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Benchmark Results: 4 KB Random Performance (Throughput)

Samsung Goes 6 Gb/s: Is The 830-Series SSD King Of The Hill?
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Our Storage Bench v1.0 mixes random and sequential operations. However, it's still important to isolate 4 KB random performance because that's a large portion of what the drive sees on a day-to-day basis. Right after Storage Bench v1.0, we subject the drives to Iometer, testing random 4 KB performance. But why specifically 4 KB?

When you open Firefox, browse multiple webpages, and write a few documents, you're mostly performing small random read and write operations. The chart above comes from analyzing Storage Bench v1.0, but it epitomizes what you'll see when you analyze any trace from a desktop computer. Notice that close to 70% of all of our accesses are eight sectors in size (512 bytes per sector, thus 4 KB).

We're restricting Iometer to test an LBA space of 16 GB because a fresh install of a 64-bit version of Windows 7 takes up nearly that amount of space. In a way, this examines the performance that you would see from accessing various scattered file dependencies, caches, and temporary files.

If you're a typical PC user, it's important to examine performance at a queue depth of one, because this is where the majority of your accesses are going to fall on a machine that isn't being hammered by I/O commands.

Before we get to the numbers, note that we're presenting random performance in MB/s instead of IOPS. There is a direct relationship between these two units, as average transfer size * IOPS = MB/s. Most workloads tend to be a mixture of different transfer sizes, which is why the ninjas in IT prefer IOPS. It reflects the number of transactions that occur per second. Since we're only testing with a single transfer size, it's more relevant to look at MB/s (it's also more intuitive for "the rest of us"). If you want to convert back to IOPS, just take the MB/s figure and divide by .004096 MB (remember your units) for the 4 KB transfer size.

At a queue depth of one, Samsung's 830 starts to show its principal weakness. In random reads, the 256 GB 830-series drive pushes slightly more than 160 MB/s. The closest contender is OCZ's 120 GB Vertex 3, but it falls behind by less than 4.5% with a random read rate of 154 MB/s. Crucial's 256 GB and 512 GB m4s still reign king with speeds slightly above 210 MB/s.

The 256 GB 830 drops even further down the chart in random write performance with a rather uninspiring result of 152 MB/s. This puts the 256 GB 830 very close to 120 GB SSDs employing first-gen SandForce hardware. Even Crucial's 128 GB m4 has a 5% lead on the 256 GB 830. Second-gen SandForce drives all deliver 40-50% greater performance in this discipline.

We've removed a few entries from our line graphs to make them more readable. Specifically, we pulled out some of the SandForce-based drives because many share the same performance profile. The key differentiator for SF-based SSDs vendors is memory: ONFi 2.0 versus ONFi 1.0 versus Toggle-mode DDR. We're holding onto three SSDs to represent each unique class of SandForce drive:

  • OCZ Vertex 3: second-gen SandForce-based SSD using synchronous ONFi 2.0 NAND.
  • OCZ Vertex Agility 3: second-gen SandForce-based SSD using asynchronous ONFi 1.0 NAND.
  • Patriot Wildfire: second-gen SandForce-based SSD using first-gen Toggle-mode DDR NAND.

When we start looking at performance across queue depths, we continue to see Samsung's 256 GB 830 shadow the 120 GB Vertex 3 in random reads. At queue depths lower than four, the 256 GB 830 outpaces the 240 GB Vertex 3 (ONFi 2.0) and the 120 GB Wildfire (Toggle-mode 1.0). However, at queue depths above four, the 240 GB Vertex 3 and 120 GB Wildfire edge ahead of the 256 GB 830 by roughly 10%.

In random writes, the 256 GB 830 is a middle-of-the-road performer, presenting speeds similar to 120 GB first-gen SandForce SSDs across all queue depths. Crucial's 256 GB m4 delivers almost 60% more performance, while OCZ's Vertex 3 offers speeds double that of the 256 GB 830. The 240 GB Vertex 3 actually manages to push past 300 MB/s once we hit queue depths above four.

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Top Comments
  • 20 Hide
    kikireeki , September 23, 2011 2:00 PM
    When will we be seeing articles like: SSD price slashed 50%?
  • 20 Hide
    pbrigido , September 23, 2011 12:12 PM
    With all of these fast SSDs coming to market, I can only hope that the competition starts to drive down prices soon.
Other Comments
  • 20 Hide
    pbrigido , September 23, 2011 12:12 PM
    With all of these fast SSDs coming to market, I can only hope that the competition starts to drive down prices soon.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , September 23, 2011 12:16 PM
    I still opt for the M4 in all the enthusiast builds I do!

    It boils down to reliability, not one hiccup on M4 yet (or any crucial drive Ive installed), 4/5 Sandforce drives I have installed have had some form of callback problem to resolve once deployed, mostly requiring firmware updates, but a few failed drives as well!

    Mind you, still better than the early Corsair force Series I used, every single one failed! Stopped using them quick!

