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Test Setup, Benchmarks, And Methodology

Micron RealSSD P320h Review: A PCIe Drive Capable Of 3.2 GB/s
By
Test Hardware
ProcessorIntel Core i7-3960X (Sandy Bridge-E), 32 nm, 3.3 GHz, LGA 2011, 15 MB Shared L3, Turbo Boost Enabled
Motherboard
Intel DX79SI, X79 Express
Memory
G.Skill Ripjaws Z-Series (4 x 4 GB) DDR3-1600 @ DDR3-1600, 1.5 V
System Drive
Intel SSD 320 160 GB SATA 3Gb/s
Tested Drives
Micron P320h 700 GB, PCI Express x8, Firmware: B146000
Graphics
AMD FirePro V4800 1 GB
Power Supply
OCZ ModXStream Pro 700 W
System Software and Drivers
Operating SystemWindows 7 x64 Ultimate
DirectXDirectX 11
DriverGraphics: ATI 8.883
Iometer 1.1.0# Workers = 4, 4 KB Random: LBA= Full Span varying Queue Depths


AS SSDv1.6437.30508

ATTOv2.47, 2 GB, QD=4

CustomC++, 8 MB Sequential, QD=4

Enterprise Testing: Iometer WorkloadsReadRandomTransfer Size
Database67%100%8 KB: 100%
File server80%100%512 Bytes: 10%
1 KB: 5%
2 KB: 5%
4 KB: 60%
8 KB: 2%
16 KB: 4%
32 KB: 4%
64 KB: 10%
Web server100%100%512 Bytes: 22%
1 KB: 15%
2 KB: 8%
4 KB: 23%
8 KB: 15%
16 KB: 2%
32 KB: 6%
64 KB: 7%
128 KB: 1%
512 KB: 1%


The Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA), a working group made up of SSD, flash, and controller vendors, has produced a testing procedure that attempts to control as many of the variables inherent to SSDs as possible. SNIA’s Solid State Storage Performance Test Specification (SSS PTS) is a great resource for enterprise SSD testing. The procedure does not define what tests should be run, but rather the way in which they are run. This workflow is broken down into four parts:

  1. Purge: Purging puts the drive at a known starting point. For SSDs, this normally means Secure Erase.
  2. Workload-Independent Preconditioning: A prescribed workload that is unrelated to the test workload.
  3. Workload-Based Preconditioning: The actual test workload (4 KB random, 128 KB sequential, and so on), which pushes the drive towards a steady state.
  4. Steady State: The point at which the drive’s performance is no longer changing for the variable being tracked.

These steps are critical when testing SSDs. It is incredibly easy to not fully condition the drive and still see fresh-out-of-box behavior and think it is steady-state. These steps are also important when going between random and sequential writes.

For all performance tests in this review, the SSS PTS was followed to ensure accurate and repeatable results.

All tests employ random data, when available. Micron's RealSSD P320h does not perform any data compression prior to writing, so there is no difference in performance based on data patterns.

Notes

We did run into a few issues during our time testing the P320h, which were mainly related to the Windows driver we were provided. Initially, the sample that Micron sent to us only had Linux support. The company did a great job getting us a driver for Windows so that we could start our benchmarking, but it wasn't completely finished. Micron was also clear that it did a majority of its validation on servers. Our test bench doesn't use a server chipset, and it runs Windows. Twice during our testing the P320h entered a state where it had to rebuild during POST. We didn't lose any data, but the rebuilds took quite a while.

To make sure our issues were configuration-specific, we ran reboot testing under Linux in a 1U server for two straight days. The machine restarted literally hundreds of times without an issue. And because this issue did not affect performance, for the sake of consistency we finished our testing on our standard test bench.

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Top Comments
  • 14 Hide
    wolley74 , January 3, 2013 3:22 AM
    my wallet just had a heart attack, this thing would be freaking amazing to have
  • 12 Hide
    bawchicawawa , January 3, 2013 3:53 AM
    mayankleoboy1i dont see this as the future of consumer SSD's, just like a 16 core CPU is not the future of consumer CPU's.



    Such an apples to oranges comparison...
  • 10 Hide
    rdc85 , January 3, 2013 12:05 PM
    drwho1$10 dollars per GB.... LOL


    It using SLC and geared towards enterprise market...

    IMO it understandable price...
Other Comments
  • 14 Hide
    wolley74 , January 3, 2013 3:22 AM
    my wallet just had a heart attack, this thing would be freaking amazing to have
  • 12 Hide
    bawchicawawa , January 3, 2013 3:53 AM
    mayankleoboy1i dont see this as the future of consumer SSD's, just like a 16 core CPU is not the future of consumer CPU's.



    Such an apples to oranges comparison...
  • 9 Hide
    memadmax , January 3, 2013 4:11 AM
    Eliminating the SAS controller is the logical way to have these pci-e based ssd drives...
    Kinda surprised something like this didn't come out first as it makes more sense....
  • -9 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , January 3, 2013 4:32 AM
    bawchicawawaSuch an apples to oranges comparison...


    really ? Increasingly, performance is basically dependent on extracting parallelism. Whether in storage or in CPU performance.
    Desktop/Mainstream users just dont do so much in parallel that they can fully use all the hardware.
  • 5 Hide
    JOSHSKORN , January 3, 2013 4:35 AM
    mayankleoboy1i dont see this as the future of consumer SSD's, just like a 16 core CPU is not the future of consumer CPU's.

