxx56GSY, 500 GB

Seagate Constellation ES, 500 GB

Seagate’s HDDs have progressed in terms of working with the cache buffer. We have been criticizing them for their low speed of working with large data blocks, especially at writing. You can see that clear enough in the diagram of the Momentus 7200.4. 3.5-inch HDDs from Seagate usually behave in the same way, but the Constellation ES is faster whereas the Momentus XT is even trying to catch up with its opponents. As for the opponents, the Hitachi 7K500 is excellent in this test while the Toshiba is just good.

Working with the cache buffer may seem to be the first use of the integrated flash memory. Well, this is not so. The performance of an HDD is limited by its firmware and external interface here. Each HDD delivers its maximum available speed in this test, the drives without flash memory just processing small amounts of data stored in their ordinary cache memory.

The peak speeds do not matter much in this test although this time around the highest speeds are indeed shown by the overall leader Hitachi 7K500.

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