Meltdown's Impact on Storage Performance - Really an Issue?

Subject: Storage | January 5, 2018 - 08:45 PM |
Tagged: RS4, RS3, patch, meltdown, KB4056892, cpu, 960 EVO, 900P, 850 EVO

While the Meltdown announcements and patches were in full swing, I was busily testing a round of storage devices to evaluate the potential negative impact of the Meltdown patch. Much of the testing we've seen has come in the form of Linux benchmarks, and today we saw a few come out on the Windows side of things. Most of the published data to date shows a ~20% performance hit to small random accesses, but I've noted that the majority of reviewers seem to be focusing on the Samsung 950/960 series SSDs. Sure these are popular devices, but when evaluating changes to a storage subsystem, it's unwise to just stick with a single type of product.

Test conditions were as follows:

  • ASUS Prime Z270-A + 7700K
    • C-States disabled,  no overclock.
    • ASUS MCE disabled, all other clock settings = AUTO.
  • SSDs:
    • Intel Optane 900P 480GB (Intel NVMe driver)
    • Samsung 960 EVO 500GB (Samsung NVMe driver)
    • Samsung 850 EVO 500GB (Intel RST driver)
  • Conditioning:
    • NTFS partition.
    • 16GB test file. Sequential conditioning.
    • Remainder of SSD sequentially filled to capacity.

The first results come from a clean Windows Redstone 3 install compared to a clean Windows 10 Redstone 4 (build 17063), which is a fast ring build including the Meltdown patch:

KASLR-IRQ2.png

The 960 EVO comes in at that same 20% drop seen elsewhere, but check out the 850 EVO's nearly 10% *increase* in performance. The 900P pushes this further, showing an over 15% *increase*. You would figure that a patch that adds latency to API calls would have a noticeable impact on a storage device offering extremely low latencies, but that did not end up being the case in practice.

Since the 960 EVO looked like an outlier here, I also re-tested it using the Microsoft Inbox NVMe driver, as well as by connecting it via the chipset (which uses the Intel RST driver). A similar drop in performance was seen in all configurations.

The second set of results was obtained later, taking our clean RS3 install and updating it to current, which at the time included the Microsoft roll-up 01-2018 package (KB4056892):

KASLR-IRQ2-.png

Note that the results are similar, though Optane did not see as much of a boost here. It is likely that some specific optimizations have been included in RS4 that are more beneficial to lower latency storage devices.

As a final data point, here's what our tests look like with software polling implemented:

KASLR-POLL2.png

The above test results are using an application method that effectively bypasses the typical interrupt requests associated with file transfers. Note that the differences are significantly reduced once IRQs are removed from the picture. Also note that kernel API calls are still taking place here.

Well there you have it. Some gain and some lose. Given that a far lower latency device (900P) sees zero performance hit (actually gaining speed), I suspect that whatever penalty associated with Meltdown could be easily optimized out via updates to the Windows Inbox and Samsung NVMe drivers.

Crucial's inexpensive terabyte, meet the MX500

Subject: Storage | January 2, 2018 - 01:42 PM |
Tagged: ssd, sata, MX500, micron, crucial, 1TB

Just before the holidays Al wrapped up his review of Crucial's 1TB MX500 SATA drive, which is worth revisiting.  The most attractive feature of this SSD is its price, currently for $260 you can grab 1TB of fast storage; not quite in line with Ryan's law but getting close.  The performance of the TLC SSD does not suffer because of the low price, while it can't match a current generation M.2 NVMe drive it competes with more expensive SATA based SSDs.  If you are concerned about endurance, remember that TLC has matured and Crucial rates this drive as 360TB written over five year.  Drop by the Guru of 3D to contrast their benchmarks with our own.

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"Crucial announced their new MX500 series SSD, we put the 1TB model to the test. At 25 cents per GB, these units are all about value for money. But they do not compromise on performance, no Sir. The MX500 remains very fast and very effective for the money you put down on that counter."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

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Source: Guru of 3D
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Crucial

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

Crucial and their parent company Micron have certainly launched their share of SSDs over the years. Product launches have effectively toggled back and forth between both names, with Crucial handling the upgrade market while Micron proper handles the OEM side of things. Both sides have one thing in common - solid performing SSDs at a budget-friendly price point. Having the best performing SSD on the market is great, but does nobody any good if the majority of purchasers can't afford it.

