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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  • kmmatney - Friday, August 17, 2007 - link

    I'd like to see these same tests on a drive after a few months of use, and lots of file fragmentation. it looks like all the Hybrid drives really improve is windows standby time - actual application performance seemed a bit porr for the hybrid drive. Reply
  • brundlefly - Sunday, August 19, 2007 - link

    File fragmentation is less of an issue on the hybrid then a mechanical.
    It has no impact on access time, however if you are massively fragmented sequential read time will suffer - but again its much worse on the mechanical.

    Again this needs to be drilled in - assuming a hybrid hard drive of the mtron's specs or better, there is no advantage to a mechanical hard drive except price and storage size.

    Now that we have the mtron, the performance gap is only going to get bigger, the storage sizes larger, and the prices lower.
    Reply
  • puffpio - Friday, August 17, 2007 - link

    I'm eagerly looking forward to a full notebook tests (the most important being its effect on battery life) Reply
  • legoman666 - Friday, August 17, 2007 - link

    Indeed, so am I. It will be interesting to see how it effects battery life while idle and also when it's doing stuff. Reply
  • Spoelie - Sunday, August 19, 2007 - link

    In idle the difference is half a watt.. That's within normal variance of electronic components.

    Unless you will be using the hard disk very intensively for the entire battery charge (in which the HDD will consume an entire 2 watts more..) you won't notice any difference in battery life.
    Reply

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