Several years ago in a thread posted within a storage section of a popular forum, I learned of the fabled RAM Drive. This was several years before the GIGABYTE product of the same name, back when using memory as a storage device was more of a fable, or story of myth. At the time, no one had ever actually seen a RAM Drive, or at least not anyone tooling around in forums. This wasn't because they didn't exist, it is just that they cost more than a Honda Civic. In the time since then, the memory market has changed significantly. Memory is treated like a commodity product with the costs lower than ever. This has moved RAM Drives from SRAM and DRAM (like what is inside your traditional system memory) to flashed based memory. When the changeover occurred, the term RAM-drive was dropped and SSD, or Solid-State Drive was picked up. Today we will be looking at the future of hard drives. Mechanical is on its way out, and with it rotational latency. Moving at the speed of electrons is in, near instant access times and faster loading screens are on the way.
Specifications, Availability and PricingSpecifications, Availability and PricingMfgr's part number
: 64GBForm Factor
: Standard 3.5"Dimensions
: Standard 3.5", 1146.0(L),101.6(W), 20(H) mmInterface
: SATA (Serial-ATA 150)Unique feature(s)
: CHEAPEST, HIGH-SPEED, HIGH-CAPACITY SSD!Rated Performance
: 100MB/s read, 80MB/s write, .1ms access, 76K sequential IOPSEnclosure
: Aluminum caseFrom the looks of the specifications, one might ask what is going on here. The next thing many users will say is that this is a tiny hard drive in terms of capacity. You are correct, the capacity of the drive is pretty small, but we are breaking new ground here. Most users have no idea what their read, write or access times are for their consumer drives; not even I can quote a single drive's Sequential In/Outs Per Second (IOPS), but I can tell you that these numbers are very good, and later I will prove it to you.
Our Mtron MOBI 3.5 64GB SATA came to us as a loaner from the guys at DVNation.com
. Jason will be sending us the latest and greatest SSD drives as they become available, and we will be writing articles and showing what they can do. I would like to take a few minutes to tell you a little about DV Nation. The company is located in San Antonio, Texas and they sell only one thing, the most advanced SSD products available on the market. DV Nation doesn't manufacture any of their SSDs, but they work closely with the companies that do; So close that when a drive becomes available they buy a large wholesale batch, unlike many companies that will only place an order when they sell a drive, adding to the shipping time before you, the buyer receives the product. SSD has come down in price and we are now at a period where 64GB of storage space costs less than a used car. Our sample Mtron MOBI 64GB is available for 1299.99 US Dollars from DVNation.com
. A quick search on Pricegrabber shows that the DVNation price is lower than any other retailer by a couple of hundred dollars. Still, 1300 Dollars is nothing to sneeze at for consumers, leaving SSD mainly for enthusiasts and professional application specialists. Still, as the technology gains traction prices will come down, and as they do, more and more users will start to take a serious look at SSD.
The MTRON MOBI SSDThe Mtron MOBI SSD
From the top you can see the MOBI looks a lot like a standard hard drive. Under the label we see a brushed aluminium enclosure. Modders will love the look with their clear case side, like a model sitting in a store window.
The bottom is brushed aluminium also; you can also see the standard SATA connectors here too.
From the side you can see that the MOBI is thinner than a standard hard drive. In this shot, we included a Western Digital Raptor for comparison. I can't wait to put the two side by side for testing.
If you have a hot swap enclosure, this next image will bring you peace of mind. The SATA connectors are located in the proper locations so you will not run into compatibility issues.
