Random Read/Write Speed

The four corners of SSD performance are as follows: random read, random write, sequential read and sequential write speed. Random accesses are generally small in size, while sequential accesses tend to be larger and thus we have the four Iometer tests we use in all of our reviews.

Our first test writes 4KB in a completely random pattern over an 8GB space of the drive to simulate the sort of random access that you'd see on an OS drive (even this is more stressful than a normal desktop user would see). I perform three concurrent IOs and run the test for 3 minutes. The results reported are in average MB/s over the entire time. We use both standard pseudo randomly generated data for each write as well as fully random data to show you both the maximum and minimum performance offered by SandForce based drives in these tests. The average performance of SF drives will likely be somewhere in between the two values for each drive you see in the graphs. For an understanding of why this matters, read our original SandForce article.

Iometer - 4KB Random Write, 8GB LBA Space, QD=3

Random write performance looks extremely good on the Agility 3, even with incompressible data (at least at low queue depths). Like the original Agility, it's impossible to tell the performance difference between it and the Vertex 3 here.

Many of you have asked for random write performance at higher queue depths. What I have below is our 4KB random write test performed at a queue depth of 32 instead of 3. While the vast majority of desktop usage models experience queue depths of 0 - 5, higher depths are possible in heavy I/O (and multi-user) workloads:

Iometer - 4KB Random Write, 8GB LBA Space, QD=32

Even as we ramp up queue depth in Iometer, the Agility 3 sticks to the performance of the Vertex 3. It's only with incompressible data that we see the first hint of a performance deficit, but even that isn't much.

Iometer - 4KB Random Read, QD=3

Random read performance is unfortunately limited to 120GB Vertex 3 levels. It's unclear to me whether this is an asynchronous NAND issue or an artificial firmware cap.

Sequential Read/Write Speed

To measure sequential performance I ran a 1 minute long 128KB sequential test over the entire span of the drive at a queue depth of 1. The results reported are in average MB/s over the entire test length.

Iometer - 128KB Sequential Read

Sequential read performance is lower than the Vertex 3. The 240GB Agility 3 performs more like a 120GB Vertex 2 than its 240GB sibling.

Iometer - 128KB Sequential Write

Sequential write speed is competitive but generally not better than the Vertex 3.

Introduction AnandTech Storage Bench 2011 - Heavy Workload


View All Comments

  • DanNeely - Tuesday, May 24, 2011 - link

    The devices shown in the table need to be kept small to keep the tables reasonably sized.

    Fortunately for you however, the bench section of the site allows you to setup your own comparisons. Anandtech doesn't appear to have ever benched the 240gb Vertex 2, but you can compare eg the 100GB vertex 2 to the 120GB vertex 3:

  • Oxford Guy - Tuesday, May 24, 2011 - link

    The 100 GB is pretty useless for comparison.

    The chart can certainly be larger, and the 240 GB Vertex 2 makes good sense for this review!
  • sequoia464 - Tuesday, May 24, 2011 - link

    Agreed on the Force 3, be nice to see them reviewed early. Still looking for that review on the Samsung 470's also. Reply
  • Stargrazer - Tuesday, May 24, 2011 - link

    It's a shame that most reviewers ("everywhere") still tend to only review the ~256GB versions, skipping the far more affordable (and thus far more realistic options for most users) ~128GB versions. I understand that you don't always have control over which versions you're sent, but there's *still* no review of the 120GB Intel 510, which means that there's also still no real comparisons to the Vertex 3 120GB's competitors.

    It becomes even more ludicrous when you look around the web for reviews of the Vertex 3 Max IOPS, and everyone is reviewing the 240GB version, concluding that "well, the Max IOPS version is a bit faster in some cases, but generally rather similar to the normal version". Well, *duh*! Given that the Max IOPS version uses 3xnm Flash instead of 2xnm Flash, you'd think that people would be interested in looking closer at the 120GB version, since that's the one where you'd expect the most significant differences. There's a potentially very interesting product out there, and all the "big" reviewers are ignoring it because they're too busy looking at the version that ("regular") people aren't going to buy (to the same degree) anyway!

    I understand that companies prefer that reviewers look at the bigger versions because they tend to be "better", but this is getting ridiculous. Have you tried looking for review sites that have reviews of all the "current" ~128GB SSDs? They're not exactly common.
    Seeing as there are lots of people out there that are far more interested in ~128GB SSDs than ~256GB SSDs, don't you think it'd be interesting if *someone* would actually show them what the playing field looks like?

    You're pretty much the most respected SSD reviewer out there. Is there any chance that you could make a stand and *demand* to also be given ~128GB versions if they want you to review the ~256GB versions? If they don't comply, just buy the ~128GB version for yourself, and refuse to review the ~256GB version.

