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Test Setup, Flash SSDs and Access Time

Accelerate Your Hard Drive By Short Stroking
By
System Hardware
Processors
2x Intel Xeon Processor (Nocona core), 3.6 GHz, FSB800, 1 MB L2 Cache
Platform
Asus NCL-DS (Socket 604), Intel E7520 Chipset, BIOS 1005
RAM
Corsair CM72DD512AR-400 (DDR2-400 ECC, reg.), 2x 512 MB, CL3-3-3-10 Timings
System Hard Drive
Western Digital Caviar WD1200JB, 120 GB, 7,200 RPM, 8 MB Cache, UltraATA/100
Mass Storage Controller(s)
Adaptec RAID 5805, 8x SAS, FW + Driver 16343
Networking
Broadcom BCM5721 On-Board Gigabit Ethernet NIC
Graphics Subsystem

On-Board Graphics, ATI RageXL, 8 MB

System Hardware
Performance Measurements
c't h2benchw 3.6, PCMark05 V1.01
I/O Performance
IOMeter 2003.05.10
Fileserver-Benchmark, Webserver-Benchmark, Database-Benchmark, Workstation-Benchmark
System Software and Drivers
OS
Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition, Service Pack 1
Platform Driver
Intel Chipset Installation Utility 7.0.0.1025
Graphics Driver
Default Windows Graphics Driver


Flash SSDs For Comparison

For comparison purposes, we used a Mtron Pro 7500 SLC enterprise flash SSD, as well as a mainstream Samsung 64 GB flash SSD.

Mtron’s Pro 7500 is a 3.5” drive based on SLC flash memory. This is one of the more serious enterprise flash SSD products on the market.

Samsung’s 64 GB SLC flash SSD is a consumer product that has been used in various notebooks such as the Lenovo X300. We decided to use it as a comparison drive to represent a decent mainstream flash SSD.

Access Time

Although short stroking doesn’t get hard drives anywhere the access times of flash SSDs, we found that their access times still decrease by 40% in the case of the Ultrastar 15K450 SAS HDDs, and by an amazing 50% in the case of the Deskstar 7K1000.B SATA drives. The advantages are similar when the drives are configured in RAID modes. Since no future hard drive will be able to significantly shorten today’s access times, short stroking is an excellent technique for improving performance in a very noticeable way. Even the desktop 7K1000.B shows access times that are quicker than those of 10,000 RPM drives.

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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
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