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Patriot Wildfire 120GB Solid State Drive RAID Report

Patriot is the first to get us a matched pair of SandForce SF-2281 controlled drives. Let's spark a flame and see how fast this Wildfire spreads.

@ChrisRamseyer
Published Thu, Jun 30 2011 9:36 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 7:01 PM CST

Introduction

Patriot Wildfire 120GB Solid State Drive RAID Report 01 | TweakTown.com
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If you were to ask me what my favorite thing to do at TweakTown is, I'd quickly say traveling the world and seeing different cultures. Then I would quickly tell you that a close second is pushing the boundaries of performance to new levels. Today we are going to not just push, but actually shove performance into a new dimension formally reserved for those spending obscene sums of money on storage products.

Currently sitting at the top of the storage subsystem throne is the SandForce SF-2281 controller when paired with Toshiba Toggle flash. Patriot, the innovative, awesome, totally groovy company that they are, decided to send us two of their Wildfire solid state drives using this magical combination that allow us to achieve blissful RAID 0 speeds on an inexpensive native SATA III motherboard. So how blissful you ask? How does over 1000MB/s sound?

I know what you are thinking already, 1000MB/s; that has to cost like a grand or more. That would be where you are wrong. The Patriot Wildfire 120GB will have an MSRP of 299.99 USD, so two of them will set you back 600 Dollars. SATA III is now standard on new motherboards, so you can spend as little as 100 USD on an Intel Z68 based, full size motherboard with dual native SATA III ports. The progression of technology is amazing. For around 700 Dollars you too can be pushing data in the uber extreme lane.

Let's go push some data!

Specifications, Pricing and Availability

Patriot Wildfire 120GB Solid State Drive RAID Report 02 | TweakTown.com

Before we get started, let's touch base with the Patriot Wildfire. You can read the full review of a single drive in this article that was just published a couple days ago. The Wildfire is spec-tacular; SATA III (6Gb/s), 555MB/s read with a single drive and 512MB/s write speed. Wildfire also has a claimed 85,000 IOPS write speed to boot, so a large amount of small file transfers happen almost as fast as your large file transfers.

Of course, there are other SandForce SF-2281 controlled drives paired with Toshiba Toggle flash on the market, but the Patriot Wildfire currently costs less than the Vertex 3 Max IOPS. Both drives come with a three year warranty, desktop adapter bracket and all of the goodies you need to get your drive installed quickly.

Patriot Wildfire 120GB Solid State Drive RAID Report 03 | TweakTown.com

Here we see the Patriot Wildfire retail package.

Patriot Wildfire 120GB Solid State Drive RAID Report 04 | TweakTown.com

The inner packaging is everything you want in a package. The drive is kept separate from the desktop adapter bracket so the two can't scratch each other.

Patriot Wildfire 120GB Solid State Drive RAID Report 05 | TweakTown.com

Oh yeah, we have two of them! The drive on the left is a full retail drive that came with our retail packaging and the drive on the right is a late engineering sample. Both shipped to us with the same firmware and performed equally. Both drives also arrived the same day which was a bit odd; we expected the ES drive to arrive a little sooner, but oh well, we have them both now.

Test System Setup and ATTO Baseline Performance

Patriot Wildfire 120GB Solid State Drive RAID Report 13 | TweakTown.com

We would like to thank the following companies for supplying and supporting us with our test system hardware and equipment: AVADirect, GIGABYTE, Cooler Master, LSI, Corsair and Noctua.

You can read more about TweakTown's Storage Product Testing Workstation and the procedures followed to test products in this article.

Let me first chime in with some advice. RAID isn't for everyone. Today we'll be using RAID 0, pairing two drives into one volume where data is read and written faster since the load is shared. In RAID 0 if one drive somehow fails, you will lose all your data. It's a bit like a double down; very exciting, but you can go broke much faster.

Currently TRIM is not supported in RAID. When using SSDs in RAID you want a drive that has good garbage collection. Basically, that means the drive is capable of cleaning up after itself when you delete data from the array. Since this is our first RAID Report with two drives controlled by the SandForce SF-2281 controller, we'll keep an eye on how the pair fair in this task.

