Tying it All Together: SSD Performance Degradation

More spare area is better for random workloads, but desktop workloads aren’t random enough to justify setting aside more spare area to improve performance; most reviews don’t test in a used state, and more users would simply flock to lower price-per-GB drives with less spare area.

Drives that drop the most in performance from new to used state have the most to gain from the TRIM instruction. Depending on how you use your drive of course:

  % Performance Drop in Used State vs. New State
  4KB Random Write 2MB Sequential Write PCMark Vantage HDD Suite
Intel X25-E 64GB (SLC) 26.1% 5.4% 9.7%
Intel X25-M G1 160GB (MLC) 35.5% 3.8% 16.7%
Intel X25-M G2 160GB (MLC) 0.7% 2.2% 15.3%
OCZ Agility 128GB (Indilinx MLC) 44.8% 15.0% 4.4%
OCZ Summit 256GB (Samsung MLC) 72.4% 3.0% 23.6%
OCZ Vertex EX 128GB (Indilinx SLC) 60.5% 20.8% 0.8%
OCZ Vertex Turbo 128GB (Indilinx MLC) 44.0% 15.4% 4.5%
Patriot Torqx 128GB (Indilinx MLC) 44.6% 15.6% 3.5%

 

Depending on the scenario, all three controllers have a lot to gain from TRIM. Random write performance drops significantly for almost every single drive. The worst is the Samsung RBB controller, which lost over 70% of its performance between new and used states; Samsung needs TRIM.

Intel made some significant improvements going from the G1 to G2 drives, the new drive loses no performance in our random write test. This is thanks to firmware tweaks and having twice as much DRAM to track data in; the more data the Intel drive can keep track of, the better it is at organization, management and garbage collection. From a pure performance standpoint, the G2 might actually be better for server workloads than the X25-E. In terms of lifespan however, the X25-E has the G2 beat.

Only the Indilinx drives lose an appreciable amount of performance in the sequential write test, but they are the only drives to not lose any performance in the more real-world PCMark Vantage HDD suite. Although not displayed here, the overall PCMark Vantage score takes an even smaller hit on Indilinx drives. This could mean that in the real world, Indilinx drives stand to gain the least from TRIM support. This is possibly due to Indilinx using a largely static LBA mapping scheme; the only spare area is then the 6.25% outside of user space regardless of how used the drive is.

Both Samsung and Intel have a lot to gain from TRIM. Samsung’s performances goes from utterly unacceptable to reasonable (but not price justified) with TRIM. Intel’s performance goes from class-leading to more, er, class-leading.

The Instruction That Changes (almost) Everything: TRIM Used vs. New Performance: Revisited
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  • Mr Perfect - Tuesday, September 1, 2009 - link

    Probably demand. When I saw that price, I shopped around to see what was going on. Answer? Everyone else seems to be out of stock. Reply
  • Naccah - Tuesday, September 1, 2009 - link

    I've been waiting to get an SSD till Win 7 released hoping that the prices would have stabilized somewhat by that time. The recent price fluctuation is disturbing as well as the availability of the X25 G2. When the G2 first hit Newegg I was surfing the site and could have grabbed one for $230, but like I said I was content to wait. Now I'm having second thoughts! and wondering if I should grab one if the price goes down again. Reply
  • gfody - Tuesday, September 1, 2009 - link

    That doesn't explain the 160gb - it's not even in stock yet. I have been waiting a month for this drive to be in stock and here they more than double the price one day before the ETA date! It's an outrage.. if I'd known the drive was $1000 I would have bought something else.

    Way to screw your customers Newegg
    Reply
  • araczynski - Tuesday, September 1, 2009 - link

    A) your intro has the familiar smell of tomshardware, you'd do to be without that, its unbecoming.

    B) your final words smell of the typical big corp establishment mentality; bigger, faster, more expensive, consumers want! while if the market is any indication, is completely the opposite of the truth. people want 'good enough' for cheap, as the recent Wired magazine article more or less said. granted, Wired isn't the source for indepth technical reading, but it is a good source sometimes of getting the pulse of things...sometimes, still, more often than anything coming out of the mouths of the big corps.

