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Loading A Realm In World Of Warcraft: Cataclysm

SSD Performance In Crysis 2, World Of Warcraft, And Civilization V
By

Overall Statistics
World of Warcraft: Cataclysm: Realm Loading
Elapsed Time
00:18
Read Operations
5 727
Write Operations
124
Data Read
127.58 MB
Data Written
1.18 MB
Disk Busy Time
0.93 s
Average Data Rate
138.15 MB/


Blizzard purposely designed World of Warcraft to have a more modular file system. Updates from Blizzard are distributed as MPQ archives, which are decompressed and extracted to their proper locations. This works well because adding a few files can easily expand the WoW universe.

However, this translates into storing a lot of individual files of varying sizes, which makes for a random I/O workload involving mixed transfer sizes. That’s what we see here when we load to Crushblow.

Random performance on a hard drive is still terrible, which is why WoW gamers are going to experience a bigger speed-up loading a level than Crysis 2 players as they ditch their disks in favor of SSDs.

I/O Trends:

  • 88% of all operations occur at a queue depth of one
  • 62% of all operations are random


Seek DistanceSeek Distance

QDQD

Transfer SizeTransfer Size

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Top Comments
  • 23 Hide
    cngledad , August 18, 2011 6:01 AM
    a comparison with a 7200rpm hdd for example will be great.
  • 21 Hide
    agnickolov , August 18, 2011 7:38 AM
    There was supposed to be a comparison with a 1TB Barracuda, but nothing made it into the article itself. How hard could it be to display two adjacent bars on every graph instead of 1? E.g. red for the SSD and blue for the HDD.
  • 19 Hide
    AlexIsAlex , August 18, 2011 7:36 AM
    So it looks to me like game loading and level loading is not significantly hard-disk bound, if the disk is busy for such a short period of time. For example, loading a Crysis 2 level taking 58s, of which the disk is busy for 2.

    Does that mean if you had an infinitely fast disk, the level loading would take 56s? In which case, where is the bottleneck for level loading? Is it CPU bound? (if so, why isn't CPU usage at 100% when loading a level?) Memory? Graphics card?
Other Comments
  • 14 Hide
    the_krasno , August 18, 2011 5:00 AM
    If it doesn't improve FPS I don't see competitive gamers adding SSD's to their rigs for nothing but main OS drive.
    Longer loading times are not crucial when all you want is to frag your enemies!
  • 4 Hide
    Soma42 , August 18, 2011 5:10 AM
    This just confirmed what I knew already. I will probably upgrade to a SSD with my next build, but they are still so bloody expensive for the storage they offer. Plus, SSD are supposed to have better reliability compared to magnetic drives.
  • 9 Hide
    AbdullahG , August 18, 2011 5:13 AM
    If only SDDs were a few cents a GB...
  • 12 Hide
    Gamer-girl , August 18, 2011 5:27 AM
    Gameplay: Nearly all writes.

    Doesn't this reduce the life of a SSD?
  • 1 Hide
    crewton , August 18, 2011 5:43 AM
    I took WoW off my SSD for 2 reasons: space and performance. WoW is just way too big of a folder with addons and everything else it was around 35GB and like this article states the start and initial load is really the only benefit. Once you are in the world (of warcraft) it's not used.

    I'd like to see how the witcher stacks up with SSD. You are constantly having to load different areas the entire game so I made sure to have that on the SSD while playing it hoping to reduce the load times. Would like to see if that really paid off or not.
  • 3 Hide
    Nnymrod , August 18, 2011 5:58 AM
    It's all about the bottleneck, which isn't storage for actually playing a game. That said, SSDs are definitely cool, and I have one.
  • 23 Hide
    cngledad , August 18, 2011 6:01 AM
    a comparison with a 7200rpm hdd for example will be great.
  • 19 Hide
    AlexIsAlex , August 18, 2011 7:36 AM
    So it looks to me like game loading and level loading is not significantly hard-disk bound, if the disk is busy for such a short period of time. For example, loading a Crysis 2 level taking 58s, of which the disk is busy for 2.

