back to article Thinking of adding an SSD for SUPREME speed? Read this

Those guys in white coats at the Serial ATA International Organization (SATA-IO) must have been really proud when they unleashed the SATA 6Gb/s specifications on the world. You can imagine them thinking: this will keep us ahead of the game when it comes to hard drive performance. Certainly they were right when it comes to the …

  1. Lionel Baden
    Coffee/keyboard

    You sir owe me a new keyboard

    I seem to have drooled into mine !

    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
      Coffee/keyboard

      Re: You sir owe me a new keyboard

      Seconded!

      With a camera easily capable of generating a data stream of 600MB/s I really want some of this new tech in my next machine

  2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. I am not spartacus

      Optional

      Dear Sir Runcible

      It is worse than that. The first page link to the Kingspec review is dead; link rot I suppose. Wouldn't be bothered, but sometimes older Kingspec parts can be found cheaply. I might not like the means by which older Kingspec parts come to be available cheaply, though...

      A tadge? Is that bigger than a tad?

      The PCMark8 graph is a graph of 'GB/$' against something. Now, I'll admit, at first, to misreading that as 'GB/s', which is an easy mistake to make, and could have easily been clarified with a bit of text, but the other axis has nothing on it to hint what it might be. You can get between 2500 and 5000 of them, or maybe pay between 2500 and 5000 of them, if that's any help (but I probably can't afford them, whatever they are, unless they are Drachmas, and then I'll take all you've got, based on the contents of a wallet left over from a holiday some time ago, and which is of no other use).

      "The theoretical bandwidth speed..." What is the 'bandwidth speed'? Is it similar to 'bandwidth'?

      Then, on page 5, there is the CrystalDiskMark 3 benchmark. Well, there probably isn't, 'it' is probably 'they'; there are two bar graphs, the first is 'Sequential Read' and 'Sequential Write', the second is 'Default 4k Read' and 'Default 4k Write'. Now, if these results are all from a CrystalDiskMark benchmark suite, then you'd go for the plural, and the title really is only attached to the upper set, where it should be attached to both. If it isn't, then it is a bit of a mystery what the lower one is from, and what the 'Default' is about. Is it the default of some testing suite that is never mentioned? Is the assertion that somehow these drives default to reading and writing in 4k blocks (which seems unlikely, but would have been quite plausible with spinning rustware, and even some SSDs have a sort of 'emulation mode' which would do this, but on these (roughly) enterprise drives? I'd be surprised, but that has happened before. And why is it helpful for this test be in 'old, not very good' drive emulation mode, rather than 'spiffiest, most performant' mode - I mean, there are probably reasons that this mode is relevant to somebody, but what are they and who is it)?

      But, the real shame here is that the Author had the chance to make it easier for readers trying to work out which interface is 'better' (more suitable), by including, eg, 'PCIe NVMe' on the labels on the graphs to make it clear. Now, the information is available a bit further down that page, but some won't have noticed that (yet) and will be flipping back to the first page to find out which drive is on which interface.

      All-in-all, there is a good article in here, but the presentation prevents it from being better.

      1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  3. TrevorH

    Your price for the 512GB SM951 is about £100 too high, it's currently available from a well known UK etailer for a shade over £235 + delivery.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Naming a 6 GB/s standard that can only accomplish 1 GB/s is a little mis-leading IMHO.

    Even the best PCIe SSD's can't make 20% of 6 GB throughput.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The SATA spec is 6Gb/s (bits) or 600 MB/s (bytes),

      but the disappointing thing in the review for the new drives is the tiny improvement in 4k performance.

    2. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

      Wrong units there. SATA III is 6Gbps (Gigabits, not bytes) which yields somewhere less than 600 MBps when serial bits are deserialized. Now my OCZ RevoDrive 3 has no problem delivering 1.2 GBps (GigaBytes per second) on reads which is why it's in my bloody workstation! Short of renting something better on AWS or investing thousands in a machine that will rarely be used (32 GB 2400 MHz RAM is usually enough here), the OCZ easily loads the hybrid SLI (Quadro, Tesla) at speed and delivers a solid TFLOP of double precision compute. Not TOP-500, but damn! I still remember the Cray Y-MP.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The Intel drive hammers the KingSpec in performance terms with the exception of Sequential Writes (2.36GB/s compared to the Intel’s 1.72GB/s) and 4K Sequential Reads, where they almost match."

