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Does The USB 3.0 Controller On Your Motherboard Matter?

Benchmark Results: Random Read And Writes

When it comes to external storage, very rarely do you deal with random I/O. Since the USB protocol doesn’t acknowledge NCQ, data tends to get written sequentially. However, writing sequentially doesn’t always imply a sequential read. For example, booting Windows 7 off a USB drive involves reading a lot of small bits of information scattered across different logical block addresses, which obviously doesn't happen in the order that data was written to the drive.

So, while it’s not critical, random I/O performance is still an important benchmark to consider. We’re going to focus specifically on 4 KB blocks because, in our experience, it’s the most prevalent transfer size for random I/O. For more information, read page six of Second-Gen SandForce: Seven 120 GB SSDs Rounded Up.

When it comes to testing 4 KB read and writes, we’re bound by the performance of our storage device. Kingston’s HyperX Max 3.0 hits speeds between 10-20 MB/s. So, even when we scale to two devices on the EJ168 and ASM1042, we’re still a long ways off from fully saturating the PCIe x1 lane.

  • nikorr
    Great article!
    Reply
  • amk-aka-Phantom
    Asus changed the USB 3.0 controller on their P8P67 line of boards... I think they switched to ASMedia from NEC, and I'd love to see the difference between the two benchmarked. I think this article has way too few controllers; there're more USB 3.0 solutions on the market.

    Well, at least the article showed that it's possible to reach 150 MBps write speeds and higher... good enough for me. Now all I need is a USB 3.0 drive :)
    Reply
  • The Greater Good
    That's why eSATA is the best for external storage. USB is great for everything other than data throughput.
    Reply
  • de5_Roy
    thanks for the article! i always use usb drives, most of the old drives using usb converters. good to know i can run multiple of them without hitting speed limit.
    Reply
  • lockhrt999
    They should have included windows 8 in this benchmark. On my system win7 writes at 3-4 MB/s to thumb drive and win8 writes at constant 10 MB/s to same thumb drive. (Everything's USB 2.0 though). Some witchcraft :D I don't know but they should have included win 8.
    Reply
  • lp231
    The Greater GoodThat's why eSATA is the best for external storage. USB is great for everything other than data throughput.
    I've tried eSATA and found out it's not as user friendly as USB.
    You will need a external power source if the eSATA isn't self powered.
    Then you will also have to setup the right bios config or the eSATA won't
    work properly like it's suppose to and basically the eSATA drive becomes a internal cause you lose the ability of hot plugging and swapping.
    Reply
  • lockhrt999
    lp231I've tried eSATA and found out it's not as user friendly as USB. You will need a external power source if the eSATA isn't self powered.Then you will also have to setup the right bios config or the eSATA won'twork properly like it's suppose to and basically the eSATA drive becomes a internal cause you lose the ability of hot plugging and swapping.
    What? Even internal drives can be hot plugged and swapped. OS recognizes both internal and external sata drives alike. Once you connect it just go into My computer > manage > devices and search for new drives. To unplug simply right click on that drive and click disable. Even this can be done with IDE (ATA) provided you don't use old P4 era motherboards.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    lockhrt999What? Even internal drives can be hot plugged and swapped. OS recognizes both internal and external sata drives alike. Once you connect it just go into My computer > manage > devices and search for new drives. To unplug simply right click on that drive and click disable. Even this can be done with IDE (ATA) provided you don't use old P4 era motherboards.You started off right but then went soooo wrong.
    1.) Motherboards with hot-plug capability to internal drives were available almost from the beginning. Nvidia was famous for adding this function to its drive controller firmware, and ASRock was famous for adding it to the drive controller firmware of boards with other chipsets.

    2.) To this very day, the ports of many NEW motherboards STILL lack firmware support for this function on at least some of the ports. A few lack hot swap firmware on all of the ports, and a many have this feature selectable in BIOS.

    So, even though you're part right, the person you responded to is more right.
    Reply
  • lockhrt999
    CrashmanYou started off right but then went soooo wrong.1.) Motherboards with hot-plug capability to internal drives were available almost from the beginning. Nvidia was famous for adding this function to its drive controller firmware, and ASRock was famous for adding it to the drive controller firmware of boards with other chipsets.2.) To this very day, the ports of many NEW motherboards STILL lack firmware support for this function on at least some of the ports. A few lack hot swap firmware on all of the ports, and a many have this feature selectable in BIOS.So, even though you're part right, the person you responded to is more right.
    Thanks for filling me. Coincidentally I never came across motherboard that doesn't support hot plugging out of the box that's why I thought everyone supports it.
    Reply
  • I am a little surprised to see no mention made of USB 3 connections being dropped when plugging a (supposedly) USB 3-capable external dock or enclosure into a motherboard port connected to a Renesas/NEC USB 3 controller. Speculation faults, for instance, the JMicron USB 3 controller on the dock/enclosure; ASMedia is speculated to be less problematic. At any rate, "real world" experience finds dropped connection problems, which makes speed a secondary concern. Can this "dropped USB 3 connection" issue be addressed as well? Thanks.
    Reply