When it comes to storage, AMD’s A75 chipset is more advanced than anything Intel currently offers. In contrast, the A55 chipset is a disappointing step backward.
The A75 platform features six SATA 6 Gb/s ports, software-based RAID 0, 1, and 10 support, FIS-based switching, and four USB 3.0 ports. Though integrated USB 3.0 connectivity is really the only new feature, we still wanted to test the platform’s complete storage suite.
SATA 6Gb/s: A Little Better, Perhaps?
AMD doesn’t specifically cite any improvements made to its SATA 6Gb/s controller. However, we still measured slightly higher sequential write performance and better random read/write throughput using a 240 GB OCZ Vertex 3 Pro.
Although Intel’s controller generally comes out on top, AMD’s improvements are significant enough to yield better sequential read performance, better random read speed, and near-parity in our workstation workload.
USB 3.0: Better Than An Add-On Controller
No longer the shiny new feature it once was, USB 3.0 support is expected on an enthusiast board today, even if the number of devices designed to maximize a SuperSpeed port is still small. Nevertheless, we have a few high-performance USB 3.0-based devices in the lab, so it makes sense to see how AMD’s integrated controller measures up.
Our 890GX-based motherboard, Asus’ M4A89GTD Pro/USB3, includes an NEC µPD720200 controller; our Z68-based Asus P8Z68-V Pro sports an ASMedia ASM1042 controller, and the ASRock A75 Extreme6 features the integrated AMD controller plus an additional ASM1042. We use a Kingston DataTraveler HyperX Max 3.0 to test performance. And while its 195 MB/s peak read speed doesn’t come anywhere near maxing out the interface, it’s an astounding improvement from what we’re used to from USB 2.0-based drives. Our test workload consists of 12 772 files in 621 folders occupying 56.9 GiB of capacity.
All three controllers are fast—we’re not used to moving more than 50 GiB in between six and eight minutes. However, AMD’s built-in logic finishes the task first, followed closely by the ASMedia controller on that same A75-based motherboard. The NEC controller comes in third place, while an ASMedia chip on an Intel Z68 Express-based board takes quite a while longer to finish the transfer.
Now, just because AMD’s controller is integrated doesn’t mean you get the convenience of a USB 2.0 interface. The USB 3.0 ports are completely unusable until you get drivers installed, which makes any remaining USB 2.0 ports valuable for keyboards and mice, particularly if you need to install Windows or change BIOS settings.