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Intel SSD 520 Alignment/Speed

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January 28, 2013 1:01:18 PM

Hey all.

Just bought a new Intel 520 series 120gb SSD. All in all, easy transition and no major hardware issues.

The issue is that the benchmarks show I am only reading at about 290 and writing around 180 but according to other benches I should be at almost double that. AS SSD also shows that the alignment is off. (I'm at work and don’t have the exact numbers right now)

Here's what I've done so far.

I cloned my WD Raptor with Win7 64bit to it using Easis and removed the HDD from the system.
Using the SATA cable that came in the SSD box.
I changed the bios to ACHI and a check of the registry shows a 0 in the appropriate area.
I ran AS SSD and Crystaldisk benchies to see where I was. Both results were very similar however, AS SSD shows that my disk is misaligned per to a pciide BAD message.
Ran msinfo32 and looked under Components> Storage> Disks in the partition starting offset which was 1,048,576 and is divisible by 4096 as is was supposed to be.
Ran the Intel toolbox optimization and full disk scan with no errors or issues shown.
Searched for a Windows 7 alignment tool from Intel but they say Win7 handles it properly and only offers it for WinXP.
Mobo has 6 SATA 3 ports that are all black as far as I can tell and that is where it is connected.

What am I missing that is eating up my speed?

System:
Mobo: GA-990FXA-UD3
CPU: AMD Phenom II 1090T
RAM: 8gb Corsair Vengeance PC3-10700H
OS: Win Home 7 Premium 64bit
Video: Visiontek 7970 GHZ

Thanks for any help.



a b å Intel
a c 523 G Storage
January 28, 2013 1:10:23 PM

The Intel 520 series uses a SandForce controller.

You need to benchmark with ATTO, which uses highly compressible data to test Read/Write speeds.

AS-SSD & CrystalDiskMark use highly incompressible data to test Read/Write speeds.
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January 28, 2013 1:30:08 PM

Partition alignment - Result of cloning. One of the reasons the recommended method when going from a HDD-> SSD is Clean install.
You can do a Migration of OS using EasyUS (Freebee) or EZ-GIG-IV (My preference BUT Cost about $18 for sata->usb adaptor). Both of these will apply the proper alignment.

Also when cloning, must manually enable trim normally. Above two programs will do this automatically.

That said, Not sure what the performance hit when using SSD with un-aligned partition.

Deeck47 is correct, all SF22xx based SSDs. To obtain manuf specs must use ATTO. This is one of the reasons I do not recommend SF22xx based SSDs. For a OS + Program drive A) Ramdom 4 K are what is important, Sequencial performance has little impact. B) Data on OS + Program drive are closer to Compressed data which means that AS SSD (using Uncompressed data) is closer to real life usage than ATTO. ATTO is a HDD bench mark that is good for HDDs that are large and have Thoes large sequencial files that you normally do NOT place on an SSD.
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a b å Intel
a c 353 G Storage
January 28, 2013 1:44:51 PM

Extract of NOT using properly aligned partition on SSDs

Quote
Misaligned partition problems are even more important for SSD drives than traditional hard disk drives. Most modern SSD drives are designed using the newer 4K alignment rules. Thus all previously-mentioned problems are the same for SSD partitions alignment.

Besides a decline in system speed, SSD owners need to be concerned with degradation of the SSD memory cells. Because of the nature of an SSD, a misaligned disk creates an overbearing workload to read, modify and write to these drives. So if partitions on an SSD are misaligned, beside a downgraded system speed, the solid state drive is in danger of being unusable. Many people are not aware that an SSD drive has a limited amount of read/write cycles and when the drive is written on too many times, the drive stops working, risking a catastrophic failure and data loss. Partitions alignment eliminates all redundant read/write operations and thus grants SSDs a longer lifetime.
End quote
Ref: http://www.storagereview.com/the_impact_of_misalignment
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January 28, 2013 2:06:22 PM

Thanks for the info. I'll run ATTO tonight. Part of my confusion is that AS SSD giving the pciide error and the slow speed are the ONLY indications of an alignment issue but I don’t really know how to verify that.

The partition starting offset appears to be correct, the Intel toolbox didn't find any issues and supposedly Win7 aligns them properly. Is there any other way to really check the alignment? I'm not against doing a fresh install, but naturally I don’t want to if it’s not going to fix the issue. I guess if ATTO shows the right numbers I assume I’m ok but that still wouldn’t explain the pciide error from AS SSD.

I guess I also have to decide on if its better to do the fresh install or if its worth the $30 to use the Paragon tool if Atto shows low speed as well.

Thanks.
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a b å Intel
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January 28, 2013 2:23:51 PM

pcide = BAD
Iis also a result of cloning and is a due to the fact that orgininal installation of the OS onto the HDD was done with the BIOS set to IDE mode and NOT to AHCI.
Runing ATTO may improve on numbers, BUT that is NOT a fix.

