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TRIM Testing

The SSD 730 Series Review: Intel Is Back With Its Own Controller
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Finally, I want to introduce a new test I've been working on using JEDEC's 218A consumer workload trace to create a TRIM benchmark. It's not a neatly-packaged little utility you can run at home. Rather, this is a test scripted in ULINK's DriveMaster 2012 software and hardware suite.

DriveMaster is used by most SSD manufacturers to create and perform specific metrics. It's currently the only commercial product that can create the scenarios needed to validate TCG Opal 2 security, but it's almost unlimited in potential applications. There are various hardware components associated with the platform, such as a SATA/SAS power hub that allows the benchmarked drive to be power-cycled independently of the platform. Much of the benefit tied to a solution like DriveMaster is its ability to diagnose bugs, ensure compatibility, and issue low-level commands. In short, it's very handy for the companies actually building SSDs. And if off-the-shelf scripts don't do it for you, make your own. There's a steep learning curve, but the C-like environment and command documentation gives you a fighting chance.

This product also gives us some new ways to explore performance. Testing the TRIM command is just the first example of how we'll be using ULINK's contribution to the Tom's Hardware benchmark suite.

The suite ships with some built-in scripts, but also contains its own scripting language for extensibility and customization. This particular test uses JEDEC's published master trace of consumer I/O activity (similar to our Tom's Hardware Storage Bench trace). The read commands are removed from the trace, leaving write, flush, and TRIM commands. After secure erasure and writing preparatory data, the test commences. The trace is played against the drive four times using NCQ with and without TRIM, and DMA with and without TRIM. IOPS are measured and averaged every 100,000 commands. 

On a 256 GB drive, each iteration writes close to 800 GB of data, so running the JEDEC TRIM test suite once on a 256 GB SSD generates almost 3.2 TB of mostly random writes (it's 75% random and 25% sequential). By the end of each run, over 37 million write commands are issued. If that sounds like a lot of storage traffic, it is.

The first two tests employ DMA to access the storage, while the last two use Native Command Queuing. Since most folks don't use DMA with SSDs (aside from some legacy or industrial applications) we don't concern ourselves with those. It can take up to 96 hours to run one drive through all four runs, though faster drives can cut the time in half, roughly. Because so much information is being written to an already-full SSD (the drive is filled before each test, and then close to 800 GB are written per iteration), SSDs that perform better under heavy load fare best. Without TRIM, on-the-fly garbage collection becomes a big contributor to high IOPS. With TRIM, 13% of space gets TRIM'ed, leaving more room for the controller to use for maintenance operations.

Here's the chart derived from our DriveMaster JEDEC TRIM test data. Looking at the rolling average of performance at each 100,000-command segment, the 480 GB SSD DC S3500 and SSD 730 are mostly even. The SSD DC S3700, with all its over-provisioning, fares even better.

Prior to running each iteration of the test, the drives are written to with random data twice. An SSD with known-good steady state performance is going to excel here.

This is the Intel SSD 730 Series and its instantaneous average, with TRIM enabled and without it. Underneath is a chart that also includes the SSD DC S3700 and S3500. The peaks are bursts of activity, and on a normal desktop-oriented drive, the TRIM-enabled test would register higher peaks, since the drive wouldn't be erasing and programming on the fly. That's not the case here, though.

The lower-end Intel drives to see some benefit from TRIM, but the SSD DC S3700 is unfazed, even without it. 

We can boil the average performance of the final test with TRIM into a MB/s chart. Overall, the SSD 730 places well. SanDisk's X210 does the most with the least, though. It has just 7% of spare area and no over-provisioning.

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  • 0 Hide
    Sean76 , February 27, 2014 4:38 PM
    Love my 520 series Cherryville, will be picking one of these up soon as I can get my hands on one.
  • 8 Hide
    g-unit1111 , February 27, 2014 6:15 PM
    $1/GB???? I'll stick with my 840 Evo for the time being, thanks.
  • 2 Hide
    blackmagnum , February 27, 2014 6:22 PM
    That skull on an Intel SSD means this product is the Big Kahuna. Samsung just cannot crush this competition.
  • -2 Hide
    Amdlova , February 27, 2014 7:53 PM
    that 480 drain more than a 5400rpm HDD. Samsung or sandisk for laptops. Please next SSD
  • 5 Hide
    jdwii , February 27, 2014 11:35 PM
    Nice to see the 840 Pro doing good
  • -1 Hide
    rokit , February 28, 2014 2:29 AM
    Never expected Intel to fail like that. Samsung still offers the best performance/power consumption/$
    I guess that skull did the job, power of signs )

    p.s. this site has [removed] level editing in non-forum mode(the one you see and use by default)

