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Toshiba Q Series Pro 256GB Three-Drive SSD RAID Report

By: Jon Coulter | RAID in Storage | Posted: Aug 6, 2014 2:00 pm

Futuremark PCMark 8 Extended - Consistency Test

 

Heavy Usage Model

 

We consider PCMark 8's consistency test to be our heavy-usage model test. This is the usage model most enthusiasts, heavy-duty gamers, and professionals fall into. If you do a lot of gaming, audio/video processing, rendering, or have workloads of this nature, then this test will be most relevant to you.

 

PCMark 8 has built-in, command line executed storage testing. The PCMark 8 Consistency test measures the performance consistency, and the degradation tendency of a storage system.

 

The Storage test workloads are repeated. Between each repetition, the storage system is bombarded with a usage that causes degraded drive performance. In the first part of the test, the cycle continues until a steady degraded level of performance has been reached (Steady State).

 

In the second part, the recovery of the system is tested by allowing the system to idle, and measuring the performance with long intervals (TRIM).

 

The test reports the performance level at the start, the degraded steady state, and the recovered state. It also reports the number of iterations required to reach the degraded state, and the recovered state.

 

We feel Futuremark's Consistency Test is the best test ever devised to show the true performance of solid state storage in a heavy usage scenario. This test takes 13 to 17 hours to complete on average, and it writes somewhere between 450GB and 13,600GB of test data, depending on the drive(s) being tested. If you want to know what an SSD's performance is going to look like after a few months or years of heavy usage, this test will show you.

 

Here's a breakdown of Futuremark's Consistency Test:

 

Precondition phase:

 

1. Write to the drive sequentially through up to the reported capacity with random data.

2. Write the drive through a second time (to take care of overprovisioning).

 

Degradation phase:

 

1. Run writes of random size between 8*512 and 2048*512 bytes on random offsets for ten minutes.

2. Run performance test (one pass only).

3. Repeat steps one and two, eight times, and on each pass increase the duration of random writes by five minutes.

 

Steady state phase:

 

1. Run writes of random size between 8*512 and 2048*512 bytes on random offsets for 50 minutes.

2. Run performance test (one pass only).

3. Repeat steps one and two, five times.

 

Recovery phase:

 

1. Idle for five minutes.

2. Run performance test (one pass only).

3. Repeat steps one and two, five times.

 

 

Storage Bandwidth

 

PCMark 8's Consistency test provides a ton of data output that we can use to judge a drive/array's performance.

 

toshiba_q_series_pro_256gb_three_drive_ssd_raid_report_37

 

We consider steady state bandwidth (as represented by the blue bar) our test that carries the most weight in ranking a drive/array's performance. The reason we consider steady state performance more important than TRIM is that when you are running a heavy-duty workload, TRIM will not be occurring while that workload is being executed. TRIM performance (represented by the orange and red bars) is what we consider the second most important consideration when ranking a drive/array's performance. Trace based consistency testing is where true high performing SSDs are separated from the rest of the pack.

 

When we first started to run this test, it was after our initial two drive Q Series Pro review. As testing of various arrays progressed to include a two drive Q series Pro array, we noticed something we did not see from other Toshiba flash-based arrays. Our two-drive Q Series Pro array had excellent TRIM performance; for example, it was far superior to the Extreme II. This got us thinking. We wondered if this indicated potentially better scaling than we were getting from our other Toshiba flash-based arrays.

 

Turns out our suspicions were indeed correct. Although the Extreme II was able to just edge out the Q Series Pro FTW when we tested two-drive arrays, things changes dramatically as we moved from a two-drive array to a three-drive array. The Q Series Pro leaves the Extreme II in the dust, because it does scale better, as we suspected.

 

Despite the Q Series Pro's compelling performance, it's just not enough to dethrone our current RAID champion, Intel's 730 series 480GB. We are left wondering: If we had more Q Series Pro's, could it catch the 730 at four to six drives?

 

toshiba_q_series_pro_256gb_three_drive_ssd_raid_report_38

 

We chart our test subject's storage bandwidth as reported at each of the test's 18 trace iterations. This gives us a good visual perspective of how our test subjects perform as testing progresses.

 

 

Total Access Time (Latency)

 

Access time is the time delay or latency between a request to an electronic system, and the access being completed, or the requested data returned. Access time is how long it takes to get data back from the disk. We chart the total time the disk is accessed as reported at each of the test's 18 trace iterations.

 

toshiba_q_series_pro_256gb_three_drive_ssd_raid_report_39

 

This is a great visual representation of what RAID brings to the table. A single Q Series Pro is very fast, but the real magic happens when you RAID two or more drives together. It's easy to see why a single Extreme II is my current single drive champion, as it delivers latency that is vastly superior to a single Q Series Pro, or an Intel 730.

 

 

Disk Busy Time

 

Disk Busy Time is how long the disk is busy working. We chart the total time the disk is working as reported at each of the test's 18 trace iterations.

 

toshiba_q_series_pro_256gb_three_drive_ssd_raid_report_40

 

When latency is low, disk busy time is low as well. In a steady state, a Q Series Pro array spends up to four times less time working than a single Q Series Pro with the exact same workload.

 

 

Data Written

 

We measure the total amount of random data that the drive/array is capable of writing during the degradation phases of the consistency test. The total combined time that degradation data is written to the drive/array is 470 minutes. This can be very telling. The better the drive/array can process a continuous stream of random data, the more data will be written.

 

toshiba_q_series_pro_256gb_three_drive_ssd_raid_report_41

 

Intel's 730 is based off of an enterprise drive, and it really shows in this test. SanDisk's Extreme II comes in second, and our Q Series Pro array finishes decidedly in last place.

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