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Zotac Sonix NVMe SSD Review: Our First E7 Tests

Mixed Workloads And Steady State

80 Percent Sequential Mixed Workload

Our mixed workload testing is described in detail here, and our steady state tests are described here.

Even before Phison finishes optimizing its controller ahead of an official launch, the Sonix performs well in our mixed sequential workloads. It's much more competitive against existing SSDs than it appeared to be when we tested with 100 percent reads or writes.  

80 Percent Random Mixed Workload

Historically, Phison struggled with mixed random workloads. We know it's a major focus focus for 2016, though. The 480GB Sonix fares better against other NVMe-attached drives, even if we're still seeing low I/O throughput at the queue depths most desktop users experience.

Sequential Steady State

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NVMe has big implications for the workstation market, where tons of bandwidth and low latency improve the performance of storage-bound applications. Here, we're looking at sequential transfers in a steady state condition. The far left of the graph represents 100% reads, and we move right, changing the blend of reads and writes in 10 percent increments.

Most professional users work from secondary storage, so it's easy to hit a 50/50 mix while editing large multimedia files. Working with CAD files is represented by a different mix. Truly, to understand this chart requires understanding your workload's behavior.

We're most concerned with two specific data points. Desktop applications are often characterized by an 80/20 blend of reads and writes, while workstations shift right a bit to 70/30. Even enthusiasts won't see steady state conditions though, thanks to the way wear-leveling and garbage collection algorithms work. It'd take filling your drive up completely to get there. 

Random Write Steady State

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The same goes for inducing steady state with random writes; it's just not going to happen on a desktop. Good thing, too. This is a particularly low-performance condition where every cell contains 4KB of data as additional 4KB blocks hit the drive. It's an enterprise-oriented test specific to database servers.

But this metric does expose the lowest random performance you'll see from a drive, and we really want to see the smallest possible deviations between minimums and maximums. Intel's 400GB SSD 750 gives us what we're looking for, signaling it'd be a great candidate for a RAID 0 array. The Sonix, on the other hand, yields inconsistent I/O performance.

Chris Ramseyer is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews consumer storage.