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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  • chucky2 - Monday, February 28, 2005 - link

    Typo on Page 20: I don't think you hit F3, it's F6.

    Chuck
    Reply
  • ajmiles - Monday, February 28, 2005 - link

    Wesley, would it be possible to get a reply to the comment #6 i wrote? ASUS worked closely with you to resolve the dual 6800 ultra issue, but they just stonewall me and everyone else regarding the overclocking at 1T issue.

    Perhaps if someone with some "muscle" in the hardware reviewing world were to push them for a response you could get one out of them?

    Thanks, Adam Miles
    Reply
  • teng029 - Monday, February 28, 2005 - link

    #52 - i don't envy what you have to go through. i've had the misfortune of trying to get tech support from asus sometime ago and it was like pulling teeth.

    #29 - i agree. while i would love to have two 6800 ultras or GTs in SLI, the fact of the matter is i can't justify the cost. so instead i'm going with two 6600GTs. although this is apparently not a very popular choice, the fact remains that this configuration is still going to be substantially faster than my current setup using a 9700 pro and it costs about the same as my 9700 pro when i bought it.
    Reply
  • teng029 - Monday, February 28, 2005 - link

    Reply
  • giz02 - Monday, February 28, 2005 - link

    I just noticed that the MSI board lacks additional PCIe boards, where the DFI board has an additional 1x and 4x slot. Anyones opinion on the importance of this? Reply
  • roostercrows - Monday, February 28, 2005 - link

    I just have to mention to my fellow anandtech members that I have an ASUS A8N-SLI board and I have been trying to get through to their "tech support" Friday and all Monday morning with absolutely no luck whatsoever! You can't even get through to anyone. So, when considering a motherboard keep this in mind. My experience with their "tech support" has been the worst you can imagine. Well...at least they weren't rude or incompetent.... they just aren't there. Reply
  • drewski - Monday, February 28, 2005 - link

    too bad the non-sli from MSI doesn't use the SB audio
    http://www.msi.com.tw/program/products/mainboard/m...
    Reply
  • giz02 - Monday, February 28, 2005 - link

    Sorry page 5-11
    Reply
  • giz02 - Monday, February 28, 2005 - link

    Heinrich,
    Did you configure the settings as per page 5-12 in the manual to passthrough on the decoder?
    Reply
  • THILE - Monday, February 28, 2005 - link

    How did you make the Gigabyte run 4x dimms at 200mhz?
    I have this new motherboard GA-K8NXP-SLI and 4x of kingston hyperx pc3200 (KHX3200UlK2).
    And running a new AMD athlon64 3500+ 90nm

    I use SPD settings for the memmory. T2 is enabled.
    Do I then force 200 mhz it just frezes.
    Reply

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