New vs Used SSD Performance

We begin our look at how the overhead of managing pages impacts SSD performance with iometer. The table below shows iometer random write performance; there are two rows for each drive, one for “new” performance after a secure erase and one for “used” performance after the drive has been well used.

4KB Random Write Speed New "Used"
Intel X25-E   31.7 MB/s
Intel X25-M 39.3 MB/s 23.1 MB/s
JMicron JMF602B MLC 0.02 MB/s 0.02 MB/s
JMicron JMF602Bx2 MLC 0.03 MB/s 0.03 MB/s
OCZ Summit 12.8 MB/s 0.77 MB/s
OCZ Vertex 8.2 MB/s 2.41 MB/s
Samsung SLC 2.61 MB/s 0.53 MB/s
Seagate Momentus 5400.6 0.81 MB/s -
Western Digital Caviar SE16 1.26 MB/s -
Western Digital VelociRaptor 1.63 MB/s -

 

Note that the “used” performance should be the slowest you’ll ever see the drive get. In theory, all of the pages are filled with some sort of data at this point.

All of the drives, with the exception of the JMicron based SSDs went down in performance in the “used” state. And the only reason the JMicron drive didn’t get any slower was because it is already bottlenecked elsewhere; you can’t get much slower than 0.03MB/s in this test.

These are pretty serious performance drops; the OCZ Vertex runs at nearly 1/4 the speed after it’s been used and Intel’s X25-M can only crunch through about 60% the IOs per second that it did when brand new.

So are SSDs doomed? Is performance going to tank over time and make these things worthless?


"Used" SSD performance vs. conventional hard drives.

Pay close attention to the average write latency in the graph above. While Intel’s X25-M pulls an extremely fast sub-0.3ms write latency normally, it levels off at 0.51ms in its used mode. The OCZ Vertex manages a 1.43ms new and 4.86ms used. There’s additional overhead for every write but a well designed SSD will still manage extremely low write latencies. To put things in perspective, look at these drives at their worst compared to Western Digital’s VelociRaptor.The degraded performance X25-M still completes write requests in around 1/8 the time of the VelociRaptor. Transfer speeds are still 8x higher as well.

Note that not all SSDs see their performance drop gracefully. The two Samsung based drives perform more like hard drives here, but I'll explain that tradeoff much later in this article.

How does this all translate into real world performance? I ran PCMark Vantage on the new and used Intel drive to see how performance changed.

PCMark Overall Score New "Used" % Drop
Intel X25-M 11902 11536 3%
OCZ Summit 10972 9916 9.6%
OCZ Vertex 11253 9836 14.4%
Samsung SLC 10143 9118 10.1%
Seagate Momentus 5400.6 6817 - -
Western Digital VelociRaptor 7500 - -

 

The real world performance hit varies from 0 - 14% depending on the drive. While the drives are still faster than a regular hard drive, performance does drop in the real world by a noticeable amount. The trim command would keep the drive’s performance closer to its peak for longer, but it would not have prevented this from happening.

PCMark Vantage HDD Test New "Used" % Drop
Intel X25-M 29879 23252 22%
JMicron JMF602Bx2 MLC 11613 11283 3%
OCZ Summit 25754 16624 36%
OCZ Vertex 20753 17854 14%
Samsung SLC 17406 12392 29%
Seagate Momentus 5400.6 3525 -  
Western Digital VelociRaptor 6313 -  

 

HDD specific tests show much more severe drops, ranging from 20 - 40% depending on the drive. Despite the performance drop, these drives are still much faster than even the fastest hard drives.

Simulating a Used Drive SSD Aging: Read Speed is Largely Unaffected
POST A COMMENT

253 Comments

View All Comments

  • tshen83 - Thursday, March 19, 2009 - link

    Nearly everyone uses Windows and integrated SATA controllers. It still does not negate the fact that neither were optimized for SSD random IO patterns.

    No, I don't work for Samsung or its partners. It didn't cost them hundreds of millions in sales, but it did cost them hundreds of millions in inventory markdowns. Just look at the free falling of price of JMicron and original Samsung based SSDs in the past few months, and multiply by the inventory, that's the loss I was mentioning.

    I am not saying that Intel X25-M is a bad drive. It is good. but there is no reason to use crippled OS File Systems and crippled SATA controller to show off the X25-M's internal copy on write features. When windows 7 comes out of beta(soon), it will be the OS the majority of people will use, and I am just looking forward 6 months when SSD adoption rate will improve more. As to Solaris ZFS, you don't need it if you aren't mentally capable of understanding its elegance.(Most people won't and it is ok)
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Thursday, March 19, 2009 - link

    If they had also tested with Solaris/ZFS and reported that the drives worked well there, but 99.x% of users can't take advantage of that, would you have been happier? They may work perfectly well in that scenario, but it is meaningless to most users. Working properly in Vista and OSX is currently a requirement for selling to general consumers. Windows 7 was not even available in beta at the time of the last test, I would expect they will test with it once it launches but for now with the OS/FS they are likely to use most of the available SSDs fail.

    Also, your economic analysis assumes they would have been able to sell all their inventory at the inflated prices they wanted to. Whether or not they received a negative review from sites like Anandtech, word would have gotten out from early adopters that they had problems. Also, they would have moved fewer units at those prices.
    Reply
  • tshen83 - Thursday, March 19, 2009 - link

    I could really careless if they did review SSD ZFS. I am using it right now and it kicks ass. Next Version of OSX will have ZFS so I guess Apple agrees that ZFS is the way to go here.

    Vista is one of the crappiest OS Microsoft put out in recent memory, maybe besides the Windows ME release. Just look at Vista adoption rates, and you will see why.

