PCMARK 8 EXTENDED STORAGE WORKLOAD
For our last benchmark, we have decided to use PCMark 8 Extended Storage Workload in order to determine steady state throughput of the SanDisk Extreme Pro. This software is the longest in our battery of tests and takes just under 18 hours per SSD. As this is a specialized component of PCMark 8 Professional, its final result is void of any colorful graphs or charts typical of the normal online results and deciphering the resulting excel file into an easily understood result takes several more hours.
There are 18 phases of testing throughout the entire run, 8 runs of the Degradation Phase, 5 runs of the Steady State Phase and 5 runs of the Recovery Phase. In each phase, several performance tests are run of 10 different software programs; Adobe After Effects, Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop Heavy and Photoshop Light, Microsoft Excel, Powerproint and Word, as well as Battlefield 3 and World of Warcraft to cover the gaming element.
- PRECONDITIONING -The entire SSD is filled twice sequentially with random data of a 128KB file size. The second run accounts for overprovisioning that would have escaped the first;
- DEGRADATION PHASE – The SSD is hit with random writes of between 4KB and 1MB for 10 minutes and then a single pass performance test is done of each application. The cycle is repeated 8 times, and with each time, the duration of random writes increases by 5 minutes;
- STEADY STATE PHASE – The drive is hit with random writes of between 4KB and 1MB for 45 minutes before each application is put through a performance test. This process is repeated 5 times;
- RECOVERY PHASE – The SSD is allowed to idle for 5 minutes before and between performance tests of all applications. This is repeated 5 times which accounts for garbage collection; and
- CLEANUP – The entire SSD is written with zero data at a write size of 128KB
We did not include the results of every test in our graph as that would have delayed the report by a few weeks. We have included the throughput from testing in Photoshop – Heavy, as well as all of the tests combined. We decided to display the Photoshop result as it clearly depicts the fresh drive being pushed down into steady state, before being allowed to recover through garbage collection. The results a typical user would normally see are the Recovery Phase results.
Examining the throughput of all tests combined, we can see that the SanDisk Extreme Pro exhibits great consistency throughout, and actually, its steady state performance is more akin to what we would normally see in an enterprise SSD as just above 200MB/s steady state throughput.
Incidentally, did you wonder just how much was written to the SSD in order to complete these tests? If you would believe it…an incredible 3.29TB. We guess PCMark 8 completion, in itself, speaks to the quality of the SSD.
REPORT ANALYSIS AND FINAL THOUGHTS
Perhaps the most valuable things that have transpired as a result of the SATA 3 bottleneck are the ways that manufacturers have tried to show the value of their 6Gbps SSDs drive in and above that bottleneck of 550MB/s. First we saw throughput reach its operational max, and then IOPS, followed then by some warranties bumping from 3 to 5 years, the inclusion of power failure protection in some drives, and most recently, performance consistency levels above what we might have seen in enterprise drives not so long ago. Add to this the juggling of components that allowed pricing to drop to all time lows, forcing other SSD manufacturers to follow suit.
SanDisk has hit several of the right chords with their new Extreme Pro SSD family and perhaps the most shocking is their limited 10 year warranty which they just dare anyone else to match. Most manufacturers won’t even touch five-year warranties, while others have back stepped from 5 to 3 with the advent of newer, more cost-effective NAND flash memory. Such a warranty is the strongest way that a manufacturer has to demonstrate confidence in their own product and SanDisk absolutely annihilates the competition here. Kudos on their decision to have a 10 year warranty and let’s hope others follow suit.
When looking at performance, there is no doubt that the Extreme Pro has bettered the performance that we saw in the Extreme II, and then some. In the original Extreme II, we saw higher performance at smaller file sizes, but then we saw a drop in read performance at higher file size. The Extreme pro seems to have pulled out all the stops, except for IOPS where we could not get our IOPS high to match that of listed specs. This is not to say that it wouldn’t occur in another test environment and the battery of tests that we did in this report portray the Extreme pro as an upper tier SSD that would be an asset in the hands of gamers, PC enthusiasts and media professionals.
Lastly, we have the consideration of price where the Extreme Pro has a decent MSRP, but retailers are taking advantage of this being a new release and increasing the price on their end, some as high as $100 for the 512GB capacity. Even if we look at MSRP alone, it would be nice to see SanDisk bring prices down to the level we recently saw in the Crucial MX100, taking into account of course that the MX100 is not available at 1TB and only has a 3 year warranty. It just seems that, as a NAND flash memory manufacturer, SanDisk can afford this tradeoff where they would realize the same revenue through increased sales at the lower value point.
So the question at the end of the day would have to be whether we would tell you that this drive is worth the extra money you will pay in comparison to the low-end SSDs that are popping up daily. Truly, it appears that the price wars between the NAND flash manufacturers has begun. Firstly, enough can’t be said about a companies confidence in their product through a 10 year warranty. This in itself speaks leaps and bounds for SanDisk.
Next, SanDisk has created a top-tier (and potentially the best yet) SATA 3 SSD that has been tuned to what we might consider the best it can be; even its consistency wreaks of enterprise qualities. Simply, any SSD that can survive PCMark 8 Consistency Testing deserves to be counted. Unlike the others, SanDisk is not trying to fit their NAND flash memory into that smaller and cheaper mold. This SSD is built on quality where the components speak as highly as the warranty. As far as we are concerned, watch the price for a bit and BUY IT!