    I see a purpose for 16 core processors. How are we going to otherwise be able to run Crysis 6?
  • 7 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , January 3, 2013 4:38 AM
    JOSHSKORNI see a purpose for 16 core processors. How are we going to otherwise be able to run Crysis 6?


    Use a 5000 core GPU ?
  • 2 Hide
    youssef 2010 , January 3, 2013 6:29 AM
    ArticleAlthough read performance is out of this world, the RealSSD P320h's write performance isn't nearly as spectacular. That's not to say the drive doesn't do well; it's just not as impressive after looking at those massive read numbers. read performance was out of this world, the write performance wasn't nearly as spectacular. Now, that's not to say that the P320h doesn't perform well, it's just not as impressive as the read results


    ????????!!!!!!!!!!!
  • 9 Hide
    abbadon_34 , January 3, 2013 7:26 AM
    After all these years it's nice to see the OCZ Revo at least mentioned. Considering a bootable PCI-E x4 SSD can be had for under $200 for over 5 years now, and is on it's 4th+ generation, one can only wonder why it's been ignored for so long.
  • 6 Hide
    Marcus52 , January 3, 2013 7:44 AM
    Micron deserves a pat on the back for this one!

    Thanks for the review, love to see this kind of advancement and a peak into the future new hardware brings with it, even if it isn't directly applicable to me at this point in time.
  • 4 Hide
    goodguy713 , January 3, 2013 9:19 AM
    because the revo drive is a picky bastard that only plays nice with certain hardware.. i have a revo drive 3 and i love it but at the same time its a love hate relationship
  • -3 Hide
    Reynod , January 3, 2013 10:45 AM
    Its still not fast enough ... I'm not impressed.

    Can you put two of them in RAID0 ??

    Signed,

    Bonkers :) 
  • 10 Hide
    rdc85 , January 3, 2013 12:05 PM
    drwho1$10 dollars per GB.... LOL


    It using SLC and geared towards enterprise market...

    IMO it understandable price...
  • 6 Hide
    Fulgurant , January 3, 2013 1:27 PM
    mayankleoboy1i dont see this as the future of consumer SSD's, just like a 16 core CPU is not the future of consumer CPU's.


    Eh, depending on how far in the future we're talking about, neither of those statements is iron-clad. In the case of a 16-core processor, it's pretty much guaranteed that we will eventually see one in the consumer space, at mainstream prices. Whether the extra cores on that CPU will offer any compelling benefit to the mainstream consumer is an open question, but at least those cores do offer meaningful performance benefits to hardcore multi-taskers.

    Similarly, current consumer-grade SSDs offer very nearly instantaneous responsiveness already -- unless the user attempts to perform multiple disk-intensive tasks simultaneously. But who knows what the future holds? You could make a case that current enterprise-grade SSDs (or something similar to them) are far more likely to make a meaningful mark on the consumer market years from now than 16-core processors, because the benefits of CPU parallelism are limited in principle. By contrast, the benefit of storage speed is only limited by the speed of the components that rely on it; storage speed applies both to singular and parallel tasks.

    That said, I agree with your sentiment if not with the particulars of your argument: my gut reaction to the article was that although 3.2 GB/sec is a very impressive number, I already feel like I'm flying at the ~0.5 GB/sec (at best) that I get out of my Intel 330. From the consumer perspective, performance comparisons between different SSDs almost always seem to me materially irrelevant, so it's hard to get too excited about the performance of an enterprise-grade SSD, even in the abstract.

    Still, this is a worthy review of an interesting product. Appreciate the insight.
  • -6 Hide
    oxxfatelostxxo , January 3, 2013 2:53 PM
    This is a pointless waste of money, for less You can get a high end Raid card and enough ssds to have a read and write over 3gb/s as well as more storage, oh and the best part, Redundancy if wanted and the fact that a failure doesnt mean a multi thousand dollar loss.
  • 3 Hide
    freggo , January 3, 2013 4:14 PM
    rdc85It using SLC and geared towards enterprise market... IMO it understandable price...


    1989... 1MB of memory chips (card extra) was $100 wholesale !
    We sold them by the boat load for Amiga computers.

    And yes, that is 1 MegaByte...
    an 8MB card retailed for $1,800 (and that's in 1989 Dollars).

  • 2 Hide
    Andy Chow , January 3, 2013 4:35 PM
    Thank you for the nice metrics, like $/PB-Written. It's the type of useful information lacking from many reviews.
  • 0 Hide
    drewriley , January 3, 2013 5:11 PM
    youssef 2010????????!!!!!!!!!!!
    Fixed, thanks for the heads up!
  • 2 Hide
    drewriley , January 3, 2013 5:13 PM
    Andy ChowThank you for the nice metrics, like $/PB-Written. It's the type of useful information lacking from many reviews.

    I am glad you find it useful, it is something that I have always cared about and tested because I have been burned in the past.
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