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Test Setup, Benchmarks, And Methodology

Micron P420m SSD Review: 1.4 TB Of PCI Express-Attached Storage
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 P420m 1400 GB
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
Benchmark Suite
Iometer v1.1.0
4 Workers, 4 KB Random: LBA=Full, Span Varying Queue Depths 
ATTO
v2.4.7, 2 GB, QD=4
Custom
C++, 8 MB Sequential, QD=4
Enterprise Testing: Iometer Workloads
Read
Write
512 Bytes
1 KB
2 KB
4 KB
8 KB
16 KB
32 KB
64 KB
128 KB
512 KB
Database
67%
100%
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
100%
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
File Server
80%
100%
10%
5%
5%
60%
2%
4%
4%
10%
n/a
n/a
Web Server
100%
100%
22%
15%
8%
23%
15%
2%
6%
7%
1%
1%

The Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA), a working group made up of SSD, flash, and controller vendors, has 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’s incredibly easy to not fully condition the drive and still observe out-of-box behavior, which may lead one to think that it’s 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 P420m does not perform any data compression prior to writing, so there is no difference in performance-based data patterns.

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