We recently provided a brief overview of the MTRON 32GB SSD provided by DV Nation and found its performance on the desktop to be very robust in most tests. In fact, it competed very well against the Western Digital Raptor 150GB drive in the application benchmarks and just annihilated it in the FutureMark PCMark05 benchmarks. Besides the MTRON's excellent performance and excessive costs, we also discovered an issue with the latest Intel desktop chipsets that feature the ICH9 or ICH8 Southbridges.

Our first indication of a problem was during our theoretical throughput tests featuring HD Tach that showed the NVIDIA 680i SLI MCP generating a sustained transfer rate of 95.1 MB/sec, write speeds of 74.7 MB/sec, and a burst rate of 100.4 MB/sec. The same MTRON drive on the Intel P35/ICH9R scored a sustained transfer rate of 79.4 MB/sec, write speeds of 67.2 MB/sec, and a burst rate of 82.7 MB/sec.

Utilizing the NVIDIA 680i MCP showed a 17% improvement in sustained transfer rates, 11% improvement in write speeds, and a 21% increase in burst rates. PCMark05 showed improvements up to 88% while our current application benchmarks show anywhere from a 1% to 20% gain over the Intel ICH9R. We still do not have an answer as to why the latest Intel Southbridges cap sustained transfer rates to around 80 MB/sec with the SSD drives but should have one soon.


We received numerous requests (we are still responding for those awaiting answers) after our original MTRON article to show additional test results on a notebook platform. We were already in the process of testing this drive with our new Vista based testbed and application test suite as part of a 2.5" drive roundup so we will provide a few initial results today.

Of course, nothing is ever as easy at it seems and what can go wrong will go wrong. During preliminary testing we discovered the same throughput issues with the Intel PM965/ICH8-M combination used in the latest Crestline based notebooks. After several reloads, new driver combinations, and praying to the Intel gods we still have the same problem and possibly more. Our current NVIDIA and ATI chipset based notebooks do not have this same cap and it turns out an older 945PM/ICH7 unit we had is fine.

Not only were we having the 80 MB/sec cap issue with the MTRON unit but our SanDisk 32GB SSD unit seemed to be capped at 26 MB/sec compared to the 60.7 MB/sec capability on the NVIDIA GeForce Go 6150 platform. Our Samsung Hybrid drive decided to chime in and give us some of the most inconsistent test results we have ever experienced, but that was cleared up with a new BIOS release, or so we hope as the benchmarks roll on. Also, our SanDisk 32GB SSD drive is reporting random access times around 14ms on both platforms compared to the .1ms results on our other SSD drives. We are still investigating these problems, but just in case we have a new PM965/ICH8-M platform and SanDisk 32GB drive arriving on Monday for additional analysis.

Our quick take today is based on a limited test suite using Vista Home Premium and an NVIDIA/AMD based notebook platform. We will follow up in our 2.5" drive roundup with full test suite results on both the Intel and AMD CPU based platforms. In the meantime, let's take a quick look at this MTRON drive and see how it compares to our review units from Samsung and Seagate in the notebook sector.

Hard Disk Test Comparison and Features
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  • fc1204 - Monday, August 20, 2007 - link

    well, the mtron uses a fpga as it's controller. they do what companies like adtron and stec (formerly simpletech) do to market ssd to clients- price is the concern after reliability and performance are satisfied.

    in the next year or two, you will start seeing asic controller-based ssd's. these will be more like the sandisk prices as opposed to the mtron prices.

    on a side note, for those asking raid 0 ssd's, i need to comment that it will be harder to implement this in a viable consumer application because the price is just a bit more than the benefits- power-consumption and mobile-ruggedness (people have 600+watt psu's and cases that don't bounce while in operation) and laptops are replacing desktops in homes.

    pqi has a ssd that is using raiding 2 cf controllers. we can always hope that anand gets more ssd's and crack them open.
    Reply
  • DeepThought86 - Friday, August 17, 2007 - link

    C'mon, we're all waiting for the RAID 0 results with these things! Reply
  • Spoelie - Sunday, August 19, 2007 - link

    Actually a valid point, I'm wondering about possible problems in SSDs. Without the moving parts, reliability in RAID0 might make it more viable for desktop use.

    Are most of the defects predictable (i.e. this cell has been written to 1000 times and shouldn't be used anymore) and partly fixable (like having a table which designates broken cells, over time the capacity would go down then but no data lost, till it is replaced)?
    Reply
  • Xenoterranos - Friday, August 17, 2007 - link

    The HDD Tach chart for the SSD made me lol. Just seeing a flat line on a HDD performance chart makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Reply
  • Spoelie - Sunday, August 19, 2007 - link

    I thought someone died :(
    The other lines look more heatbeaty :D
    Reply
  • Slaimus - Friday, August 17, 2007 - link

    Who are they targetting with this insane price? Reply
  • brundlefly - Sunday, August 19, 2007 - link

    MTRON isnt even marketing this to consumers - its a product generally sold for military and industrial use where shock and heat tolerances are high.

    However, I ordered it for a database drive, and it is actually one of the cheapest and simplest ways to improve the performance of disk i/o bound large tables.
    Reply
  • Spoelie - Sunday, August 19, 2007 - link

    If you read the previous article, you'd know, it's not meant for desktop use due to it's extremely rugged design;
    "The drive is marketed into the commercial, server, and industrial sectors with an emphasis placed on performance storage needs with a high degree of tolerance to environmental conditions."
    i.e. specialized systems in low volume markets, not commoditized desktop systems.

    Also, the other SSD's may be cheaper, but as also mentioned in the other article;
    "These specifications far exceed those of the latest SanDisk and Samsung consumer SSD products that are approaching 67MB/sec read speeds and 45MB/sec write speeds"
    You always pay a price for performance.

    In conclusion, these articles are more of a future outlook on storage technology, not really about something regular joe will buy in a mom 'n pop store.
    Reply
  • AnnihilatorX - Saturday, August 18, 2007 - link

    I agree. SanDisk's 32GB is just $500 Reply
  • Axbattler - Friday, August 17, 2007 - link

    What is the cost of the Seagate and Samsung? It doesn't look like the inclusion of a relatively large Flash buffer is able to fully compensate for the slower rotational speed at all time. But it does edge the Seagate in a few instance leading me to think that if the cost premium is not too high, it is not unthinkable for traditional HD to 'evolve' into hybrids in next couple of years. A hybrid version of a Raptor should be quite interesting.

    SSD is looking very good here, but even with significant price decrease each year, I do not see those become 'mainstream' for quite some time. Increasingly affordable for the enthusiasts (desktop), and flagship/customised high end laptop sure. But we are not going to see those in every HP/Dell desktop (or even laptop) for quite some time IMO. Then again, have other HD manufacturers (WD, Hitachi, Seagate) announced their own plans for hybrids?
    Reply

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