Anandtech: Understanding SSDs and New Drives from OCZ

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spookmineer
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Anandtech: Understanding SSDs and New Drives from OCZ

Post by spookmineer » Wed Mar 18, 2009 5:03 pm

If I may say so, an outstanding article: The SSD Anthology: Understanding SSDs and New Drives from OCZ.

It covers why for some time, the only real options were the expensive Intel drives. It covers the basics of SSDs and why some are no improvement over HDDs at all (extremely high average latencies).

OCZ was pissed after Anand's former article, but they came back strong: they sent him some drives again, and after testing took the findings to heart and implemented the advice extremely fast (page 20/21 - a must read).
Respect to OCZ.

Very interesting and fun read, but for the synopsis: Intel still the best and expensive, OCZ Vertex most bang for the buck and acts like a slower Intel, yet much faster than current HDDs.

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Post by leospagnol » Wed Mar 18, 2009 5:36 pm

Great article, a mandatory read for anyone considering a SSD.

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Post by porkchop » Wed Mar 18, 2009 8:13 pm

thanks for posting this up, it was a nice read- the vertex looks good.

i'm surprised that the firmware made such a big difference.

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Post by yensteel » Wed Mar 18, 2009 9:22 pm

Learned quite a bit from this article. Thanks for sharing.

Looks like there's a lot of room for improvement.

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Post by whispercat » Thu Mar 19, 2009 8:14 am

Thanks for posting this. It was really well written and interesting to read.

I didn't quite get the bit about how the SSD can't delete files beyond a certain point and the disk space will still indicate no extra room.

I'll have to read it again.

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Post by K.Murx » Thu Mar 19, 2009 9:21 am

I have to disagree with the article on one thing:
They say that the drawback of the reduced random write performance (RWP) is outweighed by the increased performance overall.
I object to this if the reduced RWP does result in noticeable stutters. Because I do expect my computer to slow down if I start an application/load a game level/... This does not disrupt my workflow.
However, seemingly random stuttering while actually doing work will disrupt my workflow.

If the computer takes 20 seconds longer to boot - well, I am usually getting some water during that time, anyway. If it takes 15 seconds longer to load a game - well, time to drink something. I can anticipate those disruptions, and fill them with all those little things that need to be done. Blowing my nose, scratching my head, ...
However, if I am coding/gaming/... and the computer repeatedly hangs for half a second (worst number quoted in the article), this will seriously irritate me.

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Post by Matija » Thu Mar 19, 2009 9:26 am

Surprisingly, the article wasn't subtitled "How Anand Saved the World!".

Interesting story, but waaaaaaay too much chest-thumping.

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Post by Bar81 » Thu Mar 19, 2009 10:04 am

Concur. It was nice info but too self fellating. In any case, note that the article that originally exposed the issue now has a link to the working version of the drive wipe program for the Intel drive.
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Post by Modo » Thu Mar 19, 2009 10:18 am

Bar81 wrote:It was nice info but too self fellating.
Maybe a little. :lol: Still, I prefer this to having to second guess overly positive reviews.

Edit:
@K.Murx

The new OCZ drives don't have the stuttering problem anymore. Their random writes are much slower than Intel can do, but they are still much faster than the Velociraptor results. Take a look at the random read/write tests page of the article, and you'll see why this improved Vortex was considered acceptable.
Last edited by Modo on Thu Mar 19, 2009 1:35 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by jessekopelman » Thu Mar 19, 2009 1:16 pm

K.Murx wrote:I have to disagree with the article on one thing:
They say that the drawback of the reduced random write performance (RWP) is outweighed by the increased performance overall.
I object to this if the reduced RWP does result in noticeable stutters. Because I do expect my computer to slow down if I start an application/load a game level/... This does not disrupt my workflow.
However, seemingly random stuttering while actually doing work will disrupt my workflow.
Then you don't disagree with the article. Maybe you didn't read the whole thing or just missed the specific section (what was it like 30 pages long!?), but Anand was pretty emphatic about stuttering being unacceptable. There was the whole story of how he refused to give the initial release of the Vertex a passing grade, because it stuttered. It was not until they fixed this problem, by sacrificing some raw throughput, that he approved. The actual conclusion of the article is that it's ok to have mediocre RWP, not pathetic RWP.

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Post by K.Murx » Thu Mar 19, 2009 2:26 pm

Oops. Seems like I skipped over the part that contradicted my too-fast assumption.
There are a couple of points, like
I still believe that a SSD is the single most effective performance upgrade you can do to your PC; even while taking this behavior into account. While personally I wouldn’t give up a SSD in any of my machines, I can understand the hesitation in investing a great deal of money in one today.
out of whom I drew the conclusion that the author was of the opinion that any SSD would be better than a HDD.

But he mentioned a couple of times in the latter pages (which I skipped on my first reading), that he considers the JMicron drives unfit for sale.

I make my apologies!