ATTO Baseline Performance

Version and / or Patch Used: 2.34

ATTO is used by many disk manufacturers to determine the read and write speeds that will be presented to customers.

Patriot Wildfire 120GB Solid State Drive RAID Report 14 | TweakTown.com

Get a load of this! Not only is the Patriot Wildfire able to break 1000MB/s read, but it almost does so when writing data as well. What's crazy is we are using a standard motherboard, no add-on RAID controller like the LSI units we test to achieve incredible speeds like this. The Intel Z68 and X68 motherboards are almost as fast as the add-in cards for RAID 0 with a pair of drives.

Come to think of it, forget calling it 1000MB/s, let's break out a new term; 1GB/s. That's a capital B.

Benchmarks - HD Tune Pro

HD Tune Pro

Version and / or Patch Used: 4.00

Developer Homepage: http://www.efdsoftware.com

Product Homepage: http://www.hdtune.com

HD Tune is a Hard Disk utility which has the following functions:

Benchmark: measures the performance

Info: shows detailed information

Health: checks the health status by using SMART

Error Scan: scans the surface for errors

Temperature display

HD Tune Pro gives us accurate read, write and access time results and for the last couple of years has been gaining popularity amongst reviewers. It is now considered a must have application for storage device testing.

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Here we see that whole 1GB/s thing again! The Patriot Wildfire is able to deliver minimum, average and maximum performance of over 1000MB/s. This is even faster than the Corsair Performance 3 RAID 0 array that we tested just a couple of months ago.

Patriot Wildfire 120GB Solid State Drive RAID Report 16 | TweakTown.com

It should be pointed out that all of the RAID drives shown here today were tested with the firmware they shipped with at the time of their review. The Corsair F90 array arrived after the other SandForce SF-1200 pairs and thus had the most mature firmware / programming. Looking at the ADATA S599s, a pair of drives that should perform a little better than the Corsair F90s, this shows just how much SSDs can increase in speed after manufacturers start tuning their drives.

The Patriot Wildfire shipped with mass production (MP) firmware, but even at the time of writing Patriot is validating a new firmware.

Benchmarks - AIDA64 Random Access Time

AIDA64 Random Access Time

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.60

Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com

Product Homepage: http://www.aida64.com

AIDA64 offers several different benchmarks for testing and optimizing your system or network. The Random Access test is one of very few if not only that will measure hard drives random access times in hundredths of milliseconds as oppose to tens of milliseconds.

Drives with only one or two tests displayed in the write test mean that they have failed the test and their Maximum and possibly their Average Scores were very high after the cached fills. This usually happens only with controllers manufactured by JMicron and Toshiba.

Patriot Wildfire 120GB Solid State Drive RAID Report 17 | TweakTown.com

Mechanical drives tend to increase latency when used in RAID, but solid state drives generally don't increase latency. Here we see the Patriot Wildfire keeping the same latency as when we tested a single drive.

Patriot Wildfire 120GB Solid State Drive RAID Report 18 | TweakTown.com

The same is true when it comes to write latency. Latency is what makes SSD 'feel' fast when you are opening windows and programs.

Benchmarks - CrystalDiskMark

CrystalDiskMark

Version and / or Patch Used: 3.0 Technical Preview

Developer Homepage: http://crystalmark.info

Product Homepage: http://crystalmark.info/software/CrystalDiskMark/index-e.html

Download here: http://crystaldew.info/category/software/crystaldiskmark

CrystalDiskMark is a disk benchmark software that allows us to benchmark 4K and 4K queue depths with accuracy.

Key Features:-

* Sequential reads/writes

* Random 4KB/512KB reads/writes

* Text copy

* Change dialog design

* internationalization (i18n)

Note: Crystal Disk Mark 3.0 Technical Preview was used for these tests since it offers the ability to measure native command queuing at 4 and 32.

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We've noticed that RAID has little effect on 4K reads and writes until you start piling commands with NCQing. Here we see the Patriot Wildfire following this same observed behavior. Once the Wildfire array starts getting 32 commands, the array takes off.

