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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  • ssj3gohan - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - link

    Aside from my usual remarks on using the wrong methodology for idle power consumption (use a DIPM-enabled testbench!), the mSATA slot uses 3.3/1.8V, while your 2,5" adapter provides this power from 5V via an LDO. LDOs are power converters that step down voltage linearly, i.e. 5V 1A in -> 3.3V 1A out (current is conserved), contrary to switching converters that, apart from efficiency losses, try to do this conversion losslessly.

    This means that when you measured 5V 0.1A for the BP3, the actual drive consumed 3.3V 0.1A, i.e. 0.33W instead of 0.50W.
    Reply
  • magao - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - link

    I recently bought a new notebook specifically because it had an mSATA slot. It came pre-populated with a 32GB cache drive and 500GB hard drive.

    I immediately replaced it with a 1TB drive and the largest mSATA SSD I could get (128GB OCZ Nocti). I put the OS on the hard drive, then configured the SSD as 32GB cache, the rest (~80GB usable) as data.

    The stuff I use all the time was then installed onto the SSD (source code repositories, etc). Lots of small files -> SSD.

    The OS + 16GB hibernate file are on the hard drive, which means that's space not being taken up on the limited SSD space. Instead the 32GB cache (which is about the same size as the OS + hibernate file combined) ensures the most-used blocks on the hard drive are cached. Of couse, the page file is on the SSD.

    Writes to the hard drive are largely sequential as the caching essentially does write-combining.

    I've used symlinks to move various settings to the SSD e.g. web browser cache, etc.

    I periodically use Resource Manager to check disk activity. There is some write activity to the hard drive, but it's pretty minimal. Right this instance there are only 5 files listed as either reads or writes to the hard drive. I almost never notice that the hard drive is in use - nearly everything performs at SSD speeds.

    Would I prefer to have an all-SSD system? Sure? Can I afford it? Well, I could, but I can get better bang for my buck by using the setup above, with very similar results.
    Reply
  • tk11 - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - link

    I recently bought one for a Lenovo x230 that I chose in part because it featured an empty mSATA slot. For anyone willing to take the time to install a mSATA SSD for use as the system drive it's a very compelling feature. Reply
  • magnusoverli - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - link

    Hello.

    First post at AnandTech... :-)

    You say that you cannot see why any desktop users would adopt the mSata-standard, and although I can see that it was not initially meant to be a perfect match, I think it may be. It all depends of course on the individual users´ needs and other hardware.

    I recently built a new server for multimedia streaming and backup purposes, and went for the ASUS Maximus V Gene mobo. It enables me to have the OS on an "onboard" msata-slot, and leaving all sata slots for data drives. This is, for me, the perfect combination of performance and flexibility.

    I can see that others have commented and touched on related topics, but just wanted to let you know that desktop/server-systems and msata really is a beautiful thing!

    M
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - link

    Except, as noted above, mSATA is set to be replaced by M.2 this year. That's where more SSDs and motherboards are likely to head in the future. Reply
  • magnusoverli - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - link

    Granted that msata is a standard that is about to fade out, isn´t that the reality for just about any standard that has become, or is about to become, mainstream.

    Also, how long does it take before a new standard is introduced, before it is ready for the main stage? There are only a very few users standing by being ready to upgrade when the first products hits the shelves.

    Also, I think that one should maximize the usage of current technologies (within budget) and not stay on the side-lines, always waiting for the next big thing.

    But, hey.. That´s just me! ;-)
    Reply
  • Death666Angel - Wednesday, January 23, 2013 - link

    DDR1/2/3, DVI/HDMI/DP, SATA 1 through 3, USB 1 through 3.
    All the important standards are either very long lived (5 years for DDR3 now) or are backwards compatible or can be easily used with simple adapters. That is not the case with mSATA. It was niche to begin with, it stayed niche even when there was a big demand for fast, small storage in ultrabooks and tablets and now it is being phased out.
    Reply
  • Kristian Vättö - Wednesday, January 23, 2013 - link

    But can you use the six SATA headers on the motherboard simultaneously with the mSATA slot? The fact is, mSATA does not add SATA connectivity, it takes one port just like a regular SATA port on the mobo does. It's of course possible that there is a third party SATA controller that provides a few extra ports but those exist without mSATA as well.

    Not trying to belittle mSATA and the comments here have been mind-opening, I seriously hadn't heard that people actually use mSATA SSD in desktops. Sure I've seen a few but it's good to heat that mSATA SSDs aren't just decorations.
    Reply
  • iwod - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - link

    Assuming SATA Express will bring us performance of Today's top SSD in RAID, which still isn't fast enough for Apps to pop out, Startup and Shutdown to be less then 2 seconds,

    is software the limitation now? Or we need faster CPU?
    Reply
  • Zink - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - link

    I'm running a mSATA drive from Adata in my Lenovo laptop and I love being able to pull the optical drive and run three drives in a normal laptop. Boot drive + data drive + hotswap drive for temporary projects. Reply

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