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A Sexy Storage Spree: The 3 GB/s Project, Revisted

A Sexy Storage Spree: The 3 GB/s Project, Revisted
By , Achim Roos

We repeat our extreme SSD RAID project for the third time and arrange 16 Samsung 470-series SSDs based on MLC NAND in a RAID 0 array to reach new levels of performance. We weren't as fortunate this time, but not for the reasons you might suspect.

This article is a continuation of RAID testing we did with 16 Intel X25-E SSDs in July 2009 and a follow up in August 2009 with new LSI RAID controllers.

Our most recent extreme RAID array, build with 16 SSDs, created a total throughput of over 3.4 GB/s. That was more than a year and a half ago, and we haven't repeated our ambitious project until today. This should be especially interesting after the large time gap, because a lot has happened on the SSD market in the last few months. So, we decided to relaunch our extreme RAID project for one important purpose: we want to illustrate the potential of SSDs have when paired with professional controller hardware, and to provide an outlook into what SSDs could hold for us in the future.

We again used an array of 16 SSDs for our benchmark runs, simply because we weren’t able to gather more of them. More specifically, we received 16 Samsung 470-series drives, even though other drives like Crucial's RealSSD C300, OCZ’s Vertex 3, and Intel's new models deliver higher throughput.

We expect the extreme RAID to easily pass the 3 GB/s mark, and hopefully go a good bit higher. Really, we're justified in those projections given benchmark results of the individual drives, which show the Samsung devices demonstrating sequential read speed of around 261 MB/s and sequential write speed of 224 MB/s. In our previous RAID system, we used 16 Intel X25-E drives, which reached an average throughput of around 220 MB/s. So, we expect to increase our results this time around (and for a lot less money, too).

The Hunt For Performance Bottlenecks

Aside from the SSDs, we made few changes to our tried-and-true test system. Our platform, based on a Supermicro X8SAX X58 Express motherboard with Intel’s 2.66 GHz first-generation Core i7-920 quad-core processor and 3 GB of DDR3-1333 memory, is already fast enough to support higher throughput, especially since we used two x16 PCI Express 2.0 ports for the RAID controllers. An X58 platform employing PCIe 2.0 can theoretically push up to 8 GB/s, so there isn’t any risk of running into an interface bottleneck.

We also relied on tested and proven RAID controllers: LSI put two of its PCI Express 2.0 MegaRAID 9260-8i at our disposal, each of which allows the connection of eight SSDs. We used both controllers to distribute the SSDs across two PCI Express ports in an effort to avoid bottlenecks. We had an additional LSI card in the mix as well, the MegaRAID 9280-24i4e, which can accommodate up to 24 SATA/SAS drives. We selected this controller to try driving all 16 SSD drives from a single controller. The implication there, of course, is that two controllers should enable more throughput than a single card, and we're ready to test that hypothesis.

Did we successfully eliminate all bottlenecks? Yes and no. The system easily allows our combination of RAID controllers and SSDs to reach a throughput of over 3 GB/s. However, the RAID controller reached some limits; a controller with a greater bandwidth would have enabled even greater performance.

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  • 0 Hide
    jeff77789 , April 22, 2011 4:21 AM
    I want one of those...
  • 1 Hide
    user 18 , April 22, 2011 4:31 AM
    jeff77789I want one of those...

    Why stop at one? I want two!
  • 0 Hide
    burnley14 , April 22, 2011 4:49 AM
    Wow, throughput in GB/s. Makes my paltry single SSD look shameful. How fast did Windows boot up out of curiosity?
  • 1 Hide
    the associate , April 22, 2011 4:55 AM
    Overkill benches like this are awesome, I can't wait to see the crazy shit were gona have in 10 years from now.

    burnley14How fast did Windows boot up out of curiosity?

    I'd also like to know =D
  • 1 Hide
    abhinav_mall , April 22, 2011 4:56 AM
    How many organs I will have to sell to get such a setup?
    My 3 year old Vista takes 40 painful seconds to boot.
  • 0 Hide
    knowom , April 22, 2011 5:01 AM
    You can use super cache/super volume on SSD's or even USB thumb drives to dramatically improve the I/O and bandwidth at the expense of using up a bit of your system ram still the results are impressive and works on HD's as well, but they suffer from access times no matter what.

