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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  • CList - Tuesday, September 1, 2009 - link

    Don't be disgusted at Newegg, be disgusted at the people who are willing to pay the premium price! Newegg is simply playing a reactionary role in the course of natural free-market economics and cannot be blamed. The consumers, on the other hand, are willing participants and are choosing to pay those prices. When no one is left who is willing to pay those prices, Newegg will quickly lower them.

    Cheers,
    CList
    Reply
  • gfody - Tuesday, September 1, 2009 - link

    I don't understand how consumers have any control over what Newegg is charging for the 160gb that's not even in stock yet.

    If Newegg wants to get the absolute most anyone is willing to pay for every piece of merchandise they may as well just move to an auction format.
    Reply
  • DrLudvig - Tuesday, September 1, 2009 - link

    Yeah, if you look at intel's website, http://www.intel.com/cd/channel/reseller/asmo-na/e...">http://www.intel.com/cd/channel/reselle...na/eng/p..., you will se that the R5 includes "3.5" desktop drive bay adapter to 2.5" SSD adapter bracket, screws, installation guide, and warranty documentation.
    Why on earth Newegg is charging that much more for it i really don't know, here in denmark the R5 retails for about 15 bucks more than the C1.. Which really isn't that bad..
    Reply
  • Mr Perfect - Tuesday, September 1, 2009 - link

    Whoa. That's it? An adapter kit? With that kind of price difference, I expected it to be the D0 stepping of SSDs or something.

    Thanks for clearing that up.
    Reply
  • NA1NSXR - Monday, August 31, 2009 - link

    The reason not being that performance or longevity is not good enough, but because improvements are still coming too quickly, and prices falling fast still. Once the frequency of significant improvements and price drops slow down, I will more seriously consider an SSD. I suppose it depends on how much waiting on the I/O you do though. For me, it is not so much that a Velociraptor is intolerable. Reply
  • bji - Tuesday, September 1, 2009 - link

    Perhaps this is what you meant, but you should really clarify. It's still not time for YOU to buy an SSD. SSDs represent an incredible performance improvement that is well worth the money for many people.
    Reply
  • DragonReborn - Monday, August 31, 2009 - link

    say i wanted to go crazy (it happens)...should i get two 80gb intel g2's or the 160gb intel g2? same space...is the RAID 0 performance worth it?

    i have all my important data backed on a big 2tb drive so the two ssd's (or 1 160gb) will just hold my OS/progs/etc.

    thoughts?
    Reply
  • kensiko - Monday, August 31, 2009 - link

    I would say that in real world usage, you won't notice a huge difference between RAID and not RAID, SSD are already fast enough for the rest of the system. Also, TRIM may not work for now in RAID configuration.

    Just look at Windows Start up, no difference between Gen2 SSD!
    Reply
  • Gc - Monday, August 31, 2009 - link

    This is a nice article, but the numbers leave an open question.
    What is Samsung doing right? Multiprocess/multithread performance?

    The article finds Samsung drives performance is low on 2MB reads,

    (new 2MB sequential reads not given, assume same as 'used')
    used 2MB sequential reads (low rank, 79% of top)

    good on 2MB writes:

    new 2MB sequential writes (middle rank, 89% of top)
    used 2MB sequential writes (2nd place, 91% of top)

    and horrible on 4KB random files:

    (new 4KB random reads not given, assume same as 'used')
    used 4KB random read (bottom ssd ranked, only 36% of top)
    new 4KB random write (low rank, only 9% of top)
    used 4KB random write (bottom ssd ranked, only 3% of top, < HD)

    Yet somehow in the multitasking Productivity test and Gaming test, it was surprisingly competitive:

    multitasking productivity (mid-high rank, 88% of top)
    gaming (mid-high rank, 95% of top)

    The productivity test is described as "four tasks going on at once, searching through Windows contacts, searching through Windows Mail, browsing multiple webpages in IE7 and loading applications". In other words, nearly all READS (except maybe for occasionally writing to disk new items for the browser history or cache).

    The gaming test is described as "reading textures and loading level data", again nearly all READS.

    Q. Given that the Samsung controller's 2MB read performance and
    4KB read performance are both at the bottom of the pack, how
    did it come out so high in the read-mostly productivity test
    and gaming test?

    Does this indicate the Samsung controllers might be better than Indilinx for multiprocess/multithreaded loads?

    (The Futuremark pdf indicates Productivity 2 is the only test with 4 simultaneous tasks, and doesn't say whether the browser tabs load concurrently. The Gaming 2 test is multithreaded with up to 16 threads. [The Samsung controller also ranks well on the communications test, but that may be explained: Communications 1 includes encryption and decompression tasks where Samsung's good sequential write performance might shine.])

    Since many notebooks/laptops are used primarily for multitasking productivity (students, "office"-work), maybe the Samsung was a reasonable choice for notebook/laptop OEMs. Also, in these uses the cpu and drive are idle much of the time, so the Samsung best rank on idle power looks good. (But inability to upgrade firmware is bad.)

    (The article doesn't explain what the load was in the load drive test, though it says the power drops by half if the test is switched to random writes; maybe it was sequential writes for peak power consumption. It would have been helpful to see the power consumption rankings for read-mostly loads.)

    Thanks!
    Reply
  • rcocchiararo - Monday, August 31, 2009 - link

    Your prices are way off, newegg is charging ludicrous ammounts right now :(

    also, the 128 agility was 269 last week, i was super exited, then it went back to 329, and its now 309.
    Reply

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