First Thoughts

Solid State Drives are making great strides towards offering performance that matches and in some cases exceeds the best high-end consumer drives on the market in our limited benchmark results. We are in the early stages of testing several SSD products under an operating system (Vista) optimized for them. We also have a new test suite designed to emphasize actual applications that the typical business or home user might utilize on a daily basis, along with updated game benchmarks.

While iPEAK and test applications like PCMark05 based on iPEAK have served us well and are certainly one of the best tools to show the pure performance capabilities of a storage device, it does not work properly under Vista. It is also getting long in the tooth as the ability to generate meaningful trace files with newer desktop chipsets, applications, and drive sizes is severely limited at this time. In fact, the results generated in our initial iPEAK benchmarks with the MTRON drive did not follow performance patterns in our upcoming application and operating results. This leads us to believe that current chipset and drive technology will soon surpass the capability of our test programs to properly generate meaningful results.

Beyond that, as we found out with the MTRON drive your choice of core logic chipset can make a difference in the overall performance of the drive. Exactly why the latest Intel desktop chipsets have an apparent 80 MB/sec ceiling for sustained transfer rates with the SSD products is still a mystery to us and the drive manufacturers. We are still testing other Intel chipsets and will report these tests results and any updates from Intel or the drive manufacturers in our next article. In the meantime, using this drive with the Intel ICH9R provides the speed of Wile E. Coyote while we liken the NVIDIA 680i to the Road Runner: just a little faster and apparently a little smarter when it comes to SSD products.

Our limited testing shows both the strengths and weaknesses of this particular drive when comparing it to one of the best performing consumer desktop drives. The read and write speeds are incredible for an SSD and its vastly superior access and random read rates generate very competitive scores in our application tests. Add to this the fact that the drive is completely silent, offers greatly improved thermals relative to pretty much any mechanical drive, and the ability to withstand extreme vibration and shock, and you have an absolute winner on your hands. Well, almost.

Why almost? The two major weaknesses of this drive are its limited capacity and the very expensive price tag. Opening up your pocketbook for the current introductory price of $1499 will buy you one of the fastest drives for the desktop and certainly the fastest drive available in a 2.5" format for the portable market based upon our current test results. However, $1500 is the cost of a complete midrange notebook with 160GB of storage, and it's tough to look beyond that fact.

These weaknesses will diminish over time, especially with NAND memory decreasing in price by 40% per year based on current averages. We doubt SSD products will make significant headway into the desktop market over the next three years due to the continued explosion of storage space requirements for digital entertainment. However, we do see it making serious inroads into the portable market over the same time period, along with exceptionally fast double digit growth in the commercial and industrial markets. Based upon what MTRON has delivered in this drive, we also foresee certain enthusiasts embracing this technology, provided the capacities and prices are more in alignment with each other.

We want to thank DV Nation for providing our first truly performance oriented SSD drive. Our upcoming full review of this interesting yet expensive drive will concentrate on notebook operations along with a wider variety of application scores from our new test suite and the all important boot/stand-by/hibernation results. Until then, if you have deep pockets and are a road warrior who is constantly afraid of losing data due to handling mishaps - or a desktop enthusiast who can live with limited capacities - then we highly suggest taking a look into the new high performance SSD products from MTRON.

Actual Application Performance


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  • enovikoff - Thursday, October 29, 2009 - link

    I purchased two 7000 series SSDs for running a commercial datacenter (hey, they're billed as "enterprise") Both failed within 3 months and MTRON did not stand behind them. Instead they said that I should mail them to Korea(!!!) and wait to see if their tests indicated that they were defective. In my business "waiting" means I either have to spend money to replace the hardware or leave my customers high and dry. Attempts to RMA the SSDs through their reseller, NeoStore, also failed: NeoStore took the SSDs back and then never acknowledged emails or calls. $2000 worth of hardware (I have receipts/invoices to prove everything) is in their possession, and my company is out the $2000 as well as the refunds we had to pay our customers for the downtime.

    Avoid MTRON: they're not ready to provide reliable units or do business in the United States.
  • WaterGun - Thursday, August 16, 2007 - link

    The same drive is for sale in Japan for only 99800 Yen ~ US$900. Here is a list of online shops:">3 Top">Tsukumo

    So, why is there such a big price difference? Any takers?
  • brundlefly - Friday, August 17, 2007 - link

    Hmmm there should be some kind of service that helps you order from Japanese web sites.