    Watch the language. - G
  • 6 Hide
    Tanquen , February 28, 2014 9:16 AM
    GiB me a break. A GB is 1024MB not 1000.
  • 0 Hide
    mamasan2000 , February 28, 2014 10:17 PM
    I don't see why the Intel SSD is any good. It's midpack at best at everything. Even my cheap Sandisk is better and it was the cheapest SSD I could get around here (besides Kingston).
  • 0 Hide
    unityole , March 2, 2014 4:08 AM
    how is samsung the best? http://www.tweaktown.com/blogs/Chris_Ramseyer/58/real-world-ssd-performance-why-time-matters-when-testing/index.htmlsandisk and toshiba SSD, look at the chart and see the performance for yourself. Evo doing well, but thats only cause of the SLC flash helping it.
  • -1 Hide
    eriko , March 2, 2014 11:57 PM
    All this Samsung love here... I have two brand new 840 Evo 250GB drives, and they are garbage.In fact they are so poor, I had to separate all my files, and break the RAID,and have two individual volumes, so as to have Trim enabled, and also Magician running, otherwise, terrible read and write (especially) performance resulted. I did verify they were genuine drives too. As soon as you begin to fill up these 250GB Evos, performance falls off a cliff.I'm now not a believer in TLC, and wish I had waited to get the Pro's (not available in this part of the world), as I hear much better things about them.But I've had my fill of reading reviews on consumer drives, I'm going to California in a week or so, and so I will either get 2 x 400GB S3700's, or a single 800GB S3700 (and to hell with RAID). Enterprise drives are the bomb, and don't forget that. Lost way too much time and data now with 'consumer' drives...By the way, X25E 64GB still going strong without so much as a hiccup. Not even a burp... If they made a 640GB X25E, I think I'd suck their, ok, I won't say that but you get the idea.
  • 0 Hide
    zzzaac , March 3, 2014 4:48 PM
    Just curious, this speed, would you be able to tell that it is faster, or is it just though benchmarks?.This ssd is quite expensive at my local parts shop
  • 0 Hide
    unityole , March 5, 2014 1:30 AM
    the numbers in benchmark is a joke, especially rapid mode. its a completely useless thing to show off to consumer to grab more market share. overclock the controller to make it look faster and with SLC 4k looks fast. but overall its sh*t, sorry to say but its the truth, this is how samsung works LOL.
  • 0 Hide
    eriko , March 5, 2014 1:32 AM
    Quote:
    All this Samsung love here... I have two brand new 840 Evo 250GB drives, and they are garbage.In fact they are so poor, I had to separate all my files, and break the RAID,and have two individual volumes, so as to have Trim enabled, and also Magician running, otherwise, terrible read and write (especially) performance resulted. I did verify they were genuine drives too. As soon as you begin to fill up these 250GB Evos, performance falls off a cliff.I'm now not a believer in TLC, and wish I had waited to get the Pro's (not available in this part of the world), as I hear much better things about them.But I've had my fill of reading reviews on consumer drives, I'm going to California in a week or so, and so I will either get 2 x 400GB S3700's, or a single 800GB S3700 (and to hell with RAID). Enterprise drives are the bomb, and don't forget that. Lost way too much time and data now with 'consumer' drives...By the way, X25E 64GB still going strong without so much as a hiccup. Not even a burp... If they made a 640GB X25E, I think I'd suck their, ok, I won't say that but you get the idea.
    EDIT: To the sad *ucker who thumbed-down my scathing opinion of the 840 Evo's, try this one for size:Quote from SSDenduarancetest.com:I would strongly advice against using the Samsung 840 EVO in any RAID setup with DURABLE WRITE PERFORMANCE IS MIND.TRIM is necessary to keep this SSD in good shape. This rules out most RAID setups, which prevents the use of TRIM. The test average write speed is very indicative. It will most likely settle at just above 20MB/s. Please remember that these numbers are for high load steady state. Initially this drive performed well over 200MB/s, this will most likely be the typical speed when kept in good shape using TRIM. Burst speeds will be higher. So you see? They are sh1te. 19MB/s write performance from 840 Evo's is not what somebody intends to pay for.... And don't forget these drives easily slow down, as you fill them up.Since I only just bought them, I will secure-erase, repackage, and give them away as gifts when I return to Europe...TLC isn't worth a dime.
  • 0 Hide
    emv , March 5, 2014 1:27 PM
    I don't see where this SSD is faster than other SSDs? it might be more consistent based on its enterprise design (how is it much different than 3500?) but it is average on the tests. is it even noticeably much faster than 530? what are we missing?
  • 0 Hide
    Sean76 , March 7, 2014 4:00 PM
    Because Intel has the BEST reliability record for the last 8 years out of all the other SSD vendors.....and the competition isn't even close to Intel's reliability rate......That's why people spend a extra $100 for Intel, they never fail, they use the best binned processors, memory etc. As long as your seeing above 500mb read speeds, that's all that matters with SSD's. I bet my Cherryville 520 Series 240gb will out-live me!
    Also maybe you didn't hear, but no other SSD vendor was able to get the sandforce controller to work without Bsods.....except for Intel that is-
    http://www.anandtech.com/show/5508/intel-ssd-520-review-cherryville-brings-reliability-to-sandforce
  • 0 Hide
    dusty13 , March 19, 2014 9:51 AM
    i am really sorry intel did not do better. i like them and was looking forward to an at least halfway competitive drive ... not what we got here.higher pricetag ok, that i expected, but double the price of other drives that are faster, more energy-efficient and cooler (in temperature and styling - whats with the ridiculous skull?!) ... that actually is kind of offensive to a fan like me who loved tha old x25