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Intel X25-M G2 vs OCZ Vertex on Windows XP x64

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October 9, 2009 7:49:58 AM

I'm running a Core i7 920 6 GB RAM system. I'm located in the UK.

When I built it the OCZ Vertex wasn't in stock anywhere so I built the system with a regular 1TB 7200rpm HDD. Now I realize it is heavily HDD bound (I run database intensive applications) and need to get an SSD. I run Windows XP x64 due to some incompatibilities with Windows 7 for the specific applications I use.

I'm looking at 80 GB Intel X25-M G2 which retails for GBP 180 to GBP 200 in online shops but seems to be out of stock everywhere. However, I'm concerned about TRIM for Windows XP - is there going to be an equivalent for the Wiper tool for Intel?

My other alternative is the 120 GB OCZ Vertex which retails for GBP 280 to GBP 290 and although is out of stock in most places can probably be found somewhere.

Accounting for taxes/shipping/customs duties and the fact that most don't ship internationally the US retailers like newegg are probably not an option.

I've also heard rumors that (as usual) "the next generation SSDs will be here really soon and will be much better"...

Any advice?
a c 127 G Storage
October 9, 2009 2:14:10 PM

Windows XP uses misalignment with partitions, either you should manually correct these using a partition offset program, or you should use Vista and higher. If you don't, you'll get lower performance (IOps) from a RAID array or SSD, since both require proper alignment for optimal performance.

You don't need TRIM support though, you can do two things:

1) leave some space on the SSD unused; by making a 60GB partition the 20GB space will be unused; to allow the SSD to use it for write remapping. This way you don't really need TRIM.

2) make a raw image from your SSD (like when using "Ghost"), use the tool to wipe Intel HPA areas (HDDErase) so you can reset the performance level of the SSD. Its a little bit complicated due to you requiring backing up and writing the data back again, since this procedure destroys the data on the drive.

3) Use an operating system with TRIM support.

Generally, the issue is less severe with the latest Intel firmware, even if you don't do the three options mentioned above, your drive shouldn't degrade significantly in performance as was the case with earlier firmware.

As for which SSD; the Intel X25-M G2 is the only one with 4000 random write IOps, the Vertex will score much lower in this. Its really the most advanced SSD at the moment, and overall a good product without specific weaknesses.
October 11, 2009 11:23:24 AM

Good advice, sub mesa, thank you. Still not sure which to get though as the X25-M G2 is still out of stock everywhere...

My databases are big but mostly used for reads from them, not writes, so I think random reads are more important for me.
Related resources
a c 127 G Storage
October 11, 2009 2:23:59 PM

Wait for the G2, its the best SSD out there, especially in random write and write amplification. One tiny benchmark to show this:



As you can see it even beats the expensive SLC-based X25-E "Extreme" here.
October 23, 2009 8:19:20 AM

OK, I did actually get the X25-M G2 80GB now I just need to get it installed. And the new TRIM-supporting firmware aren't out yet which isn't great but I guess I can upgrade the firmware later.

Thanks for your help sub mesa, what you wrote was very knowledgeable.
October 23, 2009 2:17:39 PM

Hey juu, I also just got one of the X25-M G2 80GB and I am wondering about partitioning it, is this something that you need to do or should I just upgrade the firmware and install windows on the single partition. Does anyone have any suggestions on this, I would really like to know how to get and keep the best performance possible for my new SSD.

Thanks
a c 127 G Storage
October 23, 2009 3:23:49 PM

With TRIM support (both the SSD and your OS):
Make one large partition covering all space.

Without TRIM:
Make one partition covering 80% of the disk, leaving some 10-20% capacity unused. This will make sure the drive doesn't slow down rapidly after being in use, because the SSD ran out of free space.

Remember: if you delete files to free space, the SSD doesn't know this. It can't tell the difference between data that has been discarded and not in use anymore, and data that is active. So either you need TRIM so the SSD knows which portions of the drive are really free, even though you have a partition covering 100% of the space. Or you need unused space so the SSD can use this to accelerate 2-phase writes (small writes).

If the SSD cannot use free space the performance of small writes will drop. Instead of just writing these to another location with free flash cells, it has to do a difficult read-erase-write cycle that is very slow. Essentially, writing 15 bytes may cause the SSD to read 640KiB, erase 640KiB and write 640KiB. Not very efficient as you can imagine.

This is also the reason some early SSDs had a 'stuttering' problem; where it would freeze the system periodically because of small writes raising latencies skyroof; causing the system to freeze for small periods of time; very annoying i can tell you.

But with a good SSD you won't have that problem, because the write latencies are kept to a minimum. Here is a nice benchmark that demonstrates this:



(lower is better)
October 23, 2009 4:53:48 PM

Awesome thank you for that info, it is very helpful. I still have so many questions about all of this though and I am not sure where to turn to.