  • PrinceGaz - Thursday, August 16, 2007 - link

    Presumably, the 32GB SSD is measured using binary GB (1,073,741,824 bytes) rather than decimal GB like traditional hard-drives, therefore making it roughly 34.3GB when comparing it to other hard-drives. Still a bit on the small side, but perhaps worth mentioning. Reply
  • brundlefly - Thursday, August 16, 2007 - link

    fdisk shows the device as 33.2 GB, but formatted as ext3 df shows ~31GB available.

    Disk /dev/sda: 33.2 GB, 33285996544 bytes
    255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 4046 cylinders
    Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 = 8225280 bytes

    df .
    Filesystem 1K-blocks Used Available Use% Mounted on
    /dev/sda5 31981396 8893912 21462916 30% /mnt/mtron
  • brundlefly - Thursday, August 16, 2007 - link

    I received one of these this week too for evaluating as a MySQL datadir.

    The results were outstanding - we had a handful of problem queries which would take 30-40 seconds on a 15k Fujitsu MAS Ultra SCSI. The same queries take about 3 seconds on the MTRON.

    I have worked with large MySQL databases for years, but there are a lot of examples like this one where I just cant qualify throwing a few days into A/B testing various indexing and table schemas for the performance issues with a handful of slow queries - especially when just *loading* a table and creating an index can take 20-30 min each. Throwing hardware at the problem is far cheaper and you can use simpler table layouts, plus you may not even be able to achieve this performance any other way in some scenarios.

    IMHO this is a unique 'drop-in' solution for a lot of specific data center applications. In the long term you are going to see these replace mechanicals across the board in the server room because they will be cheaper and far simpler to deal with then SCSI and offer far better performance with low heat, noise, and power.

    I also popped it in my notebook, which was just sublime. I already had the fastest mechanical in this notebook - a brand new Hitachi 7k200 with 16MB cache.

    Within 34 min I had a 32-bit Vista Ultimate / Ubuntu Feisty x64 dual-boot setup - Vista booted in 21 seconds, Ubuntu in a little under 30 (a savings of about 6 seconds for each). No noise, vibration, or heat - the fan never came on, even set to high performance power profile. I didnt do a battery life test but from the battery remaining indicator I would expect an extra half hour.

    Immediately the advantages of having a .1ms access time became apparent. Stuff just happens. Firefox cold boots in 3s, open a bunch of apps - the disk doesnt care, every piece of data is exactly .1ms away. Write speeds are more traditional but still as good as or better than the Hitachi. Subjectively the mental line between memory and disk usage just kind of dissolves.

    While booting, I heard the BIOS check the optical drive, and it was like 'wtf with this prehistoric mechanical thing in my notebook!' In a notebook, the mechanical drive is dead, IMHO, but yet once the prices come down.

    The lack of storage space was a downer, especially after just getting used to the 200GB in the Hitachi. I was thinking this could be partially augmented with a cheaper, slower 16GB expresscard SSD for music, etc.

    On my overclocked 3Ghz C2D 6400 2GB Raptor desktop, the results were similar but subjectively not as exciting since I dont really care about heat noise vibration power (BF2142 booted to 'join game' in 70s vs 80s on the raptor). I would definitely wait until the prices for a 64GB came down to $300 or so before using one as a boot drive.

    I use VMWare workstation a great deal, although I havent tried it yet this would be another application which would benefit greatly since it uses a pseudo-disk.

    The disk is definitely going into production immediately on the MySQL server, and I am considering getting one as my primary Linux development workstation disk as 32 GB goes a long way in that application, and I have never seen a Linux desktop perform like that. Plus I do a lot more disk-intensive stuff in development vs web surfing etc on my notebook or desktop PC.

    There is no argument IMHO - mechanicals are a dead-end technology as a notebook/desktop/server boot and application disk as soon as the prices come down.
  • bji - Wednesday, March 14, 2012 - link

    You ended up being correct on all counts: 4 and a half years later and SSDs are making major inroads in every place you predicted they would. You can get a 120 GB SSD now for under $200 and it blows away the 32 GB Mtron you tested in every performance category. Reply
  • Googer - Thursday, August 16, 2007 - link

    Could you possibly revisit this article at a later date and post some Mtron vs Raptor RAID 0 benchmarks?

    Also for the enterprise market and serious enthusiast, comparing this SSD to a Seagate 15k.5. Which would be the better value, 15K SAS or SATA SSD?
  • erikejw - Thursday, August 16, 2007 - link

    Please get another one and test it in Raid 0. Reply
  • Verdant - Wednesday, August 15, 2007 - link

    I would kill for one of these for my tablet, that would really affect battery life....and all the other good looking benefits. On the other hand i don't see working within the SSD capacity limitations, and i don't see spending nearly as much on an hd as the machine itself. I am hoping next refresh (2-3 years)something like this will meet my needs. Reply

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