The SSD Anthology: Understanding SSDs and New Drives from OCZby Anand Lal Shimpi on March 18, 2009 12:00 AM EST
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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.