|SandForce SF1200 RAID-0 SSD Performance|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Storage|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Monday, 03 May 2010|
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SandForce RAID-0 Conclusion
All SandForce SSD controllers offer native TRIM support in Microsoft Windows-7, Native Command Queuing (NCQ) with 32 command slots, and Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology (SMART) command set. Intel's ICH-10 SATA controller allows pass-through TRIM functionality, but it does not work with RAID arrays - even with their latest Intel Rapid Storage Technology (RST) software. Regardless, The SF-1200 SSD processor provides ECC data protection and includes SandForce's unique RAISE (Redundant Array of Independent Silicon Elements) technology. RAISE provides the protection and reliability of RAID on a single SSD drive, thanks to flash architecture, without the significant write overhead of parity. The SandForce DuraClass technology automatically stores data in AES-128 encrypted format, preventing data extraction directly from the physical flash memory modules.
Unlike most product review articles we publish, Benchmark Reviews has approached the conclusion to this project a little differently. Since the SandForce SF-1222TA3-SBH processor has already become the centerpiece for so many popular SSDs, the combination of any two SandForce SF1200-based storage products into a RAID-0 array can apply here. Benchmark Reviews has individually tested the ADATA S599, Corsair Force F100, and RunCore Pro-V SSDs, which all produce virtually identical single-SSD performance results, but the PhotoFast G-Monster 2, OCZ Agility-2, Mach Xtreme, and OWC Mercury Extreme SSDs could also be used to create a RAID array.
After considering the sum of our SSD test results, it appears that RAID-0 can often deliver nearly twice the performance of a single SandForce SF-1200 SSD. While not every test produced impressive results, many did, and the added sequential file transfer performance may be worth the risk of sacrificed data redundancy. In regard to RAID-0 stripe size, our tests demonstrated a clear preference for 128KB stripes over the much smaller 4KB alternative. Sequential read speeds increased from 471 MB/s to 579 MB/s in ATTO Disk Benchmark, and write performance jumped from 448 MB/s to 545 MB/s by using 128KB stripes. Operational IOPS performance didn't offer the same level of improved performance, and 4KB stripes occasionally outperformed the 128KB size.
For enthusiasts, deciding between a single SandForce SF-1200 SSD and a pair of SSDs combined into a RAID-0 array will depend on the intended workload tasks. Because the risk of a data disaster is much higher with RAID-0, this configuration will likely be used by performance hardware enthusiasts since corporate enterprise IT professionals generally demand some level of data redundancy. Although the costs might prohibit the possibility, three SSDs combined into a RAID-5 set may provide the best mix of data striping and failover data redundancy.
Depending on the outcome of our results, Benchmark Reviews may publish a follow-up article featuring three SandForce SF-1200 SSDs combined into a RAID-5 array. Compared against these RAID-0 results, chances are very good that performance will be similar between the two formats. Since RAID-0 uses the same two striped drives but lacks the overhead of an alternating data parity drive, RAID-5 test results may not offer any improvement other than data redundancy. Of course, the only way to prove this theory is through many hours of testing.
As of May 2010 the Corsair Force F100 CSSD-F100GB2-BRKT Solid State Drive kit is available online for $410, or $4.10 per Gigabyte of storage capacity. Alternatively, the 200GB Corsair Force F200 SSD is available for $720, or 3.60 per Gigabyte. As prices for other SandForce SSDs becomes available, we will update this article.
In conclusion, the idea of enjoying a RAID-0 striped array seems like a nice idea for high-performance PC hardware enthusiasts, but for twice the cost of an already-expensive product you don't necessarily receive twice the user experience. ATTO and other benchmarks may report a dramatic increase in sequential file transfer performance, but unless you're moving data on a regular basis there will be a very minimal real-world improvement over any single SSD. Ultimately I do not recommend RAID-0, regardless of HDD or SSD used. Even with a test proven back-up procedure in place, all it takes is one minor data problem to render the entire set a disaster. Of course, if you're more concerned with absolute maximum performance, then a pair of SandForce SF-1200 SSDs combined into a 128KB-stripe RAID-0 array will stretch that smile from ear to ear.
+ Impressive 579/545 MBps read/write speed with ATTO
- Currently all RAID controllers lack pass-through TRIM support
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