    This lack of ~128GB reviews is getting rather frustrating...
  • jensend - Tuesday, May 24, 2011 - link

    I wholeheartedly agree with this, and would add that other capacities at least down to 64GB need reviews as well. Everybody wants to send the reviewers their top-of-the-line stuff, but most folks in the real world aren't in a position to shell out $300 or more per SSD. I imagine different controllers have different scaling patterns- making a purchase decision based on reviews of high-capacity SSDs seems to me to make no more sense than making a decision about which low-end video card to get based on reviews of the single-PCB dual-GPU monsters.

    Please, Anand, make a concerted effort to include more lower-capacity SSD reviews.
  • JasonInofuentes - Tuesday, May 24, 2011 - link

    To a certain extent tech sites are beholden to what they receive. When a new product is released, companies do want to show their best foot forward, so they send the best looking product. Add to that the time that it takes to run through a full test suite on each drive and you can imagine what it would take to review every iteration of every drive.

    Stay tuned though, AT's always trying to do as much as it can. Keep the comments coming.
  • Stargrazer - Wednesday, May 25, 2011 - link

    I fully understand that it is in the manufacturers' best interest to show their products in the best possible light. However, this is not in the best interest of the *consumers* that want to buy ~128GB SSDs. As jensend says, it's quite possible (even probable) that different controllers scale differently, so since "everyone" reviews the ~256GB versions, there's simply no data available for comparisons (aside from the numbers posted by the manufacturers themselves). To make things worse, tests from different sites are often not directly comparable, so even if Site A reviews the ~128GB version of Drive 1, and Site B reviews the ~128GB version of Drive 2, you often can't even compare the test results. This means that it's often really hard to get comparisons of the drives you're interested in.

    A few weeks ago, I was looking for reviews of the ~128GB versions of the Vertex 3, the Intel 520, and the Crucial C300 (and possibly one more, I can't remember at the moment). I found *one* site that covered all of them. In French. And those were "big name" SSDs. In my eyes, that means that there was *one* review site at the time that had even an *adequate* (it was actually quite good too, even though I needed translation) coverage of ~128GB SSDs. The state of the consumer-focused SSD reviews is simply abysmal (the extreme case must be the sites that review only the 240GB version of the Vertex 3 Max IOPS. That's just... pitiful. In that case, the interesting shift in performance is for the 120GB version).

    Yes, that means that I consider AT's coverage of ~128GB SSDs to be *less than adequate* (to be adequate, you need to at least participate!). AT has an absolutely fantastic coverage of the theory behind SSDs, and it is *great* that they covered the 120GB Vertex 3, but without being able to compare it to its competitors, what good is that? All we can do is make educated guesses, and there's not even enough data to make a *good* one.

    That's sad, given that far more people seem to be interested in buying ~128GB SSDs than ~256GB SSDs (unless I'm mistaken in that assumption).

    And yes, running benchmarks on extra drives obviously takes time, but while SSDs have far more manufacturers out there than for instance the GPU business, sites tend to have no issues with covering lots and lots of different models from each GPU manufacturer. It seems like the workload should pretty much even out when you consider the actual number of products reviewed.

    Also, what do you think the reaction would be if review sites suddenly only covered the very high end GPU products out there? Unthinkable, right? So why is it apparently ok for SSDs?

    Bah. It's disgusting.

    You'd think that at least someone would attempt to have a good coverage of the smaller SSDs, just in order to get the page hits from the people who are interested in them. That should be quite a few people...

    Come to think about it, how sad is it that I feel the need to say that it's "great" that a site covers a 120GB model of a drive? Shouldn't that just be "normal"?
  • Stargrazer - Thursday, May 26, 2011 - link

    I found the french article I mentioned: http://www.hardware.fr/articles/830-1/comparatif-s...

    They compare:
    The ~128GB versions of: the OCZ Vertex 3, Crucial M4, Intel 510, Intel 320 (that's the one I forgot), Crucial C300, Corsair F120, Intel X25-M and G.Skill Falcon2,
    As well as the 256GB versions of: the OCZ Vertex 3, Crucial M4, Intel 510, Crucial C300,
    and the 300GB version of the Intel 320.

    That's the only comparison I've seen of current-gen ~128GB SSDs.
    Other sites (including AT) just show small parts of the puzzle, if even that.
  • antcasq - Tuesday, May 24, 2011 - link

    What happen to OCZ Onyx 2? It supposed to be cheap (http://www.tomshardware.c...Force-MLC-TRIM,11390.h... however it was almost impossible to find it in the market and it was canceled (http://www.ocztechnology....s/end_of_life/flash_me...

    Now they want to sell us Agility 3? I rather buy the cheaper Onyx 2 if it really existed at all!
  • JasonInofuentes - Tuesday, May 24, 2011 - link

    You might be interested, then, in the Solid 3 series. This seems to be the successor to the Onyx series, and is targeted at smaller sizes and costs. Reply

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