    Hard to see that, because the KingSpec doesn't seem to be in the graphs. :(

  6. Andy Tunnah

    Don't bother

    Go for size over speed. A 1TB SATA SSD is a much better purchase than a 480GB PCIe SSD. Desktop users simply don't need the extra speed

    1. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

      Re: Don't bother

      Agreed - a one tenth of a second difference in the time to load a game is not worth hundreds of pounds.

      The only point where the price premium may be worthwhile is on a database server as local storage.

      (For storage accessed over a network, 6Gbps SATA is more than fast enough as a pair of such drives can saturate a 10Gbps network link.)

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        I beg to differ

        I got 2 180GB SSDs in my system, along with 3 2TB HDDs.

        The HDDs are used for data storage, the SSDs are used for the Windows OS - one to boot on, the other with the pagefile and one game that takes ages to load.

        Ever since I installed them, I experience very fast boot-up time (once a day, so don't really care) and nice general performance from my Windows system.

        That one game also benefits immensely from being housed on an SSD since map switching times are divided by ten compared to what they used to be.

        That kind of performance is worth every penny to me.

        1. jason 7

          Re: I beg to differ

          I think you misread what they were getting at.

          They were saying the difference between a high end SATA SSD and a PCIe SSD is not that noticeable to the average Joe so not worth the expense.

        2. schwa

          Re: I beg to differ

          great now you can join the server quicker and sit there watching the start timer counting down before everyone else :P

  7. RIBrsiq
    FAIL

    IO/s...?

    What do I care for transfer rates?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    SSD performance using pcie and nvme

    My interpretation of the graphs is that there is a surprisingly small performance improvement in 4k reads and writes compared to current sata ssd's (with the exception of the intel 4k writes0.

  9. DCFusor Silver badge

    Bits vs bytes

    The AC seems to be confused that one is a bit more than the other. And leaving out all handshaking and overhead...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: one is a bit more than the other

      Surely you meant to say one is seven bits more than the other.

  10. John Jennings
    IT Angle

    And the IT angle?

    And the IT angle? After page 2, I realised that this article was not the old El Reg I logged into!

    Keep up the good work

  11. Ilsa Loving

    Comparison to regular hard drives?

    I would have liked to see the benchmarks for an old style hard drive included in the list, to quietly point and laugh at, if nothing else.

  12. boltar Silver badge

    Can PCIe drives be used as boot drives?

    Is it simple to do that, does it depend on the BIOS or is it not currently possible?

    1. Metrognome

      Re: Can PCIe drives be used as boot drives?

      Yes. They are seen and detected by the BIOS/UEFI just fine.

      That was also the case with the very early OCZ Z-Drives all the way back in late 2008. No reason for any of the more modern varieties to go back on that.

  13. Six_Degrees

    I look forward to the day when permanent storage speeds converges on the speed of volatile RAM storage, and merge into a single 'storage' subsystem.

    1. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

      I don't think that will ever quite happen simply for the fact that you are always going to desire more permanence in your non-volatile memory while it's usually more desirable to allow faster (less permanence) in your state memory (RAM). That's why I don't see parity going away for any of the RAM equivalents while yon cosmic ray is going to have a hard time altering the equivalent of flash, PCM, magnetic, spintronic, ... your intentionally more permanent memory.

      It wouldn't be that hard now with 3D everything to stack your RAM-equivalent in the processor module (we've been here before!) while it sits in a literal Lego-set of permanent memory around it (done that too!), whatever we end up with at that cycle of technology.

  14. razorfishsl

    Dear god look at the current consumption on those things......

  15. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

    Simon, you consistently mangle PCIe width and PCIe speed. Obviously, anytime anyone says "x2" or "x4", etc. they are referring to width. For example, the M25 may have four lanes in each direction, but the speed is still 5 mph... Yes, I know you managed a nod to (actual) PCIe speed towards the end (Gen1, etc) but at the end of the day the average Joe won't care if you have a Gen2 x2 or a Gen1 x4.

