We have talked a lot about upcoming next generation solid state drives, but now it is time to quit talking and start benching. While everyone else is out running around looking for their next big news story, I have been tucked in my hotel room as if it was a satellite office. So here I am; shorts, sandals, T-shirt and the new RunCore Pro V (Five).
The RunCore Pro V is the company's upcoming enthusiast class solid state drive that pairs a SandForce 1500 enterprise controller with consumer MLC flash memory. If you are a frequent reader here at TweakTown, you already know that multi-level cell (MLC) flash costs less than single-level cell (SLC) flash. Most consumer SSDs use MLC flash since this allows manufacturers to reduce the cost of their SSDs.
SandForce is taking a two tier approach with their controllers. To be honest, we still do not have a lot of information about the SandForce 1200 and 1500 or what makes them different. We do know that the SandForce 1200 is designed for the consumer market and uses MLC flash. The SandForce 1500 is an enterprise controller that is capable of using SLC or MLC flash. So far we have only heard of two companies looking to match the SF 1500 with MLC memory.
As you can imagine this early in the game, we don't have retail product box images or exact pricing information. What we do know is that RunCore's Pro V is going to cost more than current Indilinx Barefoot based Pro IV drives, but we should not see the price double.
Today's preview is going to be down and dirty just like we like our women and Martinis. As you can see from the image above, we were not in our normal test location, but the workstation has been flown to Las Vegas just for this test.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
As we alluded to in the intro, we don't have a lot of information on the SandForce 1500, but should have the full rundown in the next 24 hours. Because of this we needed to dig and see what info we could pull from the two drives we have on hand, serial numbers 5 and 10.
So far we have learned that the RunCore Pro V will be available in 50, 100 and 200GB capacities. For connectivity the Pro V is SATA 3G only. There has been a lot of talk about Marvell and Indilinx's new SATA 6G controllers, but we are starting to hear excuses as to why we were not delivered the product today. As it sits right now, SandForce will have the only next generation solid state controller available for the first few months of 2010.
When it comes to pricing and availability, we can only pass along what we have been told. Look to purchase retail drives in February at the earliest. By March the supply should be plentiful, high speed SSDs for all with the bank to indulge your inner go fast needs.
The RunCore Pro V
The RunCore Pro IV used a black case but the Pro V comes in nice brushed aluminum gold. Other than the color, both cases look nearly identical and are of very high quality.
A little has changed from serial number 5 to SN 10. Here we see the back of the drives and the newer unit has a full label.
We were really hoping to disassemble the drives, but found that you need a Torx Key to do so. When I return home the first thing I will do is pop the top and see how the Pro V is laid out. Here we also see the side mounting locations that make for easy installation in your notebook or desktop adapter.
The SATA power and data ports are located where they need to be, so everything is good there.
Test System Setup and ATTO Baseline
Motherboard: ASUS P6T7 WS SuperComputer (Supplied by ASUS)
Processors: Intel 975 EE (Supplied by AVADirect)
Memory: Corsair Dominator 1600 MHz Triple Channel Kit
Graphics Card: Leadtek Quadro FX1700 (Supplied by Leadtek)
Enclosure: Lian Li V2000
Cooling: Noctua NH-U12P SE2 (Supplied by Noctua)
SAS Controller: LSI MegaRAID SAS 9260-8i (Supplied by LSI)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate X64
You can read more about TweakTown's Storage Product Testing Workstation and the procedures followed to test products in this article.
It is important to remember that the RunCore Pro V that we are testing today is on beta firmware. We have it from good authority that at least one firmware revision will hit before the product is launched. At this time we are confident that we are playing with final hardware. Since I am taking these two drives home, we will be able to retest when the final retail firmware is ready.
ATTO Baseline Performance
Version and / or Patch Used: 2.34
ATTO is used by many disk manufactures to determine the read and write speeds that will be presented to customers.
The ATTO benchmark shows that the RunCore Pro V is pretty much limited by the SATA II interface. What this is eventually going to lead to with enthusiasts is finding ways to overclock the SATA II bus to try and squeeze even more performance out of the drive.
Benchmarks - HD Tune Pro
HD Tune Pro
Version and / or Patch Used: 3.00
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.
The STR numbers look very good, but when compared to the latest Indilinx Barefoot controlled drives these numbers seem a little lame. This isn't the first time we observed low HD Tune numbers, but saw high real world performance; remember the Fusion-io ioDrive results.
The write sustained numbers are a lot like the early firmware we tested on the Indilinx Barefoot controller around a year ago. As of now the Pro V has several peaks on the benchmark graph, but the low end is pretty steady. We should see these even out as the firmware progresses.
Benchmarks - Everest Random Access Time
Everest Random Access Time
Version and / or Patch Used: 4.60
Developer Homepage: http://www.lavalys.com
Product Homepage: http://www.lavalys.com
Everest Ultimate and Corporate Edition offer 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.
At the time of testing we observed the read access times that double that of the Barefoot drives. The Pro V is still a lot faster than traditional platter based drives and I am sure that newer firmware will lower the access times.
Write access times were much better than the read times.
Let's see how all of these synthetic benchmarks relate to real world applications.
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. These tests are based on real world applications that many of us use daily.
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
The real world Windows Tests show the RunCore Pro V blowing everything on the chart out of the water. For Windows users these tests give us an accurate indication of how the drive will perform as a boot disk and I have to say that the boot is what the Barefoot drives just got for enthusiasts.
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.
The server tests show solid numbers that collectively outperform the Barefoot drives. As you can see, different firmware revisions to the Barefoot have shifted performance levels in our tests, but even with modified firmware the RunCore Pro V gives us better performance in nearly all tests, even with the early firmware.
AS SSD - 4K Results
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).
We are starting to really get to love the AS SSD Benchmark. Here we want to point out the 4K read and write numbers. With the early firmware we see the 4K read numbers running much lower than the write 4K. The write 4K numbers are the highest we have ever seen in testing...ever.
The 4K numbers are important to us because so many of the files we read and write are of this variety.
Even though we are working with very early samples, it is safe to proclaim the RunCore Pro V with the SandForce 1500 controller and low cost MLC flash a very fast solid state drive. At this time I feel comfortable saying that the Pro V will be the enthusiast SSD in which all others will be compared to for the first half of 2010. The synthetic numbers don't show the true potential of the Pro V, but as soon as we get to real world Windows operations the synthetics be damned, this is the real deal.
What we really need to know before passing the final judgment is cost. We already know that the Pro V will cost more than the Barefoot powered Pro IV, but is it going to be a 10, 20 or 30% increase in cost? Another thing we need to consider is how the drive will compare to next generation products based on SandForce 1200, Marvel and Indilinx. The SandForce 1200 products should show up around the March timeframe and the latter two should arrive early Q2 if we are lucky.
What we do know is the RunCore Pro V is fast, fast enough to satisfy our needs and limited in many cases by other hardware like SATA II and even processor speed. The 4K performance is the highest we have ever tested to date; it is simply amazing. Every enthusiast on the planet will want this drive!
As you might have noticed, we have a matched pair of 100GB drives. Tune in tomorrow for our RAID 0 benchmarks!
PRICING: You can find products similar to this one for sale below.
United States: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com
United Kingdom: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.co.uk
Australia: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com.au
Canada: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.ca
Deutschland: Finde andere Technik- und Computerprodukte wie dieses auf Amazon.de