Sequential Read Performance

Our first test of sequential read performance uses short bursts of 128MB, issued as 128kB operations with no queuing. The test averages performance across eight bursts for a total of 1GB of data transferred from a drive containing 16GB of data. Between each burst the drive is given enough idle time to keep the overall duty cycle at 20%.

Burst 128kB Sequential Read (Queue Depth 1)

The queue depth 1 burst sequential read performance of the WD Black SN750 is faster than its predecessor, but there's still a lot of room for improvement relative to the fastest TLC SSDs and even the Corsair MP510 that relies on the same BiCS3 NAND as the SN750.

Our test of sustained sequential reads uses queue depths from 1 to 32, with the performance and power scores computed as the average of QD1, QD2 and QD4. Each queue depth is tested for up to one minute or 32GB transferred, from a drive containing 64GB of data. This test is run twice: once with the drive prepared by sequentially writing the test data, and again after the random write test has mixed things up, causing fragmentation inside the SSD that isn't visible to the OS. These two scores represent the two extremes of how the drive would perform under real-world usage, where wear leveling and modifications to some existing data will create some internal fragmentation that degrades performance, but usually not to the extent shown here.

Sustained 128kB Sequential Read

The performance of the WD Black SN750 on the longer sequential read test is a bit better than the previous model and more in line with other drives that use the same NAND, but still much slower than the top NVMe drives on this test. The performance when reading data that was not written to the drive sequentially has regressed slightly but is still decent for this class of drive.

Sustained 128kB Sequential Read (Power Efficiency)
Power Efficiency in MB/s/W Average Power in W

Despite relatively low performance, the SN750 still manages to be tied for second place in the power efficiency ranking, scoring about 13% lower than the Toshiba XG6.

The WD Black SN750 suffers during the early stages of the sequential read test and doesn't hit its full read speed until the queue depth reaches about 16. The performance profile is very similar to last year's model save for a significant improvement at QD1. Several other drives also require fairly high queue depths to reach full speed, but most of the relevant competition has better low-QD performance than the WD Black.

Even though the WD Black starts off slow, it still is fairly power efficient throughout the sequential read test and there are only few drives that offer better performance per Watt at any speed.

Sequential Write Performance

Our test of sequential write burst performance is structured identically to the sequential read burst performance test save for the direction of the data transfer. Each burst writes 128MB as 128kB operations issued at QD1, for a total of 1GB of data written to a drive containing 16GB of data.

Burst 128kB Sequential Write (Queue Depth 1)

As with sequential reads, the QD1 burst sequential write performance of the WD Black SN750 is significantly improved over the previous model, and this time it gets relatively close to the top tier of drives.

Our test of sustained sequential writes is structured identically to our sustained sequential read test, save for the direction of the data transfers. Queue depths range from 1 to 32 and each queue depth is tested for up to one minute or 32GB, followed by up to one minute of idle time for the drive to cool off and perform garbage collection. The test is confined to a 64GB span of the drive.

Sustained 128kB Sequential Write

The SN750 also improves slightly on the longer sequential write test that adds in some higher queue depths, bringing it up to the level of the Corsair MP510 but still a bit behind the Toshiba XG6 and well behind the fastest TLC-based competition.

Sustained 128kB Sequential Write (Power Efficiency)
Power Efficiency in MB/s/W Average Power in W

The SN750 can't claim another efficiency win due to its performance that is merely average for this product segment, but the efficiency score is still pretty good.

The SN750's sequential write performance increases slightly from QD1 to QD2 and remains steady for the rest of the test. The top-performing SM2262EN sample doesn't hit full speed until QD4, at which point it is faster than the SN750 by almost 1GB/s.

Among all the drives that have run through this test, the performance and power consumption of the SN750 both appear fairly middle of the road by NVMe standards; there are some drives that save almost 1W at the same speed, and a few that are far faster at similar power levels.

Random Performance Mixed Read/Write Performance
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  • joesiv - Friday, January 18, 2019 - link

    Micron was the manufacturer I was referring to.
    Other brands we've used which didn't exhibit the same poor endurance, ADATA, Kingston, Swissbit, Crucial

    Some of them probably even use Micron NAND. I bet the NAND is fine on the Micron model we were using, perhaps the hardware is good but the software (firmware) wasn't? Of course we haven't tested every brand/model as our requirements were very specific, so I am sure there are other Micron models that are totally fine (kind of why i'd love to see anandtech include some endurance results, to help weed out the outliers)
    Reply
  • sdsdv10 - Friday, January 18, 2019 - link

    Interesting you write that Micron has problems and Crucial doesn't, as Crucial is just a consumer brand name for Micron Technology Inc. Reply
  • joesiv - Friday, January 18, 2019 - link

    Well they were different models. The crucial was an old model that we were replacing with something new, since the old crucial drives were no longer available. It would be interesting to compare a crucial equivalent model though, I wonder if they share firmware. Reply
  • sovking - Friday, January 18, 2019 - link

    Of course, these improvement will be welcomed, and I would like to see more in clear the steady state behaviour too.