    Does that mean if you had an infinitely fast disk, the level loading would take 56s? In which case, where is the bottleneck for level loading? Is it CPU bound? (if so, why isn't CPU usage at 100% when loading a level?) Memory? Graphics card?
  • 21 Hide
    agnickolov , August 18, 2011 7:38 AM
    There was supposed to be a comparison with a 1TB Barracuda, but nothing made it into the article itself. How hard could it be to display two adjacent bars on every graph instead of 1? E.g. red for the SSD and blue for the HDD.
  • 15 Hide
    celuloid , August 18, 2011 7:52 AM
    Why don't we see how long are those loading times with HDD drive? Maybe we find out 2x faster loading is not worth 30x times more money per GB.
  • 7 Hide
    executor2 , August 18, 2011 7:55 AM
    I bought my SSD for 2 reasons:
    1. Level loading with dragon age ( which dramatically improved over my 1 TB Samsung F3 , in reality the level loads 2x faster from 1 minute to around 22-28 seconds )
    2. My OS which was transfer to the SSD ( which brought faster windows loading , extremely faster shutdowns , instant application lunch , and better multitasking because i have my browsers on the SSD )

    If any of you don't wanna invest into a SSD believe me , IT IS WORTH IT !
    If you wait for performance to not cost you , you will wait an eternity.

    60GB SSD CORSAIR NOVA FORCE
  • 6 Hide
    feeddagoat , August 18, 2011 10:08 AM
    You should include fallout new vegas, that game seems to spend most of its life loading something or other.
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , August 18, 2011 10:27 AM
    From a pure readability point-of-view, it would be helpful to add a small summary chart on the last page that says
    - The more randomly data is accessed, the more performance boost is given by an SSD
    - The higher the queue depth is, the more performance boost is given by an SSD
    - The higher the transfer size is, the more performance boost is given by an SSD
    - The more (less?) write operations you have, the the more (less?) performance boost is given by an SSD

    Otherwise interesting read, thanks!

  • 1 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , August 18, 2011 11:23 AM
    @ alexisalex
    excellent point. i would like to know that too.

    @andrewku
    the end graph is not clear at all. can you add a bigger/better looking graph ?
  • 4 Hide
    sceen311 , August 18, 2011 11:28 AM
    Pretty bad game picks for use of an SSD, once I am in game in Civ5 there is no more loading and those games can go for hourrrrssss. Only time I load in WoW is entering an instance and load times are very bearable. Not sure about crisis2.

    I put Oblivion on my SSD and that was a fantastic idea, there are loading times at least every 20 mins or so in that one, and sometimes within 2 mins. Fallout would be another good one for it, similar load times and all. Witcher would be a good one, I'm wondering about NWN, Dragon Age and the Mass Effect series but it's been a little while since I've played those and can't remember what the load times are like.
  • 0 Hide
    Shadowgargos , August 18, 2011 12:32 PM
    I would like to see League of Legends included in this benchmark metric, since the game has attracted 15 million users, and even though it's Online, SSD's & HDD's play a crucial roll in load times for the game.
  • 1 Hide
    icepick314 , August 18, 2011 12:55 PM
    how about comparison between drives in RAID 0?

    I imagine since large capacity SSD are VERY expensive, most people use 2 or more middle-of-the-road SSDs in RAID 0 striping method...

    I hear 10000RPM HDDs are very fast in loading when in RAID 0 configuration...

    I imagine in real world situation, 2 of 10000RPM HDDs in RAID 0 are just as fast as 2 of the most SSDs in RAID 0....
  • 1 Hide
    jacobdrj , August 18, 2011 12:56 PM
    the_krasnoIf it doesn't improve FPS I don't see competitive gamers adding SSD's to their rigs for nothing but main OS drive.Longer loading times are not crucial when all you want is to frag your enemies!

    Meh, the faster I can start Fragging, the better...

    But while I can NOT live without an SSD as a boot drive, I CAN live with my games being on a 3-way RAID-0 of 10,000 RPM Raptors...
  • 11 Hide
    achoo2 , August 18, 2011 1:09 PM
    This article is useless, Andrew. Show me concrete level load-times using a HD and SSD rather than abstract information about IO patterns and leaving me to synthesize possible comparisons.
  • 2 Hide
    JohnnyLucky , August 18, 2011 1:30 PM
    Interesting article. Confirms what users have been reporting.
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