Patriot Wildfire 120GB Solid State Drive RAID Report 20 | TweakTown.com

4K writes on the other hand get a decent boost when using a RAID 0 array. Using two Patriot Wildfire drives is even faster than the OCZ RevoDrive X2 that uses four 60GB drives.

Benchmarks - PCMark Vantage Hard Disk Tests

PCMark Vantage - Hard Disk Tests

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.0

Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com

Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/benchmarks/pcmark-vantage/

Buy It Here

PCMark Vantage is the first objective hardware performance benchmark for PCs running 32 and 64 bit versions of Microsoft Windows Vista. PCMark Vantage is perfectly suited for benchmarking any type of Microsoft Windows Vista PC from multimedia home entertainment systems and laptops to dedicated workstations and high-end gaming rigs. Regardless of whether the benchmarker is an artist or an IT Professional, PCMark Vantage shows the user where their system soars or falls flat, and how to get the most performance possible out of their hardware. PCMark Vantage is easy enough for even the most casual enthusiast to use yet supports in-depth, professional industry grade testing.

FutureMark has developed a good set of hard disk tests for their PCMark Vantage Suite. Windows users can count on Vantage to show them how a drive will perform in normal day to day usage scenarios. For most users these are the tests that matter since many of the old hat ways to measure performance have become ineffective to measure true Windows performance.

Patriot Wildfire 120GB Solid State Drive RAID Report 21 | TweakTown.com

HDD1 - Windows Defender

HDD2 - Gaming

HDD3 - Windows Photo Gallery

HDD4 - Vista Startup

HDD5 - Windows Movie Maker

HDD6 - Windows Media Center

HDD7 - Windows Media Player

HDD8 - Application Loading

In the real world day to day tasks RAID 0 doesn't add much to your experience when using SSDs. Most of these tasks are not bottlenecked by your storage system and they almost all use low block sizes with few commands to perform the action. Tasks that use large sequential reads like the Windows Media Center test do see a significant boost.

PCMark Vantage - Drives with Data Testing

For a complete breakdown on the Drives with Data Testing please read this article. You will be able to perform this test at home with the files provided in the article, full instructions are included.

Brief Methodology

SSDs perform differently when used for a period of time and when data is already present on the drive. The purpose of the Drives with Data testing is to show how a drive performs in these 'dirty' states. SSDs also need time to recover, either with TRIM or onboard garbage collection methods.

Drives with Data Testing - 25%, 50%, 75% Full States and Dirty / Empty Test

Files needed for 60 (64GB), 120 (128GB), 240 (256GB)

60GB Fill - 15GB, 30GB, 45GB

120GB Fill - 30GB, 60GB, 90GB

240GB Fill - 60GB, 120GB, 160GB

Empty but Dirty - a test run just after the fill tests and shows if a drive needs time to recover or if performance is instantly restored.

Patriot Wildfire 120GB Solid State Drive RAID Report 22 | TweakTown.com

HDD1 - Windows Defender

HDD2 - Gaming

HDD3 - Windows Photo Gallery

HDD4 - Vista Startup

HDD5 - Windows Movie Maker

HDD6 - Windows Media Center

HDD7 - Windows Media Player

HDD8 - Application Loading

I've been slowly retesting our stable of archived drives, but I haven't finished the RAID drives yet. The Fill Test was actually developed to showcase the Corsair Performance 3, a drive that doesn't lose performance when data populates the drive. Here we see that the Patriot Wildfire RAID 0 array doesn't lose much performance either, even when filled to 75% capacity.

On the other hand, though, the Dirty / Empty test does give us something to be concerned about. Without TRIM, your RAID array will need time to cycle garbage collection. Here we see the array going from peak performance (71,251 Marks) to a degraded performance state (65,895). The chart pattern does show that performance was quickly retained after data was deleted.

These tests are ran back-to-back, so there isn't much time for the drives to work cleanup. After a couple of hours, performance should be back to peak.