    Am tempted by OCZ, once they have reliability on their side I will give them a go again!
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , September 23, 2011 12:57 PM
    Would love to see an article addressing Sandforce controller problems people have been experiencing.
  • 6 Hide
    mark_hamill , September 23, 2011 1:00 PM
    Would love to see an article addressing Sandforce controller problems people have been experiencing.
  • 3 Hide
    JamesSneed , September 23, 2011 1:02 PM
    Looks like a really nice SSD. Samsung has one of the best validation proceses along with Intel and Crucial so I really don't expect people to have issues like they do with OCZ drives. Now the real question how much will it be on the egg?

    I saw this quote below in the summary and laughed as nobody in there right mind would use a basic MLC drive in a database server. So Samsung tuned the drive for what it will be used in ,desktops, good.
    "Although we'd probably think twice before picking this as our first choice for a database server, it does just fine in an enthusiast's machine."
  • 20 Hide
    kikireeki , September 23, 2011 2:00 PM
    When will we be seeing articles like: SSD price slashed 50%?
  • -1 Hide
    JohnnyLucky , September 23, 2011 2:36 PM
    great review. now we just have to wait and see how the ssd will hold up over the long haul. If it is anything like the 470, then it should be problem free.
  • 0 Hide
    alikum , September 23, 2011 2:48 PM
    Make it $1 per GB at least
  • -3 Hide
    beenthere , September 23, 2011 3:04 PM
    We'll see how this series of Samsung SSDs fair. The previous gen was a nightmare of problems so I don't think Samsung's validation process is any better that the rest of the SSD suppliers - which is sad when Samsung controls everything including NAND production. It's amazing that we still have SSDs NOT readt for Prime Time.
  • 2 Hide
    AppleBlowsDonkeyBalls , September 23, 2011 4:53 PM
    beenthereWe'll see how this series of Samsung SSDs fair. The previous gen was a nightmare of problems so I don't think Samsung's validation process is any better that the rest of the SSD suppliers - which is sad when Samsung controls everything including NAND production. It's amazing that we still have SSDs NOT readt for Prime Time.


    Proof? I think you just pulled this out of your ass or from someone's that told you some story. The 470 series was VERY reliable.
  • 0 Hide
    Kamab , September 23, 2011 5:06 PM
    I've stuck with Intel and crucial drives on rigs that I had any decision on, but it's always nice to see a little competition. I expect prices will continue to drop pretty linearly over the next few years.
  • 0 Hide
    David 617 , September 23, 2011 5:21 PM
    ahh, its always refreshing to see a newer and faster SSD.
  • 0 Hide
    yurim , September 23, 2011 5:29 PM
    What is the physical height of the drive, is it 7 or 9.5 mm? I want to know if it will fit in a ThinkPad x200.
  • 0 Hide
    acku , September 23, 2011 5:51 PM
    yurimWhat is the physical height of the drive, is it 7 or 9.5 mm? I want to know if it will fit in a ThinkPad x200.


    7mm but it comes with a spacer to fit 9.5mm
  • -2 Hide
    belardo , September 23, 2011 6:53 PM
    Performance matters, but reliability over-rules that.

    Even today, I would NOT use OCZ drives on any computer. Yeah, they are generally the fastest drives on the market, but I'd rather get an intel, even an M2-X25. The return rates for ALL drives, other than intel... are bad. Samsung is worst in performances and tools. But this new drive... we'll have to see over time.
  • 0 Hide
    cmartin011 , September 23, 2011 7:20 PM
    Another two years before we meet dollar 1gb range for high performance ssd
  • 0 Hide
    ikyung , September 23, 2011 7:26 PM
    belardoPerformance matters, but reliability over-rules that.Even today, I would NOT use OCZ drives on any computer. Yeah, they are generally the fastest drives on the market, but I'd rather get an intel, even an M2-X25. The return rates for ALL drives, other than intel... are bad. Samsung is worst in performances and tools. But this new drive... we'll have to see over time.

    Really? Hmm, this is the first time I heard something negative about the 470series SSD. Everytime I read a SSD article the 470series always had good reviews on solid reliability.
  • 0 Hide
    JohnnyLucky , September 23, 2011 7:45 PM
    belardoPerformance matters, but reliability over-rules that.Even today, I would NOT use OCZ drives on any computer. Yeah, they are generally the fastest drives on the market, but I'd rather get an intel, even an M2-X25. The return rates for ALL drives, other than intel... are bad. Samsung is worst in performances and tools. But this new drive... we'll have to see over time.



    I have googled every which way and cannot find any references to any major problems or issues with the 470 series that is similar to what other brands have been going through.
  • -2 Hide
    boletus , September 23, 2011 9:03 PM
    I'll be watching the customer feedback on objective forums wrt reliability (certainly not mfgr-reported failure rates, which Tom's, and reality, have demonstrated to be useless). If these new Sammys can approach Intel's level of customer satisfaction, it will be a great step forward for SSD technology. If not, well just another pipe dream for those that value reliability over speed.
  • -2 Hide
    beenthere , September 23, 2011 9:13 PM
    All you need to do is read the actual owner reviews to know that Samsung a has had a ton of problems with their SSDs, similar to the other SSD suppliers. See Newegg, Samsung, etc. for user reports. I sure hope these folks finally invest the necessary effort to correct all of these SSD issues or I'm not buying their crap.
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