    C) everything in between A and B is great though :) Please leave the opinions/spins to the PR machines.

    Personally, the cost of these things is still more than i'm willing to pay for, for any speed increase. the idiotic shenanigans of firmwares and features only present after special downloads/phases of the moon make me just blow off the whole technology for a few more years. I'll revisit this in say 2 or 3 years, perhaps the MLC's will finally die off and the SLC's (unless i have the 2 backwards) or something better rolls out with a longer lifespan.
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Tuesday, September 1, 2009 - link

    A) My intention with the intro was to convey how difficult it was for me to even get to the point where I felt remotely comfortable publishing this article. I don't like posting something that I don't feel is worthy of the readership's reception. My sincere apologies if it came off as arrogant or anything other than an honest expression of how difficult it was to complete. I was simply trying to bring you all behind the scenes and take you into the crazy place that's my mind for a bit :)

    B) I agree that good enough for cheap is important, hence my Indilinx recommendation at the end. But we can't stifle innovation. We need bigger, better, faster (but not necessarily more expensive, thank you Moore's Law) to keep improving. I remember when the P3 hit 1GHz and everyone said we don't need faster CPUs. If we stopped back then we wouldn't have the apps/web we have today since developers can count on a large install base of very fast processors.

    Imagine what happens in another decade when everyone has many-core CPUs in their notebooks...

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • DynacomDave - Tuesday, September 29, 2009 - link

    First - Anand thanks for the good work and the great article.

    I too have an older laptop that has a PATA interface that I'd like to upgrade with an SSD. I contacted Super Talent about their MasterDrive EX2 - IDE/PATA. Their response was; We only use Indilinx controller for SATA drives, like UltraDrive series. We use Phison controller for EX2/IDE drives.

    I want to improve performance not degrade it. I don't know if this will perform like the Indilinx or like the old SSDs. Can anyone help me with this?
    Reply
  • bji - Tuesday, September 1, 2009 - link

    There are a few more smaller players in the SSD controller game that don't ever show up in these reviews. They are Silicon Motion and Mtron. The reason I am interested in them is because I have a laptop that is PATA only (it's old I know but I love it and I want to extend its life with an SSD), and I am trying to get an SSD that works in it.

    Turns out the Mtron MOBI SSDs are not compatible with this laptop. I have no idea why. So I have put an order into eBay for an SSDFactory SSD and am crossing my fingers that it will work.

    Mtron makes SATA SSD drives so they could be included in these reviews, and I don't know why they are excluded. It would be interesting to see how their controllers stack up. I personally own two Mtron SSD drives (both 32 GB SLC drives) that I tried to get to work in my laptop and failed to - so one is now the system disk in my desktop and it is very fast (at least compared to platter drives, maybe not compared to newer SSDs). The other one I am still trying to find a use for.

    The only Silicon Motion controller drives I have seen are PATA drives so they clearly are a different beast than the SATA drives typically reviewed in these articles. But I would still be interested in seeing the numbers for the Silicon Motion controller just to get an idea of how well they stack up against the other controllers, especially for the 4K random writes tests. The PATA interface ought not to be the limiting factor for that test at least.
    Reply
  • paesan - Tuesday, September 1, 2009 - link

    I see NewEgg has a Patriot Troqx and a Patriot Torqx M28. What is the difference in the 2 drives. Reply
  • paesan - Tuesday, September 1, 2009 - link

    After reading thru the Patriot forum I found the differences. The M28 has 128MB cache compared to 64MB cache on the non M28. The biggest difference is the M28 uses a Samsung controller instead of the Indilinx controller on the non M28. I wonder why they switched controllers. Reply
  • valnar - Tuesday, September 1, 2009 - link

    It seems to be that using trim would make a "used" SSD faster, no doubt, but is it required? Would it be okay to buy an SSD for a Windows XP box and just set and forget it? Even used and fragmented, it appears to be faster than any hard drive. My second question is longevity. How long would one last compared to a hard drive? Reply

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