Windows 7 will ONLY realign the partition during an install, not afterwards.

The fix for ide - ahci is quite simple:
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/922976
NOTE you can use the Fix it for me. Once fix is doe you reboot to Bios and change to ahci.

Based on the multiple problems, either:
1) Do a clean install, or
2) if you still have the OS on the HDD
... Fix HDD (ide-> ahci) using above method
... Then using one of the two programs I Lister earlier to do a MIGATION of OS

As I mentioned, My preference is for a clean install.

NOTE: Windows 7 Will NOT pass Trim, even if enabled in registry, with controller set to pcide. It's just not a performance hit.
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January 28, 2013 2:25:13 PM

Ouch, guess you didn't partitioned it correctly. That's one of the main reasons why most people don't clone their SSD.. due to the risk of performance loss and causing damage. Always do your research before you do anything else.
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January 28, 2013 5:11:54 PM

The alignment might be the issue but again- is there any way to KNOW that before I do a clean install and it doesn't solve my problem?

So far low numbers (that could be several different things) and the error from AS SSD are the only indicators that it is alignment. I'll run ATTO tonight and see what happens but if the numbers are the same, I'm still not sure that answers my question. If ATTO gives me better numbers, then I still have to wonder about the AS SSD pcieebe error.
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a b å Intel
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January 28, 2013 5:16:52 PM

rik756 said:
is there any way to KNOW that before I do a clean install and it doesn't solve my problem?


Yes. The AS-SSD indicator in red is positive confirmation that your drive is out of alignment; and SSDs that do not have their partition properly aligned will definitely have lower Read/Write speeds.
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January 28, 2013 5:26:14 PM

I apologize; my previous response is incorrect.

"pciide - BAD" means that your drive is definitely in IDE mode; not that it is out of alignment. But being in IDE mode also definitely equates to slower Read/Write speeds.
All SSDs need to be in AHCI mode for best performance.

Directly underneath the pciide message there should be an alignment number.
Is that number in Green or Red?
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January 28, 2013 5:27:46 PM

It's been a couple months, but I've successfully moved Win7 OSes from HDD to SSD at least six times. If your HDD is set to IDE, you need to follow the instructions in the link posted by RetiredChief to convert the HDD to AHCI. I have done this twice. However, both times after converting, I successfully cloned the OS to the SSD with proper alignment.
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January 28, 2013 5:29:14 PM

I would also add that I use the built in Windows 7 backup to create the system image for cloning, and Windows 7 enabled trim and disabled defrag automatically during the system restore process.
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a b å Intel
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January 28, 2013 5:48:17 PM

Dereck47, You were not wrong in that He identified TWO problems:
1) Driver = pcide, and
2) Partition was NOT aligned
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January 28, 2013 6:06:51 PM

Thanks guys, I really appreciate all the info. I'll take a look at the posted links, find the allignment number by the pciibe error and run ATTO tonight. I'll post back tomorrow with more results and probably more questions.

I thought I had done my homwork but I've got lots more to do apparently.
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January 28, 2013 10:04:29 PM

rik756 said:
Thanks guys, I really appreciate all the info. I'll take a look at the posted links, find the allignment number by the pciibe error and run ATTO tonight. I'll post back tomorrow with more results and probably more questions.

I thought I had done my homework but I've got lots more to do apparently.


So I ran the bench with ATTO and got slightly better but still sub-par results. Also, to add the list of issues, the reason I just upgraded to the SSD was due to the WD Raptor giving me disk read errors. Tonight when I booted up, I got the same disk read error with the SSD. The HDD isnt even in the box anymore. Can that be an OS issue then?

Here are some screen shots of all the benches, the msinfo, registry etc. With the disk read error AND the slow speeds, I'm more confused than I was before.







So I DOUBLE checked the bios and I'll be damned if the changes didn't save. I switched everything BACK to ACHI, saved and booted. As soon as the desktop loaded it told me I had to reboot to save the changes (no clue what changes, but ok) I rebooted again, reran ATTO and got much faster speeds. It's still not 6gbs, but it's obviously faster than before.



Soooooo - do I STILL have an alignment issue? Whats the deal with the disk read error?


Where do I go from here?

Thanks,
Rick
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a b å Intel
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January 28, 2013 10:16:59 PM

Is that your most recent AS-SSD benchmark?
It shows that you are still in IDE mode; although your drive is now properly aligned.
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January 28, 2013 10:41:02 PM

Dereck47 said:
Is that your most recent AS-SSD benchmark?
It shows that you are still in IDE mode; although your drive is now properly aligned.

No, that is the first AS SSD that showed the bad pciede error. That is the NEW ATTO bench after changing to ACHI in the bios again.

