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Micron RealSSD P320h Review: A PCIe Drive Capable Of 3.2 GB/s

Test Setup, Benchmarks, And Methodology

Test Hardware
ProcessorIntel Core i7-3960X (Sandy Bridge-E), 32 nm, 3.3 GHz, LGA 2011, 15 MB Shared L3, Turbo Boost Enabled
MotherboardIntel DX79SI, X79 Express
MemoryG.Skill Ripjaws Z-Series (4 x 4 GB) DDR3-1600 @ DDR3-1600, 1.5 V
System DriveIntel SSD 320 160 GB SATA 3Gb/s
Tested DrivesMicron P320h 700 GB, PCI Express x8, Firmware: B146000
GraphicsAMD FirePro V4800 1 GB
Power SupplyOCZ ModXStream Pro 700 W
System Software and Drivers
Operating SystemWindows 7 x64 Ultimate
DirectXDirectX 11
DriverGraphics: ATI 8.883
Iometer 1.1.0# Workers = 4, 4 KB Random: LBA= Full Span varying Queue Depths
AS SSDv1.6437.30508
ATTOv2.47, 2 GB, QD=4
CustomC++, 8 MB Sequential, QD=4
Enterprise Testing: Iometer WorkloadsReadRandomTransfer Size
Database67%100%8 KB: 100%
File server80%100%512 Bytes: 10%
1 KB: 5%
2 KB: 5%
4 KB: 60%
8 KB: 2%
16 KB: 4%
32 KB: 4%
64 KB: 10%
Web server100%100%512 Bytes: 22%
1 KB: 15%
2 KB: 8%
4 KB: 23%
8 KB: 15%
16 KB: 2%
32 KB: 6%
64 KB: 7%
128 KB: 1%
512 KB: 1%

The Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA), a working group made up of SSD, flash, and controller vendors, has produced a testing procedure that attempts to control as many of the variables inherent to SSDs as possible. SNIA’s Solid State Storage Performance Test Specification (SSS PTS) is a great resource for enterprise SSD testing. The procedure does not define what tests should be run, but rather the way in which they are run. This workflow is broken down into four parts:

  1. Purge: Purging puts the drive at a known starting point. For SSDs, this normally means Secure Erase.
  2. Workload-Independent Preconditioning: A prescribed workload that is unrelated to the test workload.
  3. Workload-Based Preconditioning: The actual test workload (4 KB random, 128 KB sequential, and so on), which pushes the drive towards a steady state.
  4. Steady State: The point at which the drive’s performance is no longer changing for the variable being tracked.

These steps are critical when testing SSDs. It is incredibly easy to not fully condition the drive and still see fresh-out-of-box behavior and think it is steady-state. These steps are also important when going between random and sequential writes.

For all performance tests in this review, the SSS PTS was followed to ensure accurate and repeatable results.

All tests employ random data, when available. Micron's RealSSD P320h does not perform any data compression prior to writing, so there is no difference in performance based on data patterns.

Notes

We did run into a few issues during our time testing the P320h, which were mainly related to the Windows driver we were provided. Initially, the sample that Micron sent to us only had Linux support. The company did a great job getting us a driver for Windows so that we could start our benchmarking, but it wasn't completely finished. Micron was also clear that it did a majority of its validation on servers. Our test bench doesn't use a server chipset, and it runs Windows. Twice during our testing the P320h entered a state where it had to rebuild during POST. We didn't lose any data, but the rebuilds took quite a while.

To make sure our issues were configuration-specific, we ran reboot testing under Linux in a 1U server for two straight days. The machine restarted literally hundreds of times without an issue. And because this issue did not affect performance, for the sake of consistency we finished our testing on our standard test bench.

  • wolley74
    my wallet just had a heart attack, this thing would be freaking amazing to have
    Reply
  • mayankleoboy1
    i dont see this as the future of consumer SSD's, just like a 16 core CPU is not the future of consumer CPU's.
    Reply
  • bawchicawawa
    mayankleoboy1i dont see this as the future of consumer SSD's, just like a 16 core CPU is not the future of consumer CPU's.

    Such an apples to oranges comparison...
    Reply
  • memadmax
    Eliminating the SAS controller is the logical way to have these pci-e based ssd drives...
    Kinda surprised something like this didn't come out first as it makes more sense....
    Reply
  • mayankleoboy1
    bawchicawawaSuch an apples to oranges comparison...
    really ? Increasingly, performance is basically dependent on extracting parallelism. Whether in storage or in CPU performance.
    Desktop/Mainstream users just dont do so much in parallel that they can fully use all the hardware.
    Reply
  • JOSHSKORN
    mayankleoboy1i dont see this as the future of consumer SSD's, just like a 16 core CPU is not the future of consumer CPU's.I see a purpose for 16 core processors. How are we going to otherwise be able to run Crysis 6?
    Reply
  • mayankleoboy1
    JOSHSKORNI see a purpose for 16 core processors. How are we going to otherwise be able to run Crysis 6?
    Use a 5000 core GPU ?
    Reply
  • youssef 2010
    ArticleAlthough read performance is out of this world, the RealSSD P320h's write performance isn't nearly as spectacular. That's not to say the drive doesn't do well; it's just not as impressive after looking at those massive read numbers. read performance was out of this world, the write performance wasn't nearly as spectacular. Now, that's not to say that the P320h doesn't perform well, it's just not as impressive as the read results
    ????????!!!!!!!!!!!
    Reply
  • abbadon_34
    After all these years it's nice to see the OCZ Revo at least mentioned. Considering a bootable PCI-E x4 SSD can be had for under $200 for over 5 years now, and is on it's 4th+ generation, one can only wonder why it's been ignored for so long.
    Reply
  • Marcus52
    Micron deserves a pat on the back for this one!

    Thanks for the review, love to see this kind of advancement and a peak into the future new hardware brings with it, even if it isn't directly applicable to me at this point in time.
    Reply