by Robert Tanner on June 2, 2010 in Solid-State Drives
Are you interested in equipping yourself with one of the fastest SSD’s on the planet? If so, then OCZ’s Vertex 2 is the one you want to keep an eye on. Thanks to its tweaked SandForce SF-1200 controller, the Vertex 2 is the fastest SSD we’ve ever tested, dominating almost every single one of our tests.
For this test we took a 7.16GB Dual-layer DVD image and timed how long was required to transfer it to a different 10GB partition created on the same drive. Keep in mind with a hard disk, this requires the actuator arm to seek back and forth between the source and destination sectors of the disk platter, while any SSD can instantly read and write to multiple flash chips at once. Still, this is not a test of the raw write speeds of a SSD as the SSD controller cannot read & write to the same parts of the NAND flash simultaneously.
Finally we reach the real-world tests where there are no unusual testing or scoring algorithms to leave us scratching our heads! First we start with a simple file transfer from one part of the same drive to another. Straight file transfers to a different destination would post even higher results.
Interestingly the Vertex 2 does slot in the middle of the pack here, and we believe it is precisely because of the controller’s design. As the controller must first read, then reassemble the parts of the file before writing (and recompressing) them to another partition on the drive it must perform both tasks concurrently. We are considering use of a RAMdisk in a future rewrite of our SSD testing methodology, and it would be interesting to see if copying the file to (or from) a RAMdisk would in fact allow the SandForce controller to attain higher speeds for this reason.
Adobe Lightroom 2.5
For this test we utilize 500 large RAW files, and import them into Lightroom. We time how long it takes the program to import the files, cache them, and build the image library.
Somewhat interesting is that the results are split into two main groups with the Summit only able to tie the hard drive, while the other SSDs clump together around the 3 minute mark. It appears the Lightroom test is not demanding enough, and another system component (likely the CPU) has become the bottleneck here rather than the storage. Remember, Lightroom only utilizes two cores when loading and creating its image library, so it is not fully utilizing our slower quad-core CPU.
This should go to show that not all workloads are bottlenecked by storage, and that to get the most out of a fast SSD it will require an equally matched processor and system as to avoid any system (or in this case software) bottlenecks. Even so, the Vertex 2 again manages to somehow squeak a few more seconds off of the best results.