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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  • CrazyElf - Thursday, February 27, 2014 - link

    Seeing that the SSD market is a low margin market, I get the feeling that Intel's strategy is to use it's existing reputation as a "reliable" vendor of SSD solutions and milk it so to speak. So that means little competition from a serious price to performance stand point, and more focus on product margins.
  • NCM - Thursday, February 27, 2014 - link

    I've reread the first page about 5 times and I still can't tell what controller is in this drive. There's reference to previous use of SF, but no indication of what's now in use.

    Did that info end up on the editing room floor?
  • Death666Angel - Thursday, February 27, 2014 - link

    From the text "Adopting the platform from the DC S3500/S3700", "The controller is the same 8-channel design as in the S3500/S3700 but runs at 600MHz instead of the 400MHz of the S3500/S3700.". From the table "Controller Intel 3rd Generation (SATA 6Gbps)".
  • NCM - Friday, February 28, 2014 - link

    @Death666Angel (!) Thanks for the controller parsing. A rather convoluted way for readers to arrive at an answer, but we get there in the end.

    In a related matter the reviewer writes: "We use both standard pseudo randomly generated data for each write as well as fully random data to show you both the maximum and minimum performance offered by SandForce based drives in these tests. The average performance of SF drives will likely be somewhere in between the two values for each drive you see in the graphs."

    However in none of the tables are the Sandforce drives identified. Apparently we're supposed to have memorized beforehand what controllers each drive uses. This is not some a mere quibble on my part. We have a couple of dozen workstations using SSD's, and because we work with a lot of incompressible data I do not buy drives with SF controllers.

    Please AnandTech: if you're going to bother making technical distinctions of this kind, make it clear where they apply.
  • Mr Perfect - Friday, February 28, 2014 - link

    That's strange, they used to label the drives in the charts with what controller was in them.
  • Kristian Vättö - Saturday, March 1, 2014 - link

    The controller is also listed in the table, although it's just "Intel 3rd gen" as to my knowledge it doesn't have any specific codename.

    As for the other feedback, the part you quoted it just a boilerplate that was we use in every review but I see that there's a need to update it.
  • Mipmap - Thursday, February 27, 2014 - link

    "to invest in custom client-orientated silicon." oriented

    "There wasn't much competition and given Intel's resourced" resources
  • Death666Angel - Thursday, February 27, 2014 - link

    Orientated/oriented is a preference thing. Neither option is wrong.
  • CalaverasGrande - Thursday, February 27, 2014 - link

    the meaning is conveyed either way, but I have always taken orientated in the same way I take "moneys'. While I understand the intent, it still sounds awkward and uneducated.
  • redmist77 - Thursday, February 27, 2014 - link

    Saying 'orientated' is as dumb as saying 'documentated' or 'adaptated.'

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