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

  • vandalizmo - Tuesday, April 10, 2012 - link

    As far as I remember in US dot "." is decimal separator, not thousands separator, which makes

    Total Estimated Lifespan 8.219 years 13.698 years 27.397 years 82.191 years

    look pretty small. Or is it actually ~8, ~13, ~27, ~82 years?
  • Ryan Smith - Tuesday, April 10, 2012 - link

    8 years, 13 years, etc is correct. A 1 write cycle a day, you'll go through 3000 cycles in a little over 8 years. Reply
  • Conficio - Tuesday, April 10, 2012 - link

    You state there are software tools that come with the drive. What OS platforms do they support? Windows? Mac OS X? Linux? BDS?

    I'm tired of hardware that is only supported on Windows. And I grow tired of tests that do not even bother to mention where the software is actually available. I don't expect you to test all versions, although that would be much appreciated, but please give us the basic information.

    On that page, I'd love to hear a comparison of the tool support for SSD drives on Linux as well as on Mac OS X. I think that would be worth an extra article with unique content. Fellow readers, am I alone in this desire?
  • Senti - Tuesday, April 10, 2012 - link

    No you aren't alone. It's very frustrating that the ONLY platform supported for my OCZ Revodrive 3 is Win7. At least it also work in 2008R2. Tried 2003 - got blue screen. Reply
  • Coup27 - Tuesday, April 10, 2012 - link

    I did read on the comments of the Plextor review that they are going to start paying more article attention to the toolboxes which are offered with the drives.

    Suprising to see that the next article after that comment also skips over the toolbox program with no further information or screenshots.
  • Kristian Vättö - Tuesday, April 10, 2012 - link

    I can only talk on behalf of my reviews, remember that. Reply
  • Coup27 - Tuesday, April 10, 2012 - link

    "i agree wholeheartedly - Samsung's toolbox is definitely the new gold standard here. I've been pushing folks behind the scenes to ramp up the quality of their options as well. I want to start paying more attention to it as it's a huge part of the user experience.

    Take care,

    Wasn't aimed at you Kristian, this was the comment I remember seeing. Would have been a perfect opportunity to see another toolbox beyond Intels and Samsungs.
  • MrSpadge - Tuesday, April 10, 2012 - link

    Stating the manufacturers information on OS support is something the reviewer can and probably should do. However, with Linux and other exotic OSes this information may be short lived and as a interested customer one would probably have to dig for current information anyway.

    And support will always depend on the specific distribution.. then there will work-arounds / hacks to make it work elsewhere, which won't work for everyone. I hope you're not hoping to get this information from reviews ;)
    Otherwise I pledge it should be on a separate page in the appendix called "linux support issues", which the rest of us can ignore.
  • Jaraxal - Tuesday, April 10, 2012 - link

    I also do not see links for or entries in the drop down box for the last part of the review (conclusion, etc). Reply
  • MrSpadge - Tuesday, April 10, 2012 - link

    Take a look at the 1st page, there's nothing more to say. Reply

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