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Conclusion

Three PCI Express-Based SSDs: When SATA 6 Gb/s Is Too Slow
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The results give us a mixed impression of these amazing storage devices. Certainly, none of them can be considered perfect PCI Express-based SSDs for enthusiasts or professionals looking to arm a workstation with a fast storage subsystem, despite some bone-crushing results.

Administrators looking for high-performance solid-state storage should start their search with the ioDrive by Fusion-io. Its performance is so impressive and so consistent across all of the benchmark categories that we have no choice but to declare the ioDrive this shootout's performance winner. Not only is at great in sequential throughput, 4 KB random read/writes, and I/O workload tests, but it is also hardly susceptible to performance degradations under heavy use. And it doesn't care if you're moving compressible log files or incompressible video data. Kudos to Fusion-io for a product that is still superior, despite its age.

However, the Fusion-io drives are the most expensive ones (count on spending several grand), and they're hobbled in many environments by the fact that you cannot boot from them. That immediately disqualifies them from use in an enthusiast machine or a workstation. 

Instead, LSI and OCZ are left in the ring. We clearly found that OCZ is best suited to sequential operation, while LSI does better in many of the I/O tests. However, OCZ's Ibis does have weaknesses that we don’t want to accept, given its $700 price tag (for the 240 GB version, that is). The Ibis cannot execute concurrent reads and writes very well, as the AS SSD copy tests prove. In addition, it suffers from the fact that its mainstream SandForce SF-1220 controllers rely on data compression. Once data cannot be compressed, performance can drop significantly. That's something to keep in mind when you think about the ways you'd use the Ibis. Lastly, this drive struggles in some of the I/O performance tests.

LSI is left, and the WarpDrive SLP-300 does give us a really great show. Depending on the workload, it either trades blows with the ioDrive or it comes in second place. It also suffers at times from the nature of its more enterprise-oriented SandForce SF-1500 controllers, but the handicaps affecting non-compressible data are less significant than on the Ibis. Effectively, LSI is showing off the I/O capabilities of its LSISAS2008 controller, as it dominates the I/O test patterns for database, file server, Web server, and workstation scenarios. But then you have to take into account that the WarpDrive costs more than $7000. Youch. Truly, this belong in an I/O-bound server. And in that application, the WarpDrive is an amazing I/O performance asset.

Given that last line, we really have to stop, turn around, and look at OCZ's Ibis again. Is it worth spending 10x the money on LSI device's to dance around the OCZ drive's weaknesses? We’re talking about state-of-the-art SSD storage here. In some situations, it makes sense to put forth the added investment. More often, though, we have to think that OCZ's approach turns out to be smarter, despite its handful of shortcomings. At the end of the day, OCZ got innovative and designed something new to address a market niche it perceived. What results is a value-oriented solution that still sounds expensive to a majority of desktop users. However, in the context of today's other two PCI Express-based solutions, OCZ's Ibis turns out to be the most sensible choice in our story.

And in case you're wonder, the third-generation RevoDrives are just about here. They may give OCZ an even more compelling price/performance story. We'll have more on those soon!

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  • 0 Hide
    amk09 , July 1, 2011 4:13 AM
    wow just wow, I want one so bad.
  • 1 Hide
    iubyont , July 1, 2011 4:55 AM
    I want to see this comparison updated when Intel's 720 SSD arrives. Were Intel's listed speeds mere exaggeration?
  • 6 Hide
    gkay09 , July 1, 2011 5:36 AM
    The OCZ Revo and the Revo X2 drives have been available for a long time also the X3 has just been released,... IMO these should have been reviewed here too,...
  • 2 Hide
    yukijin , July 1, 2011 6:30 AM
    i'm wondering how fast you can cold boot windows 7...
  • 1 Hide
    Jax69 , July 1, 2011 9:15 AM
    __-_-_-__you really should have tested iodrive OCTAL. that would kick ass this shitty pci-e ssd's. Also you should have compared with ramdisks.

    Ramdisks are orders of magnitude faster than any SSD available now. IoDrive is still very good despite it's age, the new ones are way faster.
  • 0 Hide
    shin0bi272 , July 1, 2011 9:54 AM
    that's all well and good but who cares?

    http://www.engadget.com/2011/06/30/embargo-ibm-develops-instantaneous-memory-100x-faster-than-fl/
  • 9 Hide
    Anonymous , July 1, 2011 10:38 AM
    First page: "To make a long story short, please don't take this review as a shootout, but as a look at different concepts and options."

    Last page: "Its performance is so impressive and so consistent across all of the benchmark categories that we have no choice but to declare the ioDrive this shootout's performance winner."

