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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

HD Tach: HDD Performance

HD Tach has been used for many years now, and has earned its name as a reliable tool for testing Hard Disk Drive (HDD) performance. Of course, SSD's aren't like HDD's in any way, except for purpose. This is why we feel it's important to compare apples to apples, even when they're all carried in the same basket.

It's critical to understand that Solid State Drives use an internal disk controller that manages the read and write algorithm for wear-leveling. Test tools like HD Tach, HD Tune, and IO Meter all use static spot-samples for measuring bandwidth performance, but SSD's don't have static positions on the drive because each request is sent to a less-used location in the bank of DRAM modules whereas a HDD saves to a sector on the disk.

So we begin the way Simpli Software would want their product used: with the Western Digital Raptor HDD. Using the exact same hardware across both tests, with the only difference being the SATA drive controller, the following illustration begins to tell the story. While connected to the JMicron JMB322 controller, the Raptor HDD scores a 112.3 MBps burst with 75.2 read and 102.0 write. Things get confusion though, because once the WD740ADFD drive is connected to the Intel ICH10 Southbridge, performance is much different. On the ICH10 our test HDD reports 120.8 MBps burst (an increase of 8.5 MBps), while read performance is identical and write performance drops from 102.0 down to 75.8 MBps (a decrease of 26.2 MBps). What happened?


I'm not entirely sure why the JMicron JMB322 would outperform the Intel ICH10R chip by almost 35%, even despite a nearly 8% burst speed advantage. Let's see if testing a Seagate 7200.11 HDD will reveal any clues.


Hmm... Judging from the burst speeds, I'm beginning to wonder about HD Tach's ability to accurately measure this performance; or maybe it's just the Intel ICH10 SATA controller? More questions, and still no solid answers.

Using the ST3500320AS 7,200 RPM SATA-II Hard Disk Drive didn't really prove very much to us. The sequential read speeds were nearly identical, again. The major difference between the write speed on each controller seems to have been reduced to only 8%, or 6.9 MBps. This is a long way off from the Raptor's results, but still indicates and advantage towards the JMicron controller.

All of this is good and fine if we're planning to test HDD's for the foreseeable future, but this is hardly the case. Solid State Drives are quickly gaining ground, and with massive price drops even the latest SSD technology can be purchased by mainstream consumers. In our next section, HD Tach is used to test and compare SSD technology. We will soon see if HD Tach is reliable, or if the Intel chipset is second-best (or worse).



# 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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