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We had Micron out to discuss the MX500 before we completed our testing. Here is the full discussion video:

Specifications:

  • Micron® 3D TLC NAND Flash
    • RoHS-compliant package
    • SATA 6 Gb/s interface
    • TCG/Opal 2.0-compliant self-encrypting drive (SED)
    • Compatible with Microsoft eDrive®
    • Hardware-based AES-256 encryption engine
  • Performance (ALL CAPACITIES):
    • Sequential 128KB READ: Up to 560 MB/s
    • Sequential 128KB WRITE: Up to 510 MB/s
    • Random 4KB READ: Up to 95,000 IOPS
    • Random 4KB WRITE: Up to 90,000 IOPS
  • Power consumption:
    • 250GB: <3.5W
    • 500GB: <4.5W
    • 1000GB/2000GB: <5.0W
  • Endurance – total bytes written (TBW):
    • 250GB: 100TB
    • 500GB: 180TB
    • 1TB: 360TB
    • 2TB: 700TB

A few points from these impressive specs:

  • Performance specs are common across *all* capacities. Yes, even the smallest model is rated to perform as well as the largest.
  • Endurance is very high, especially for TLC NAND. Samsung's 850 EVO 500GB and 1TB models are rated at 150TB. Heck, the 850 PRO 1TB is only rated at 300TBW. Sure that's the same rating carried up from the 512GB model of the same, but it's not Micron's fault that Samsung opted to capacity-bracket their endurance ratings.

Packaging:

171218-185807.jpg

No frills here. Quick start guide contains a link to crucial.com/support/ssd to get you started.

Read on for our full review of the Crucial MX500 1TB SSD!

Data packrats strike Gold with WD

Subject: Storage | December 14, 2017 - 04:43 PM |
Tagged: western digital, wd gold, hdd, 12TB

The 12TB WD Gold is not quite as impressive as Toshiba's 14TB drive but it should be more affordable for consumers with specific needs or for SMBs.  Like the Toshiba drive it uses PMR as opposed to a shingled design, which again helps keep the drive's price under $600 and in the price range Ryan would like to see SSDs reach.  The drive is rated at 2.5 million hours MTBF and as far as performance, Kitguru saw 245.58MB/s for writes and 237.01MB/s reads.  This is not a drive for most, but for those with huge amounts of data who need to be able to move it frequently and at decent speeds, this review is worth looking at.

WD-Gold-12TB-Hard-Drive-Review-on-KitGuru-INTRODUCTION-650.jpg

"Western Digital’s Gold range of hard drives have been designed to service nearline enterprise environments and as such they have a range of sensors and technologies onboard to help them maintain peak performance in such environments."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Source: Kitguru

Toshiba Launches 14TB Helium Sealed PMR Hard Drives For Enterprise Customers

Subject: Storage | December 9, 2017 - 11:46 PM |
Tagged: PMR, toshiba, helium, Hard Drive, enterprise, cmr, cloud storage, 14tb

Toshiba recently took the wraps off of a new hard drive series aimed at the enterprise market. What makes the MG07ACA series interesting is that Toshiba is offering a 14 TB 3.5” drive without resorting to using Shingled Magnetic Recording. Instead, the new MG07ACA series uses standard recording methods (CMR) and nine ~1.556 TB PMR (perpendicular magnetic recording) platters in an helium filled hermetically sealed enclosure to hit 40% more capacity and up to 50% better power efficiency than the previous MG06ACA (10 TB) series. The new drives are also important because they represent the first foray into helium filled hard drives for Toshiba following the company pushing air breathing drives to the limit with its seven platter models.

Toshiba MG07ACA 14TB CMR hard drive.jpg

The new drives are standard 7200 RPM models with 256 MB of cache and a SATA 6 Gbps interface. The 14 TB model is able to hit 260 MB/s sustained transfer while the slightly lower areal density of the 12 TB model puts it at a 250 MB/s transfer speed maximum. They are able to hit 167 random 4K read IOPS and 70 random 4k write IOPS (which is fun to compare to even the slowest SSDs today, but these drives aren't for random workloads). Toshiba rates the drives at a fairly industry standard 550 TB per year workload and 2.5 million hours MTBF with a five year warranty. Toshiba is reportedly using its own laser welding technology to seal the drives and keep the helium contained. The MG07ACA drives are offered in emulated 512 (512e) and 4k native sectors with the 512e models featuring Toshiba Persistent Write Cache technology to prevent data loss in the event of power failure while the drives are executing read-modify-write operations. The power loss protection (PLP) is important for enterprise customers using these drives to upgrade the storage in their legacy software and hardware setups.

The MG07ACA series includes 14 TB 9-disk and 12 TB 8-disk drives. That’s a lot of platters in a single drive, but Toshiba claims that going this route with CMR / PMR reduces the total cost of ownership (TCO) for enterprise customers that are buying up high capacity drives for their cloud storage and big data storage needs. The drives are allegedly more power efficient and trusted in the enterprise market as opposed to the newer shingled drives. I suppose these drives are also useful as they can be drop in upgrades of lower capacity models.

John Rydning, Research Vice President for hard disk drives at IDC was quoted in the press release in saying:

"While enterprise server and storage customers realize that shingled magnetic recording (SMR) technology can improve HDD capacity, the adoption of SMR HDD products into server and storage systems is a transition that will take several years,"

Interestingly the drives offer 1.5 TB / platter in the 12 TB model and a bit more than 1.55 TB / platter in the 14 TB drive. With SMR technology hitting up to 1.75 TB / platter so far, using that could get a 14 TB drive with just 8 platters, but that is still fairly close that I suppose going with the longer track record of non shingled PMR and its reliability is more important to the enterprise customers.