Benchmarks - AS SSD

AS SSD Benchmark

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.2.3577.40358

Developer Homepage: Alex Intelligent Software

Product Homepage: Alex Intelligent Software

Download here: http://www.alex-is.de/PHP/fusion/downloads.php?cat_id=4&download_id=9

AS determines the performance of Solid State Drives (SSD). The tool contains four synthetic as well as three practice tests. The synthetic tests are to determine the sequential and random read and write performance of the SSD. These tests are carried out without the use of the operating system caches.

In all synthetic tests the test file size is 1GB. AS can also determine the access time of the SSD, the access of which the drive is determined to read through the entire capacity of the SSD (Full Stroke). The write access test is only to be met with a 1 GB big test file. At the end of the tests three values for the read and write as well as the overall performance will be issued. In addition to the calculated values which are shown in MB/s, they are also represented in IO per seconds (IOPS).

Note: AS SSD is a great benchmark for many tests, but since Crystal Disk Mark covers a broader range of 4K tests and HD Tune Pro covering sequential speeds, we will only use the Copy Benchmark from AS SSD.

- Copy Benchmark

Patriot Wildfire 120GB Solid State Drive RAID Report 23 | TweakTown.com

RAID 0 works wonders on sequential file transfers like the ones we are testing in AS SSD. The Patriot Wildfire does a very good job here and nearly doubles the performance of the OCZ RevoDrive (2x60GB). The RevoDrives use SandForce SF-1200 controllers, last year's model.

Benchmarks - Passmark

Passmark Advanced Multi-User Tests

Version and / or Patch Used: 6.1

Developer Homepage: http://www.passmark.com

Test Homepage: http://www.passmark.com

Many users complain that I/O Meter is too complicated of a benchmark to replicate results so my quest to find an alternative was started. Passmark has added several multi-user tests that measure a hard drives ability to operate in a multi-user environment.

The tests use different settings to mimic basic multi-user operations as they would play out on your server. Variances is read / write percentage as well as random / sequential reads are common in certain applications, Web Servers read nearly 100% of the time while Database Servers write a small amount of data.

The Workstation test is the only single user environment and will be similar to how you use your system at home.

Patriot Wildfire 120GB Solid State Drive RAID Report 24 | TweakTown.com

The Patriot Wildfire is a consumer drive that is bred from an enterprise controller (SF-2500). The sequential performance is outstanding in the File and Webserver tests.

Final Thoughts

RAID Reports are kind of like show and tell around here. We don't issue a final score or keep track of benchmark wins. The aim is to show what is possible when you use the tools included with your motherboard and double up your SSD purchase.

At 600 USD a pair of Patriot Wildfire drives doesn't come cheap when looking at the situation under a microscope. Pan out a bit and seeing 1GB/s performance for 600 USD is another story. Last year you needed four SSDs to hit the magical 1GB/s mark. Four 60GB SandForce SF-1200 drives was really just the start, though. Last year's chipsets had a difficult time delivering 800+MB/s, so even then you weren't getting 1GB/s performance unless you used an add-on RAID controller, most of which cost more than 600 USD on their own. In the grand scheme of things, the Patriot Wildfire when doubled and tossed in a RAID 0 array on a modern motherboard with native SATA III RAID is somewhat of a bargain and most definitely a great achievement in performance.

Yes, I said it, a bargain, but there should be a clause there as well. If you aren't moving large files around often and are one of the people who mainly plays games, surfs TwitFace and such, then you are not going to see a lot of day-to-day increases. A single drive will be fine for normal people.

Then there are those of us that can't be called normal people. If you are in the market for a 240GB SSD, you have two options. The first is to buy a 240GB SSD and call it a day. You get a lot of capacity that is ultra fast. Option number 2 is the one I really like. Buy two 120GB drives for around the same amount as a 240GB, toss them in RAID 0 and don't look back. With this option you get the best of both worlds; fast day-to-day speed just like the single drive and an amazing 1GB/s when transferring large files.

With both options you have 240GB of space to play around with, but one is faster at several tasks while the other is just plain fast. So, fast or faster.....I'm going with faster!

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