AnandTech Storage Bench 2011

Two years ago we introduced our AnandTech Storage Bench, a suite of benchmarks that took traces of real OS/application usage and played them back in a repeatable manner. I assembled the traces myself out of frustration with the majority of what we have today in terms of SSD benchmarks.

Although the AnandTech Storage Bench tests did a good job of characterizing SSD performance, they weren't stressful enough. All of the tests performed less than 10GB of reads/writes and typically involved only 4GB of writes specifically. That's not even enough exceed the spare area on most SSDs. Most canned SSD benchmarks don't even come close to writing a single gigabyte of data, but that doesn't mean that simply writing 4GB is acceptable.

Originally I kept the benchmarks short enough that they wouldn't be a burden to run (~30 minutes) but long enough that they were representative of what a power user might do with their system.

Not too long ago I tweeted that I had created what I referred to as the Mother of All SSD Benchmarks (MOASB). Rather than only writing 4GB of data to the drive, this benchmark writes 106.32GB. It's the load you'd put on a drive after nearly two weeks of constant usage. And it takes a *long* time to run.

1) The MOASB, officially called AnandTech Storage Bench 2011 - Heavy Workload, mainly focuses on the times when your I/O activity is the highest. There is a lot of downloading and application installing that happens during the course of this test. My thinking was that it's during application installs, file copies, downloading and multitasking with all of this that you can really notice performance differences between drives.

2) I tried to cover as many bases as possible with the software I incorporated into this test. There's a lot of photo editing in Photoshop, HTML editing in Dreamweaver, web browsing, game playing/level loading (Starcraft II & WoW are both a part of the test) as well as general use stuff (application installing, virus scanning). I included a large amount of email downloading, document creation and editing as well. To top it all off I even use Visual Studio 2008 to build Chromium during the test.

The test has 2,168,893 read operations and 1,783,447 write operations. The IO breakdown is as follows:

AnandTech Storage Bench 2011 - Heavy Workload IO Breakdown
IO Size % of Total
4KB 28%
16KB 10%
32KB 10%
64KB 4%

Only 42% of all operations are sequential, the rest range from pseudo to fully random (with most falling in the pseudo-random category). Average queue depth is 4.625 IOs, with 59% of operations taking place in an IO queue of 1.

Many of you have asked for a better way to really characterize performance. Simply looking at IOPS doesn't really say much. As a result I'm going to be presenting Storage Bench 2011 data in a slightly different way. We'll have performance represented as Average MB/s, with higher numbers being better. At the same time I'll be reporting how long the SSD was busy while running this test. These disk busy graphs will show you exactly how much time was shaved off by using a faster drive vs. a slower one during the course of this test. Finally, I will also break out performance into reads, writes and combined. The reason I do this is to help balance out the fact that this test is unusually write intensive, which can often hide the benefits of a drive with good read performance.

There's also a new light workload for 2011. This is a far more reasonable, typical every day use case benchmark. Lots of web browsing, photo editing (but with a greater focus on photo consumption), video playback as well as some application installs and gaming. This test isn't nearly as write intensive as the MOASB but it's still multiple times more write intensive than what we were running in 2010.

As always I don't believe that these two benchmarks alone are enough to characterize the performance of a drive, but hopefully along with the rest of our tests they will help provide a better idea.

The testbed for Storage Bench 2011 has changed as well. We're now using a Sandy Bridge platform with full 6Gbps support for these tests.

AnandTech Storage Bench 2011 - Heavy Workload

We'll start out by looking at average data rate throughout our heavy workload test:

Heavy Workload 2011 - Average Data Rate

Heavy Workload 2011 - Average Read Speed

Heavy Workload 2011 - Average Write Speed

The next three charts just represent the same data, but in a different manner. Instead of looking at average data rate, we're looking at how long the disk was busy for during this entire test. Note that disk busy time excludes any and all idles, this is just how long the SSD was busy doing something:

Heavy Workload 2011 - Disk Busy Time

Heavy Workload 2011 - Disk Busy Time (Reads)

Heavy Workload 2011 - Disk Busy Time (Writes)

Random & Sequential Read/Write Speed AnandTech Storage Bench 2011 - Light Workload


View All Comments

  • Coup27 - Tuesday, April 10, 2012 - link

    I've had this issue across multiple platforms though. W7 with IE9 and FF11. XP with IE8, and now my work machine which is W7 with IE9. I regularly run CCleaner so I really don't think it's been my end, sorry. Reply
  • InsaneScientist - Tuesday, April 10, 2012 - link

    I'm not a web programmer, so I can't help much with why it's happening, but, for what it's worth, I had some extra time so I tried to reproduce your problem.

    I tried every browser/os combination available to me at my house, which would be:
    Windows 8 CP x86 (to go) with IE10, Chrome 18, & FF 11
    Windows 8 CP x64 with IE10, IE10x64, Chrome 18, FF11, FF Aurora 13, & Safari 5.1.5
    Windows 7 x86 with IE9, Chrome 18, FF 11
    Windows 7 x64 with IE9, Chrome 18, FF 11, Safari 5.1.5
    Windows Vista x86 with IE9, Chrome 18, & FF 11
    Windows XP x86 (Virtual Machine) with IE8 and FF11
    Windows Thin PC x86 with IE9 & FF 11
    Safari in iOS 4.2 and 5.1
    The stock browser in Android 2.3.7 and 4.0.4

    I couldn't reproduce the problem at all... So it's definitely not something inherent to the website, because it works for some people and doesn't work for others... but I'm at a loss as to what that could be. It also doesn't seem like it's unique to you though (as seen in the comment below yours. Very strange...
  • bji - Tuesday, April 10, 2012 - link

    It's an intermittent problem; just because you couldn't reproduce it the time or times that you tried, doesn't mean that it's not inherent in the site. Unless by inherent you mean "happens every time", but we already established that that is not the case.

    The server(s) that serve up some part of the content of the site are occasionally generating something bad. Maybe there are multiple web servers behind a load balancer and one of them as a corrupted style sheet page or something that is occasionally being handed out?
  • bji - Tuesday, April 10, 2012 - link

    That's EXACTLY what I was seeing occasionally.

    Something is busted on your site; don't blame it on our browsers.
  • AssBall - Tuesday, April 10, 2012 - link

    An intermittent problem that you have and can't reproduce or analyze. I blame the user, not Anandtech or your browser. Reply
  • Coup27 - Wednesday, April 11, 2012 - link

    So I turn on my machine, load AT, and it does that? And thats somehow "the user"?

    Well done.
  • bji - Wednesday, April 11, 2012 - link

    If it were just me, maybe that would be true. But multiple people have reported the exact same symptoms. Reply
  • Jaraxal - Tuesday, April 10, 2012 - link

    I'd suggest a small modification to alert readers that they've reach the end of the article. As it is, it definitely appears as though it's missing "something" when the article just ends with a chart. Reply
  • KZ0 - Tuesday, April 10, 2012 - link

    I love it. Keep up the good work! Reply
  • aguilpa1 - Tuesday, April 10, 2012 - link

    That's cool but if there was a,... and in overview and conclusion notation (at the beginning) with a read next few pages for results of testing, information and benchmarks,... noted somewhere it would make more sense, don't ya think? Reply

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