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Results: Random Performance

Adata Premier Pro SP920 SSD: From 128 To 1024 GB, Reviewed
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We turn to Iometer as our synthetic metric of choice for testing 4 KB random performance. Technically, "random" translates to a consecutive access that occurs more than one sector away. On a mechanical hard disk, this can lead to significant latencies that hammer performance. Spinning media simply handles sequential accesses much better than random ones, since the heads don't have to be physically repositioned. With SSDs, the random/sequential access distinction is much less relevant. Data are put wherever the controller wants it, so the idea that the operating system sees one piece of information next to another is mostly just an illusion.

4 KB Random Read

Testing the performance of SSDs often emphasizes 4 KB random reads, and for good reason. Most system accesses are both small and random. Moreover, read performance is arguably more important than writes when you're talking about typical client workloads.

128/256 GB Adata SP920

Against the smaller M500s, Adata's SSDs establish a slim lead at a queue depth of one and lead from there. Low-queue depth random read performance is a very relevant measurement, and the SP920s manage to improve, even using (more or less) the same flash. Likely, the gains come from the updated controller and firmware instead. 

Of course, none of these drives can come close to Samsung's 840 EVO, which is up to 25% quicker at a queue depth of one.

With 32 outstanding commands, Adata's 128 GB SP920 is on par with the 240 GB M500.

512/1024 GB Adata SP920

It comes as no surprise that the 512 and 1024 GB SP920s are functionally identical to Crucial's M550s at the same capacity points, even though were able to coax a few hundred more IOPS out of Crucial's drives. That's pretty standard though, and we might see the same variance from the same SSD on different runs.

4 KB Random Writes

Random write performance is also important. Early SSDs didn't do well in this discipline, seizing up even in light workloads. Newer SSDs wield more than 100x the performance of drives from 2007, though we also recognize that there's a point of diminishing returns in desktop environments.

128/256 GB Adata SP920

Sporting fewer dies, these lower-capacity drives tap out earlier. Our workload is sufficiently intense to saturate the higher-density configurations at lower queue depths.

Still, we get 16,000 more IOPS from the 256 GB SP920 compared to the 240 GB M500, and 10,000 more IOPS from Adata's 128 GB model versus the 120 GB M500. The drives feature the same number of addressable NAND elements, so most of the speed-up, again, likely comes from the controller.

512/1024 GB Adata SP920

We hit more than 80,000 IOPS with just four outstanding commands. The M550 platform wrings out over 91,000 tested similarly. These drives plateau at a queue depth of eight, so latency is best there. Beyond that, every model offers the same performance, albeit at higher latency.

Random Performance Over Time

My saturation test consists of writing to each drive for a specific duration with a defined workload. Technically, it's an enterprise-class benchmark, where the entire LBA space of the SSD is utilized by a random write at high queue depths.

Here's 12 hours of a 4 KB write with 32 outstanding commands. First, we secure erase each drive. Then we apply the 4 KB write load, showing the average IOPS for each minute (except for the last 20 minutes, where we zoom in and show you one-second average increments).

After the first drive fill, performance drops off fast, since the SSD no longer has free blocks to write to. Instead, they have to be erased prior to subsequent writes.

Today we're showing a breakout of both drive families at steady state for a 4 KB write at a queue depth of 32.

I wanted to use this workload to show that the Crucial M550 and Adata SP920 drive families behave similarly. More so than just the raw performance numbers, we want to characterize these SSDs. And as I might have predicted, this test shows that two identically-configured devices (the 512 GB models, specifically), are more or less the same.

Here's a breakdown of the maximum observed 4 KB sequential read and write performance with Iometer. The order the drives appear in our chart is determined by maximum combined read and write performance.

Drives like the 1024 GB SP920 are about as fast as the SATA 6Gb/s interface will let them be.

The overhead associated with small transfers brings down the throughput ceiling. That is, it's easy to saturate SATA with large sequential operations. But these drives demonstrate you can do somewhere around 400 MB/s with aligned 4 KB blocks.

Display all 21 comments.
  • 0 Hide
    rolli59 , April 1, 2014 6:43 PM
    Would buy one in a heartbeat. Regardless of who makes them, nice move Adata.
  • 0 Hide
    blackmagnum , April 1, 2014 7:13 PM
    I prefer Sandisk, if you don't mind.
  • 1 Hide
    cryan , April 1, 2014 10:04 PM
    Quote:
    I prefer Sandisk, if you don't mind.


    The X210 is pretty awesome, but newer Marvell implementations are built with Haswell-style power features in mind. If you're looking for a drive to use in mobile applications, mind the heat and power consumption stats.

