July 4th, 2011
Its been about a year and a half since I took an old laptop that could accommodate 2 drives and installed a Solid State Drive into it (http://edi-atl.net/blog/?p=21) and I wanted to revisit Solid State Drives using something a little more current - The previous article was using a slow IDE based SSD - I decided to revisit the issue comparing a SATA Based SSD against a traditional SATA Hard Drive.
HP DX4 Laptop
Kingston SSDNow V+100 96GB MLC Based SATA2 SSD
WD 3200BEVT Notebook Hard Drive
Tested on Windows 7 Pro SP1, 64 Bit
For this test I cloned the data off of the 320GB hard drive to the 96GB SSD Using Norton Ghost. The copy took a little over an hour and a half on an external machine to clone about 60GB of data, then I installed the SSD into the notebook.
Refresher on MLC/SLC:
MLC – Multi Level Cell – A cell that is able to allow more bits to be written to multiple levels of that one cell. Typically cheaper and slower, most SSD’s that are “reasonably” priced will be MLC.
SLC – Single Level Cell – A cell that allows one bit of data per cell which yields faster write speeds, lower power consumption and longer cell lifetime, however since it requires more cells than MLC for the same capacity it is very costly. Most of your higher end SSD’s in the market right now are SLC.
Comparing Drive Speeds:
I downloaded the trial version of HD Tune Pro to Benchmark and Test “Random Access Write” speeds.
Here is the Western Digital 320GB SATA Hard Drive Benchmark:
Notice the minimum transfer speed of 26.2 MB/s and maximum transfer rate of 65.5, averaging out to 48MB/s with an access rate of 19.6ms.
Here is the Kingston 96GB SSD Benchmark:
Minimum transfer speed of 107.5MB/s, Maximum Transfer speed of 225MB/s, averaging out to 198.7MB/s and an access rate of .310ms. That is a huge jump in performance.
Here is the WD 320GB SATA Hard Drive, Random Access:
And here is the SSD, Random Access:
Notice any changes in random access speeds? This is where the newer SSD drives really shine! Results like these are why people who try SSD's love them, in some ways it makes people feel as if they've upgraded to a completely new machine, just based on performance alone.
Tweaks (Reposted from previous blog, all still apply)
First off – DO NOT USE DISK DEFRAGMENTING ON YOUR SSD! If you have a newer Intel Based SSD and Windows 7 it will take advantage of the TRIM command and will help keep your drive from slowing down or wearing out. Also keep in mind if your SSD supports TRIM (or you update your SSD’s firmware to support TRIM) the SSD will NOT show up in any Defragmentation software.
Description: Indexing creates and maintains a database of file attributes. This can lead to multiple small writes when creating/deleting/modifying files. Searching for files will still work.
Instructions: Start Menu -> Right-Click Computer -> Manage -> Services and Applications -> Services - > Right-Click Windows Search -> Startup type: Disabled -> OK
Disable the Page File on SSD
Description: Eliminate writing memory to the SSD, free over 2GB of SSD space. Warning – this should only be done if you have a second drive in the machine
Instructions: Start Menu -> Right-Click Computer -> Properties -> Advanced System Settings -> Settings (Performance) -> Advanced Tab -> Change -> Uncheck Automatically manage -> Select C -> Select No Paging File -> Select D -> Custom Size -> Enter 1.5 Times amount of Physical Memory (if 2 GB - 2048 x 1.5 = 3072) -> Set -> OK -> Restart your computer
Disable System Restore
Description: Don’t write backup copies of files when installing new programs or making system changes. Warning - If a botched installation, virus, or faulty driver find their way onto your system, there won’t be an automatic way to recover, so use this at your own risk.
Instructions: Start Menu -> Right-Click Computer -> Properties -> Advanced System Settings -> System Protection Tab -> Configure -> Turn off system protection -> Delete -> OK
Change Temp Directory
Description: For use in a system with SSD and normal drive. This sets the directory that all temporary information is written to when installing programs, updates, or anything that creates temporary files. Keeps windows from unnecessarily writing and removing files from the SSD and moves them to the traditional drive in your system.
Instructions: Start Menu -> Right-Click Computer -> Properties -> Advanced System Settings -> Environment Variables -> Change User Variables to d:\temp for TEMP and TMP -> Scroll Down in System Variables -> Change to d:\temp for TEMP and TMP -> OK
I use Firefox and found the next tweak quite useful –
Firefox - Use memory cache instead of disk cache
Description: If you use Firefox, there’s a way to write cached files to RAM instead of the hard disk. This is not only faster, but will significantly reduce writes to the SSD while using the browser.
Instructions: Open Firefox -> Type about:config into the address bar -> Enter -> double-click browser.cache.disk.enable to set the value to False -> Right-Click anywhere -> New -> Integer -> Preference Name “disk.cache.memory.capacity” -> value memory size in KB. Enter 32768 for 32MB, 65536 for 64MB, 131072 for 128MB, etc. -> restart Firefox
As you can see, I still recommend using a SSD Drive in place of a traditional drive. The cost may still be a little higher than most people are comfortable with but the added performance helps squeeze as much performance out of the machine it is installed in as possible. Drive costs are still going lower and will continue to do so as flash memory gets cheaper to produce in mass quantities. MLC drives are getting faster and cheaper and drives in higher capacities are coming out.
As a sign of how important SSD are becoming, Intel has updated their SSD Line to the "320 Series" and is so confident in their drives that they have now changed their warranty to a full 5 year warranty. That is a serious statement by Intel!
As always we are here at Eastern Data to help if you have any questions on these drives – please contact your Sales Executive at any time for more information.
Since 1997, EDI has been a value-added provider of high quality computer components, systems, servers, and computing solutions. Headquartered in Norcross, Georgia, EDI maintains a presence throughout the eastern United States and many European markets.
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