I just ran AS SSD for the second time and Im all green now. Still not as fast as I'd hoped for, but I THINK its running like it should now.



Thoughts?
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a b å Intel
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January 28, 2013 10:46:29 PM

Your new ATTO benchmark result indicate that you are getting 98.7% of advertised Reads and 93.4% of advertised Writes.
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January 28, 2013 10:59:29 PM

Dereck47 said:
Your new ATTO benchmark result indicate that you are getting 98.7% of advertised Reads and 93.4% of advertised Writes.

I can't really complain about that too much.

So that tells me I AM in ACHI mode and there is NO alignment issue, correct?

Any thoughts on the the disk read error?

Thanks,
Rick
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a b å Intel
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January 28, 2013 11:04:24 PM

rik756 said:
So that tells me I AM in ACHI mode and there is NO alignment issue, correct?


Correct.

Any thoughts on the the disk read error? said:
Any thoughts on the the disk read error?


Where are you getting these disk read errors? In BIOS or in Windows?
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January 29, 2013 12:13:04 AM

Right as OS loads. The bios will go off, it will say "Loading Operating System_" then after a minute or two it will give the Disk Read Error - Press CTRL ALT DELETE to continue.

I thought it was my HDD going bad. Thats why I bought the SSD.

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January 29, 2013 12:42:15 AM

rik756 said:
No, that is the first AS SSD that showed the bad pciede error. That is the NEW ATTO bench after changing to ACHI in the bios again.

I just ran AS SSD for the second time and Im all green now. Still not as fast as I'd hoped for, but I THINK its running like it should now.

http://i282.photobucket.com/albums/kk279/rik756/ASSSD2.jpg

Thoughts?



Look in the bright side, its faster than your HDD.

Comparing to my M4: http://ppl.ug/YMxco06M5Tw/
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a b å Intel
a c 523 G Storage
January 29, 2013 12:50:47 AM

rik756 said:
Right as OS loads. The bios will go off, it will say "Loading Operating System_" then after a minute or two it will give the Disk Read Error - Press CTRL ALT DELETE to continue.

I thought it was my HDD going bad. Thats why I bought the SSD.


Sorry, I don't know what to tell you. That's weird that you're getting the same message regardless of what drive is connected.
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a b å Intel
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January 29, 2013 2:11:03 AM

Very slight chance, but have you checked your memory for error, ie run Prime 95 for about 4 hours - BUT monitor cpu temperatures closely for the first 15 - 30 min.

vince2611, Is your M4 on a sata II port

My M4 in laptop
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January 29, 2013 9:41:15 AM

I had run Prime stress w/ round off checking for 6-12 hours at a time previously while doing some OC'ing. Never had errors that I recall but couldn't keep the heat where I wanted it for the clock I wanted so I just went back to stock.

I'll try running it again tonight.

Thanks for the help all.
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a b å Intel
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January 29, 2013 11:29:54 AM

I gather you have not yet done a "clean install" - Pardon me if I missed that.
Reason I ask is that if you did a "CLONE" of the Od HDD you probably also cloned any sector problems. Remember that a clone is a sector-by-sector copy of exactly what is one one drive to the other.
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January 29, 2013 12:12:30 PM

RetiredChief said:
I gather you have not yet done a "clean install" - Pardon me if I missed that.
Reason I ask is that if you did a "CLONE" of the Od HDD you probably also cloned any sector problems. Remember that a clone is a sector-by-sector copy of exactly what is one one drive to the other.

You are correct. I cloned and did not do a fresh install- yet. I was hoping to avoid the clean install but in actuality, even after solving the speed issue it appears that is the way to go.

Now that you mention sector issues, I do recall getting some bad sector messages and windows running chkdsk or something to fix them. If the disk read error is in fact software then yes, it copied my problems right over.

Thanks,
Rick
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February 4, 2013 6:29:52 PM

Apparently when I cloned the HDD, I cloned the disk read error I was originally getting so I decided I wanted to go with a fresh install. After deciding that, I also decided I needed more space so I upgraded to the Samsung 840 Pro 256gb.

So far- loving it. Slightly faster than the Intel and lots more room. Did the clean install of Win7/64bit and no issues at all.

Thanks for all the help guys, I really appreciate.

Rick
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a b å Intel
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February 4, 2013 6:42:51 PM

Yea, just upgraded my laptop 128 gig M4 (Win 7) to a samsung 840 pro then upgraded the win 7 -> win 8 (or downgraded not sure yet - LOL).
As SSD total score went from the mid 770 -> mid 1100's
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February 4, 2013 6:49:21 PM

RetiredChief said:
Yea, just upgraded my laptop 128 gig M4 (Win 7) to a samsung 840 pro then upgraded the win 7 -> win 8 (or downgraded not sure yet - LOL).
As SSD total score went from the mid 770 -> mid 1100's

Not sure if mine was in the 1100's or not. I'll take a look when I get home. If its not, I'm not sure what I can really do to tweak it. ACHI and all that stuff is still correct. I have the same Samsung firmware update issue I've read lots of other guys have too but I also read that if its not really broke then dont try to fix it.

