What's new
  • Please do not post any links until you have 3 posts as they will automatically be rejected to prevent SPAM. Many words are also blocked due to being used in SPAM Messages. Thanks!

G.Skill Phoenix 100GB Solid State Drive Review

Status
Not open for further replies.

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,270
IOMETER / IOMeter Controller Stress Test

IOMETER


IOMeter is heavily weighted towards the server end of things, and since we here at HWC are more End User centric we will be setting and judging the results of IOMeter a little bit differently than most. To test each drive we ran 5 test runs per HDD (1,4,16,64,128 que depth) each test having 8 parts, each part lasting 10 min w/ an additional 20 second ramp up. The 8 subparts were set to run 100% random, 80% read 20% write; testing 512b, 1k, 2k,4k,8k,16k,32k,64k size chunks of data. When each test is finished IOMeter spits out a report, in that reports each of the 8 subtests are given a score in I/Os per second. We then take these 8 numbers add them together and divide by 8. This gives us an average score for that particular que depth that is heavily weighted for single user environments.

<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/Phoenix/IOM.jpg" border="0" alt="" />

To be honest, the lowered performance shown here was completely expected and so too was the shallow que depth “blip” which has the Phoenix doing better than the others. You can negate to a great extent any firmware limiters emplaced by the controller maker by using faster NAND, but once the que depths start to get deeper, IOMeter will find these differences in how the controller is handling things and highlight them. To be precise, what IOMeter is telling us is that while G.Skill has masked the reduced power of the SF1200 controller, the problem still exists. The fact of the matter is that the Vertex 2 is still the better drive for heavily stressed systems, where the que depths are going to be deep.


IOMeter Controller Stress Test


In our usual IOMeter test we are trying to replicate real world use where reads severely outnumber writes. However, to get a good handle on how powerful the controller is we, we have also run an additional test. This test is made of 1 section at que depth of 1. In this test we ran 100% random. 100%writes of 4k size chunks of information. In the past we found this tests was a great way to check and see if stuttering would occur. Since the introduction of ITGC and / or TRIM the chances of real world stuttering happening in a modern generation SSD are next to nill; rather the main focus has shifted from predicting "stutter" to showing how powerful the controller used is. By running continuous small, random writes we can stress the controller to its maximum, while also removing its cache buffer from the equation (by overloading it) and showing exactly how powerful a given controller is. In the .csv file we then find the Maximum Write Response Time. This in ms is worst example of how long a given operation took to complete. We consider anything higher than 350ms to be a good indicator that the controller is either relying heavily on its cache buffer to hide any limitations it possess or the firmware of the controller is severely limiting it.

<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/Phoenix/stutter.jpg" border="0" alt="" />

According to this, the controller is certainly not working as efficiently as it could be. This difference may only be minor in appearance but is really is enough to bring the results down as far as it did in our typical IOMeter suite of tests. What SandForce has done is basically lower the I/O performance of their drive by making the controller simply less efficient at handling things. This could be as simple as telling it to “pause” in between commands or could be a much more elegant solution (our guess is they simply patched in older alpha code into the firmware to make it less efficient).

However, what G.Skill has done is quite interesting. They have a controller that is working at less than its optimum speed so instead of giving up and paying a penalty for a breaking a contract they have paired the controller to FASTER storage. The results tend to speak for themselves.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,270
XP Start Up / ADOBE CS3 LOAD TIME

XP Start Up


When it comes to hard drive performance there is one area that even the most oblivious user notices: how long it takes to load the Operating System. For our tests the clock starts as soon as the system “beeps!” and stops when our Anti-Virus splash screen disappears. While all the other tests were run with a streamlined XP image this particular image is the test bed's “day to day” OS and it has accumulated a lot of crud over the months from installs and removals. We chose the Anti-Virus splash screen as our finish line as it is the last program to be loaded on start up.

<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/Phoenix/boot.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
Just as we saw in the Vertex 2 review, a SandForce drive is a forced to be reckoned with when it comes to boot times. They simply are great at this kind of task. It also nice to note that it appears the synthetic tests were spot on with the Phoenix. It certainly is not any slower then the Vertex 2 or F100 even though the Phoenix is has the slower firmware of the three. The other side of that equation is it is not noticeably faster then the Vertex 2 which it would be IF both came with the same custom firmware.


ADOBE CS3 LOAD TIME


Photoshop is a notoriously slow loading program under the best of circumstances, but when you add in a bunch of extra brushes and the such you get a really great torture test which can bring even the best of the best to their knees. Let’s see how our review unit faired in the Adobe crucible!

<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/Phoenix/adobe.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
Interestingly enough, the Phoenix was able to pull slightly ahead of the Vertex 2 and F100 when it came to Adobe load times. The difference is minor and is well within tolerances for this test, but it is nice to see nonetheless.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,270
Real World Data Transfers

Real World Data Transfers


No matter how good a synthetic benchmark like IOMeter or PCMark is, it can not really tell you how your hard drive will perform in “real world” situations. All of us here at Hardware Canucks strive to give you the best, most complete picture of a review item’s true capabilities and to this end we will be running timed data transfers to give you a general idea of how its performance relates to real life use. To help replicate worse case scenarios we will transfer a 4.00GB contiguous RAR file and a folder containing 49 subfolders with a total 2108 files varying in length from 20mb to 1kb (1.00 GB total).

