Articles: Storage

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Testbed Configuration

For our today’s test session we used the following testbed:

  • CPU: Core i7-870 (Lynnfield, 4 cores/8 threads, 2.93 GHz, 8 MB L3);
  • Mainboard: ASUS P7P55D Premium (LGA1156, Intel P55 Express);
  • Memory:
    • 2 x 2 GB, DDR3-1600 SDRAM, 9-9-9-27 (Kingston KHX1600C8D3K2/4GX);
    • 2 x 4 GBDDR3-1600 SDRAM, 9-9-9-27 (Mushkin 996808);
  • Graphics card: ATI Radeon HD 5870;
  • Drives:
    • Western Digital Caviar Green (WD20EARS);
    • Western Digital VelociRaptor (WD6000HLHX);
    • Intel X25-M G2 (SSDSA2MH160G2).
  • CPU cooler: Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme with Enermax Everest fan;
  • PSU: Tagan TG880-U33II (880 W);
  • OS: Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate x64;
  • Drivers:
    • Intel Chipset Driver;
    • ATI Catalyst 10.9 Display Driver.

Performance Tests

General Performance - SYSmark 2007

Complex benchmarks based on real-life applications are exactly what we need for our today’s test session. For example, SYSmark 2007 emulates a user solving practical tasks in a realistic environment: there are a few open applications simultaneously for the user to switch between. Data is transferred between the applications using the clipboard.

As we can see in the diagram, the influence of the disk subsystem and system memory on the overall performance should not be underestimated. The results vary by 25%, so a computer with a faster disk and a larger amount of memory is going to be more responsive at everyday work. This performance improvement is achieved by reducing the latency of disk operations in the first place as is clear from the individual SYSmark 2007 tests.

It is the Productivity scenario that shows the biggest dependence of the computer’s overall performance on its disk subsystem. This might have been expected as this scenario involves working with Microsoft Office documents and email. There is no wonder the fast SSD provides a 60% increase in performance. The disk subsystem is also influential when it comes to working with digital content in the Video Creation scenario, mostly due to Adobe Photoshop which makes a lot of disk accesses when processing large images. In the 3D scenario, which focuses on the final rendering in 3D modeling suites, the disk subsystem doesn’t play a big part while the CPU’s computing capabilities are far more important then.

The results of the configurations with different amounts of system memory are somewhat disappointing. Upgrading your disk affects the performance in SYSmark 2007 greatly but the larger amount of system memory has but a very small positive effect which we can only observe in one scenario, Video Creation (obviously, due to Adobe Photoshop again).

Most unexpectedly, increasing your system memory amount to 8 gigabytes may even lower your computer's performance as we can see in the tests of the SSD-based configuration. The performance hit is small but observable across a number of tests despite Windows 7 turning off its SuperFetch technology for SSDs.

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