    Regards,
    Christopher Ryan
  • -2 Hide
    rajangel , April 1, 2014 10:51 PM
    Awhile back I purchased a few different SSD's to test out (OCZ, Crucial, Patriot, Adata). The Adata is the only one still running and was always the quickest. I don't know how this one is built, but the last Adata was built tough. The OCZ was so flimsy it felt like paper. The Crucial and the Patriot were slightly better in build quality. Now that I'm in the market for a new drive I may consider this.
  • 1 Hide
    cryan , April 1, 2014 10:54 PM
    Quote:
    Awhile back I purchased a few different SSD's to test out (OCZ, Crucial, Patriot, Adata). The Adata is the only one still running and was always the quickest. I don't know how this one is built, but the last Adata was built tough. The OCZ was so flimsy it felt like paper. The Crucial and the Patriot were slightly better in build quality. Now that I'm in the market for a new drive I may consider this.


    I have to say, the plastic or metal chassis a drive comes in doesn't mean much. In the lab, I like a nice heavy metal SSD casing, but in a laptop? You probably want a flimsy plastic chassis. It's not conductive and doesn't add much weight.


    Regards,
    Christopher Ryan
  • -2 Hide
    rajangel , April 1, 2014 11:01 PM
    It's a matter of opinion. I like things that are built well, and have a quality appearance. I think build quality does affect performance (read reliability). Especially when connectors/etc are cheap in construction. However, just my opinion.
  • 1 Hide
    cryan , April 2, 2014 12:44 AM
    Quote:
    It's a matter of opinion. I like things that are built well, and have a quality appearance. I think build quality does affect performance (read reliability). Especially when connectors/etc are cheap in construction. However, just my opinion.


    I agree that a substantial chassis tends to reinforce the perception of a drive's build quality, but much of the time its aesthetic. The component choice on the PCB speaks more to quality. I've seen some downright terrible drives in the fanciest of cases.

    Regards,
    Christopher Ryan

  • -4 Hide
    rajangel , April 2, 2014 3:32 AM
    I think there should be a restriction that prevents the article author from replying, unless there is a substantial mistake that was noted. I feel like tomshardware authors troll their own threads. This has become a problem lately. I'm at the point where I feel my business and time would be better spent on a real tech website. Tomshardware is like the Yahoo of tech sites lately.
  • 0 Hide
    iltamies , April 2, 2014 6:39 AM
    Typo on last page: "Adata gets a solid product able to soften the wait, and Micron (Crucial's parent company) gets to more more volume." should read "move more volume."
  • 0 Hide
    Wisecracker , April 2, 2014 6:45 AM

    Impressive ... power consumption is a bit high though, compared to the Samsung 120GB Evo (my current $80 fav)

    Are 'microseconds' considered 'milliseconds' ??
  • -1 Hide
    Pibee , April 2, 2014 7:26 AM
    Interesting review, sadly yet understandably reviews never examine the range issues that can arise in everyday usage, and consequently how something that begins relatively small can grow to be an absolute killer for what would otherwise be a good and very competitive product.

    Case in point. I read ADATA had released driver updates back in February. I have a SX 900 64G I use for benchmarking. After downloading and running the 525 FieldUpdater it was obvious that no matching driver was included in the newly released 525 driver update package I had downloaded despite the SX 900 being on the list.

    I emailed tech support and didn't receive a reply for 7 days despite the confirmation of receipt stating a response would come in 1 to 3 days. I did get a reply after a posting the issue to their Facebook page in which I was told "Please see the attached for the signature file you needed for the firmware update as it took us some time to obtain it from our headquarters"

    Indeed a matching 525 FieldUpdater driver had been included in this email and I installed it.

    The result was something to see, erratic and downright wonky, come to mind. A malfunction in the installation I presumed and so I downloaded the ADATA software suite SSD Tool which wouldn't and couldn't Security Erase the disk. Parted Magic was then installed and did the job allowing me to clean reinstall the driver I'd been emailed and hopefully resolve the erratic performance issue. In part it resolved erratic reads and writes but now every ATTO write above the 128k mark had lost 40% of its performance capability from the benchmarks using the previous driver.

    Support were emailed including ATTO screen captures, and their response was to send it back for replacement.
    _Wait a minute just sent me the old driver I stated in my response
    Can't "After consulting with our headquarters, it’s confirmed that once the firmware is updated, it cannot be removed or fallback to the older version".

    Having no choice I hinted that as this debacle had originated with them that an upgrade from 64G would be an appropriate compensation for the enormous waste of time, and additional costs I was incurring.


    The disk was packaged and insured then sent to ADATA for a cost of 20$ and it should be noted that locally this additional $20 represented the retail difference between a 64G and a 128G capacity.
    Tracking informed me ADATA received the disk in 5 days and later confirmed by them. Once the 3 to 5 days turn over stated by them came and passed and on day seven a status inquiry was sent and 6 hrs later, confirmation a package to me had been put in the hands of mail services.

    That was March 21 and I received the disk 11 days later April 1st in my snail mail box no signature required (a less scrupulous person could easily exploit that).

    The round trip experience total is six weeks with a dollar output of over 20% of the sticker price the disk was purchased for. Total time wasted on their error, fiddling with downloads installing and removing ADATA brand software that didn't accomplish the required tasks (additionally the Acronis suite that was packaged with the drive never successfully completed the key transaction on their site) research, installations removal... ya'll get the picture.

    Does the SX 900 perform well/competitively... all the published reviews and accompanying benchmarks hold true, so yes it's a cracker even in the 64G capacity.

