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Testing Details And Test Platforms

Does Power-Saving Technology Kill SSD Performance?
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Testing Details

We ran two system setups that were technically identical except for the motherboard: first we tried Gigabyte’s EX58-UD4P motherboard, followed by Supermicro’s X8SAX in the second set of runs. In the first run we enabled all available power saving mechanisms (for the processor and the platform) and we gradually disabled some of them when doing additional runs. We even switched off virtualization technology in a sixth run, to check whether or not such a feature would have an impact. As you will see on the following pages, all of the power related features have a measurable—and sometimes even noticeable—impact on the performance of the X25-E flash SSD.

Gigabyte EX58-UD4P
RUN 1
RUN 2
RUN 3
RUN 4
RUN 5
RUN 6
Intel Turbo Boost
Enabled
EnabledEnabledEnabledEnabledEnabled
CPU Cores Enabled
All
All
All
All
All
All
CPU Multi-Threading
EnabledEnabledEnabledEnabledEnabledEnabled
CPU Enhanced Halt (C1E)
EnabledEnabledEnabledDisabled
Disabled
Disabled
C3/C6/C7
EnabledDisabled
Disabled
Disabled
Disabled
Disabled
CPU Thermal Monitor
EnabledEnabledDisabled
Disabled
Disabled
Disabled
CPU EIST
EnabledEnabledEnabledEnabledDisabled
Disabled
Virtualization Technology
EnabledEnabledEnabledEnabledEnabledDisabled
Bi-Directional PROCHOT
EnabledEnabledEnabledEnabledEnabledEnabled
Vista Power Options
High Performance
High Performance
High Performance
High Performance
High Performance
High Performance
Supermicro X8SAX
RUN 1
RUN 2
RUN 3
RUN 4
RUN 5
RUN 6
EIST
EnabledEnabledEnabledEnabledEnabledEnabled
C1E
EnabledEnabledEnabledDisabledDisabledDisabled
VT
EnabledEnabledEnabledEnabledEnabledDisabled
Intel C-State Tech
EnabledEnabledDisabled
Disabled
disabled
disabled
ActiveState Power Management
EnabledDisabled
Disabled
Disabled
Disabled
Disabled
Vista Power Options
High Performance
High Performance
High Performance
High Performance
High Performance
High Performance


Test Setup

System Hardware
Hardware
Details
CPU
Intel Core i7-920 (45 nm, 2.66 GHz, 8 MB L2 Cache)
Motherboard (Socket 1366)Gigabyte EX58-UD4P
Revision: 1.0
Chipset: Intel X58 + ICH10R
Bios: F5
Motherboard II (Socket 1366)Supermicro X8SAX
Revision: 1.0
Chipset: Intel X58 + ICH10R
Bios: 1.0B
RAM
2 GB DDR3-1333 Corsair CM3X1024-1333C9DHX
System Hard Drive
Seagate NL35, 400 GB
ST3400832NS
7,200 RPM, SATA/150, 8 MB
Power Supply
OCZ EliteXstream 800W
OCZ800EXS-EU
Benchmarks
Performance Measurements
h2benchw 3.12


System Software&Drivers
Driver
Details
Operating System
Windows Vista Ultimate SP1
Intel Chipset Drivers
9.1.0.1007
AMD Graphics
ATI Catalyst 8.12
Intel Matrix Storage Drivers
8.7.0.1007


Gigabyte EX58-UD4P

Supermicro X8SAX

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  • 7 Hide
    Tindytim , March 12, 2009 7:45 AM
    Articles like this make me wish we could rate articles. Great article!
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , March 12, 2009 8:37 AM
    how bout amd???
  • 0 Hide
    hhh1964 , March 12, 2009 9:03 AM
    Next step is to find a workaround.
    I don't yet have a system to experiment with but have a few suggestions.

    How about setting process affinity and raising priority of the processes involved with disk access?
    On my Dell laptop, I use an application called SpeedSwitchXP that makes it possible to manipulate the C-state policies for Demote/Promote-limits on microsecond level. It seems reasonable that introducing a little more hysteresis in the C-state policies would keep the CPU faster between disk operations.
  • -1 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , March 12, 2009 9:17 AM
    Run 4 & 5 for X8SAX show the same stuff disabled (and a capitalization missed) .... mistake?
  • 0 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , March 12, 2009 9:26 AM
    ArticleDo power saving options also affect hard drive performance?


