AnandTech Storage Bench - The Destroyer

Our AnandTech Storage Bench tests are traces (recordings) of real-world IO patterns that are replayed onto the drives under test. The Destroyer is the longest and most difficult phase of our consumer SSD test suite. For more details, please see the overview of our 2021 Consumer SSD Benchmark Suite.

ATSB The Destroyer
Average Data Rate
Average Latency Average Read Latency Average Write Latency
99th Percentile Latency 99th Percentile Read Latency 99th Percentile Write Latency
Energy Usage

For SATA drives, the Samsung 870 EVOs turn in class-leading scores on almost all of the performance metrics. But these improvements are all marginal at best; the SATA interface bottleneck almost completely levels the playing field. The small improvements to read latency brought by the 870 EVO pale in comparison to what is achieved by even entry-level NVMe SSDs.

In stark contrast to the performance numbers, the 870 EVOs turn out to be the most power-hungry TLC drives in this bunch: they sacrifice some of the efficiency improvements the 860 EVO provided, even though drives like the SK hynix Gold S31 have been able to deliver significant improvement on this.

AnandTech Storage Bench - Heavy

The ATSB Heavy test is much shorter overall than The Destroyer, but is still fairly write-intensive. We run this test twice: first on a mostly-empty drive, and again on a completely full drive to show the worst-case performance.

ATSB Heavy
Average Data Rate
Average Latency Average Read Latency Average Write Latency
99th Percentile Latency 99th Percentile Read Latency 99th Percentile Write Latency
Energy Usage

The scores for the Heavy test paint much the same picture as for The Destroyer. The full-drive test runs additionally show that the worst-case performance of the mainstream SATA SSDs is still superior to many entry-level NVMe SSDs, even though the NVMe SSDs significantly outperform SATA for any more normal workload.

AnandTech Storage Bench - Light

The ATSB Light test represents ordinary everyday usage that doesn't put much strain on a SSD. Low queue depths, short bursts of IO and a short overall test duration mean this should be easy for any SSD. But running it a second time on a full drive shows how even storage-light workloads can be affected by SSD performance degradation.

ATSB Light
Average Data Rate
Average Latency Average Read Latency Average Write Latency
99th Percentile Latency 99th Percentile Read Latency 99th Percentile Write Latency
Energy Usage

On the Light test, the measurable but imperceptible performance advantages of the 870 EVOs over other SATA drives have basically disappeared. The read latency scores on the full-drive test runs may be a tiny bit better than the 860 EVO, but the only scores that have clearly shifted with this new generation are the energy consumption figures that have creeped up.

PCMark 10 Storage Benchmarks

The PCMark 10 Storage benchmarks are IO trace based tests similar to our own ATSB tests. For more details, please see the overview of our 2021 Consumer SSD Benchmark Suite.

PCMark 10 Storage Traces
Full System Drive Overall Score Average Bandwidth Average Latency
Quick System Drive Overall Score Average Bandwidth Average Latency
Data Drive Overall Score Average Bandwidth Average Latency

The Full System Drive test from the PCMark 10 Storage suite shows a much wider spread of performance scores among SATA drives than our ATSB traces, but also a much smaller advantage for the NVMe drives. Judging by this test, the 870 EVO offers a small but real improvement to performance compared to earlier SATA drives. The 4TB 870 QVO also scores quite well since it benefits from the same controller and has enough SLC cache to almost match the performance of the 4TB 870 EVO.

The subset of tests included in the Quick System Drive and Data Drive benchmarks show a more level playing field among SATA SSDs, and a greater advantage for NVMe drives. Since we run these tests before the Full System Drive test, each drive is closer to its fresh out-of-the-box state, which helps these tests get closer to showing the theoretical peak performance of a drive.

Introduction Synthetic Tests: Basic IO Patterns
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  • Marlin1975 - Wednesday, February 17, 2021 - link

    So with high capacity SSD becoming more common and cheaper is there any movement to update the SATA standard to take advantage?

    Seems hard drive makers would be trying to get this to happen. Even a small performance boost would sell larger capacity SSDs.
    Reply
  • ckmac - Wednesday, February 17, 2021 - link

    Nope. Back in 2013-14, there was a new standard named "SATA Express", but it never gained any traction in the marketplace. That's why SSDs have moved to the M.2 form factor, with the PCIe interface. There's much more bandwidth:

    PCIe 3.0 x4 = 3.938 GB/s = 31.5 Gbps
    PCIe 4.0 x4 = 7.877 GB/s = 63.0 Gbps

    The same form factor can be used in laptops, desktops, consoles, etc. Newer motherboards have 2 to 3 total M.2 slots.
    Reply
  • SarahKerrigan - Wednesday, February 17, 2021 - link

    I have a SATA Express laptop! The complete lack of drives for the form factor aside from the one it shipped with (an OEM-specific Toshiba XG3 iirc) is somewhat annoying - but luckily there's an M.2 adapter available in a pinch. Reply
  • DanNeely - Wednesday, February 17, 2021 - link

    Sata Express isn't even really an update of SATA. They just added the ability to run 2 PCIe lanes instead of a SATA link down the cable; effectively making it equivalent to a low end m.2 drive. Reply
  • Kamen Rider Blade - Wednesday, February 17, 2021 - link

    The issue with the M.2 connector is that it wasn't designed for "Hot Swap"

    and the designed in Insertion life isn't high compared to the SATA style connector

    - M.2 = ____ 50 Cycles
    - SATA = 10,000 Cycles
    Reply
  • Murloc - Wednesday, February 17, 2021 - link

    even hobby builders who upgrade their components often are likely to touch that maybe once every year at most. And the motherboard is unlikely to last more than 5 years if they're that upgrade-crazy. Reply
  • mr_tawan - Thursday, February 18, 2021 - link

    well what about M.2 replace SD standard ? Maybe it can becomes pro-level video camera storage. Having 50 cycles of hot swap seems to be mis-opportunity. Reply
  • dotjaz - Friday, February 19, 2021 - link

    why would they need that? Why are you creating problem when it's not there?
    M.2 can't hotswap at all. It's physically too big. You'll need to completely redesign the physical and protocol layer. Why wouldn't you just use SD Express?
    Reply
  • MetaCube - Thursday, March 18, 2021 - link

    Wtf Reply
  • CaedenV - Wednesday, February 17, 2021 - link

    I mean... with SATA drives/cables, then you need to unhook and reattach them all the time because the wires get in the way. m.2 is just on the mobo, so you don't need to ever mess with it unless the mobo is being replaced, or you are upgrading. Reply

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