I just got the Intel X25-M 80GB SSD and there is nothing on the drive yet. I have an OEM version of Windows Vista 64 which I plan to install on the SSD and the immediately update that to Windows 7. I just read this article:

http://windows7center.com/windows-7-feature/windows-7-t...

It says that Windows 7 will partition the drive more effectively, disable defragmentation, and it comes with trim. However if I am doing the update to Windows 7 from Vista 64 will I still get all of these benefits or not. I assume that I will be able to use at least the second two, but will the initial partitioning when installing Vista 64 end up causing me problems?

Sorry for all of the questions but it is very difficult to find specific information like this anywhere on the internet and everyone here seems very knowledgeable.

Thanks
a c 127 G Storage
October 23, 2009 6:27:51 PM

Vista also partitions the SSD correctly, its WinXP that makes very bad partitions starting at 31.5KiB, causing what is called a 'stripe misalignment', which originally refers to RAID-arrays but also SSDs since they internally use something similar to RAID0. Most SSDs have 'blocks' of 128KiB - 640KiB for example.

The Intel has erase-blocks of 128KiB, and Vista/Win7 creates the partition at 1024KiB offset, meaning it would be correctly aligned as 1024KiB is an exact multiple of 128KiB (128*8=1024).

Disabling the defrag is something you can do yourself, though TRIM is something that will be supported by Windows 7 and not Vista as i understand. So if you go Vista, you might want to create a partition that doesn't fill up all space, but instead leave some 10GB unused space at the end, which will be used by the SSD to accelerate 2-phase writes.

If you upgrade to Win7, you can get these benefits. Although i must say i always prefer a clean install. But there is no other reason you would get lower performance from upgrading. It gives you TRIM capability which can stop all performance degradation and removes the need to leave empty space on your SSD; which is a shame because you don't have that much space to begin with. :) 

So no, the initial partitioning with Vista is fine, and after upgrading to Win7 you can use TRIM and have all the benefits. Make sure you update firmware on your SSD when it is available though; you need it in order to activate TRIM support.
a c 415 G Storage
October 23, 2009 6:46:48 PM

whirlednews said:
I have an OEM version of Windows Vista 64 which I plan to install on the SSD and the immediately update that to Windows 7.
I agree with everything sub mesa said - but I'm wondering why you'd install Vista and then immediately upgrade? You should be able to do a clean install of Windows 7, no? Or is this an upgrade version of Windows 7 and is it really true that you can't upgrade without having a previous version installed?
a c 127 G Storage
October 23, 2009 6:51:14 PM

I think this might be a MS deal to ship Vista with a coupon that allows a free upgrade to Windows 7 as soon as it comes out (which is today i believe). I guess this will be an Update-edition, and not a full version of Windows 7.

I generally dislike upgrade editions and Microsoft itself also advises to have a clean install of Vista before you upgrade; because upgrading a system in use over some time can create all kinds of problems you don't want.

Either way, this does not affect the question about SSD performance. His main question was - i think - whether Vista creates partitions properly so that when he upgrades to Win7 he doesn't have a misalignment problem causing lower performance on his SSD.
October 23, 2009 6:58:59 PM

Thanks! That clears up many of the questions/worries that I had.

I think if I just updated firmware on the SSD (which was released 08/24/2009) and install Vista 64 +(SP2 if necessary?), then immediately update that to Windows 7 without installing anything else it should work pretty well.

However, as of right now I am running Vista 64 off of a completely different hard drive and I might try and see if, when I receive the Win 7 upgrade, I can insert the disc then choose custom install and try and put it on the blank SSD. I have read mixed views on whether or not this is possible but hopefully since I already have a previous version installed it might let me do a clean install on the separate SSD. That is what I would prefer to do, but I don’t know if it will let me… Once again Thank You! You have been very helpful and informative!

I will try and post my findings when I get this sorted out so anyone else wondering about these things can find them here.

Thanks again!
October 24, 2009 6:44:44 AM

I installed Win7 on the SSD and it is indeed insanely fast. Some of my DB reports that timed out at 30 minutes now run in 7 seconds (although I did some other optimization and the software isn't very well optimized so YMMV).

I couldn't quite wait for the TRIM-supporting firmware... I haven't really done anything unrecoverable (in terms of lowering future drive performance) and will just need to upgrade to the new firmware and maybe delete/reimage the drive, right?
January 24, 2010 8:19:38 PM

you can use an upgrade disk to do a fresh install all you have to do is install once but dont put in the serial number when it asks for it just click next. make your profile and then just restart and reinstall. choose custom install again and pick the partition you installed to previously it will tell you that you will lose windows on that partition and that it will create a folder called windows old just click ok and then this time when it asks you for the number just put in you upgrade license number and youll be good to go. (the only diff between a regular windows disk and an upgrade is that the upgrade must have a valid copy of windows on the disk to activate so by installing twice your using the upgrade itself as the valid windows on the disk and it makes the upgrade think all is well.
!