Earlier this month my Crucial RealSSD C300 died in the middle of testing for AMD’s 890GX launch. This was a problem for two reasons:

1) Crucial’s RealSSD C300 is currently shipping and selling to paying customers. The 256GB drive costs $799.
2) AMD’s 890GX is the first chipset to natively support 6Gbps SATA. The C300 is the first SSD to natively support the standard as well. Butter, meet toast.

Since then, Crucial dispatched a new drive and discovered what happened to my first drive (more on this in a separate update). While waiting for the autopsy report, I decided to look at 890GX 6Gbps performance since it was absent from my original review.


AMD's SB850 with Native 6Gbps SATA

In the 890GX review I found that AMD’s new South Bridge, the SB850, wasn’t quite as fast as Intel’s ICH/PCH when dealing with the latest crop of high performance SSDs. My concerns were particularly about high bandwidth or high IOPS situations, admittedly things that you only bump into if you’re spending a good amount of money on an SSD. Case in point, here is OCZ’s Vertex LE running on an AMD 890GX compared to an Intel X58:

Iometer 6-22-2008 Performance 2MB Sequential Read 2MB Sequential Write 4KB Random Read 4KB Random Write (4K Aligned)
AMD 890GX 248 MB/s 217.5 MB/s 38.4 MB/s 130.1 MB/s
Intel H55 264.9 MB/s 247.7 MB/s 48.6 MB/s 180 MB/s

 

My concern was that if 3Gbps SSDs were underperfoming on the SB850, then 6Gbps SSDs definitely would.

Other reviewers had mixed results with the SB850. Some boards did well while others did worse. I also discovered that AMD’s own internal testing is done on an internal reference board with both Cool’n’Quiet and SB power management disabled, which is why disabling CnQ improved performance in my results. As far as why AMD does any of its own internal testing in such a way, your guess is as good as mine.

I received an ASUS 890GX board for this followup and updated to the latest BIOS on that board. That didn’t fix my performance problems. Using AMD’s latest SB850 AHCI drivers however (1.2.0.164), did...sort of:

Iometer 6-22-2008 Performance 2MB Sequential Read 2MB Sequential Write 4KB Random Read 4KB Random Write (4K Aligned)
AMD 890GX (3/2/10) 248 MB/s 217.5 MB/s 38.4 MB/s 130.1 MB/s
AMD 890GX (3/25/10) 253.5 MB/s 223.8 MB/s 51.2 MB/s 152.1 MB/s
Intel H55 264.9 MB/s 247.7 MB/s 48.6 MB/s 180 MB/s

 

All performance improved, but we’re still looking at lower performance compared to Intel’s 3Gbps SATA controller except for random read speed. Random read speed is faster on the 890GX (but slower than X58).

The best part of it all is that I no longer had to disable CnQ or C1E to get this performance. I will note that my performance is still lower than what AMD is getting on its internal reference board and the performance from 3rd party boards varies significantly from one board to the next depending on board and BIOS revisions. But at least we’re getting somewhere.

In testing the 890GX, I decided to look into how Intel’s chipsets perform with this new wave of high performance SSDs. It’s not as straightforward as you’d think.

The Primer: PCI Express 1.0 vs. 2.0
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  • assassin37 - Thursday, March 25, 2010 - link

    why isnt the x-58 gigabyte native 6gbs board on the write benchmarks? Reply
  • blacksun1234 - Thursday, March 25, 2010 - link

    I would like to see HD Tune & HD Tach Average Read speed with Crucial HDD for each chipset. With this benchmark, AMD SB850 can beat Marvell's solution a lot! Reply
  • Nickel020 - Thursday, March 25, 2010 - link

    There's a small error on page 4, that's an X58A-UD3R you've got there, not an X58-UD3R.

    Also, there seem to be two different Marvell 6G controllers, the 88SE9123 and the 88SE9128, what's difference between these two?
    Reply
  • Nickel020 - Thursday, March 25, 2010 - link

    Finished reading, very interesteing results :)

    I find it really strange that P55 performs so poorly, I wonder whether it also performs poorly when used with SATA 3G SSDs, seeing as I'm just about two migrate my Vertex 60GB RAID 0 from P45&ICH10R to P55.
    Would be great if you could look into that as well, better storage performance would be a major reason to buy S1366 instead of S1156.
    Reply
  • Etern205 - Thursday, March 25, 2010 - link

    If it's possible, mind adding the Asus U3S6 to your test (in a updated article) since that card uses a PCIe x4 interface.
    Thank You! :)

    The card
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...">http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a...&cm_...
    Reply
  • nerdtalker - Thursday, March 25, 2010 - link

    That's an interesting card, since it appears from the photo to incorporate the 4x PCIe 1.0 PLX controller, or essentially the same on-motherboard solution ASUS was using.

    That seems like a much more interesting card to test.
    Reply
  • 7Enigma - Thursday, March 25, 2010 - link

    Hi Anand,

    I have to admit that this particular article was a bit confusing for me. Probably because the test rigs are so similar in name I was going back and forth. My question is how does this article's results correlate to earlier boards (P45 for me in particular)? Am I understanding things correctly to assume that sticking a 6Gbps SATA card would actually be detrimental to performance in my rig if I was to get a new SSD in the coming months?

    Thanks for the informative article.
    Reply
  • semo - Thursday, March 25, 2010 - link

    Hi Anand,

    On the 1st page, were you comparing Vertex LE performance on 890GX vs X58 or H55? And also do you have any comments on why it's random read is slower than the random write. AFAIK this is the only SSD with such characteristics.

    Thanks
    Reply
  • Casper42 - Thursday, March 25, 2010 - link

    I noticed the same. Text says compared to X58 but both charts on page 1 say H55. Reply
  • Exodite - Thursday, March 25, 2010 - link

    With the Thuban hexa-cores and 890X/FX boards in the pipeline AMD looks better and better for my next rig. After building a 790FX/PII 965BE rig for a friend, however, I were worried by the obviously poor disk performance even in comparison to my old P35/E6600 setup with an older HDD.

    I appreciate being kept up to date with this development as I see disk performance as the only major drawback of the platform at this point.
    Reply

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