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Written by Olin Coles   
Friday, 04 December 2009
Table of Contents: Page Index
Seagate Barracuda XT Hard Drive ST32000641AS
Features and Specifications
Drive Testing Methodology
Seagate Barracuda XT: SATA 3G vs 6G
Basic IO Bandwidth
Random Access IOPS Tests
I/O Response Time
Sequential Performance Tests
Buffered Transaction Speed
Desktop Storage Final Thoughts
Seagate Barracuda XT Conclusion

Drive Testing Methodology

Comparing a Solid State Disk to a standard Hard Disk Drives is always relative; even when you're comparing the fastest rotational spindle speeds. One is going to be much faster in response time (SSD's), while the other is usually going to have higher throughput bandwidth (HDD's). Additionally, there are certain factors which can affect the results of a test which we do our best to avoid.

Solid State Drives have traveled a long winding course to finally get where they are today. Up to this point in technology, there have been several key differences separating Solid State Drives from magnetic rotational Hard Disk Drives. While the DRAM-based buffer size on desktop HDD's has recently reached 32 MB and is ever-increasing, there is still a hefty delay in the initial response time. This is one key area in which flash-based Solid State Drives continually dominates because they lack moving parts to "get up to speed".

However the benefits inherent to SSD's have traditionally fallen off once the throughput begins, even though data reads or writes are executed at a high constant rate whereas the HDD tapers off in performance. This makes the average transaction speed of a SSD comparable to the data burst rate mentioned in HDD tests, albeit usually lower than the HDD's speed.

EDITORS NOTE: As of November 2009, Benchmark Reviews will begin testing storage devices using the SATA 6G (SATA-III 6Gbps) interface with Microsoft Windows 7. This article will be updated to reflect any major performance differences, if necessary.

SSD Testing Disclaimer

Early on in our SSD coverage, Benchmark Reviews published an article which detailed Solid State Drive Benchmark Performance Testing. The research and discussion that went into producing that article changed the way we now test SSD products. Our previous perceptions of this technology were lost on one particular difference: the wear leveling algorithm that makes data a moving target. Without conclusive linear bandwidth testing or some other method of total-capacity testing, our previous performance results were rough estimates at best.

Our test results were obtained after each SSD had been prepared using DISKPART or Sanitary Erase tools. As a word of caution, applications such as these offer immediate but temporary restoration of original 'pristine' performance levels. In our tests, we discovered that the maximum performance results (charted) would decay as subsequent tests were performed. SSDs attached to TRIM enabled Operating Systems will benefit from continuously refreshed performance, whereas older O/S's will require a garbage collection (GC) tool to avoid 'dirty NAND' performance degradation.

It's critically important to understand that no software for the Microsoft Windows platform can accurately measure SSD performance in a comparable fashion. Synthetic benchmark tools such as HD Tach and PCMark are helpful indicators, but should not be considered the ultimate determining factor. That factor should be measured in actual user experience of real-world applications. Benchmark Reviews includes both bandwidth benchmarks and application speed tests to present a conclusive measurement of product performance.

Intel ICH10 Test System

Marvell 88SE9128 System

  • Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-P55A-UD6 (Intel P55/ICH10R/Marvell SE9128 Chipset)
  • System Memory: 4GB Duel-Channel DDR3 1600MHz CL6-6-6-18
  • Operating System: Windows 7 Ultimate Edition

Marvell 88SE9123 Test System

  • Motherboard: ASUS P7P55D Premium (Intel P55/ICH10R/Marvell SE9123 Chipset)
  • Processor: Intel Core i5-750 Processor BX80605I5750 @ 2.667 GHz
  • System Memory: 4GB Duel-Channel DDR3 1600MHz CL6-6-6-18
  • Operating System: Windows 7 Ultimate Edition

Drive Hardware Tested

The following storage hardware has been used in our benchmark performance testing, and may be included in portions of this article:

Test Tools

  • ATTO Disk Benchmark v2.34: Spot-tests static file size chunks for basic I/O bandwidth
  • HD Tune Pro v3.5 by EFD Software: Measured random access IOPS and speed
  • Iometer 2006.07.27 by Intel Corporation: Tests IOPS performance and I/O response time
  • CrystalDiskMark v2.2 by Crystal Dew World: Sequential speed benchmark spot-tests various file size chunks
  • HD Tach RW v3.0.4.0 by Simpli Software: Measures approximate buffered read and write bandwidth speeds



 

Comments 

 
# RE: Seagate Barracuda XT Hard Drive ST32000641ASStas 2010-02-22 05:34
Bad SATA 6G performance is not Seagate fault - it's a result of the use of Marvell chip, that shows better than SATA I+ resuls only in a pair wirh Marvell drive controllers (not alwais, though).

Think with any SAS 6G HBA the drive will show much better results.
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# Thanksmorisbecon 2010-02-27 19:39
Thanks for the nice post.
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# small correctiontwk 2010-10-23 05:23
The IOPS graph for the ssd isn't correct, the numbers displayed in the chart are those of the 2TB drive and no the SSD. The numbers in the article appear correct however the image is erroneous.

Good article though.
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