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Post by wojtek » Fri Mar 20, 2009 5:26 pm

Hi,

I can tell you just one thing:

I'm using OCZ Vertex since almost 2 weeks and sold already my Samsung F1. I will post benchmarks tomorrow - after 9 day of using + benchmarks after 'reseting' an aligning but still with 'old' firmware. You can expect something interesting. I really don't care about benchmarks anymore - maybe Intel SSD is better with benchmarks but I do not notice ANY problems with my 30GB Vertex.
In real life usage (home user, WinXP SP3, FF cache on RamDisk) I don't see how higher random writes can speed up PC beyond this what I see now - simply speaking, everything is NOW. In my opinion there is no more problems with writes for SSD's - at least as a OS's drive. Only thing which I'm still concerned is longevity of those drives.

Sorry if I sound too enthusiastic but I'm using one of those Vertex (not just reading benchmarks) and before I was VERY skeptical about SSD. Now I'm just looking for some money to earn to bay more Vertex...
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Post by Modo » Fri Mar 20, 2009 10:51 pm

According to AnandTech, all Vertex drives sold through normal channels have the modified firmware, which effectively removed the stuttering problem. By "old firmware," do you mean a pre-production sample that still could break?
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Post by jessekopelman » Fri Mar 20, 2009 11:42 pm

Modo wrote:According to AnandTech, all Vertex drives sold through normal channels have the modified firmware, which effectively removed the stuttering problem. By "old firmware," do you mean a pre-production sample that still could break?
No. If you read the comments on the Anandtech article you'll see that there has already been a revision (maybe even two) released since the firmware he approved . This revision is supposed to increase sustained write without hurting random write.

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Post by Modo » Sat Mar 21, 2009 12:30 am

jessekopelman wrote: No. If you read the comments on the Anandtech article you'll see that there has already been a revision (maybe even two) released since the firmware he approved . This revision is supposed to increase sustained write without hurting random write.
That's my point exactly: All officially sold Vertex drives have firmware that essentially removes the stuttering problem.
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Post by Aris » Sat Mar 21, 2009 1:00 am

Its a great read, and i was sold on getting a vertex over the x25-m until the last page where he briefly mentioned hardware compatibilities. And to check out OCZ's forum for more info. Well i did, and i didn't like what i saw. Too many postings for my liking which include data corruption and just plain hardware compatibility issues.

I'll pay a little extra and get the Intel drive which i KNOW for a fact will work, without issue, the way a mass storage device should.

Still, its nice to see that at the very least people now know what causes these studdering problems and are working to correct it.

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Post by wojtek » Sat Mar 21, 2009 4:56 am

Modo wrote:
jessekopelman wrote: No. If you read the comments on the Anandtech article you'll see that there has already been a revision (maybe even two) released since the firmware he approved . This revision is supposed to increase sustained write without hurting random write.
That's my point exactly: All officially sold Vertex drives have firmware that essentially removes the stuttering problem.
Modo:
As far as I understand this technology, stuttering problem was solved by adding cache and Indilinx controller. Firmware is more about right balance between I/O, read, write etc.
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Post by Tobias » Sat Mar 21, 2009 7:38 am

Reading the article makes it clear that while cache might have something to do with it, the stuttering is caused by low random write speed and the latter firmwares sacrifice sequential write speeds for random write and thus fixing the stuttering. In the article, the first Vertex he had was maxed for sustained write and exhibited stuttering despite having lots of cache.

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Post by Modo » Sat Mar 21, 2009 7:54 am

wojtek wrote: As far as I understand this technology, stuttering problem was solved by adding cache and Indilinx controller. Firmware is more about right balance between I/O, read, write etc.
Firmware is, by definition, the software that physically sits on a device. In this case, this means the controller and any OCZ software put together.
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Post by shleepy » Tue Mar 24, 2009 1:30 pm

Question - does anyone know / has anyone seen benchmarks for OCZ Vertex drives vs. the new Samsung 256Gb ones? I could swear that I saw benchmarks for a Samsung-based 256Gb SSD (rebranded by one of the memory companies) in the Anandtech article, but I couldn't find it when looking for it a second ago... Hmm...

I'm thinking of getting a couple 250Gb SSD's. My first choice was the Samsung 256Gb drives, and alrightdeals.com has them for a little over $700 after shipping with an ETA of later this week. But I see that 250Gb Vertex drives are just a little cheaper from tigerdirect, and they're in stock now. So, I can wait until later this week if the Samsungs should be better, but should otherwise cancel my pre-order and go with the Vertex drives.

By the way, note that the "Samsung SLC" mentioned in the Anandtech article has very little to do with the new 256Gb drives, which are MLC and have new controllers.

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Post by shleepy » Wed Mar 25, 2009 12:54 am

shleepy wrote:Question - does anyone know / has anyone seen benchmarks for OCZ Vertex drives vs. the new Samsung 256Gb ones? I could swear that I saw benchmarks for a Samsung-based 256Gb SSD (rebranded by one of the memory companies) in the Anandtech article, but I couldn't find it when looking for it a second ago... Hmm...