I'll look and see how far off I am.

Thanks,
Rick
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February 4, 2013 9:20:39 PM

RetiredChief said:
Yea, just upgraded my laptop 128 gig M4 (Win 7) to a samsung 840 pro then upgraded the win 7 -> win 8 (or downgraded not sure yet - LOL).
As SSD total score went from the mid 770 -> mid 1100's



Well, then is appears that I am still missing something! My number are better than what they were, but no where near yours.






Any ideas on what else to check? The only KNOWN issue I have right now is that the firmware won't update but thats a common issue apparently.
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a b å Intel
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February 5, 2013 1:40:34 AM

Only thing I can think of is the diff between your amd Controller, and my Intel iaSTor controller which I upgraded to 11.6

will check tommarrow on my Firmware ver. I did Update it
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February 5, 2013 9:50:43 AM

RetiredChief said:
Only thing I can think of is the diff between your amd Controller, and my Intel iaSTor controller which I upgraded to 11.6

will check tommarrow on my Firmware ver. I did Update it


Thanks, I appreciate it. I don't know what else it would be either. I did read that updating the firmware increased the speeds somewhat. I'll check on my controller drivers tonight when I get home
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Best solution

a b å Intel
a c 353 G Storage
February 5, 2013 11:18:55 AM

First - I do not think yo would notice any diff in performance on your system vs mine as far as related to SSD in normal day-2-day performance. HOWEVER, it is SOOOOOO much faster than a Mechanical HDD. From power on -> opening first program in windows 7 - approx 8 Sec and that inclues POST.

2nd - I counted 4 benchmark pass, I never run benchmarks back-to-back as the results can be lowered. In reviews, when they run different benchmarks, they do a secure erease and reinstall of the OS between passes for this reason. I only ron AS SSD riight after Windows install, or when I replace the SSD. After that I only re-run after making changes that Might effect it's operation and normally would never run back-to-back. If I need to rerun, I wait untill I'm sure GC nd trimhave had time to restore drive to "near" factory specs.

PS - I've seen AS SSD scores in the low 1200's, so based on that My score is also low - NO Biggy with me as probably the diff between Intels newer IB chipset vs my older S chiposet.

Here is the screenshot of Mine.
Laptop i5-2410M, Windows 8


Just re-ran ( been a week since last run)
Firmware = DXMO4B0Q Newest Firmware improved "drity Drive prformance"
Overall score dropped to 1098 (a wopping 3 points or 0.3% - LOLs)

TAKE care and ENJOY it, quit fretting.

Added: SEE for additional as ssd (Looks like VERY little performance diff
http://forums.anandtech.com/showthread.php?t=2289488
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February 5, 2013 12:24:03 PM

RetiredChief said:
First - I do not think yo would notice any diff in performance on your system vs mine as far as related to SSD in normal day-2-day performance. HOWEVER, it is SOOOOOO much faster than a Mechanical HDD. From power on -> opening first program in windows 7 - approx 8 Sec and that inclues POST.

2nd - I counted 4 benchmark pass, I never run benchmarks back-to-back as the results can be lowered. In reviews, when they run different benchmarks, they do a secure erease and reinstall of the OS between passes for this reason. I only ron AS SSD riight after Windows install, or when I replace the SSD. After that I only re-run after making changes that Might effect it's operation and normally would never run back-to-back. If I need to rerun, I wait untill I'm sure GC nd trimhave had time to restore drive to "near" factory specs.

PS - I've seen AS SSD scores in the low 1200's, so based on that My score is also low - NO Biggy with me as probably the diff between Intels newer IB chipset vs my older S chiposet.

Here is the screenshot of Mine.
Laptop i5-2410M, Windows 8
http://i50.tinypic.com/2s9auxs.jpg

Just re-ran ( been a week since last run)
Firmware = DXMO4B0Q Newest Firmware improved "drity Drive prformance"
Overall score dropped to 1098 (a wopping 3 points or 0.3% - LOLs)

TAKE care and ENJOY it, quit fretting.

Added: SEE for additional as ssd (Looks like VERY little performance diff
http://forums.anandtech.com/showthread.php?t=2289488

True enough and you're right- its WAY faster than my Raptor HDD was for sure. I'm about 11-15 second from button to desktop but that's still a huge improvement over before. Office seems to pop right open too but that may be in my head.

Its all good and again, I really appreciate you and the others taking the time to help.

Rick
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February 16, 2013 12:02:22 PM

Best answer selected by rik756.
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