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Why is Performance Worse With SATA III?

Last response: in Storage
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April 11, 2012 3:05:30 PM

I installed a Crucial M4 128GB SSD into my DELL Studio XPS 8000 connected to a SATA II port on the mobo. I then discovered my mobo does not support AHCI. So I installed a Rosewill SATA 6Gbps card that has a Marvell chipset (88SE9128 2-port SATA III PCIe 2.0 x1 Controller). I installed the Marvell drivers that came with the card. In some regards, the performance is now worse based on running AS SSD Benchmark (v1.6.4237.30508).

Here are the numbers BEFORE using the Marvell controller running from my SATA II port on the mobo:



Here are the numbers WITH the Marvell controller:



What's going on here? Are there some tweaks I can make to improve performance (registry, driver settings, different driver)?

More configuration info... This is my boot drive running Windows 7 x64. I imaged my old HDD, and copied the image onto the SSD. I then moved it using GPart to ensure alignment on a 4K boundary. Here's the info reported by msinfo32:

From Storage\Disks

Description Disk drive
Manufacturer (Standard disk drives)
Model M4-CT128 M4SSD2 SCSI Disk Device
Bytes/Sector 512
Media Loaded Yes
Media Type Fixed hard disk
Partitions 1
SCSI Bus 0
SCSI Logical Unit 0
SCSI Port 4
SCSI Target ID 1
Sectors/Track 63
Size 119.24 GB (128,034,708,480 bytes)
Total Cylinders 15,566
Total Sectors 250,067,790
Total Tracks 3,969,330
Tracks/Cylinder 255
Partition Disk #1, Partition #0
Partition Size 119.24 GB (128,032,178,176 bytes)
Partition Starting Offset 3,145,728 bytes

From Storage\SCSI

Name Marvell 91xx SATA 6G Controller
Manufacturer Marvell Inc.
Status OK
PNP Device ID PCI\VEN_1B4B&DEV_9123&SUBSYS_911518AB&REV_11\4&911BCAD&0&00E0
I/O Port 0x0000DC00-0x0000DC07
I/O Port 0x0000D880-0x0000D883
I/O Port 0x0000D800-0x0000D807
I/O Port 0x0000D480-0x0000D483
I/O Port 0x0000D400-0x0000D40F
Memory Address 0xFBCFF800-0xFBCFFFFF
IRQ Channel IRQ 16
Driver c:\windows\system32\drivers\mv91xx.sys (1.0.0.1034, 290.54 KB (297,512 bytes), 12/25/2009 2:05 AM)
a b G Storage
April 11, 2012 3:14:05 PM

one word: rosewill
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April 11, 2012 3:26:30 PM

neon neophyte said:
one word: rosewill


Even though it has a Marvell chipset, you're saying a Rosewill card is slowing things down? What controller would you recommend instead?
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a c 523 G Storage
April 11, 2012 3:32:11 PM

"pciide - BAD" means that the port your SSD is connected to is in IDE mode. That's why your performance is worse.

All SSDs need to be in AHCI mode for best performance.
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April 11, 2012 3:37:40 PM

Dereck47 said:
"pciide - BAD" means that the port your SSD is connected to is in IDE mode. That's why your performance is worse.

All SSDs need to be in AHCI mode for best performance.



You misread my post. Those are the numbers before I installed the Rosewill SATA III card that supports AHCI.

However that brings up a question -- How can I confirm the Rosewill card is running in AHCI mode?
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a c 523 G Storage
April 11, 2012 3:50:43 PM

JoeAcunzo said:
You misread my post.


You're right, I apologize!

The Marvell 88SE9128 controller has a maximum bandwidth of PCIe x1 (1 lane) at 5Gb/s (500MB/s), so there's not much you can do to get better performance.

However that brings up a question -- How can I confirm the Rosewill card [b said:
is running in AHCI mode?]However that brings up a question -- How can I confirm the Rosewill card is running in AHCI mode?
[/b]

"mv91xx - OK" (in green) confirms that your drive is in AHCI mode.
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Best solution

a c 523 G Storage
April 11, 2012 3:58:32 PM

You need an x4 or x8 controller card to get maximum performance from your SSD.
BUT, that means you need an x4 or x8 slot on your motherboard to connect it to.
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April 11, 2012 3:59:06 PM

Dereck47 said:
The Marvell 88SE9128 controller has a maximum bandwidth of PCIe x1 (1 lane) at 5Gb/s (500MB/s), so there's not much you can do to get better performance.


