Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Conclusion

Accelerate Your Hard Drive By Short Stroking
By

The results are nothing less than eye-opening. Even though it is obvious that conventional hard drives will not stand a chance against upcoming flash SSD products, it is impressive to see that a little software modification is powerful enough to increase hard drive I/O performance at least by some percentage, and to introduce up to several times more performance in some benchmarks. Keep in mind that this is only about I/O performance, which is most interesting for servers. Throughput can be maximized by short stroking, but it doesn’t really increase.

How Expensive Is Performance?

It is also obvious that a single, decent flash SSD drive delivers better performance per watt than any hard drive array running in a short stroking setup. However, the total cost for a set of hard drives has to be part of your considerations. At this time, one of the Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000.B drives at 250 GB capacity should be available for $45, maybe even less. Getting four of them, limiting the capacity to a reasonable minimum and creating a RAID 0 or RAID 5 array will at least triple the throughput of a single drive, while also multiplying I/O performance. I doubt that any flash SSD at the cost of four of these hard drives ($150), if available at all, would be able to compete with such an array. Looking back at the poor results of recent flash SSD reviews, I wouldn’t want to get one of these low cost SSDs.

You Need RAID

Of course, you will need RAID capabilities on your host system, but even mainstream motherboards offer them these days. RAID 0 is only an option if you need a fast array for temporary data. For a system installation, you should really go for a RAID 5 or RAID 10 array, to make sure that your system survives if one of the hard drives should crash.

Short Stroking Is Powerful

We don’t think that short stroking setups are only interesting for new systems. It makes a lot of sense to look at your existing IT and server infrastructure, and consider the capacities that you actually need. Should performance-sensitive servers only be using a third or less of storage array capacities, we clearly recommend looking at cutting off some storage space and turning it into increased I/O performance. It may help you to delay hardware upgrades for a few months, which might not be what the hard drive makers want to hear, but is probably a good idea in times of economic difficulty.

Display all 103 comments.
This thread is closed for comments
Top Comments
  • 17 Hide
    mitch074 , March 5, 2009 6:53 AM
    HOWTO - take your new hard disk drive. Create a 32 Gb partition, from the first LBA block. Format it. Don't forget to enable NCQ if it isn't enabled by default. Store your test data on said partition. Create another partition with the leftover space, where you'll store, say, backups.

    Would you mind repeating your tests without using the Hitachi-specific tools, but a mere partitioning tool? 'far as I know, drives access platter sectors sequentially (platter 0 sector 0, platter 1 sector 0, etc.) thus partitioning correctly should have the same effect... That's certainly what I see with my own drives.
  • 10 Hide
    philologos , March 5, 2009 6:52 AM
    It's odd that you report short-stroking as a process of acceleration. I usually employ short strokes if I'm trying to delay the satisfaction of my I/O needs.

    Sorry, couldn't resist.
Other Comments
  • 8 Hide
    eddieroolz , March 5, 2009 5:02 AM
    You know, clicking on this article redirected me to a "Antivirus 360" popup which then said that my computer was infected. My fat ass - I have NOD32.

    You guys might want to check where your ads are coming from - only matter of time until one day someone infect themselves.
  • 5 Hide
    cl_spdhax1 , March 5, 2009 5:26 AM
    i just noticed that also, running adscan and virus scan.
  • 3 Hide
    cangelini , March 5, 2009 5:46 AM
    Not sure what you guys are experiencing. Running AVG here and no issues. But I'll report it just to make sure. Thanks for the heads-up.
  • 10 Hide
    philologos , March 5, 2009 6:52 AM
    It's odd that you report short-stroking as a process of acceleration. I usually employ short strokes if I'm trying to delay the satisfaction of my I/O needs.

    Sorry, couldn't resist.
  • 7 Hide
    Anonymous , March 5, 2009 6:53 AM
    Interesting article.

    I do wish they had a similar to for the WD's and Seagates just to see what kind of boost the higher density platters will provide and maybe you won't lose as much capacity in the process.

