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OCZ Agility-2 SandForce Solid State Drive E-mail
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Written by Olin Coles   
Friday, 30 July 2010
Table of Contents: Page Index
OCZ Agility-2 SandForce Solid State Drive
Features and Specifications
Closer Look: OCZ Agility 2 Extended
SandForce SF-1200 SSD Controller
SSD Testing Methodology
AS-SSD Benchmark
ATTO Disk Benchmark
CrystalDiskMark 3.0 Tests
Iometer IOPS Performance
EVEREST Disk Benchmark
HDD vs Hybrid Drive vs SSD
OCZ Agility 2 SSD Conclusion

SSD Testing Methodology

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 HDDs 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 SSDs 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.

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

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.

Test System

  • Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD7 (Intel X58-Express)
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-920 BX80601920 @ 2.667 GHz
  • System Memory: 6GB Triple-Channel DDR3 1600MHz CL6-6-6-18
  • SATA 3Gb/s Storage HBA: Integrated Intel ICH10R Controller
    • AHCI mode - Intel Rapid Storage Technology Driver 9.6.0.1014
  • SATA 6Gb/s Storage HBA: Integrated Marvell SE9128 Controller
    • AHCI mode - Marvell Magni Driver Marvell Magni Driver 1.0.0.1036
  • Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate Edition 64-Bit

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

  • AS SSD Benchmark 1.5.3784.37609: Multi-purpose speed and operational performance test
  • ATTO Disk Benchmark 2.46: Spot-tests static file size chunks for basic I/O bandwidth
  • Iometer 2008.06.28 by Intel Corporation: Tests IOPS performance and I/O response time
  • Lavalys EVEREST Ultimate Edition 5.50: Disk Benchmark component tests linear read and write bandwidth speeds
  • CrystalDiskMark 3.0.0 by Crystal Dew World: Sequential speed benchmark spot-tests various file size chunks

Test Results Disclaimer

This article utilizes benchmark software tools to produce operational IOPS performance and bandwidth speed results. Each test was conducted in a specific fashion, and repeated for all products. These test results are not comparable to any other benchmark application, neither on this website or another, regardless of similar IOPS or MB/s terminology in the scores. The test results in this project are only intended to be compared to the other test results conducted in identical fashion for this article.



 

Comments 

 
# Great ReviewRobert Johnson 2010-07-29 22:56
A really good thorough review of this product and a testimonial to the speed of the Sandforce processor
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# RE: OCZ Agility-2 SandForce Solid State Drivetuleggi 2010-07-29 23:06
Nice!! Now we are just waiting for the Vertex LE performance test, that many websites claims as the best SSD on the market...but I only trust benchmarkreviews! :-)
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# Vertex LE = Limited EditionOlin Coles 2010-08-01 11:19
Sorry, but there are no plans to review the Vertex LE. This is because the Vertex LE is essentially the Vertex 2, released at a time when the 50K IOPS firmware was licensed for premium. Now there are at least a dozen different companies with 50K SandForce SSDs.
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# RE: OCZ Agility-2 SandForce Solid State DriveRobert17 2010-07-30 16:43
I've just upgraded yet again from my first SSD a little over a year ago, to a larger, newer, more refined model, twice the 32Gb I started with, and have added Trim support as well (my first was a JMicron controlled, hair of stutter, 32Gb Patriot; now a Kingston 64Gb V-series). I caught both on "sale" as they were older models at the time of purchase, Sandforce no doubt forcing the liquidation of inventories. The Patriot purchase was for $99 for 32Gb, the Kingston at $99 for 64Gb, basically $1.34/Gb. Although this is just me staying a generation or two behind the bleeding edge, I find it a very adoptable price point and it affords me the upgrade path for multiple home systems simultaneously. All in all, I think your extrapolation of the future pricing of SSDs is coming sooner rather than later and any enthusiast can make the jump into SSDs before the next year is out. As you've stated several times in several ways, it is the single most satisfying upgrade one may do to a PC.
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# Lagging Edge....BruceBruce 2010-07-30 16:56
I'm with you on your acquisition strategy... The $100-$150 price point has been very fertile ground if you are willing to wait for Newegg ShellShocker deals and tech that is ~ 6 months old. Once I had my first taste of SSD performance, I knew there was no way I was going back to mechanical drives.
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# Finally!Olin Coles 2010-07-30 17:19
"As you've stated several times in several ways, it is the single most satisfying upgrade one may do to a PC."

I'm so glad that people are finally coming to understand where speed comes from for most computer-related tasks.
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# MeOlddog 2010-08-01 15:34
I have one of these in the 60GB size and it was a real shot in the arm for the system's performance. I install everything else to the data drives, but run the 64 bit win-7 system on the SSD. I'm very satisfied with it's performance characteristics. As the prices do come down, I'll buy them for all of the other PC's in the house.
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# wondering somethingpit 2010-08-09 11:22
do you test these drives with them as the operating system drive? or are they separate data drives?
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# RE: wondering somethingOlin Coles 2010-08-09 12:07
All storage devices are tested as a secondary drive. It would be impossible to test them with the O/S or any partition, because some tests erase data or require no partition.
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# TRIM support... confused!Frammel 2010-08-23 21:22
I have been looking ALL over for a straight-forward answer to this question and I can't find one, can only find info hinting towards this. The OCZ Agi II drives with their 1.11 firmware say they support TRIM. I see people write that it's 'native' and it's 'included' and it's 'available', etc... but is it an automatic function or should I be scrambling for a tool that allows me to manually run TRIM? I'm currently running Win 7 Ultimate 64-bit. Absolutely worth-it drive, I don't want to miss out on an ounce of performance because of this!
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# RE: TRIM support... confused!Olin Coles 2010-08-23 21:30
You haven't found an answer because it's a relatively common-sense question that people don't spend time writing about. All SandForce-driven SSDs include TRIM support, similar to the previous generation of Indilinx SSDs. This is like saying your car is capable of running on water... all you have to do is supply the water. The Windows 7 O/S is that water, and activates TRIM commands automatically in the background.
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# Trim Built In to W7BruceBruce 2010-08-23 21:28
It's the default setup for Win 7. It works in the background. I know...I'd rather "see" it working, too. But it IS working.
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