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SATA 6G 6.0 Gb/s Performance Preview - Seagate XT drive tested

Author: Matt Baynum
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: General
Tagged:

Performance Testing and Closing Thoughts

The rest of the hardware used for the testing included an Intel Core
i7-860 processor, 4GB of DDR3-1333 memory, the ASUS P7P55D Premium
motherboard of course, an ASUS GeForce GTX 285 graphics card and
Windows 7 Professional x64 RTM.

When
we first saw these results were were dumbfounded.  It was shortly there
after that we found out bits and pieces about the in-memory storage
cache the new driver was using and put the pieces together.  Seeing
burst rates as high as 4 GB/s is damn impressive, but we should be
cautious in saying how much performance advantage you will see in
day-to-day computing with this benchmark result. 

Looking at the older driver that did NOT
implement this cache, the burst rates of the SATA 6G hard drive from
Seagate do not really stand out from the crowd as we expected them
too.  The 253.4 MB/s is nearly identical to the speeds we saw with the
Intel 80GB SSD on the Marvell controller but is a bit higher than the
Seagate 1.5 TB SATA-II hard drive. 

While
the Seagate XT drive does see a modest improvement in average read
speeds compared to the older Barracuda 7200.11 drive, that can likely
be attributed to the higher density of a 2TB hard drive over a 1.5TB
drive.  Note that the XT drive has the same speed improvement on the
P55 chipset as it does on the Marvell chip.

The
same said above is worth noting here: the Seagate XT hard drive sees no
big boost in write speeds on the SATA 6G controller.  To be fair
though, we weren't expecting any changes on write speeds...

We
ran these drives through some IOMeter testing as well to see if
anything else showed up in favor of the Seagate XT 6.0 Gb/s hard drive,
but unfortunately it didn't.  The IO/sec seen on the Seagate drive
(both using the 1027 driver and the 1008 driver) were less than those
seen on the 1.5 TB Seagate drive that is available today.  Most of this
performance gap likely can be attributed to the early firmware we are
testing with on the Seagate XT drive and we hope that as the drive
matures we'll see these rates at least match their previous
generation's.

Closing Thoughts

So...what can we say here?  In reality, the performance benefits of
SATA 6G technology are basically completely unrealized in our current
testing.  We have no idea what really to expect in future iterations of
SATA 6G hard drives, but if the Seagate XT is any indication, the
performance benefits for standard spindle-based hard drives will be
pretty low. 

Honestly, that is what we expected.  Where SATA 6G technology will
likely shine is with solid state drives - they have been pushing on the
boundaries of current SATA-II speeds for some time now.  We are already
working on getting a hold of some of these early engineering samples
and will report our results as soon as we do so. 

For today though, the benefits of ASUS' implementation of SATA 6G
seem a bit wasted.  Having the option for it on your motherboard, since
it is both future proofing your computer and provides for backwards
compatibility for SATA 3.0 Gb/s drives, still is a good idea and
enthusiast users will still find themselves leaning towards that
route.  Since Intel seems quite willing to sit back and let
technologies breeze past their chipset department (both SATA 6G and USB
3.0 were left behind by Intel) it is up to companies like Marvell, NEC
and ASUS to keep our hardware moving forward.

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