Are those the kind of numbers you'd expect to see with PCIe x1?

So are you are saying I'm out-a luck due to limitations of the PCIe x1 on the mobo? Is the only solution a newer mobo with a faster channel? Or is there some other controller card that might perform better than the Rosewill?
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April 11, 2012 3:59:55 PM

Dereck47 said:
You need an x4 or x8 controller card to get maximum performance from your SSD.
BUT, that means you need an x4 or x8 slot on your motherboard to connect it to.


Okay, got it. (My previous post was done before I saw this post of yours.) Thanks.
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April 11, 2012 5:41:34 PM

Quote:
Dereck47 wrote :

You need an x4 or x8 controller card to get maximum performance from your SSD.
BUT, that means you need an x4 or x8 slot on your motherboard to connect it to.


I have a PCI1 slot available, and a PCIe x16 slot taken up by my video card. Would either one of those improve performance (if I got another controller card)? To use the x16 slot, I'd have to get another video card and use one of the x1 slots as there is no onboard video.
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a c 523 G Storage
April 11, 2012 8:08:07 PM

It wouldn't be worth it. You would have to spend $300 or more for a controller card, in addition to the x1 video card you would have to buy.

If you're going to spend that kind of money it would be better to buy a motherboard/cpu combo.
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April 11, 2012 8:11:35 PM

Dereck47 said:
It wouldn't be worth it. You would have to spend $300 or more for a controller card, in addition to the x1 video card you would have to buy.

If you're going to spend that kind of money it would be better to buy a motherboard/cpu combo.


Yeah, I've actually starting looking into a new motherboard that supports SATA III. Probably can get one for $100 to $150 from what I'm seeing. Now I just have to determine a compatible board for this machine and components that I have (i.e. memory, video card, cpu, etc.) - a bit of a PITA. Thanks for your help!
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a c 523 G Storage
April 11, 2012 8:22:52 PM

Make sure the motherboard has native SATA III ports. For example all X58 chipset based motherboards do not have native SATA III ports. They use the same Marvell 9128 controller on their SATA III ports that your card has. So if you purchase one of those motherboards you will get the same performance that you have now.
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April 11, 2012 8:27:17 PM

Dereck47 said:
Make sure the motherboard has native SATA III ports. For example all X58 chipset based motherboards do not have native SATA III ports. They use the same Marvell 9128 controller on their SATA III ports that your card has. So if you purchase one of those motherboards you will get the same performance that you have now.


Thanks for the tip. Would really suck spending the money and effort to install a new motherboard only to get the same terrible performance from my new SSD.

Is there a board you would recommend?
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a c 523 G Storage
April 11, 2012 8:36:35 PM

Intel CPU: Any Z77, Z68, P67 chipset based motherboard
AMD CPU: Any 990FX, 890FX chipset based motherboard
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a c 283 G Storage
April 11, 2012 11:37:38 PM

Dereck47 has already explained the situation to you.

We've had other posts about older motherboards with a System BIOS that does not support ACHI mode. In addition, the cheap adapter cards are pretty much useless. There are much better cards but they cost a lot more than an ssd and would still require the motherboard's system BIOS to be set to ACHI mode. You're only realistic option is a major upgrade.
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April 12, 2012 12:09:42 AM

It's the Marvell controller that's your problem. Most x58 mobo's (I have a sabertooth x58) have a marvell 9128 controller. That fact that your is on a hardware raid card makes no difference. 9128 is 9128 period. If your motherboard does not suppoer ahci on your motherboard, then as other posters have mentioned, consider getting a new mobo/cpu combo.
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April 12, 2012 12:25:40 AM

You say you imaged your windows installation onto the SSD from your HDD? Did you edit the registry in windows to AHCI mode before you attached it to the controller card?
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a b G Storage
April 12, 2012 12:46:29 AM

thats a pretty slow ssd.... i thought those were supposed to be faster.
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April 12, 2012 1:01:01 PM

quilciri said:
You say you imaged your windows installation onto the SSD from your HDD? Did you edit the registry in windows to AHCI mode before you attached it to the controller card?


I have not changed the registry as I thought setting HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\services\msahci\Start to 0 is to enable the Microsoft driver, and I'm using the Marvell driver instead.

