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 new heavy workload test:

Heavy Workload 2011 - Average Data Rate

Here it is. OCZ's Vector comes within 4% of Samsung's SSD 840 Pro and manages a 22% increase in performance compared to the Vertex 4. The breakdown shows Vector's strong write performance are really what push it over the edge. At the same time, OCZ has finally addressed whatever poor read performance issues plagued the Vertex 4 in our test - the Vector is a different beast here.

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)

Performance Consistency AnandTech Storage Bench 2011 - Light Workload
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  • wsaenotsock - Tuesday, November 27, 2012 - link

    A 5 year warranty is a pretty solid commitment on the part of a manufacturer. I don't think they would have done that if they didn't trust the stability of the hardware, so they really put their money where their mouth is.

    Other thing: is the Indilinx co-processor 'Argon' or 'Aragon'? Pic differs from your text description.
    Reply
  • alacard - Wednesday, November 28, 2012 - link

    Nah, you've got it all wrong unfortunately - they've bet the farm on this drive and if it fails they won't be around in five years to honor those warranties.

    When you've got nothing, you've got nothing to lose.
    Reply
  • Kjella - Wednesday, November 28, 2012 - link

    Well that, but I'm glad to see OCZ committing more to their drives... on my local price price check there's Agility, Colossus, Enyo, Ibis, Lightfoot, Octane, Onyx, Petrol, RevoDrive, Synapse, Vertex and Z-drive not counting numbering or variations like Vertex EX, Vertex Limitied Edition, Vertex Turbo and using a zillion different controllers and stuff. The warranty is also an indication this is the technology they'll continue working on and fixing bugs for, which is good because their attention span has been too short and spread too thin. It's better with a few models that kick ass than dozens of models that are all shoddy. Reply
  • MrSpadge - Wednesday, November 28, 2012 - link

    Some of the drives you list are several years old.. Reply
  • JonnyDough - Friday, November 30, 2012 - link

    Furthermore, the Intel 520 (which I just purchased) got dropped off the enterprise iometer 4KB random write chart. That don't make a lick-a sense! Reply
  • Hood6558 - Wednesday, November 28, 2012 - link

    alacard may be right, OCZ is sliding closer to the cliff as we speak. There's so much competition in the SSD market, someone's got to go sooner or later, and it will probably be the less diversified companies that will go first. I recently bought a Vertex 4 128 for my boot drive, and it lasted only 15 days before it disappeared and refused to be recognized in BIOS. The Crucial M4 128 that replaced it has the problem of disappearing every time the power is shut off suddenly (or with the power button after Windows hangs), but comes back after a couple of reboots and a resetting of your boot priorities. And it's regarded as one of the most reliable drives out there.
    So in order for OCZ to remain solvent, the Vector must be super reliable and stable, and absolutely must stay visible in BIOS at all times. If it's plagued by the same problems as the Vertex 4, it's time to cash out and disappear before the bankruptcy court has it's way.
    Reply
  • Sufo - Tuesday, December 4, 2012 - link

    Windows hanging? I smell problems with the user... Reply
  • djy2000 - Wednesday, July 31, 2013 - link

    That warranty doesn't cover the most important thing. The data on the drive. Reply
  • Bull Dog - Tuesday, November 27, 2012 - link

    Is that an m-SATA connector on the other side of the PCB? Reply
  • philipma1957 - Tuesday, November 27, 2012 - link

    good question if I open the case can i use this as a msata?

    a 512gb msata is very hard to find.
    Reply

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