    I don't even think I'd bother getting a SSD anymore after using super volume on a USB thumb drive and SSD the results are nearly identical regardless of which is used and thumb drives are portable and cheaper for the density you get for some messed up reason.
  • 0 Hide
    knowom , April 22, 2011 5:02 AM
    I'd be really interested to see super cache/super volume used on this raid array actually it can probably boost it further or should be able to in theory.
  • 1 Hide
    x3style , April 22, 2011 8:06 AM
    abhinav_mallHow many organs I will have to sell to get such a setup?My 3 year old Vista takes 40 painful seconds to boot.

    Wow people still use vista? Was that even an OS? It felt like some beta test thing.
  • 0 Hide
    nitrium , April 22, 2011 10:58 AM
    I suspect you'll all be VERY disappointed at how long Windows takes to boot (but I'd also like to know). Unfortunately, most operations in Windows (such as loading apps, games, booting, etc) occur at QD 1 (average is about QD 1.04, QD > 4 are rare). As you can see on Page 7, at QD1 it only gets about 19 MB/sec - the SAME speed as basically any decent single SSD manufactured in the last 3 years.
  • 0 Hide
    kkiddu , April 22, 2011 11:18 AM
    mayankleoboy1holy shit! thats fast. how about giving them as a contest prize?

    I WANT 16 OF THOSE !

    For God's sake, that's $7000 worth of hardware, not including the PC. DAMN DAMN DAMN !! 3 gigabytes per second. And to think, that while on dial-up 4 years back, I downloaded at 3 kilobytes per second (Actually it was more like 2.5 KB/s).
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , April 22, 2011 11:21 AM
    "Albeit Risky" what made them risky?
  • 1 Hide
    user 18 , April 22, 2011 12:16 PM
    terasddd"Albeit Risky" what made them risky?

    It's in RAID 0. If any one drive goes, you lose all the data on the array.
  • 1 Hide
    compton , April 22, 2011 12:39 PM
    Thanks for taking it "2 x-treeeemms"

    Hmmm. I wonder just how reliable 16 MLC SSDs are. I know that wasn't part of the test, but I'd figure with sixteen of them working around the clock, how long would one of the take to start acting up?
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , April 22, 2011 12:49 PM
    This was apparent years ago - keep-it-up somebody has to push the envelope
  • 0 Hide
    Leaps-from-Shadows , April 22, 2011 2:11 PM
    Some pretty nice performance numbers there.

    If you end up giving away those drives, I'll take one. Not the whole array, just one drive. I'm not greedy!
  • 0 Hide
    Marco925 , April 22, 2011 2:58 PM
    mayankleoboy1holy shit! thats fast. how about giving them as a contest prize?

    As if it will be available outside of USA
  • 0 Hide
    balister , April 22, 2011 4:34 PM
    This would be something a large corporation may want to make and use, but instead of a RAID 0, they'd probably make a RAID 10 so that they have redundancy.

    I could also see this being used mainly for read situations where you have data that doesn't change much, maybe just add to it, but you need to be able to get to the data quickly. Best situation I could think of would something along the lines of Patient Information for Electronic Medical Records.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , April 22, 2011 9:24 PM
    I would like to know where the raid card becomes the bottleneck, how many SSD's can saturate that card? specially with the even faster SSD's.
    And how about some raid 10 results? and while your at it raid 5,6,50 and 60 results? if you have the kit why not?
  • 0 Hide
    cadder , April 23, 2011 12:05 AM
    At what data transfer level can a single user detect the difference? Meaning for something like a professional workstation. A single SSD seems to be an improvement over a rotating hard drive, and some people use dual SSD's in a RAID configuration. Would it be worthwhile for a professional workstation to have a RAID with more than 2 SSD's?
  • -1 Hide
    truchonic , April 23, 2011 12:09 AM
    ssd is on my list to my upgrade, booting fast not only windows also each program
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