Disk Controller Performance

With so many storage controllers on the nForce4 SLI boards, we needed a means of comparing performance of the wide variety of controllers. The logical choice was Anand's storage benchmark first described in Q2 2004 Desktop Hard Drive Comparison: WD Raptor vs the World. To refresh your memory, the iPeak test was designed to measure "pure" hard disk performance, and in this case, we kept the hard drive as consistent as possible while varying the hard drive controller. The idea is to measure the performance of a hard drive controller with a consistent hard drive. We played back Anand's raw files that recorded I/O operations when running a real world benchmark - in this case, the entire Winstone 2004 suite. Intel's IPEAK utility was then used to play back the trace of all the IO operations that take place during a single run of Business Winstone 2004 and MCC Winstone 2004. To try to isolate performance difference to the controllers that we were testing, we used Seagate 7200.7 model SATA and IDE hard drives for all tests.

iPeak gives a mean service time in milliseconds; in other words, the average time that each drive took to fulfill each IO operation. In order to make the data more understandable, we report the scores as an average number of IO operations per second so that higher scores translate into better performance. This number is meaningless as far as hard disk performance is concerned as it is just the number of IO operations completed in a second. However, the scores are useful for comparing "pure" performance of the storage controllers in this case.

iPeak Business Winstone Hard Disk I/O

iPeak MM Content Creation Hard Disk I/O

It is interesting that the performance patterns hold across both Multimedia Content IO and Business IO, with the on-board nVidia SATA 2 providing fastest IO, followed closely by the Silicon Image 3132 SATA 2 controller featured only on the MSI K8N Neo4/SLI. Please keep in mind that we are testing with SATA 1 drives, since we did not have SATA 2 drives available for testing, but we will test with SATA 2 in the future. Of course, SATA 2 throughput should theoretically be even faster.

The Silicon Image 3114 controller is only a bit slower in MM Content IO, but it is quite a bit slower in Business IO. The 3114 does uniquely feature RAID 3 capabilities and it is featured on 3 of the 4 SLI boards: the Asus, DFI, and Gigabyte.

IDE provided the slowest IO performance in this roundup, demonstrating that SATA controllers are finally starting to show a performance edge - at least in IO operations.

We plan to also include IDE RAID and SATA RAID benchmarks in our future motherboard tests, and comparing RAID performance on various controllers will definitely be a part of future motherboard tests.

Overclocking Firewire and USB Performance
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  • Heinrich - Monday, February 28, 2005 - link

    Hi, this is a great article. I'm really disappointed that the issues with the new Winchesters and the MSI board were not uncovered. The new CPUs will not post past FSB of 219, which is far below the 250 many get with other boards. Someone with the depth of knowledge, experience, and understanding of all these little options in the BIOS could help us uncover the real problem. Here's the best thread devoted specifically to the problem on Rebel HQ:

    http://www.rhcf.com/sisubb/ultimatebb.php/topic/21...
    Reply
  • ajmiles - Monday, February 28, 2005 - link

    Hey,

    I enjoyed the round up of the SLI boards very much and thought it was very thorough.

    I own an A8N SLI Deluxe board, and too have been thoroughly disappointed with it's overclocking performance.

    On behalf of tens of users on the Anandtech - Motherboards forums, would it be beyond Anandtech's power to get a statement from Asus about the issue???

    At a 2T Command Rate the board will overclock to 316, 1T however just 249. The sudden BSODing as you approach 250 smacks of something that could be fixed with a BIOS update.

    Please Anandtech, A8N users are begging for this to be fixed, or at least be told it can't be.

    Many thanks, and again, a great article.
    Adam Miles
    Reply
  • Viper4185 - Monday, February 28, 2005 - link

    is it true that the MSI board doesnt have a PCI Express x1 slot so that when the new Creative PCI express sound cards come out it wont fit? Reply
  • Viper4185 - Monday, February 28, 2005 - link

    Thanks for the review guys, just what I wanted! Although I am interested in the Ultra versions its still very similar...

    I was wondring if you could comment on the stability/stress testing of the DFI board as Hardocp seems to have had some issues...
    http://www.hardocp.com/article.html?art=NzE3LDc=

    Also would have been good if you included the Abit Fatal1ty board to make the review 100% conclusive for me.
    Reply
  • nzimmers - Monday, February 28, 2005 - link

    dang, I wasn't first, oh well.

    one more thing....I no longer chase the FPS demon, and I am better for it (mentally and emotionally). To be honest I don't expect SLI to become a standard in MB design.....even for high end gamers. Isn't the price just too high?
    Reply
  • nzimmers - Monday, February 28, 2005 - link

    First post!

    I was actually really (plesantly) surprised that DFI did so well. I know that they have been improving lately but isn't it great to see another MB manufacturer improving for once?
    Reply
  • arfan - Monday, February 28, 2005 - link

    finally...., thx 4 your review Reply
  • jkv71 - Saturday, June 3, 2017 - link

    My DFI video quit. I use an adapter to run hdmi on my tv. I replaced the video card and still nothing. I replaced the mother board. Still nothing. Any ideas? Reply

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