    What?
  • 1 Hide
    burnley14 , July 1, 2011 11:04 AM
    I'm actually not too impressed. For how much these things currently cost, they should be 10x faster than current SATA SSDs. It looks like more like 3x though. Still nothing to laugh at, but I think they have a long way to go still.
  • 0 Hide
    srgess , July 1, 2011 1:05 PM
    __-_-_-__you really should have tested iodrive OCTAL. that would kick ass this shitty pci-e ssd's. Also you should have compared with ramdisks.


    Ramdisk speed are like 7000 mb/s + if i remmember... I doubt ssd or pci ssd will come close to a loyal benchmark.
  • -2 Hide
    lradunovic77 , July 1, 2011 1:31 PM
    SATA has no future, eventually will be replace with PCIe in some other maybe form of connector.
  • -1 Hide
    Hupiscratch , July 1, 2011 3:14 PM
    Is not possible to install games in a Fusion-io board? I´ve always thought it was possible to install the games on the Fusion-io and the OS on a standard SSD.
  • 1 Hide
    biotkcdr , July 1, 2011 3:24 PM
    This test is seriously flawed. The LSI had 6 SSDs in RAID on one card. The ioDimms were stand-alone. They (ioDimms) scale linearly across all performance metrics as you raid them together. Stick an ioDuo drive in there and you will literally get twice the performance on a single slot (and beat your six raided drives in all metrics). Stick 2 duos in the PCIe bus and you will get 4x the performance. You can't do that with spinning disks and you can't do that with SSDs--you get diminishing returns and non-linearities. Can't boot? It doesn't matter so much. Keep all your caches, game files, applications, scratch disks, and indexes on the fusion cards and you'll be blown away. You should have pointed out how weak the LSI card was in reality. The larger capacity for that card was, in reality, multiple drives raided together on a single card. Big deal, you could do that with an ioOctal and have 8x performance over a single ioDimm. These other drives just don't stack up against the ioDimms. Agreed, the price point isn't for the enthusiast, but in an enterprise scenario, what you can do with an Fusion-io setup is simply amazing. Furthermore, you didn't even get into a discussion about how important latency is, or the wear life of the drives. Those are other places where Fusion-io is way way out in front FTW.
  • 1 Hide
    biotkcdr , July 1, 2011 3:31 PM
    shin0bi272that's all well and good but who cares?http://www.engadget.com/2011/06/30 [...] r-than-fl/


    Nice, but there are limitations on the theoretical limits of copper and current limitations on the pcie bus. It's all about how fast you can feed the processor and with how little latency. Yes, this is great, but it's how you deploy the technology on existing infrastructure that will matter (until that infrastructure catches up).
  • 1 Hide
    vvhocare5 , July 1, 2011 3:43 PM
    burnley14I'm actually not too impressed. For how much these things currently cost, they should be 10x faster than current SATA SSDs. It looks like more like 3x though. Still nothing to laugh at, but I think they have a long way to go still.


    I agree. The speed is interesting but not what it should be. Im thinking these cards also need a large RAM cache to make use of the PCI bus speeds and then let the SSDs work in the background -just like the high performance hard drive cards do. The controllers dont seem to be optimized for PCI-bus level speeds.
  • 1 Hide
    biotkcdr , July 1, 2011 3:58 PM
    No RAM cache is involved. You're either on the PCIe bus or not. Tom's has a diagram on one of these pages explaining the setup.
  • 0 Hide
    Apple Troll Master , July 1, 2011 4:50 PM
    lradunovic77SATA has no future, eventually will be replace with PCIe in some other maybe form of connector.


    LightPeak will replace SATA.
  • 0 Hide
    iwod , July 2, 2011 4:08 AM
    biotkcdrNice, but there are limitations on the theoretical limits of copper and current limitations on the pcie bus. It's all about how fast you can feed the processor and with how little latency. Yes, this is great, but it's how you deploy the technology on existing infrastructure that will matter (until that infrastructure catches up).


    Exactly. Not to mention in an non compressible truly random scenario, those Sandforce Controller wont be that much faster in Random Write. And all the funny things happen with Sandforce controller. Consistency is much more important. Fusion - IO truly wins this test with a technology that is now nearly 4 years old.
  • -2 Hide
    Anonymous , July 2, 2011 7:13 AM
    My PC boots up in 8 seconds to the password prompt. It's soooooo slowwwww..
    $110.00 for a 60GB SATA2 Mushkin. 240MB/sec both ways. Really: I love it!
  • 1 Hide
    sceen311 , July 2, 2011 2:19 PM
    "Three PCI Express-Based SSDs: When SATA 6 Gb/s Is Too Slow"

    Then why are you comparing these PCI Express SSD's to SATA @ 3 Gb/s?
    Seriously big flaw in your tests here.
  • -1 Hide
    fall0ut3 , July 2, 2011 9:52 PM
    This is crazy to think SATA 6 will be slow on SSD, even the cheapest ssd is a lot faster than a HDD
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