    You still don't understand my argument. My argument was that either File System, or RAID controller or SSD controller must implement copy on write.(basically if you have to erase a block to write to it, you are screwed) ZFS implements that in the file system. Adaptec 5 series or any Intel IOP RAID cards also help SSD performance greatly. If you don't use those two, then the SSD controller must implement it(X25-M is in this category.) You only need one of the three to properly handle SSDs to get greatly improved performance. Anandtech's review obviously skips file system optimization by picking Vista, and RAID controller optimization by picking ICH10R. What is left is the poor SSD controller that needs to virtualize the logical space, thus making the review entirely biased toward the X25-M for a good reason.

    It is sad that this is supposedly a review for the Vertex units that OCZ sent to Anand, but it seems to me that it just turned out to be another article defending the X25-M. I know X25-M is a good SSD, but it does not explain why Anand should cripple the OS, Controller so much to do it and then test the SSDs with strange IO queue depth of 3 and during the random write IOPS test, tried to cap the write space to a 8GB confinement. Those settings greatly exaggerate X25-M's internal implementation advantages.

    My economic analysis was based on SSD spot price published on dramexchange.com. Since the release of X25-M's review by Anandtech, all Samsung/JMicron MLC drives(Core, Core v2, Supertalent, etc) have been reduced to spot price of 2 dollars per GB to clear the inventories from the typical 4-5 dollars per GB that they used to command. The inventory markdown can be as high as 200+ dollar per drive and then you multiply that by the inventory that major vendors had, giving you hundreds of millions of dollars of aggregate damage sustained by the group of Samsung/JMicron partners.

    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Thursday, March 19, 2009 - link

    I understand your point, but I am not sure you understand the point I (and others) are trying to make. The SSD makers (should) know their market. As they seem to be marketing these SSDs to consumers, they should know that means the vast majority are on Vista or OSX, so the OS won't be optimized for SSDs. It also means the majority will be using integrated disk controllers. Therefore, in choosing a SSD controller which does not operate properly given those restrictions, they chose poorly. The testing here at Anandtech shows that regardless of how the drives might perform in ideal circumstances, they have noticeable issues when used the way most users would use them, which is really all those users care about. Reply
  • tshen83 - Thursday, March 19, 2009 - link

    In the history of computing, it was always the case that software compensated for the new hardware, not the other way around. When new hardware comes out that obsoletes current generation of software, new software will be written to take advantage of the new hardware.
    Think of it this way: you always write newer version of drivers to drive the newest GPUs. When is the last time newer GPUs work with older drivers?

    Nobody should be designing hardware now that makes DOS run fast right? All file systems (except ZFS and soon BTRFS) are obsolete now for SSDs, so we write new file systems. I am not sure Intel X25-M's approach of virtualizing flash to the likings of NTFS and EXT3 is the correct one. It is simply a bridge to get to the next solution.

    SSD makers right now are making a serious mistake pushing SSDs down consumer's throats during an economic crisis. They should have focused on the enterprise market, targeting DB servers. But in that space, Intel X25-E sits alone without competition. (Supertalent UltraDrive LEs should be within 25% of X25-E by my estimation)
    Reply
  • pmonti80 - Thursday, March 19, 2009 - link

    Now I understand what you meant in the beginning. But still I don't agree with you, the system reviewed is the one 99% of SSD buyers will use(integrated mobo controller + NTFS). So, why optimize the benchmark to show the bad drives in a good light?

    About the Vertex, I don't understand what you are complaining about. After reading this article most people got the idea that Vertex is a good drive and at half Intel's price (I know, I searched on google for comments about this article).
    Reply
  • tshen83 - Thursday, March 19, 2009 - link

    Professional people only look at two SSD benchmarks: random read IOPS at 4k and random write IOPS at 4k(Maybe 8K too for native DB pages).

    The Vertex random write IOPS at 4K size is abysmal. 2.4MB/sec at 4K means it only does 600ish random write IOPs. Something was wrong, and Vista/ICH10R didn't help. The 8GB/sec write boundary Anand imposed on the random write IOPS test is fishy. So is the artificial io queue depth = 3.

    The vertex random write IOPS should be better. The random read IOPS also should be slightly better. I have seen OCZ's own benchmark placing the Vertex very close to Intel X25-M at random read/ write IOPS tests.

    I personally think that if you use NTFS, just ignore the SSDs for now until Windows 7 RTM. You can't hurt waiting for SSD price to drop some more in the next 6 months. Same thing for Linux, although I would argue that Linux is even in a worse position for SSDs right now than windows 7. EXT3/EXT4/JFS/XFS/REISERFS all suck on SSDs.
    Reply
  • gss4w - Thursday, March 19, 2009 - link

    Anandtech should adopt the same comment system as Dailytech so that comments that don't make any sense can be rated down. Who would want to read a review of something using a beta OS, or worse an OS that is only used on servers? I think it would be interesting to see if Windows 7 beta offered any improvements, but that should not be the focus of the review. Reply
  • 7Enigma - Thursday, March 19, 2009 - link

    Here's another vote for the Dailytech comments section. The ability to rate up down, but more importantly HIDE the comments below a threshold would make for much more enjoyable reading. Reply
  • curtisfong - Wednesday, March 18, 2009 - link

    Why should Anand test with Windows 7b or *nix? What is the majority OS?

    Kudos to Anand for testing real world performance on an OS that most use, and to Intel for tuning their drives for it. I'm happy the other manufacturers are losing business..maybe they will also tune their drives for real world performance and not synthetic benchmarks.

    To the poster above: do you work for OCZ or Samsung?
    Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now