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Adata Premier Pro SP920 SSD: From 128 To 1024 GB, Reviewed

Results: Random Performance

We turn to Iometer as our synthetic metric of choice for testing 4 KB random performance. Technically, "random" translates to a consecutive access that occurs more than one sector away. On a mechanical hard disk, this can lead to significant latencies that hammer performance. Spinning media simply handles sequential accesses much better than random ones, since the heads don't have to be physically repositioned. With SSDs, the random/sequential access distinction is much less relevant. Data are put wherever the controller wants it, so the idea that the operating system sees one piece of information next to another is mostly just an illusion.

4 KB Random Read

Testing the performance of SSDs often emphasizes 4 KB random reads, and for good reason. Most system accesses are both small and random. Moreover, read performance is arguably more important than writes when you're talking about typical client workloads.

128/256 GB Adata SP920

Against the smaller M500s, Adata's SSDs establish a slim lead at a queue depth of one and lead from there. Low-queue depth random read performance is a very relevant measurement, and the SP920s manage to improve, even using (more or less) the same flash. Likely, the gains come from the updated controller and firmware instead. 

Of course, none of these drives can come close to Samsung's 840 EVO, which is up to 25% quicker at a queue depth of one.

With 32 outstanding commands, Adata's 128 GB SP920 is on par with the 240 GB M500.

512/1024 GB Adata SP920

It comes as no surprise that the 512 and 1024 GB SP920s are functionally identical to Crucial's M550s at the same capacity points, even though were able to coax a few hundred more IOPS out of Crucial's drives. That's pretty standard though, and we might see the same variance from the same SSD on different runs.

4 KB Random Writes

Random write performance is also important. Early SSDs didn't do well in this discipline, seizing up even in light workloads. Newer SSDs wield more than 100x the performance of drives from 2007, though we also recognize that there's a point of diminishing returns in desktop environments.

128/256 GB Adata SP920

Sporting fewer dies, these lower-capacity drives tap out earlier. Our workload is sufficiently intense to saturate the higher-density configurations at lower queue depths.

Still, we get 16,000 more IOPS from the 256 GB SP920 compared to the 240 GB M500, and 10,000 more IOPS from Adata's 128 GB model versus the 120 GB M500. The drives feature the same number of addressable NAND elements, so most of the speed-up, again, likely comes from the controller.

512/1024 GB Adata SP920

We hit more than 80,000 IOPS with just four outstanding commands. The M550 platform wrings out over 91,000 tested similarly. These drives plateau at a queue depth of eight, so latency is best there. Beyond that, every model offers the same performance, albeit at higher latency.

Random Performance Over Time

My saturation test consists of writing to each drive for a specific duration with a defined workload. Technically, it's an enterprise-class benchmark, where the entire LBA space of the SSD is utilized by a random write at high queue depths.

Here's 12 hours of a 4 KB write with 32 outstanding commands. First, we secure erase each drive. Then we apply the 4 KB write load, showing the average IOPS for each minute (except for the last 20 minutes, where we zoom in and show you one-second average increments).

After the first drive fill, performance drops off fast, since the SSD no longer has free blocks to write to. Instead, they have to be erased prior to subsequent writes.

Today we're showing a breakout of both drive families at steady state for a 4 KB write at a queue depth of 32.

I wanted to use this workload to show that the Crucial M550 and Adata SP920 drive families behave similarly. More so than just the raw performance numbers, we want to characterize these SSDs. And as I might have predicted, this test shows that two identically-configured devices (the 512 GB models, specifically), are more or less the same.

Here's a breakdown of the maximum observed 4 KB sequential read and write performance with Iometer. The order the drives appear in our chart is determined by maximum combined read and write performance.

Drives like the 1024 GB SP920 are about as fast as the SATA 6Gb/s interface will let them be.

The overhead associated with small transfers brings down the throughput ceiling. That is, it's easy to saturate SATA with large sequential operations. But these drives demonstrate you can do somewhere around 400 MB/s with aligned 4 KB blocks.

  • rolli59
    Would buy one in a heartbeat. Regardless of who makes them, nice move Adata.
    Reply
  • blackmagnum
    I prefer Sandisk, if you don't mind.
    Reply
  • cryan
    13011395 said:
    I prefer Sandisk, if you don't mind.

    The X210 is pretty awesome, but newer Marvell implementations are built with Haswell-style power features in mind. If you're looking for a drive to use in mobile applications, mind the heat and power consumption stats.

    Regards,
    Christopher Ryan
    Reply
  • rajangel
    Awhile back I purchased a few different SSD's to test out (OCZ, Crucial, Patriot, Adata). The Adata is the only one still running and was always the quickest. I don't know how this one is built, but the last Adata was built tough. The OCZ was so flimsy it felt like paper. The Crucial and the Patriot were slightly better in build quality. Now that I'm in the market for a new drive I may consider this.
    Reply
  • cryan
    13012280 said:
    Awhile back I purchased a few different SSD's to test out (OCZ, Crucial, Patriot, Adata). The Adata is the only one still running and was always the quickest. I don't know how this one is built, but the last Adata was built tough. The OCZ was so flimsy it felt like paper. The Crucial and the Patriot were slightly better in build quality. Now that I'm in the market for a new drive I may consider this.

    I have to say, the plastic or metal chassis a drive comes in doesn't mean much. In the lab, I like a nice heavy metal SSD casing, but in a laptop? You probably want a flimsy plastic chassis. It's not conductive and doesn't add much weight.


    Regards,
    Christopher Ryan
    Reply
  • rajangel
    It's a matter of opinion. I like things that are built well, and have a quality appearance. I think build quality does affect performance (read reliability). Especially when connectors/etc are cheap in construction. However, just my opinion.
    Reply
  • cryan
    13012326 said:
    It's a matter of opinion. I like things that are built well, and have a quality appearance. I think build quality does affect performance (read reliability). Especially when connectors/etc are cheap in construction. However, just my opinion.

    I agree that a substantial chassis tends to reinforce the perception of a drive's build quality, but much of the time its aesthetic. The component choice on the PCB speaks more to quality. I've seen some downright terrible drives in the fanciest of cases.

    Regards,
    Christopher Ryan

    Reply
  • rajangel
    I think there should be a restriction that prevents the article author from replying, unless there is a substantial mistake that was noted. I feel like tomshardware authors troll their own threads. This has become a problem lately. I'm at the point where I feel my business and time would be better spent on a real tech website. Tomshardware is like the Yahoo of tech sites lately.
    Reply
  • iltamies
    Typo on last page: "Adata gets a solid product able to soften the wait, and Micron (Crucial's parent company) gets to more more volume." should read "move more volume."
    Reply
  • Wisecracker
    Impressive ... power consumption is a bit high though, compared to the Samsung 120GB Evo (my current $80 fav)

    Are 'microseconds' considered 'milliseconds' ??
    Reply