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Intel Optane SSD 905P 960GB AIC NVMe PCIe SSD Review (Page 6)

By Jon Coulter from May 9, 2018 @ 10:00 CDT
TweakTown Rating: 100%Manufacturer: Intel

Moderate Workload Model

We categorize these tests as indicative of a moderate workload environment.

PCMark Vantage - Hard Disk Tests

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.2.0.0

The reason we like PCMark Vantage is because the recorded traces are played back without system stops. What we see is the raw performance of the drive. This allows us to see a marked difference between scoring that other trace-based benchmarks do not exhibit. An example of a marked difference in scoring on the same drive would be empty vs. filled vs. steady state.

We run Vantage three ways. The first run is with the OS drive 75% full to simulate a lightly used OS volume filled with data to an amount we feel is common for most users. The second run is with the OS volume written into a "Steady State" utilizing SNIA's consumer guidelines. Steady-state testing simulates a drive's performance similar to that of a drive that been subjected to consumer workloads for extensive amounts of time. The third run is a Vantage HDD test with the test drive attached as an empty, lightly used secondary device.

OS Volume 75% Full - Lightly Used

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OS Volume 75% Full - Steady State

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Secondary Volume Empty - FOB

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Typically, there is a big difference between an empty drive, one that's 75% full/used, and one that's in a steady state. Not so with Optane.

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The important scores to pay attention to are "OS Volume Steady State" and "OS Volume 75% full." These two categories are most important because they are indicative of typical of consumer user states. When a drive is in a steady state, it means garbage collection is running at the same time it's reading/writing.

Scoring is similar whether the drive is empty, full or immediately after running a heavy workload. Contrast that with the flash-based SSDs in our test pool. Steady-state only applies to flash-based SSDs, not Optane. The Optane drive's score at minimum double that of the 960 Pro at 75% full and steady-state.

Look at the SanDisk Extreme Pro. This is a perfect example of 3D XPoint's superiority over NAND. The Extreme Pro actually scores higher than the 900P when empty but when we add data into the mix, the Optane 905P outscores the Extreme Pro by a minimum of 3x.

The 905P again shows itself to be more powerful than the 900P where it matters. Patching significantly affects scoring in a negative manor.

PCMark 7 - System Storage

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.4.0

We will look to Raw System Storage scoring for evaluation because it's done without system stops and, therefore, allows us to see significant scoring differences between drives. When evaluating NVMe SSDs we are looking for a minimum score of 11,000

OS Volume 75% Full - Lightly Used

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The 905P continues to display slightly better performance than the 900P. Patching for exploits results in a 10 percent lower score. Even patched, the 905P delivers more than double the score of the best flash-based contenders even if they have far better sequential performance. This is testament to the fact that sequential performance is almost irrelevant in relation to system performance.

PCMark 8 - Storage Bandwidth

Version and / or Patch Used: 2.7

We use PCMark 8 Storage benchmark to test the performance of SSDs with traces recorded from Adobe Creative Suite, Microsoft Office, and a selection of popular games. You can test the system drive or any other recognized storage device, including local external drives. Unlike synthetic storage tests, the PCMark 8 Storage benchmark highlights real-world performance differences between storage devices.

OS Volume 75% Full - Lightly Used

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PCMark 8 is the most intensive moderate workload simulation we run. With respect to moderate consumer type workloads, this test is what we consider the best indicator of a drive's performance. Patching delivers a big drop in bandwidth, but scoring which is more important isn't affected all that much.

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When comparing storage scores, it is important to keep in mind that a few points are a big deal. The 905P just edges out the 900P for the top spot once again.

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Storage bandwidth really highlights what the Optane Series 9 SSDs can do in a more discernable way than scoring does. Optane destroys the flash-based the competition. The 905P delivers the highest storage bandwidth of any SSD we've tested to date.

BAPCo SYSmark 2014 SE Application Performance

Version and / or Patch Used: 2.0.0.70

SYSmark 2014 SE is considered the gold standard for testing system performance because it is an application based benchmark. This test gives us the ultimate in real-world results because it utilizes actual applications running on the system, instead of playing back recorded traces. If you want to know what kind of impact a particular SSD will have on your system's overall performance; this test will show you.

Our systems are much more powerful than the calibration system (1000-point baseline) used by BAPCo, so we ran an OCZ TL100 120GB SATA III SSD to establish a comparison point relative to our test systems. We will be running this test going forward and we will add drives to our chart as we test them.

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This lineup is a bit different than the others we've used for our test pool to this point. This is because these are the only NVMe SSDs we've tested on this platform. It is important to keep in mind that with SYSmark 2014 SE a few points are a big deal when comparing one drive to another on the same platform. We focus on the responsiveness score most when evaluating SYSmark results.

The 900P remains our lab champion on our Z270 test platform. The 905P is right there though, only one point behind the 900P in responsiveness scoring.

As we informed you at the beginning of this review, we tested the 905P patched on our Z370 system and that all other benchmarks besides SYSmark are for all practical purposes identical to those run on our Z270 platform. This means that all other benchmarks give us an accurate representation of the impact patching for spectre/meltdown has on results even though we used slightly different platforms.

To compare patched vs. unpatched accurately when running SYSmark, we must compare results run on the same platform. Here are patched results on the same platform for the 905P vs. Samsung's 960 Pro 2TB.

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A few points are a big deal when evaluating SYSmark results and the 905P is smashing the 960 Pro by 51 points on the responsiveness test. This might not seem like that much, but it is huge. It's enough to be very much noticed in terms of user experience.

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