Is that correct, that is, setting to 0 uses the Microsoft driver instead of the installed Marvell driver? Do you think the Microsoft driver would perform any better?
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April 19, 2012 1:15:16 AM

I was doing a web search because I'm having the same issues with the marvell controller on my x79 board. The reason I'm replying is that I have to take exception to the high prices quoted for a RAID controller. One can get a very nice enterprise class 8 port SAS card for significantly less than $200. The LSI LSI SAS2008 mentioned in the URL below was used in Sun's first generation sunfire server, is no slouch, and can be found for as little as $140 with 8 SAS ports (SAS can also be used with SATA drives). The great thing with SAS is that you can get an expander later and get a very high performance 8 disk external RAID using the controller mentioned above. In one of the other posts someone recommended an adaptec SATA raid card for $250 (yes the cache is nice and I'm sure it's a great card, but not for a tight budget). I have no idea why you would want that if cost is a concern when you can get a nice SAS card for nearly half of that.

http://blog.zorinaq.com/?e=10

FYI, I'm looking into doing an 8 disk ZFS setup in the next few months, and pc-pitstop.com seems to have a lot of configurations if you ever want to move to an external RAID enclosure.

P.S. I noticed you don't have a four lane PCIe port in your current setup, but the article above does recommend a couple of 1x controllers that may suit your needs.
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a c 523 G Storage
April 19, 2012 2:09:35 AM

composer777 said:
One can get a very nice enterprise class 8 port SAS card for significantly less than $200. The LSI LSI SAS2008 mentioned in the URL below was used in Sun's first generation sunfire server, is no slouch, and can be found for as little as $140 with 8 SAS ports (SAS can also be used with SATA drives).


Yes, the cards listed in your link are inexpensive but they are for x4 and x8 PCIe slots. The OP only has a x1 slot available. The x16 slot he has is being used by the graphics card.


P.S. I noticed you don't have a four lane PCIe port in your current setup, but the article above does recommend a couple of 1x controllers that may suit your needs. said:
P.S. I noticed you don't have a four lane PCIe port in your current setup, but the article above does recommend a couple of 1x controllers that may suit your needs.


No; x1 cards won't increase performance on a SATA 6Gb/s SSD. He's currently using an x1 card.

The best use of money with his current setup is to upgrade his motherboard/cpu.

I was doing a web search because I'm having the same issues with the marvell controller on my x79 board. said:
I was doing a web search because I'm having the same issues with the marvell controller on my x79 board.


Why are you using your Marvell controller? X79 motherboards have 2 native Intel 6Gb/s ports. You will get maximum performance from any SSD connected to those ports. Do you have more than 2 SSDs connected?
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April 19, 2012 5:41:04 PM

Dereck47 said:
Yes, the cards listed in your link are inexpensive but they are for x4 and x8 PCIe slots. The OP only has a x1 slot available. The x16 slot he has is being used by the graphics card.




No; x1 cards won't increase performance on a SATA 6Gb/s SSD. He's currently using an x1 card.

The best use of money with his current setup is to upgrade his motherboard/cpu.



Why are you using your Marvell controller? X79 motherboards have 2 native Intel 6Gb/s ports. You will get maximum performance from any SSD connected to those ports. Do you have more than 2 SSDs connected?


I wanted to use the marvell controller because I have 13 disks in my current system and a bunch more sitting on the shelf. Asus also advertises it's use for SSD caching, so one would think that it wouldn't be the slowest controller. I actually decided not to use the marvell controller after testing it's performance, which is a big disappointment since I could always use an extra connection. Maybe it will be ok with bluray. In the next month or so I will move 8 of my disks outside the system and run them through the dual esata connections with port multiplier (I already have one port multiplier docking station, made by sans digital and it's working great).

Why so much space?:
1. I write software for a living, and some of the data sets I work with are in the TB range.
2. 50 years of family photos archived at ridiculous resolutions
3. Windows media center recorded shows (6GB+ per hour)
4. Music
5. Home movies at 11GB per tape
6. Archived movies
7. OS Images and virtual machines for testing and debugging in different operating systems
8. Backup images of my most important disks

I can easily fill up just about anything I get. My ultimate plan is to upgrade my 8 year old RAID server (which is only 2TB), and move to ZFS (on OpenSolaris/OpenIndiana) with an 8 disk external SAS box, at roughly 20 TB. That will cost about $2000 including disks, but should provide a bit of extra security for the files I store on it.
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April 26, 2012 7:50:31 PM

Best answer selected by JoeAcunzo.
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