    Regarding the endurance, we should take into account that most of these reviews are about consumer products. An NVME SSD for enterprise market has totally different performance: e.g regular steady state performance, higher endurance, higher reliability and so on. Sometimes, it's possible to find lightly used enterprise NVME drives at bargain price or at the cost of consumer drive: when this happens I prefer these drives.
    Reply
  • joesiv - Friday, January 18, 2019 - link

    I think the role of a "consumer" is not perfectly defined these days. Are they the same as a "power user?" It would seem that more and more consumers are starting to do more and more serious workloads on their PCs. Obviously this is anecdotal, but with all the processing power at our disposal these days ("consumer" CPU's having 16 threads). People probably don't even know what the applications or services that they are running on their PC are doing.

    For example, a lot of commonly used applications will be running with a database system as their backend, whether it be a more simple sqlite database, or something more serious, those can be very write heavy, and they're often configured by the application without the user even knowing it. I'll bet that a lot of users even have web services running on their PC's, without actually thinking about it, all these API's that allow you to connect to your mobile devices/streaming appliances.

    I'll bet a lot of people reading anandtech reviews even have their PC's running as a fileserver, or have a dedicated machine for such duties.

    A lot of this stuff is stuff is stuff would be considered "enterprise" computing of yester-years. Why does anandtech run transcoding, rendering and "destroyer" style tests in their "consumer" reviews? Because it's relevant to some portion of the purchasing community.
    Reply
  • Oxford Guy - Friday, January 18, 2019 - link

    Considering how consumer parts have had endurance problems...

    Examples: OCZ Vertex 2 (with 64-bit NAND), Samsung 840 128 (terrible steady state performance, too), Samsung 840 and 840 EVO series (read speed loss), etc.

    Endurance isn't just a matter of whether or not the drive dies or it has a lot of cell death. It's also a matter of performance consistency over time.
    Reply
  • joesiv - Friday, January 18, 2019 - link

    I agree, I have bad memories of the early days of SSD's. I purchased a first generation intel SSD for $1000 (CND), the speeds were tested as being amazing compared to anything else on the market. But given the early learning curves with NAND controllers, and whatever the like, performance was terrible in the real world. I wasn't even able to upgrade the firmware since it was a first generation product, and only the subsequent versions supported the updates.

    Things have gotten better, but from my experience, it's been a rough road. Some manufacturers are a lot better than others for firmware development, and believe it or not a bug in the firmware can tank performance, or even tank your reliability, since the firmware is what controls wear leveling, and other new fangled features to give the maximum performance.

    There are MLC drives that work in SLC mode dynamically to aid in performance, and other drives that are MLC NAND running SLC mode which have a hybrid endurance between the two. Some older drives did driver level compression to reduce NAND writes, while theoretically great, can cause problems for reliability if there are any cases where the data doesn't get committed correctly, especially in poor power conditions. Firmware bugs are rarely talked about, but a firmware bug could cause garbage collection to occur too often, which will take your performance and reliability.
    Reply
  • gglaw - Friday, January 18, 2019 - link

    With current gen 3D NAND, it would take an incredible amount of writes to test endurance and the regional wholeseller RMA data averaged over hundreds of thousands of SSD's sold is much more representative than AT testing endurance on 1 drive they receive as a sample. It appears most SSD RMA's are NOT from using up the endurance cycles so that would make a 1 sample test by AT even less meaningful. If they happen to get a dud when 99% of that same model has a very good reliability history based on the broader market it would just make thousands of AT readers base their purchasing decision based on a sample size of 1. Reply
  • Billy Tallis - Friday, January 18, 2019 - link

    P/E ratings are highly dependent on what kind of error correction the NAND is used with. Even under pressure, the NAND manufacturers won't be able to give us more than just ballpark figures that would be tough to fairly compare between manufacturers.

    Last year (I think around when the first QLC drives showed up) I started recording SMART data before and after each phase of testing. I haven't written any code to parse and analyze that information yet, but it's on my to-do list.

    I don't think the usual consumer SSD test suite does enough total drive writes to move the SMART indicators enough to form meaningful projections about write endurance and drive lifetime. To do that, I would have to set up another system to do long-term endurance testing on several drives at once. That's also on our wishlist, but it's a relatively low priority given the extra equipment and time requirements.
    Reply
  • joesiv - Friday, January 18, 2019 - link

    @gglaw, @Billy Tallis, you guys are right, it's hard to get firm reliability numbers based off a short, small sample test. But to be honest, its' better than nothing. And as I said, seeing one example of an outlier that performs badly on the bench for the test would validate it's usefulness.

    gglaw, you are totally right, there is more to reliability than PE Cycles, I gave the examples of a drive that under our testing failed, with a life expectancy under a year, the same test scenario (which was a heavy real world workload for our product) on other similar rated drives did not fail the test. But I didn't mention that we had huge realiability issues with our previous drives (Kingston), where they were no where near the end of their endurance ratings, but were failing for other causes. Kingston attributed a lot of the failures to firmware bugs that weren't traceable in SMART data, and in some cases pure hardware failure.

    Billy, yes in general you're right, it's hard to get meaningful projections for a short period of time, this is especially the case if you use percent life used as a metric (1-100). However, it's not too bad if you can get the PE Cycles, which typically are 3000 for MLC, and in some cases 2500 for 3D NAND, instead of waiting months for a single change in percent life change, we have seen drives go through 1 PE Cycle a day, which would give us around 8 years of product life (baring other failures), we were going through 5-6 PE Cycles a day on the Micron drive, which was a huge warning sign. That would be a great case for anandtech finding the poor endurance outliers.
    Reply

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