    Would I recommend it?
    Only to a tech masochist with tons of time to waste as well a a few bucks.
    Now you have a more complete picture.
  • 0 Hide
    cryan , April 2, 2014 7:30 AM
    Quote:

    Impressive ... power consumption is a bit high though, compared to the Samsung 120GB Evo (my current $80 fav)

    Are 'microseconds' considered 'milliseconds' ??


    Remember (at least for idle) that these are active numbers. That is, the drive and host aren't collaborating to put the drive in a lower power state. In a mobile application, most every SSD is going to drop to lower sleep-state levels, but at the cost of higher latency when returning to idle. For the sake of consistent testing we choose to use active idle.

    Did we mix up our units somewhere?


    Regards,
    Christopher Ryan
  • 0 Hide
    sammyboi , April 2, 2014 8:23 AM
    "The M500 is up to MU03 now"you may want to update crucial fw from MU03 to MU05 as the latest fw
  • 1 Hide
    sammyboi , April 2, 2014 8:26 AM
    "The M500 is up to MU03 now"you may want to update crucial fw from MU03 to MU05 as the latest fw
  • 3 Hide
    Evolution2001 , April 2, 2014 1:24 PM
    Quote:
    I think there should be a restriction that prevents the article author from replying, unless there is a substantial mistake that was noted. I feel like tomshardware authors troll their own threads. This has become a problem lately. I'm at the point where I feel my business and time would be better spent on a real tech website. Tomshardware is like the Yahoo of tech sites lately.

    I disagree. I actually like seeing the authors chime in. I think it builds a better community as the authors seem more accessible and thus reliable and relatable.
    I also don't think Christopher Ryan is trolling in the strictest definition of the word; He's not trying to stir things up for the sake of starting a post war. He's simply continuing to give his opinion and replies in threads. Why should they not be able to make comments on articles they've written? It is expected that any knowledge they can impart to the community is considered of value, regardless if it's in the original article or in the comments section. I think there's also a potential consideration where maybe they have more to share, but due to time constraints or simply available space, they didn't say all they really wanted. So they chime in in the comments section. Kinda like the "extras" on a DVD or BR... "Oh, Director Commentary. Cool!"
  • 0 Hide
    Damn_Rookie , April 2, 2014 2:28 PM
    I agree with Evolution2001 above, I too like seeing the authors in the comment sections. It often leads to a greater insight into the topic, their take on things, and why they focused or didn't focus on specific things in the article. It's definitely a positive for me.
  • 0 Hide
    cryan , April 2, 2014 11:05 PM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    I think there should be a restriction that prevents the article author from replying, unless there is a substantial mistake that was noted. I feel like tomshardware authors troll their own threads. This has become a problem lately. I'm at the point where I feel my business and time would be better spent on a real tech website. Tomshardware is like the Yahoo of tech sites lately.

    I disagree. I actually like seeing the authors chime in. I think it builds a better community as the authors seem more accessible and thus reliable and relatable.
    I also don't think Christopher Ryan is trolling in the strictest definition of the word; He's not trying to stir things up for the sake of starting a post war. He's simply continuing to give his opinion and replies in threads. Why should they not be able to make comments on articles they've written? It is expected that any knowledge they can impart to the community is considered of value, regardless if it's in the original article or in the comments section. I think there's also a potential consideration where maybe they have more to share, but due to time constraints or simply available space, they didn't say all they really wanted. So they chime in in the comments section. Kinda like the "extras" on a DVD or BR... "Oh, Director Commentary. Cool!"


    I'm making an effort to try and encourage more discussion, which means becoming more active in the comment section. Previously, I tended to let them be. Now, I think I can increase the utility of the comments section over time by more active participation.

    As someone who used to read and post comments on Tom's as a reader, I always thought it was awesome that I had a place where I could interact with the author. I want to see more of that with my reviews, so my participation is the best way to make that happen.

    Regards,
    Christopher Ryan
  • 0 Hide
    Drejeck , April 3, 2014 5:40 AM
    i'd like to see more msata and m.2 offerings, sata3 just doesn't keep up anymore, it's getting obsolete even it's more than sufficient for 99% of the people
  • 0 Hide
    CaedenV , April 3, 2014 10:59 AM
    @rajangel You think that is trolling? You should see what Daniel Rubino does to readers over at WP Central. That is trolling at its finest and the community there is healthier for it. It helps keep ignorant morons who mistake aesthetics for reliability and performance in check so that the adults can hold more constructive conversation.
  • 0 Hide
    cryan , April 3, 2014 2:44 PM
    Quote:
    i'd like to see more msata and m.2 offerings, sata3 just doesn't keep up anymore, it's getting obsolete even it's more than sufficient for 99% of the people


    mSATA SSDs are still using the SATA 3.1 host spec, as are most M.2s. There are a few M.2 PCIe SSDs, but there are currently next to no applications for them. We have more M.2 and mSATA reviews on the way, so you should be able to judge for yourself.

    Regards,
    Christopher Ryan
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