Accelerate Your Hard Drive By Short Stroking

Test Setup, Flash SSDs and Access Time

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System Hardware
Processors2x Intel Xeon Processor (Nocona core), 3.6 GHz, FSB800, 1 MB L2 Cache
PlatformAsus NCL-DS (Socket 604), Intel E7520 Chipset, BIOS 1005
RAMCorsair CM72DD512AR-400 (DDR2-400 ECC, reg.), 2x 512 MB, CL3-3-3-10 Timings
System Hard DriveWestern 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
NetworkingBroadcom BCM5721 On-Board Gigabit Ethernet NIC
Graphics SubsystemOn-Board Graphics, ATI RageXL, 8 MB
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System Hardware
Performance Measurementsc't h2benchw 3.6, PCMark05 V1.01
I/O PerformanceIOMeter 2003.05.10Fileserver-Benchmark, Webserver-Benchmark, Database-Benchmark, Workstation-Benchmark
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System Software and Drivers
OSMicrosoft Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition, Service Pack 1
Platform DriverIntel Chipset Installation Utility
Graphics DriverDefault 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.