  16. David Kelly 2

    What About Apple?

    MacPro and MacBook Pro have had PCIe FLASH since 2013.

    1. kryptylomese

      Re: What About Apple?

      So did Sony with their Sony Vaio Pro 13.

      1. Fuzz

        Re: Sony Vaio

        Mine doesn't, it's an early UK model and has a SATA card. This is something that I only found out when the laptop had arrived as all the reviews had said it would come with a PCI-e card. Later models had a choice between SATA or PCI-e.

    2. GitMeMyShootinIrons

      Re: What About Apple?

      And most users wouldn't know, notice or care. Unless you're really pushing serious data rates (which few users in general, Apple or otherwise, do), SATA mode SSD is adequate.

      But, I suppose, if you pay Pro prices, you should get Pro parts.

  17. Metrognome

    Finally....

    Thank you ElReg for finally considering an article on the subject. I've been asking for something on the topic since late 2008 and the first iteration of the (then) OCZ Z-Drive.

    I can't believe that it took 7 years to make such an article a viable topic.

  18. dubious
    WTF?

    The important question to ask when buying flash-based storage is what happens when the spare area is used up.

    Intel rather obnoxiously brick the drive ensuring that data recovery is impossible. Why they wouldn't fail to read-only I don't know. At least that way you could recover any data off the thing.

    1. jason 7

      I always create partition/s that leave at least 2-3GB unused even if the drive keeps some for over provisioning.

  19. Paratrooping Parrot

    Reliability

    How reliable are SSDs? Are they prone to failure fairly quickly? I have external Western Digital hard drives from about 6 years ago, and they are working fine.

    1. jason 7

      Re: Reliability

      I've bought around 20 so far over the past 3-4 years. So far only one has failed. I was still able to get 85% of the data back from it before it was RMA.

      1. Metrognome

        Re: Reliability

        A 2009 OCZ Z-Drive v1 is still in active duty :)

        [Disclaimer: one of its cousins was RMA'd before the current one got delivered]

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Reliability

      Currently using an OCZ Vertex 3 240GB SSD (4yrs old at time-of-death) as a coaster on my desk...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Reliability

      I think this is one of those questions that has enormous potential for 'YMMV'.

      Before saying this you have to accept that I may well have had a very unusual experience, but I am still running an OCZ Petrol 64GB and OCZ Vertex 4 256GB, with no problems (firmware always updated). Do I trust them? That's another question, given the terrible stuff I've read about them. The small one, not bothered, it's in an old duffer laptop that is very much a secondary use machine. The bigger Vertex? Hmmm. I carried it forward in a new machine I built last year and actually, now it's over three years old and my daily runner, I've made the choice to replace with a Samsung 850 EVO.

      I've installed many of the EVOs in engineering scenarios and they have been very well received (granted, the 840 have some slowdown issues allegedly addressed with updated firmware and a 'restoration tool'). However, the Samsungs have easily been the quickest and best supported I've encountered. I've also installed quite a few Crucial MX series. Solid enough, bar some irritating firmware bugs played down by Crucial IMHO (MU01, fixed in MU02) and piss-poor support with firmware updates if you're using a Mac.

      The only one that's gone squiffy on me was an mSATA - can't remember the make now, but could have been a Samsung PM851 or Lite-On. Eh, sorry. Can't recall now.

      All in, I'd say go for it - I haven't seen a higher number of equivalent failures compared to magnetic (anecdotal) and the benefits far outweigh the worries.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Great article!

    Thanks :)

  21. Conundrum1885

    RE. Re: Reliability

    Mr Failed SSD, what were the symptoms?

    I've heard some horror stories about SSDs merdeing themselves due to sudden power outages weeks or months later, something fails inside (possibly the controller) but it makes me wonder if the weak point is the same in many cases.

  22. Colin Tree

    old school

    I'm not doing anything with spinning drives, SSDs or even ram till we start getting Intel and Microns 3D Xpoint technology.

    http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/architecture-and-technology/3d-xpoint-unveiled-video.html

    The earth moved for me !!!

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