Performance Consistency

Performance consistency tells us a lot about the architecture of these SSDs and how they handle internal defragmentation. The reason we don’t have consistent IO latency with SSD is because inevitably all controllers have to do some amount of defragmentation or garbage collection in order to continue operating at high speeds. When and how an SSD decides to run its defrag or cleanup routines directly impacts the user experience as inconsistent performance results in application slowdowns.

To test IO consistency, we fill a secure erased SSD with sequential data to ensure that all user accessible LBAs have data associated with them. Next we kick off a 4KB random write workload across all LBAs at a queue depth of 32 using incompressible data. The test is run for just over half an hour and we record instantaneous IOPS every second.

We are also testing drives with added over-provisioning by limiting the LBA range. This gives us a look into the drive’s behavior with varying levels of empty space, which is frankly a more realistic approach for client workloads.

Each of the three graphs has its own purpose. The first one is of the whole duration of the test in log scale. The second and third one zoom into the beginning of steady-state operation (t=1400s) but on different scales: the second one uses log scale for easy comparison whereas the third one uses linear scale for better visualization of differences between drives. Click the buttons below each graph to switch the source data.

For more detailed description of the test and why performance consistency matters, read our original Intel SSD DC S3700 article.

  Intel SSD 730 480GB Intel DC S3500 480GB Intel SSD 530 240GB SanDisk Extreme II 480GB Seagate 600 480GB
25% Spare Area - -

Thanks to the enterprise DNA in the SSD 730, IO consistency is outstanding. We are looking at S3500 level consistency here, which isn't surprising given the similarity between the two. The faster controller and NAND interface mainly help with peak performance but IO consistency is built deep into the architecture of the drive. The only drive that can really challenge the SSD 730 is OCZ's Vector 150 while even the SanDisk Extreme II falls short once it reaches steady-state. Also of note is that Increasing the OP yields a healthy boost in performance and the SSD 730 actually manages more IOPS than the S3700 even though it has slightly less OP (25% vs 28%).

  Intel SSD 730 480GB Intel DC S3500 480GB Intel SSD 530 240GB SanDisk Extreme II 480GB Seagate 600 480GB
25% Spare Area - -

Here you can see the differences a bit better with the linear scale. The SSD 730 manages around 15K IOPS compared to a slighly lower 10K IOPS on the SanDisk Extreme II. With the increased overprovisioning, the SSD 730 is in a class of its own, maintaining a minimum 30K IOPS.

  Intel SSD 730 480GB Intel DC S3500 480GB Intel SSD 530 240GB SanDisk Extreme II 480GB Seagate 600 480GB
25% Spare Area - -

TRIM Validation

To test TRIM, I filled the drive with incompressible sequential data and proceeded with 120 minutes of incompressible 4KB random writes at queue depth of 32. I measured performance with Iometer after issuing a single TRIM pass to the drive.

Intel SSD 730 Resiliency - Iometer Sequential Write
  Clean After TRIM
Intel SSD 530 240GB 351.3MB/s 402.9MB/s

TRIM definitely works as performance is actually higher than after a secure erase.

Introduction, The Drive & The Test AnandTech Storage Bench 2013
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  • Mr Perfect - Friday, February 28, 2014 - link

    Because it's edgy and cool, and what the youf are looking for in a SSD... Or at least according to the guys in marketing it is.
  • arvivaz - Monday, March 3, 2014 - link

    Not satanic. Just a skull. But its really witty. The skull is tilted like its looking at a PC screen and that looks like a smile. Skin's blown away from the power of the hardware, I suppose. Note the electrical/electronic symbols hidden in the skull. Pretty good.
  • star-affinity - Monday, March 17, 2014 - link

    What's so satanic about it? I think it resembles quite well the skull we all carry around…
  • amddude10 - Friday, November 28, 2014 - link

    I bought one of these because of its wear tracking/ drive monitoring features, significantly better than crucial m500 power loss protection, high endurance, and long warranty. I didn't buy this SSD for gaming, yet I find the skull endearing. This drive certainly seems likely to live up to the "hardcore" image of the skull, at least in terms of reliability/durability.
  • danjw - Thursday, February 27, 2014 - link

    No support for built in encryption, kills that product in my eyes. Sure, the consistency is nice, but I don't see ever using drives that don't have encryption capabilities. That, said I am much more security conscious than most consumers. I always secure wipe drives once I retire them. I care enough to make sure my drives have the on drive encryption enabled. These are for the people that think over much of the Intel brand and think Windows Firewall and Security Essentials are actually a good security choice.
  • PEJUman - Thursday, February 27, 2014 - link

    I say having common sense is the best security choice, more so than any specific program/brand of firewall-antivirus.

    I see the market for this SSD as near workstation class desktops @ semi-pro/pro setting (think small business). you would be secured behind your IT (camera, chassis intrusion alarm, etc). Not to mention your data on the SSD will be server-backed, negating most of the benefit of encryptions.

    I honestly think Intel is no longer chasing true consumer/enthusiast (or anyone with price/performance considerations).
  • DesktopMan - Thursday, February 27, 2014 - link

    Since this SSD isn't optimized for mobile, encryption doesn't make all that much sense due to limited ATA password support on mainstream motherboards. Also makes sense that they want to differentiate from the enterprise drive.
  • beginner99 - Thursday, February 27, 2014 - link

    Exactly. Encryption is more relevant in laptops and this clearly isn't a laptop drive. That being said I do not see a market for this drive. It's a tiny, tiny niche. The 840 Evo is faster and way cheaper, the M500 is like half the price albeit slower it has more features and I doubt one notices much difference in normal usage scenarios.
  • zyxtomatic - Thursday, February 27, 2014 - link

    You can also use the whole disk encryption option in your OS (Windows Bitlocker, Mac FileVault, etc) if your drive doesn't have hardware encryption. The performance hit really isn't that bad, and it protects your data just as well as hardware encryption does. I've been using it on my work and personal laptops for years and it's never been a problem.
  • chrnochime - Saturday, March 1, 2014 - link

    And the Evo is in a long line of SSDs that have consistently have drive failures for users within the span of several months, as seen on user reviews. Who gives a shit about faster when it's like playing lottery with using the drive anyway.

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