For our last benchmark, we have decided to use PCMark 8 Extended Storage Workload in order to determine steady state throughput of the SSD. 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, PowerPoint 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
In reading the results, the Degrade and Steady State phases represent heavy workload testing while the recovery phase represents typical consumer light workload testing.
As you can see, performance is recorded in terms of Bandwidth and Latency. Bandwidth (or throughput) represents the total throughput the drive is able to sustain during the tests during each phase. Latency, at least for the purposes of PCMark 8, takes on a different outlook and for this, we will term it ‘Total Storage latency’. Typically, latency has been addressed as the time it takes for a command to be executed, or rather, the time from when the last command completed to the time that the next command started. This is shown below as ‘Average Latency’.
PCMark 8 provides a slightly different measurement, however, that we are terming as ‘Total Storage Latency’. This is represented as being the period from the time the last command was completed, until the time it took to complete the next task; the difference of course being that the execution of that task is included in ‘Total Storage Latency’. For both latency graphs, the same still exists where the lower the latency, the faster the responsiveness of the system will be. While both latency charts look very similar, the scale puts into perspective how just a few milliseconds can increase the length of time to complete multiple workloads.
For a more in-depth look into Latency, Bandwidth, and IOPS check out our primer article on them here.
AVERAGE BANDWIDTH (OR THROUGHPUT)
These results show the total average bandwidth across all tests in the 18 phases. In this graph the higher the result the better.
AVERAGE LATENCY (OR ACCESS TIME)
These results show the average access time during the workloads across all tests in the 18 phases. In this graph the lower the result the better.
TOTAL STORAGE LATENCY
These results show the total access time across all tests in the 18 phases. In this graph the lower the result the better.
As comparables for this test, we have also included the Mushkin reactor, Samsung 850EVO, Micron M600 and Samsung 850 Pro, all being 1TB SSDs. The most obvious thing that might be noticed right off is just how closely matched the Mushkin Reactor and Super Talent AT7 SSDs really are; the reason of course being that both contain the SMI SM2246EN controller.
For those new to these type of tests, it becomes very obvious that bandwidth drops drastically and latency increases significantly during Degrade and Steady State Phases. This is because the SSDs are subject to a continuous workload without the opportunity to recover, unlike the Recovery Phase where Garbage Collection and even TRIM is active.
REPORT ANALYSIS AND FINAL THOUGHTS
First and foremost, we would like to thank Super Talent for sending along the DuraDrive AT7 for us to take a close look at; we believe this to be an exclusive look and it is always great to get a look at all the areas that SSDs are being used. We understand the AT7 is already in the hands of unnamed automotive manufacturers and expected to do very well.
Peformance of the AT7 is just what we might expect to see in consumer, client and even some enterprise SSDs, and this is much more than one would expect for such a place like the automotive industry where performance is often sacrificed to ensure for the durability and endurance of the hardware. It is very good to see SSDs, and SSDs that are very similar to those we are buying as consumers, being trusted by the automotive industry. Not only is this a huge vote of confidence for SMI and Super Talent, but also, it is a huge vote for the SSD industry as well.
We have absolutely no difficulty whatsoever awarding the Super Talent Duradrive AT7 IVI SSD with our Innovation Award.