    Another thought would be for the tool to also allow you to format the one partition for performance but still allow you to use the remaining capacity as you see fit. If I want to try and keep everything in one section I could still get the benefits but if I need to, I can use the remaining room and know that I will get a performance hit.
  • 17 Hide
    mitch074 , March 5, 2009 6:53 AM
    HOWTO - take your new hard disk drive. Create a 32 Gb partition, from the first LBA block. Format it. Don't forget to enable NCQ if it isn't enabled by default. Store your test data on said partition. Create another partition with the leftover space, where you'll store, say, backups.

    Would you mind repeating your tests without using the Hitachi-specific tools, but a mere partitioning tool? 'far as I know, drives access platter sectors sequentially (platter 0 sector 0, platter 1 sector 0, etc.) thus partitioning correctly should have the same effect... That's certainly what I see with my own drives.
  • 0 Hide
    arkadi , March 5, 2009 8:06 AM
    Well the results are logical and make sense. Cant say it a new concept, but it is nice to see it on paper.
  • 3 Hide
    Thesmj , March 5, 2009 8:16 AM
    I got the same popup. The site it came from was "cleanyourpc-now.com".

    It spawns a pretty convincing looking explorer window which appears to scan all your drives. It even makes what looks like a bubble pop up above the tray telling you viruses were found.
  • -2 Hide
    sbuckler , March 5, 2009 8:17 AM
    It's always been known that using less of a hard disk makes it faster but that is hardly likely to make it perform on an SSD like level. HD's are done for when it comes to high throughput work.

    If want to make a HD peform better then instead of emptying it and only using 10% of the capacity which is somewhat impractical use a smart defragger that puts all the frequently used data together at the fast end of the disk. That will give you most of the performance most of the time without the disadvantage of a tiny disk size.
  • 2 Hide
    curnel_D , March 5, 2009 8:27 AM
    cangeliniNot sure what you guys are experiencing. Running AVG here and no issues. But I'll report it just to make sure. Thanks for the heads-up.

    This didnt show up at all on my vista 64-bit that I just tried, but did show up on an older xp machine I used when I first read this article. Bad news. :(  Would love to hear an explanation...
  • 4 Hide
    Silluete , March 5, 2009 9:02 AM
    Didn't get anything here too, I using vista 32-bit but my friend using xp and got some pop up, and now he running his AVG.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , March 5, 2009 10:01 AM
    I would like to see this in comparison with a RAID of SSD's. Comparing a RAID of short stroke with a RAID of SSD's, to see how they compare... This is very interesting and intriguing information.
  • 0 Hide
    armistitiu , March 5, 2009 10:03 AM
    Nice article. Didn't expect this kind of stuff from Tom's Hardware.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , March 5, 2009 10:13 AM
    im using xp and no popups for me. What browser are using those who get it?
  • 7 Hide
    wilsonkf , March 5, 2009 10:39 AM
    It is expectable that dual-head harddisk is coming - one for the outermost track, one for otherwise.

    Or may triple head?
  • 2 Hide
    Darkk , March 5, 2009 10:48 AM
    I didn't get the anti-virus ad pop up. Then again I'm running Linux and Firefox 3.0+
  • 2 Hide
    shreeharsha , March 5, 2009 10:56 AM
    No popups on Firefox 3.0.7 / Mac OS X 10.5.6
  • 0 Hide
    pcfxer , March 5, 2009 11:23 AM
    I find it odd that they recommend the crappy onboard RAID in most motherboards...I suppose server/workstation boards have better host controllers equipped onboard.
  • 0 Hide
    Pei-chen , March 5, 2009 11:48 AM
    I ran into the Antivirus 360 problem two days ago visiting Tom's home page; ran AVG and turned up nothing on my computer. IE7 + Vista 64

    Back to topic. I think a large Raid array made up of 2.5" hybrid drives or SSD + 2.5" drives is better than an all SSD array. Most accessed data are on the SSD and less accessed on 2.5"
  • -4 Hide
    konchus , March 5, 2009 12:26 PM
    i also utilize short stroke technology on my woman friends...they love it
Display more comments