Benchmarks - Test System Setup and HD Tune ProTest System Setup Processor
: Intel Core 2 Duo E6750 (Supplied by Intel
: MSI X38 Diamond (Supplied by MSI Computer
: 2x 1GB DDR2-1200 (Supplied by Winchip
: ASUS HD 3870 TOP (Supplied by ASUS
: GIGABYTE 3D Galaxy II (Supplied by GIGABYTE
: Microsoft Windows Vista UltimateDrivers
: Intel INF 184.108.40.2069, ForceWare 163.21The above setup is what will be used for all hard disk reviews hereon. Hard disks designed primarily for use in notebooks are also tested in the above system. However, some tests which are for determining the effect on battery life simply cannot be run on a desktop. All battery related tests are performed on a Lenovo T61 with WiFi enabled. HD Tune ProVersion and / or Patch Used:
3.00Developer 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. Read and Write Tests
Mtron MOBI 64GB SSD Read
Western Digital Raptor 150 GB Read
The Western Digital Raptor is the standard for enthusiasts, but as you can see, the Mtron MOBI is capable of taking it on head-to-head. At the fastest area of the drive, the two drives perform very similar, but as you move away from the sweet spot of the standard hard drive, the power of the SSD really shows its strengths. Since there is no platter in the MOBI SSD, there is not a decrease in transfer speeds. On paper it looks impressive, but in the real world it is absolutely stunning.
Mtron MOBI 64GB SSD Write
Western Digital Raptor 150 GB Write
Write performance mimics what we found on the Read Tests. SSD drives are going to do a very good job in professional applications where transfer speed is important. Access Times
As stated previously, the access times for SSD drives are beyond anything a standard hard drive is physically capable of. Think about it this way, you are playing a record but instead of playing a song straight through you are trying to arrange a new song from words in different songs. the tone arm needs to move from one location to the next, but once it gets to the correct location the record has to spin to get the correct section to line up with the needle. The time it takes to go from one word to the other is access time. In the images above, we also see the access time for the MOBI. When reading, it scored .1ms. At writing, .2. In comparison, the Raptor with its 10,000 RPM platters took 9.4ms on the read and write test. One might think that a test measured in milliseconds could not have much of an impact on performance, but you have to remember that a drive has to access data many times a second (remember that IOPS), so if you have to wait when going between one stop to another, it does add up quickly.
Benchmarks - PCMark Vantage Hard Disk TestsPCMark Vantage - Hard Disk TestsVersion and / or Patch Used:
xDeveloper Homepage: http://www.futuremark.comProduct 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. These tests are based on real world applications that many of us use daily.
HDD1 - Windows DefenderHDD2 - GamingHDD3 - Windows Photo GalleryHDD4 - Vista StartupHDD5 - Windows Movie MakerHDD6 - Windows Media CenterHDD7 - Windows Media PlayerHDD8 - Application LoadingHere we see the Mtron MOBI just wiping the floor with the Raptor. In the first tests we see the MOBI performing close to 3 times as fast, and later tests saw a 2x performance gain. Twice the performance in simulated real world tests sounds like a good place to start for next generation hard drives.
Benchmarks - Real World ApplicationsWinRAR
Millions of computer enthusiasts all over the world use WinRAR, it is pretty popular with Joe Sixpack also.
In the WinRAR tests the Raptor and MOBI run head-to-head. Quickpar
Quickpar is necessary for users of Usenet, the software has started to make its way to the Bit-Torrent scene and now millions of users are starting to repair their botched downloads with it.
In Quickpar we saw the same results as we did with WinRAR, the two drives are very close together. Adobe Audition
Formally known as Cool Edit Pro, Audition is a professional audio application that makes touching up files in the recording booth a breeze.
In this test the Mtron MOBI was able to save the work performed eight seconds faster than the Raptor.
Final ThoughtsFinal Thoughts
While the Mtron MOBI is an accessory for the privileged now, in time SSD prices will fall and we will all be singing the joys of computing with next to nothing access times. For now, the professionals and deep pocket enthusiasts will enjoy the fruits of SSD technology while the rest of us will lay in wait for the cost to come down. Solid State is the way of the future and the performance numbers back it up. Whether you are using SSD technology as a boot drive or for a blistering fast scratch drive, your applications will benefit with greater speed and shorter application load times. The Mtron MOBI SSD 64GB SATA is a great example of Solid-State Drive technology. The drive has proven that it is faster than today's enthusiast standard, and by a large margin. Nearly every application I used benefited from using the MOBI and I am very impressed with the performance. If you are looking for the next big thing in computing technology, look no further than the Mtron MOBI.