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Early look at USB 3.0 X25-M SSD performance versus USB 2.0, eSATA and more

We visited the Macpower office and ran some benchmarks to get an early look at USB 3.0 performance using an Intel X25-M G2 80GB SSD.
By: Cameron Wilmot | Editorials in Storage | Posted: Nov 11, 2009 3:01 am

Early look at USB 3.0 X25-M SSD performance versus USB 2.0, eSATA and more


Earlier on today we had a chance to visit the Macpower office here in Taipei and ran some USB 3.0 benchmarks on one of their latest hard drive caddies that is almost ready to go on sale.




We compared USB 3.0 performance against USB 2.0, eSATA, SATA 2.0 (directly connected to the test system) and Firewire 400 and 800. Testing was done on a new system running Windows 7 with a Core i5 750 processor that was hooked into a GIGABYTE P55A-UD4P motherboard, 4GB of DDR3 memory and a NEC USB 3.0 PCI-E x1 controller card. The specific USB 3.0 chip used was the D720200F1 from NEC Japan, one of the few available at the time of writing.


For the USB 3.0 versus USB 2.0 comparison, we had to use a different caddie since the USB 3.0 caddie only supported USB 3.0 and no other cable connections, but both setups were connected to the same NEC USB 3.0 controller, since it supports USB 2.0 backwards compatibility. You can see a picture of the controller card below along with the caddie from Macpower.






We have prepared a short video from our visit which shows the Macpower caddie, the test system, NEC controller and more. Watch it below and then move onto the benchmarks further down.





In our first test using HD Tune Pro, we can see that USB 3.0 is plenty faster than USB 2.0 when using the Intel SSD. It's not 10 times faster as the marketing data tells us, but it is six times faster and a good sign for a technology still in its early stages of deployment in the consumer space. You can see that when the drive is directly connected to the ICH10R Southbridge on the GIGABYTE P55A motherboard, it still provides better performance than the new standard - but not by a lot.




Moving onto Crystal Disk Mark 2.2 results, we can see similar numbers, but as usual CDM inflates the numbers somewhat.




We are back again with CDM 2.2, but this time we get our first look at write performance using the Intel SSD. For the first time here, we see USB 3.0 beating the Intel ICH10R SATA 2.0 controller in the 512k and 4k tests.


There you go folks, one of your first looks at USB 3.0 performance and what it is capable of at this stage of the game. The NEC chipset manages to provide good performance almost maxing out the Intel X25-M G2 SSD. Bring on some RAID 0 USB 3.0 caddies and then we can really start to put some stress on the new Super Speedy cable connectivity standard.


A big thanks goes out to Finn, Joseph and Tommy from Macpower for allowing us to use their equipment and products to test USB 3.0 performance.


More to come in the following weeks on the subject of USB 3.0 - stay tuned!


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