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Solid State Drive (SSD) Benchmark Performance Testing E-mail
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Written by Olin Coles   
Monday, 22 December 2008
Table of Contents: Page Index
Solid State Drive (SSD) Benchmark Performance Testing
Intel ICH10R SATA Controller
SSD Testing Methodology
HD Tach: HDD Performance
HD Tach: SSD Performance
Do Memory Amounts Matter?
Proving The Results
PCMark05 Performance
EVEREST Controller Analysis
SSD Testing Final Thoughts
SSD Testing Conclusion

SSD Testing Final Thoughts

EDITOR'S NOTE: This section was written prior to basic industry standardization and mass product production. While firmware updates still pose an issue for benchmark testing, many of the problems no longer exist in modern SSD product lines.

Nobody is perfect. However, when you're testing high-dollar hardware you had better make sure your test results are. This is what makes me so sick about this article: the amount of data that is perfect, but the results of flawed software and controller technology by which they were collected. Essentially, I have worked hard to produce nearly meaningless results.

Testing SSD's is a dangerous endeavor, because the internal disk controller firmware present in every Solid State Drive is different from the time they are released to reviewers and media partners, up to the point they reach consumers, with several unannounced revisions thereafter resting invisibly on store shelves. I've already seen it a few times in my two years of testing these products, just as others have also reported. This is why the documentation of specific test variables and product part numbers is so critical. The item tested at Benchmark Reviews may have the same retail name, but the part number may change several times in small (undetectable) revisions.

Taking things one step further, some manufacturers have started to replace costly high-performance flash DRAM in their SSD's with slower more cost-effective modules. In some cases, the Solid State Drive may even switch from SLC to MLC without a change in product name or part number. This makes it very difficult to keep results consistent, even among the same SSD product line.

Hard Disk Drives come with firmware to interface with the disk controller attached to each unit. But Solid State Drives have a disk controller built into the device for wear-level management, which then interfaces with the motherboard's own disk controller. Since no manufacturer is ever going to agree on a mutual SSD internal-controller technology, we the consumer are stuck with a myriad of different SSD algorithm technologies that mate to a handful of controllers which are instructed by countless driver revisions. It's going to be a tough job to test SSD products, no matter which software tool you decide to test with, and regardless of the platform controller used.

It comes down to one very simple problem: Solid State Drive technology uses wear level algorithms to ensure each DRAM modules receives equal usage, but HDD tests tools are designed to sample disk 'sectors' for performance and SSD's don't never read or write to the same sector.

All of this explains why we haven't seen a test tool specifically targeted towards SSD technology. But if we take a moment to analyze the test tools available, we find ourselves with some lesser-know tools becoming more useful for testing SSD products when compared the best-known benchmarks of the past few years. You'll get my real feel for the situation in the SSD Testing Conclusion, so please read on.



# Using Intel IHC10 controller or the Marvel 6gb/s 9128 controller?Don 2010-08-10 01:38
Great article,I have connected my SSD to the Marvel 6gb/s port and the rest of my HDDs to the IHC10 3gb/s controller. I always wondered if that was a good move or not as during bios load it sees the Marvel controllr first with my SSD and then the IHC10 sees the rest of my drives. I always wondered if the Marvel controller also took advantage of the AICH driver to run TRIM on the SSD. Do you think I need to move my SSD's port?
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# RE: Using Intel IHC10 controller or the Marvel 6gb/s 9128 controller?Olin Coles 2010-08-10 06:45
This article is a little bit dated, since there wasn't a lot of information available about SSDs in 2008. Still, it proves a few points.

From all of the recent SSD testing I've done, I recommend the Intel ICH for all SATA-3GBps SSDs, and the Marvell SATA 6Gb/s controller only for compliant SSDs (presently only the Crucial C300). SATA 6Gb/s HDDs are somewhat pointless, and work just as fast on the Intel ICH10.

I suggest that you also read my ACHI vs IDE article:
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