SSD Caching Benchmarks: Real-World
Our Photoshop benchmark slightly mirrors the results from PCMark's Memories Suite, but notice the small time difference. In a real-world environment, Intel's SSD caching strategy doesn't allow you to edit photos any faster than you would with a pure hard drive configuration.
Intel doesn't seem to cache the blocks that make up archives, perhaps assuming these are files that only get touched once as well. So, you won't see any benefit in WinRAR or WinZip.
However, virus scanning seems to enjoy a slight performance bump. While Intel ignores the files being scanned (as part of its caching algorithm), the Norton Internet Security 2011 executable is cached. In addition, virus scanners typically perform record keeping functions and scan suspicious files in a sandbox manner so as not to infect the system. This involves a small amount of writing, which could account for the better performance seen on the m4 and the SSD 311.
If ever there was a graph that visualized why you should spend $100 on 20 GB of SLC NAND instead of the same sum on 40 GB of MLC, this would be it. Intel's X25-V can only sustain sequential writes of up to 35 MB/s. This cannot keep up with the Barracuda's maximum outside-diameter data rate of 138 MB/s. So, the SSD actually slows down performance dramatically. Consider this a worst-case scenario for Smart Response Technology.
Gamers, rejoice. Level loading (one of the premiere reasons to invest in solid-state technology) sees a huge gain at the hands of Intel's caching mechanism. Of course, this makes sense: it's all read-based application data, so caching is a perfect fit. It's only a shame that it takes a second or third run to realize the benefit that you'd get immediately on a pure SSD-based implementation.