    No. The fastest hard drives available are still far from reaching 200 MB/s. We benchmarked two 15,000 RPM SAS drives, but could not see a difference as significant as was the case with the Intel X25-E flash SSD.


    Btw, does this assessment count for raid usage as well? I'm seeing fairly irregular speeds on my raid 5 (5x500gb) on my ich9r based system. Gigabyte said it was because I was using the raid as a system drive. So I created a raid 0 of 2x500gb drives for windows, but the irregular speeds on the raid 5 remained.
  • 1 Hide
    cedriclam , March 12, 2009 9:35 AM
    Just out of curiosity, will the performance be affected if a dedicated raid card is used to connect the SSD?
  • 0 Hide
    pschmid , March 12, 2009 10:19 AM
    @cedriclam: Hard to say, but I'd guess yes. We will look into this again soon, using different platforms.
  • 0 Hide
    pschmid , March 12, 2009 10:22 AM
    We didn't have two X25-Es to check if this is also the case for RAID setups, but my feeling says yes. The same applies to other controllers, but we'll look into this in greater detail soon!
  • 1 Hide
    Turas , March 12, 2009 10:55 AM
    This may be a case of benchmarks not showing what true real world results would be. Since most things that would truly stress the hard drive performance would most likely also be using more CPU so they would not be in the low power states.

    Just thinking out loud.
  • -1 Hide
    marraco , March 12, 2009 11:14 AM
    Tomshardware dudes:

    Today I feel a deep rant, giving you 5 stars for this investigation.

    Keep doing good work. :) 
  • 0 Hide
    asgallant , March 12, 2009 2:03 PM
    Nice work on the article! I've got a couple of questions though:

    Does this affect I/O performance as well, or is it just throughput?

    and,

    Do you get the same affect on AMD systems?
  • -2 Hide
    KyleSTL , March 12, 2009 2:20 PM
    patrick, what car are you driving in your avitar? (just curious)
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , March 12, 2009 3:06 PM
    Does the SSDs support Write Caching (in disk properties), and if so, have you turned it off? It's been my experience with regular HDDs that turning off write caching has an impact on CPU usage...
  • -6 Hide
    Aerobernardo , March 12, 2009 4:44 PM
    Canute24how bout amd???


    For god sake!!! I own an Opteron, but please you AMD spammers are killing us! Who the hell would buy a crappy slow $200 Phenom to pair it up with a $800 SSD?

    Buy a Tata $2500 car and put some 26in wheels on it too!
  • 0 Hide
    ifko_pifko , March 12, 2009 4:53 PM
    AerobernardoFor god sake!!! I own an Opteron, but please you AMD spammers are killing us! Who the hell would buy a crappy slow $200 Phenom to pair it up with a $800 SSD?Buy a Tata $2500 car and put some 26in wheels on it too!

    As far as my knowledge goes, Phenoms II are not slow. ;-) Sure they are slower than core i7, but they are fairly cheap. Not only core i7 can benefit from SSD.
    I'm sure Tom's will test this issue on an AMD platform too. :-)
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , March 12, 2009 6:56 PM
    Do MLC flash drives also exhibit the same slowdown with the power saving features turned on?
    I know they are much slower to start with, but do they also get affected equally?
  • 0 Hide
    marraco , March 12, 2009 8:02 PM
    Aerobernardo... Who the hell would buy a crappy slow $200 Phenom to pair it up with a $800 SSD?Buy a Tata $2500 car and put some 26in wheels on it too!
    Somebody who need the fastest SSD, on a limited budget, and found that AMD does not have the energy-saving performance issue (Who knows?. for THAT reason we want to see the AMD benchmarks)
  • 0 Hide
    krazyderek , March 12, 2009 11:37 PM
    please benchmark some of the new OCZ SSD's now that you have a new reference system, i've been dying to see real world numbers for the OCZ apex and especially the VERTEX series! Two drives that claim decent performance without completely emptying my wallet.
  • 0 Hide
    MrCommunistGen , March 12, 2009 11:44 PM
    In the top paragraph of the "Outlook, Conclusion And Remaining Questions & Answers" section the second sentence reads: "...and the X25-E (for consumers)" That should probably be X25-M ;) 

    Otherwise, very interesting article.

    -mcg
  • 0 Hide
    plbyrd , March 13, 2009 12:21 AM
    If you are worried about performance are you going to be running with the power savings stuff anyways?

    To me, the bigger issue is the amount of dependency this setup has on the CPU. It would be interesting to see this same set of tests run through a hardware based SAS or SATA RAID controller on a single drive (no RAID, just a drive).
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