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Intel 530 180GB Two-Drive SSD RAID Report

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

Futuremark PCMark 8 Extended - Consistency Test

 

Heavy Usage Model

 

We consider PCMark 8's consistency test 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 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, the recovered state, and 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 on average 13 to 17 hours to complete and writes somewhere between 450GB and 7000GB of test data depending on the drives 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 10 minutes.

2. Run performance test (one pass only).

3. Repeat 1 and 2 for 8 times, and on each pass increase the duration of random writes by 5 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 1 and 2 for 5 times.

 

Recovery phase:

 

1. Idle for 5 minutes.

2. Run performance test (one pass only).

3. Repeat 1 and 2 for 5 times.

 

 

Storage Bandwidth

 

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

 

intel_530_180gb_two_drive_ssd_raid_report_34

 

We consider steady state bandwidth (the blue bar) as our test that carries the most weight in ranking a drive'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 (the orange and red bars) is what we consider the second most important consideration when ranking a drive's performance. Trace-based consistency testing is where true high performing SSDs are separated from the rest of the pack.

 

Although our 530 array proved itself a worthy performer when subjected to our light usage model testing, it simply does not have good performance in heavy usage scenarios. Scaling is good--better than the other drives on our chart--but there just is not enough horsepower under the hood to be competitive with our top performing arrays. It does outperform our 840 Pro array, which comes as no surprise, because as we discovered in our previous two reviews, the 840 Pro chokes like a fish out of water when blasted with random data for an extended period of time.

 

intel_530_180gb_two_drive_ssd_raid_report_35

 

We chart our test subject's storage bandwidth as reported at each of the tests 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.

 

intel_530_180gb_two_drive_ssd_raid_report_36

 

This is our clearest example of the benefits of RAID write caching. Latency improves on an order of magnitude in comparison to a single drive. This is not a function of scaling; this is a function of write caching that's not available for a single drive. Our 530 array does not have the storage bandwidth to be competitive, but it does have excellent overall latency.

 

 

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 tests 18 trace iterations.

 

intel_530_180gb_two_drive_ssd_raid_report_37

 

When latency is low, disk busy time is low as well. Our 530 array is able to spend approximately 3.5 times less time working than a single 530.

 

 

Data Written

 

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

 

intel_530_180gb_two_drive_ssd_raid_report_38

 

Low latency allows our 530 array to perform respectably, writing 1416 gigabytes of random data in 470 minutes. Our 600 Pro array lays waste to the competition due to its enterprise pedigree and heavy overprovisioning. Our 840 Pro array needs to be retired from our heavy usage model testing.

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