Random Read/Write Speed

The four corners of SSD performance are as follows: random read, random write, sequential read and sequential write speed. Random accesses are generally small in size, while sequential accesses tend to be larger and thus we have the four Iometer tests we use in all of our reviews.

Our first test writes 4KB in a completely random pattern over an 8GB space of the drive to simulate the sort of random access that you'd see on an OS drive (even this is more stressful than a normal desktop user would see). I perform three concurrent IOs and run the test for 3 minutes. The results reported are in average MB/s over the entire time. We use both standard pseudo randomly generated data for each write as well as fully random data to show you both the maximum and minimum performance offered by SandForce based drives in these tests. The average performance of SF drives will likely be somewhere in between the two values for each drive you see in the graphs. For an understanding of why this matters, read our original SandForce article.

Desktop Iometer - 4KB Random Read (4K Aligned)

Compared to the PS3105 based Crucial v4, the BP3 offers a significant improvement in random read performance. It's still nowhere close to the fastest SATA 6Gbps drives, but at least the performance is no longer horrible. As for the SMART, its random read performance is similar to other SF-2281 based SSDs, as expected.

Desktop Iometer - 4KB Random Write (4K Aligned) - 8GB LBA Space

Desktop Iometer - 4KB Random Write (8GB LBA Space QD=32)

Random write speed is still the Achilles' Heel of Phison, though. The PS3108 is able to offer twice the performance of PS3105, but 36.4MB/s is still far slower than what most controllers are able to offer today. What's interesting is the fact that random write performance does not scale up at all when queue depth is increased—usually the throughput increases as the queue depth goes up as you can see in the graphs above.

Sequential Read/Write Speed

To measure sequential performance I ran a 1 minute long 128KB sequential test over the entire span of the drive at a queue depth of 1. The results reported are in average MB/s over the entire test length.

Desktop Iometer - 128KB Sequential Read (4K Aligned)

Similar to the Crucial v4, the BP3 has strong sequential performance. SMART's performance characteristics are once again typical SandForce, no surprises here.

Desktop Iometer - 128KB Sequential Write (4K Aligned)

AS-SSD Incompressible Sequential Performance

The AS-SSD sequential benchmark uses incompressible data for all of its transfers. The result is a pretty big reduction in sequential write speed on SandForce based controllers, while other drives continue to work at roughly the same speed as with compressible data.

Incompressible Sequential Read Performance - AS-SSD

Incompressible Sequential Write Performance - AS-SSD

Meet the Drives Performance vs. Transfer Size
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  • Flunk - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - link

    DIY upgrades are really what mSATA SSDs are for. They really don't make sense on the desktop. But I would argue that the performance desktop is just as much a niche market. As long as a market exists these products will too.

    As for me I have a ADATA SX300 mSATA SSD (256GB) along with a 750GB HD in an Alienware m14x R2. Great way to get more storage into a system that couldn't fit another 2.5" drive without losing the optical bay. mSATA SSDs are very convenient now.

    Hopefully everyone will standardize on one of the new PCI-E based SSD specs, but that's all future technology for now.
    Reply
  • Kraszmyl - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - link

    Considering almost all of dell and lenovos machines that came out recently have msata slots i wouldnt exactly call them rare and im sure the ultrabook people will move to them too.

    That being said i would like to see them on more itx and micro atx boards.
    Reply
  • ssj3gohan - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - link

    Yeah, I'm super-happy with the mSATA slots on recent Intel mITX and mATX motherboards. It may seem like a small deal to some, but mSATA saves a lot of space and IMO more importantly: a mess of wires.

    I've been able to build very capable systems with no wires blocking airflow and getting in the way at all in arguably the smallest enclosure commercially available, the mini-box M350. All because of motherboards supporting 19V input and mSATA.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - link

    mSATA is already being phased out for NGFF/M.2, so I don't expect a lot of support for mSATA going forward. Apple, ASUS, and others already skipped mSATA to go their own routes, indicating the perceived issues from those manufacturers.

    M.2 will hopefully bring more standardization and acceptance, and it would be great if ASUS, Apple, etc. used M.2 instead of proprietary connectors -- there are quite a few people that are ticked that UX21A/UX31A had review samples with SF-2281 ADATA drives and then shipping consumer models typically (maybe even only?) used SanDisk U100. Because of the proprietary connector, there's basically no way to upgrade from the U100.
    Reply
  • ssj3gohan - Wednesday, January 23, 2013 - link

    I don't necessarily care whether it's NGFF or mSATA, as long as it's a cableless solution and there's sufficient availability of drives. Right now mSATA has good market penetration; I haven't had any problems sourcing tens of crucial m4 mSATA drives, even the most exotic 256GB variant. Same goes for myDigitalSSD's earlier offerings, which seemed to be in stock all the time (very short lead times).

    As soon as NGFF is used or can be used on the desktop I'm perfectly happy using those as the ubiquitous boot drive.
    Reply
  • Voldenuit - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - link

    Exactly!

    mSATA SSDs are a good way to add performance and capacity to a (compatible) laptop. And doing it aftermarket keeps the OEMs from ripping off the customer with their exorbitant upgrade prices.

    I added a 128 GB crucial m4 SSD to my wife's Thinkpad X230T laptop to complement the existing 500GB hdd. It was far cheaper than configuring it with a 2.5" SSD from lenovo (there was no option on their configurator to outlay the laptop with a mSATA SSD instead) and far more versatile, as the single-spindle X230T is now transformed into effectively a 2-spindle machine (still no DVD drive, but we have an ultrabase mobile dock for that).

    I wouldn't buy a modern laptop that doesn't have an mSATA slot today.
    Reply
  • cmikeh2 - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - link

    While traditional forms of computing may not necessitate the smaller form factor future products like Intel's Next Unit of Computing with its 4 x 4 inch mobo only supports mSATA. Work in this form factor will allow products like NUC to be worthwhile. Reply
  • digitalzombie - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - link

    "the potential to grap a large share"

    grap -> grab
    Reply
  • Kristian Vättö - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - link

    Thanks for the heads up, fixed! :-) Reply
  • kesh - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - link

    Just a guess, but wouldn't there be a market for mSATA in embedded computing world?

    I have an ongoing project of turning a broken (slim) CD player to a digital audio player, which has been going slow over a last few years, and when I first saw mSATA, I immediately thought it as the perfect storage solution for my project.
    Reply

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