Review Index:
Feedback

Patriot Pyro and Wildfire SSD Review - IMFT Async vs. Toshiba Toggle-mode Flash

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Patriot Memory

Introduction, Specifications, and Packaging

Introduction

Today we're going to take a look at a pair of SSD models from Patriot. While they both share the same SandForce controller, that's where the differences end. This won't be your typical review - because this time we're pitting an Async IMFT flash unit against a Toshiba Toggle-mode flash unit:

View Full Size

We're also tossing a few OCZ and Intel models into the mix. The OCZ Vertex 3 and Agility 3 will again share the same SandForce controller, but OCZ has been known to add many performance tweaks to their firmware. This will give us a chance to see the 'baseline' SandForce firmware in action.

Specifications

Patriot has their drive specs spread out over several pages. Here's a consolidated list for these two models. We will be reviewing a 120GB sample from each of the two product lines.

  • Wildfire 120GB:

-Sequential Read & Write Transfer: 555MB/s read | 520MB/s Write
-Max Random Write IOPS: Up to 85,000 (4K aligned)

  • Wildfire 240GB:

-Sequential Read & Write Transfer: 555MB/s read | 520MB/s Write
-Max Random Write IOPS: Up to 85,000 (4K aligned)

  • Wildfire 480GB:

-Sequential Read & Write Transfer: 540MB/S Read | 450MB/S Write*
-Max Random Write IOPS: Max 4K Random IOPS: 40K*

  • Pyro 60GB:

- Sequential Read & Write Transfer: 520MB/s read | 490MB/s Write.
- Max Random Write IOPS: Up to 80,000 (4K aligned).

  • Pyro 120GB:

- Sequential Read & Write Transfer: 550MB/s read | 515MB/s Write.
- Max Random Write IOPS: Up to 85,000 (4K aligned).

  • Pyro 240GB:

- Sequential Read & Write Transfer: 550MB/s read | 515MB/s Write.
- Max Random Write IOPS: Up to 85,000 (4K aligned).

I've highlighted a few outlier specs in the above list. While the Pyro sees the now expected dip in performance when transitioning from 120GB down to 60GB - due to a reduction in the communication channels to the (fewer) flash chips, the Wildfire sees a seemingly opposite and more drastic effect. This is not due to a change in the number of data paths - it's a limit inherent in the SandForce controller itself, and is not limited to Toggle-mode flash. The difference caused by the Toggle-mode flash is the missing 60GB model - caused by the intermix of capacity points and configuration needed for this different type of flash memory.

Read on for our full review!

View Full Size

As it turns out, *any* SandForce 2281 SSD with a capacity greater than 256GB will see a dip in 4K IOPS performance. This is due to the way the SF controller handles the mapping of LBA's. To double capacity from 240GB to 480GB, the SandForce controller's finite number of allocations must be reconfigured to utilize 8KB blocks (up from the standard 4KB - intentionally matched to the NTFS 4KB cluster size). This negatively impacts IOPS performance as a 4KB random write translates to the equivalent of an 8KB random write once the added overhead is taken into account.

If this is a truly hard limit, a 1TB SandForce 2281 SSD would have to again redouble its allocation unit to 16KB and would then be theoretically kneecapped to an again-halved ~20,000 4KB random writes.

Packaging

 

View Full Size

The Pyro comes in simple no frills packaging that did not require a sawzall to open.

View Full Size

The Wildfire line comes with a slightly beefier package - with a 3.5" bracket as a bonus.

View Full Size

There's also this nifty spec page on the inside of the front cover.

 

January 30, 2012 | 12:55 PM - Posted by Bernie (not verified)

Hi Allyn & crew,

Nice review, but have you ever tested any IDE (PATA) SSDs? I bought a RunCore SSD (Model 0900027140 32GB)and have tried almost everything (I get a BSOD) and can only get into the Safe Mode. I know IDE is old, but I was trying use one in an old SONY PCG-V505DC1 laptop and have never been able to boot into Windows XP. Whether I start with a fresh install or using Norton Ghost, Casper 6 or Acronis True Image, the results are the same (BSOD).

It seems to me that either the drivers are wrong or a firmware update is need. I've contacted RunCore, but so far no good answer. The funny thing is, I tried this SSD (via and IDE/USB cable) on my MacBook Pro (using Super Duper) and it works just fine.

Have you any suggestions?

Thanks,
Bernie

January 30, 2012 | 03:28 PM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

It's likely that your aging Sony lacks the necessary compatibility to handle the RunCore SSD - or vice versa.

January 30, 2012 | 03:22 PM - Posted by jgstew

@Bernie

IDE SSDs are rare, slow, and expensive for the size/performance you get. Adding an IDE SSD to an old laptop is not a good idea because Windows XP does not support SSDs as well as Windows 7 and new operating systesms, and the value of the SSD is likely to be higher than the old IDE device you are installing it in. If you have a system that only takes IDE drives, then your first priority should be to update to a SATA based laptop or new motherboard/CPU for a desktop. You can then later add a SATA based SSD to the system to increase performance.

Even if your SONY PCG-V505DC1 could take a SATA SSD, it will suffer from other bottle necks that would diminish the value and advantage that an SSD would provide.

January 30, 2012 | 07:58 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

It would be nice if you could remind us which of these tests use random data, so we can tell how much of the difference is due to compression by the Sandforce controller that won't apply to previously compressed files.

Any reason server operators shouldn't expect expect longer life (more write cycles) from 32nm than 25nm? Performance is not the only criterion.

January 31, 2012 | 12:04 PM - Posted by Dan G (not verified)

Doesn't the Pyro only get 60k iops, and it's the Pyro SE that gets 85k iops isn't it? Great review, been looking at the different Pyro's for my first SSD, might bite the bullet one day!

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <blockquote><p><br>
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.

More information about formatting options

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.