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Intel SSD DC S3700 Review: Benchmarking Consistency

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 DrivesIntel SSD DC S3700 200 and 800 GB, Firmware: 5DVA0138
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. Intel's SSD DC S3700 does not perform any data compression prior to writing, so there is no difference in performance based on data patterns.