I'm thinking of getting a couple 250Gb SSD's. My first choice was the Samsung 256Gb drives, and alrightdeals.com has them for a little over $700 after shipping with an ETA of later this week. But I see that 250Gb Vertex drives are just a little cheaper from tigerdirect, and they're in stock now. So, I can wait until later this week if the Samsungs should be better, but should otherwise cancel my pre-order and go with the Vertex drives.

By the way, note that the "Samsung SLC" mentioned in the Anandtech article has very little to do with the new 256Gb drives, which are MLC and have new controllers.
Still didn't find any real data, but I think the Samsungs are theoretically nicer. I believe they have more cache, and I'm betting the controller isn't half bad.

Besides, it's a moot point because the Samsungs are shipping as of today, apparently (got an email with a tracking number from the vendor). These will be my "storage" drives, while my boot drive will be 3 RAID0'd Intel X25-M's. Boy, I'm going to have some fast, silent storage! ;)

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Post by InfyMcGirk » Wed Mar 25, 2009 2:10 am

shleepy wrote:Besides, it's a moot point because the Samsungs are shipping as of today, apparently (got an email with a tracking number from the vendor). These will be my "storage" drives, while my boot drive will be 3 RAID0'd Intel X25-M's. Boy, I'm going to have some fast, silent storage! ;)
I'm very jealous! :shock:

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Post by zborbas » Wed Mar 25, 2009 10:36 am

Hello everybody. I've been reading this wonderful site for years (and learnt a lot), yet this is my first post.
my boot drive will be 3 RAID0'd Intel X25-M
Don't you think 3 intel SSD in raid will be bottlenecked by the SATA controller itself, and also your data will be unsafe? In my opinion this is completely unnecessary.

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Post by shleepy » Wed Mar 25, 2009 11:48 am

zborbas wrote:
my boot drive will be 3 RAID0'd Intel X25-M
Don't you think 3 intel SSD in raid will be bottlenecked by the SATA controller itself, and also your data will be unsafe? In my opinion this is completely unnecessary.
Depends on the controller, doesn't it? :) I think it should be fine. I'd go with just a couple of them, but I'd want more space than 160Gb (and the 160Gb version is more $/Gb). As for unsafe data, that doesn't worry me a bit, especially with SSD's. Besides, any data worth backing up will be on other drives... The RAID'ed Intels will just be for the OS, games, and any other intensive programs.

As for it being unnecessary - well, of course. :) "Necessary" is a bit of a subjective term, though. Based on my current setup, I use around 200Gb of space for the boot drive. I wanted to get the fastest possible SSD with a reasonable size and not too ridiculous price in its place and avoid the crappy cheap ones, so X25-M it was.

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Post by zborbas » Wed Mar 25, 2009 12:53 pm

Depends on the controller, doesn't it?
I thought you would use an ordinary on-board SATA controller, with a max bandwith of 300 MB/sec. About the "unnecessary", I am sorry, that was a bit harsh indeed.

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Post by shleepy » Wed Mar 25, 2009 1:30 pm

zborbas wrote:
Depends on the controller, doesn't it?
I thought you would use an ordinary on-board SATA controller, with a max bandwith of 300 MB/sec.
I believe that ICH10R's RAID bandwidth limit is around 600-650 (based on this forum thread, for example).

I also had a couple of Areca ARC-1210's which would probably work quite well (had them as server pulls). But after trying one out and realizing how much it slows down boot-up time and whatnot, I decided against doing that. If I find a cheap-ish option that does not add the additional hassles and would improve performance, I might buy it. But for now, I think that I'll be fine with the onboard.

By the way - welcome to SPCR! :D

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Post by AZBrandon » Thu Mar 26, 2009 9:57 am

What a great article! It sounds like confirmation that SSD is the future, but it won't overtake magnetic platters for at least a few more years most likely, which is what everyone had figured anyway. Sounds like that "TRIM" command is also the next big thing for SSD performance and extension of life. Also it seems that Intel really is best, even with all the work going into the OCZ drives, they only really kept up in 3 out of 4 categories of performance - the random writes were still 1/10th as good as the Intel drives, but even at that, it was still 50% higher than the VelicoRaptor, hence why SSD is still an attractive option, at least in the case of the Intel or OCZ's summit/vertex series.
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Post by m^2 » Sun Mar 29, 2009 10:01 am

zborbas wrote:
Depends on the controller, doesn't it?
I thought you would use an ordinary on-board SATA controller, with a max bandwith of 300 MB/sec. About the "unnecessary", I am sorry, that was a bit harsh indeed.
That's "theoretical 300 MB/s per drive", not for all drives together.
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Post by Tzupy » Mon Mar 30, 2009 5:34 am

There's an update to the article, in the mean time there were at least two firmware updates.
One was good performance-wise, but buggy, resulting in data loss, the other fixed that, and kept the extra performance.
Link to Anandtech article: http://www.anandtech.com/storage/showdoc.aspx?i=3535

I wonder how can you find out which firmware revision you'll get BEFORE buying the drive?

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Post by m^2 » Mon Mar 30, 2009 8:01 am

Tzupy wrote:I wonder how can you find out which firmware revision you'll get BEFORE buying the drive?
It doesn't matter much because you can update it.
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