Testing will include transfer to and transferring from the devices, timing each process individually to provide an approximate Read and Write performance. To then stress the dive even more we will then make a copy of the large file to another portion of the same drive and then repeat the process with the small one. This will test the drive to its limits as it will be reading and writing simultaneously. Here is what we found.


<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/Phoenix/copy_lg.jpg" border="0" alt="" />

<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/Phoenix/copy_sm.jpg" border="0" alt="" />​

It certainly will be interesting to see as time goes by if the Phoenix can continue to be such a dominating force. All we can say is that there is indeed a difference between the Vertex 2 and the Phoenix and it is not what you would expect if you only heard the marketing spin. This drive is always just as fast as the Vertex 2 and in the rare instance faster. It really is heartening to see a company overcome such steep odds to pull off a win like this as the Vertex 2 is no slouch and really is a great drive in and of itself.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,270
Value

Value


The term “Value” is such an amorphous term that it truly has different meanings for different people. For some a hard drive is only as good as its performance potential, for others it is how quiet or durable it is; for others still it’s how effective it is for its cost. We here at HWC try to provide as many answers as possible for the term “Value”. Hopefully by this point in the review people looking at performance potential will have a fairly good idea of what its Value is. For the “best bang for the buck” crowd we have included a chart below showing how much a give drive costs per GB . No consideration has been made for performance, “durability” or any other extraneous factors; this is just raw performance vs. monetary cost. All prices are based on the lowest price found in our Price Comparison engine at the time of their initial review for the "Original" chart and are the lowest price found in our Price Comparison engine at the time of this review for the "Updated" chart.

<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/Phoenix/value_up.jpg" border="0" alt="" />

There is no denying that $3.63 per GB is bloody expensive for 100GB of space; however you can make a very good case that “value” is relative. For example, the Phoenix is new to the market but comes in at only a little more then what a Western Digital VelociRaptor 300GB cost when first released, yet it blows by the spindle-based drive in terms of performance. The same can be said of the other SandForce drives we have reviewed as the Phoenix is always just as fast as them, or faster, yet costs noticeably less. To us this means that when you are shopping for an enthusiast grade solid state drive the Phoenix can be considered one heck of a good value!
 
Last edited by a moderator:

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,270
Conclusion

Conclusion


With SandForce-based SSDs literally invading the market like a runaway Blitzkrieg, buyers have more options than ever before but unlike with past SSD generations performance can vary quite a bit form one product to the next. The SF-1222 controller is simply one of the most flexible and praise-worthy options on the market for the heart of a modern SSD. Unfortunately, its near-perfect performance results have been tarnished by SandForce’s decision to grant preferential treatment to some (actually, ONE) of their clients while leaving others out in the cold. Luckily, some companies like G.Skill have found innovative ways around SandForce’s performance-limiting mass market firmware. In doing so, they have basically thumbed their noses at the agreement between SandForce and OCZ for the Vertex 2’s “unlocked” firmware and have released drives that perform as well or if not better than the Vertex 2.

G.Skill obviously didn’t’ want to go the same route as Corsair did with their F100 which is basically shut out of firmware updates unless you are willing to lose some performance. Instead what we saw was a brute force approach to the design of the Phoenix whereby higher-end NAND was used to increase overall performance while still having access to SandForce’s future firmware updates. The result is a drive that can keep up with and in some cases beat the Vertex 2 which is impressive to say the least. Especially when you consider the Phoenix retails for about the same price as the Agility 2 or about $50 less than the newest Vertex.

There are however some minor stumbling points with this drive which need to be discussed up front. The use of higher speed yet less efficient NAND means that power consumption is increased substantially over some other SF-1222 based drives. It is also quite obvious that SandForce’s controller just can’t take full advantage of the higher speed NAND which is a bit disappointing. However, one or two watts more in an enthusiast-grade system won’t end up being the straw that broke the camel’s back and the Controller Stress Test showed a negligible performance difference between the Phoenix and its competitors. The 2-year warranty is also a concern since it remains one of the shortest among the major players in the SSD market.

As the old saying goes: “If you are given lemons, make lemonade” which is exactly what G.Skill has done after being given a controller with castrated performance. Throwing higher speed NAND at the problem sure isn’t the most elegant solution but it sure as heck worked like a charm. Not only does the Phoenix cost quite a bit less than the Vertex 2 and Corsair F100 but it performs equally in most cases and this to us is a praiseworthy achievement. As such, this is one of the only products to receive all three of our awards: the Dam Good Award, Dam Innovative Award and Dam Good Value.


Pros:

- Great performance which isn’t castrated like other SF-1222 drives
- Comes with latest firmware
- Price


Cons:

- no 2.5 to 3.5 adapter included
- only 2 yr warranty



di.png
DGV.gif
dam_good.jpg


http://www.hardwarecanucks.com/foru...-solid-state-drive-review-comment-thread.html
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Status
Not open for further replies.

Latest posts

Twitter

Top