AnandTech Storage Bench 2011

Two years ago we introduced our AnandTech Storage Bench, a suite of benchmarks that took traces of real OS/application usage and played them back in a repeatable manner. I assembled the traces myself out of frustration with the majority of what we have today in terms of SSD benchmarks.

Although the AnandTech Storage Bench tests did a good job of characterizing SSD performance, they weren't stressful enough. All of the tests performed less than 10GB of reads/writes and typically involved only 4GB of writes specifically. That's not even enough exceed the spare area on most SSDs. Most canned SSD benchmarks don't even come close to writing a single gigabyte of data, but that doesn't mean that simply writing 4GB is acceptable.

Originally I kept the benchmarks short enough that they wouldn't be a burden to run (~30 minutes) but long enough that they were representative of what a power user might do with their system.

Not too long ago I tweeted that I had created what I referred to as the Mother of All SSD Benchmarks (MOASB). Rather than only writing 4GB of data to the drive, this benchmark writes 106.32GB. It's the load you'd put on a drive after nearly two weeks of constant usage. And it takes a *long* time to run.

1) The MOASB, officially called AnandTech Storage Bench 2011 - Heavy Workload, mainly focuses on the times when your I/O activity is the highest. There is a lot of downloading and application installing that happens during the course of this test. My thinking was that it's during application installs, file copies, downloading and multitasking with all of this that you can really notice performance differences between drives.

2) I tried to cover as many bases as possible with the software I incorporated into this test. There's a lot of photo editing in Photoshop, HTML editing in Dreamweaver, web browsing, game playing/level loading (Starcraft II & WoW are both a part of the test) as well as general use stuff (application installing, virus scanning). I included a large amount of email downloading, document creation and editing as well. To top it all off I even use Visual Studio 2008 to build Chromium during the test.

The test has 2,168,893 read operations and 1,783,447 write operations. The IO breakdown is as follows:

AnandTech Storage Bench 2011 - Heavy Workload IO Breakdown
IO Size % of Total
4KB 28%
16KB 10%
32KB 10%
64KB 4%

Only 42% of all operations are sequential, the rest range from pseudo to fully random (with most falling in the pseudo-random category). Average queue depth is 4.625 IOs, with 59% of operations taking place in an IO queue of 1.

Many of you have asked for a better way to really characterize performance. Simply looking at IOPS doesn't really say much. As a result I'm going to be presenting Storage Bench 2011 data in a slightly different way. We'll have performance represented as Average MB/s, with higher numbers being better. At the same time I'll be reporting how long the SSD was busy while running this test. These disk busy graphs will show you exactly how much time was shaved off by using a faster drive vs. a slower one during the course of this test. Finally, I will also break out performance into reads, writes and combined. The reason I do this is to help balance out the fact that this test is unusually write intensive, which can often hide the benefits of a drive with good read performance.

There's also a new light workload for 2011. This is a far more reasonable, typical every day use case benchmark. Lots of web browsing, photo editing (but with a greater focus on photo consumption), video playback as well as some application installs and gaming. This test isn't nearly as write intensive as the MOASB but it's still multiple times more write intensive than what we were running in 2010.

As always I don't believe that these two benchmarks alone are enough to characterize the performance of a drive, but hopefully along with the rest of our tests they will help provide a better idea.

The testbed for Storage Bench 2011 has changed as well. We're now using a Sandy Bridge platform with full 6Gbps support for these tests.

AnandTech Storage Bench 2011 - Heavy Workload

AnandTech Storage Bench 2011 - Heavy Workload

The old VelociRaptor remained the fastest mechanical drive we'd tested using our heavy workload, and the new one pushed the bar up by another 31%. It's the SSD comparison that makes the VR a tough choice for a primary drive, but if you need a really fast hard drive to augment your SSD the VelociRaptor is quick. Note that the Momentus XT lacks write caching at this point, which hurts its chances in our write intensive heavy workload.

AnandTech Storage Bench 2011 - Light Workload

Our new light workload actually has more write operations than read operations. The split is as follows: 372,630 reads and 459,709 writes. The relatively close read/write ratio does better mimic a typical light workload (although even lighter workloads would be far more read centric).

The I/O breakdown is similar to the heavy workload at small IOs, however you'll notice that there are far fewer large IO transfers:

AnandTech Storage Bench 2011 - Light Workload IO Breakdown
IO Size % of Total
4KB 27%
16KB 8%
32KB 6%
64KB 5%

AnandTech Storage Bench 2011 - Light Workload

Once again we see a significant step forward compared to the old VelociRaptor, and any other hard drive for that matter. The new VR distances itself from its predecessor by 39% and from the fastest 7200RPM 3.5" drive we've tested by 55%. It's the almighty SSD that the VelociRaptor can't beat.

 

Random & Sequential Read/Write Speed PCMark 7 Performance & Power Consumption
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  • bozdee - Monday, April 16, 2012 - link

    Anand, you've used the French spelling for 'cheap' down the bottom of the first page - great writeup otherwise! Reply
  • Sufo - Monday, April 16, 2012 - link

    Cheaper? The comparative form of cheap? I didn't realise this was French. Reply
  • PyroHoltz - Monday, April 16, 2012 - link

    Huh?

    cheaper(French) --> cheaper(English)

    http://translate.google.com/?hl=en&q=cheaper%2...
    Reply
  • Mr.T - Monday, April 16, 2012 - link

    There is no French spelling for cheap (or cheaper or cheapest); Cheap translates to "Pas cher" (Not expensive) or "Bon marché" (Good deal) in French. Reply
  • dananski - Monday, April 16, 2012 - link

    IIRC, bon marché is often mistakenly translated literally to well priced / good deal, but it actually means cheap - an indication of qualitiy as well as price. Quite amusing for the Bon Marché chain of clothes shops in the UK, which obviously aims for the former interpretation, or for an assumption that a Frenchy sounding name makes it well posh. Reply
  • safcman84 - Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - link

    Where did you get that from?

    Bon Marche means good deal. There is no French word for Cheap.

    Mr T got it right.
    Reply
  • bigboxes - Monday, April 16, 2012 - link

    In English, something that could be considered inexpensive would be called "cheap." In a comparison of the cost of two or more items the item that is cheapest would be called "cheaper". Next time, stay awake in class. LOL Reply
  • bozdee - Monday, April 16, 2012 - link

    When the article was first published it read "... however, the VRs are still cheape ..." and has been changed since. When I saw 'cheap' written as 'cheape' it reminded me of how a French person would say the English word 'cheap'.

    It all made sense in my head but I could see how my choice of words (or lack thereof) led to all of the comments below. All I really wanted to do was correct the typo.
    Reply
  • Tunnah - Monday, April 16, 2012 - link

    ..The Raptor holds fond memories for me, when I first got enough money to build a serious rig, I used the original Raptor as my boot drive.

    It always stood out as the geek's bootdrive, and WD could easily reclaim that title if they coupled it with some NAND.

    I'd ditch my primary SSD in a heartbeat if they released a VR HDD/SDD combo drive!
    Reply
  • Makaveli - Monday, April 16, 2012 - link

    Good luck with that.

    I wouldn't care if they slapped a 1GB of ram on the hard drive its still a hard drive.
    Reply

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