Simulating a Used Drive

Since SSD performance degrades over time, it’s important to not only look at how well these drives perform new - but also the worst they’d perform over their lifetime. In order to do so we’d need a repeatable way of “seasoning” a drive to reduce its performance to the worst it could possibly get. The most realistic worst-case scenario is one where every single block on the drive is full of data. If a secure erase wipes all LBAs, that’s the best place to start. To simulate a well seasoned drive I first secure erased the drive.

After the secure erase, I used iometer to write one contiguous file across the disk - filling up the entire drive with 128KB blocks. In the case of the 80GB Intel X25-M, that’s 74.5GB of data on the drive before I run a single benchmark. The spare area is left untouched.

Next, I take my test image and I restore it onto the partition with a sector by sector copy. The sequential file write made sure that data is stored in every page of the SSD, the test image restore adds a twist of randomness (and realism) to the data.

There are other ways to produce a drive in its well-used state, but this ends up being the most consistent and repeatable. To confirm that my little simulation does indeed produce a realistically worn drive I ran PCMark on three different drives: 1) a freshly secure-erased Intel X25-M, 2) an Intel X25-M setup using the method I just described and 3) the Intel X25-M used in my CPU testbed that has been through hundreds of SYSMark runs.

The benchmark of choice is PCMark Vantage; it simulates the real world better than most drive benchmarks. The results are below:

Intel X25-M State PCMark Vantage Overall Test PCMark Vantage HDD Test
Fresh Secure Erase 11902 29879
Simulated Used Drive 11536 23252
Actual Testbed Used Drive 11140 23438

 

The secure erased system loses about 3% of its overall performance and 22% of its hard drive specific performance compared to my testbed drive. The seasoning method I described above produces a drive with nearly identical drops in performance.

The method appears to be sound.

Now that we have a way of simulating a used drive, let’s see how the contestants fared.

Restoring Your Drive to Peak Performance New vs Used SSD Performance
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  • Slash3 - Wednesday, March 18, 2009 - link

    Page 29: "Not all applications will launch faster than a VelociRaptor on a SSD, but let's not forget that the VelociRaptor is the world's fastest hard drive."

    Really? What about the nice and speedy enterprise-level 15k SAS/SCSI drives everyone neglects to acknowledge? :)
    Reply
  • George Powell - Wednesday, March 18, 2009 - link

    I believe it refers to consumer drives. While SAS drives are beginning to be a possibility on the desktop with newer motherboards supporting them natively, the drives themselves are too expensive and too noisy for most consumers to actually want them.


    Reply
  • FishTankX - Wednesday, March 18, 2009 - link

    Good info. However, I noticed one mistake.

    Second page
    Samsung had a MLC controller at the time but it was too expensive than what SuperTalent was shooting for.
    Reply
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  • matrixireland - Thursday, December 24, 2009 - link

    hi would like to know what you pros think of the;
    Golden Leopard ASAX-ZIF1.8-SSD? what would you add to it?
    And how would you rate it against other ssd?

    Specifications:

    product description

    ASAX-ZIF1.8-SSD is a high-performance design solid state drive based on the high-end micro-control IC with flash memory storage medium integrated advantaged of high speed,convenient ,aseismatic,energy-saving etc.


    specification

    Model

    Size

    Interface

    Material
    ASAX-ZIF1.8-SSD

    1.8inch 70×54×6mm

    ZIF
    Aluminum-magnesium alloy appearance ,drawbench and colorful oxidation surface,elegant temperament


    performance
    read speed:80- 96Mbytes/second write speed:50- 60Mbytes/second
    support ATA-7 V3 PIO/multi word/ultra DMA MODES
    Low power TFBGA,4 channel of flash controller,masked ROM and data SRAM
    SAMSUNG flash keeps the data faster on reliability and endurance
    Dynamic and static wear-leveling prolong NAND FLASH and SSD for longer life
    8/16 bit BCH ECC data error correction ability effectively guarantee the data read security.

    Design consideration

    Capacity

    16G/32G/64G/128G/256G
    Average access time

    <0.25MS
    operating temperature

    0-85°
    power consumption

    DC Input Voltage(3.3V or 5 V ± 10%)Read and write:135mA/194Ma wait:70mA
    shock

    1500G


    Application
    the Laptop, pc, server,workstation,portable media player,digital collection apparatus and any computer equipment which need consecutive read and write speed and high reliability storage.
    Reply
  • jay401 - Wednesday, March 18, 2009 - link

    yeah, he wants "more expensive than" or "too expensive for". Reply
  • Spoelie - Wednesday, March 18, 2009 - link

    Second page as well:

    missing charts before and after this paragraph:

    "The chart above shows how much faster these affordable MLC SSDs were than the fastest 3.5” hard drive in sequential transfers. But now look at random write performance:"
    Reply
  • Spoelie - Wednesday, March 18, 2009 - link

    chart 1 on page 2 now shows sequential read but the paragraph is changed to mention random read ;)

    page 21: As far as I know, this is THE one of THE only reviews

    Some very surprising benchmark results for the ocz vertex, I thought the new firmware tanked sequential read speeds (to 80-90) based on the explanation beforehand, but not according to the actual graphs.
    Reply
  • Spoelie - Wednesday, March 18, 2009 - link

    third page, first table, first column: SSD and HDD entries are switched Reply
  • mikaela - Tuesday, March 16, 2010 - link

    yeah great info. also great resource Reply

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