In order to cram 9 platters into a standard 3.5" drive, Toshiba had to make the platters thinner and move to helium instead of air. Specifically, Toshiba is using 0.635mm Showa Denko (SDK) PMR platters that are a mere 1.58mm apart! The drives have Nidec motors on the top and bottom as well as environmental sensors and RVFF (Rotation Vibration Feed Forward) vibration compensation technology which is important when you have nine platters spinning at 7200 RPM in each drive and then hundreds of drives are placed in close proximity to each other in server racks and SANs. The move to helium and thinner platters is a big part of the power savings in this drive with the platters being easier to spin up and exhibiting less flutter moving through the much less dense helium versus air. Toshiba claims that the MG07ACA series uses up to 7.6 watts in normal operation and 4.6 watts at idle (0.32W/GB).

According to AnandTech, Toshiba will begin sampling the new hard drives later this month and will sell the drives to its large enterprise customers within the first half of next year. Once demand from the big data crowd has been met, Toshiba will being selling the drives through distributors which means enthusiasts will be able to get their hands on the drives through normal channels by the end of 2018. Exact pricing and availability have not been announced at this time.

Also read:

Source: Toshiba

Intel Optane on Linux

Subject: Storage | November 24, 2017 - 04:59 PM |
Tagged: Optane, Intel, linux, 900P, Ubuntu 17.10

Phoronix installed an Optane 900P SSD into their AMD EPYC system to test the performance the new drive provides running under Ubuntu.  Their results were very similar to Al's, showing that this fairly expensive 280GB SSD can justify its premium price by leaving the competition in the dust.  The testing suite they used is quite different from the one here at PCPer but the proof that Optane gets along well with Linux is indisputable.

image.php_.jpg

"At the end of October Intel released the Optane 900P solid-state drive as their new ultra high-end performance SSD. Windows reviews have been positive, but what about using the Optane 900P on Linux? It's working well and delivers stunning NVMe SSD performance."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Source: Phoronix

Samsung SZ985 Z-NAND SSD - Upcoming Competition for Intel's P4800X?

Subject: Storage | November 20, 2017 - 10:56 PM |
Tagged: Z-NAND, SZ985, slc, Samsung, P4800X, nand, Intel, flash

We haven't heard much about Samsung's 'XPoint Killer' Z-NAND since Flash Memory Summit 2017, but now we have a bit more to go on:

z-nand specs.png

Yes, actual specs. In print. Not bad either, considering the Samsung SZ985 appears to offer a bus-saturating 3.2GB/s for reads and writes. The 30 DWPD figure matches Intel's P4800X, which is impressive given Samsung's part operates on flash derived from their V-NAND line (but operating in a different mode). The most important figures here are latency, so let's focus there for a bit:

bridging the gap samsung z-nand.png

While the SZ985 runs at ~1/3rd the latency of Samsung's own NAND SSDs, it has roughly double the latency of the P4800X. For the moment that is actually not as bad as it seems as it takes a fair amount of platform optimization to see the full performance benefits of optane, and operating slightly higher on the latency spectrum helps negate the negative impacts of incorrectly optimized platforms:

02 - IRQ service time penalty.png

Source: Shrout Research

As you can see above, operating at slightly higher latencies, while netting lower overall performance, does lessen the sting of platform induced IRQ latency penalties.

170808-120245.jpg

Now to discuss costs. While we don't have any hard figures, we do have the above slide from FMS 2017, where Samsung stressed that they are trying to get the costs of Z-NAND down while keeping latencies as low as possible.

z-nand.jpg

Image Source: ExtremeTech

Samsung backed up their performance claims with a Technology Brief (available here), which showed decent performance gains and cited use cases paralleling those we've seen used by Intel. The takeaway here is that Samsung *may* be able to compete with the Intel P4800X in a similar performance bracket - not matching the performance but perhaps beating it on cost. The big gotcha is that we have yet to see a single Samsung NVMe Enterprise SSD come through our labs for testing, or anywhere on the market for that matter, so take these sorts of announcements with a grain of salt until we see these products gain broader adoption/distribution.

Source: Samsung

Micron Launches 32GB NVDIMM-N - Intel Announces 3D XPoint NVDIMM

Subject: Storage | November 15, 2017 - 09:59 PM |
Tagged: NVDIMM, XPoint, 3D XPoint, 32GB, NVDIMM-N, NVDIMM-F, NVDIMM-P, DIMM

We're finally starting to see NVDIMM materialize beyond the unobtanium. Micron recently announced 32GB NVDIMM-N:

micron-nvdimm.png

These come with 32GB of DRAM plus 64GB of SLC NAND flash.

micron-nvdimm-modes.png

These are in the NVDIMM-N form factor and can offer some very impressive latency improvements over other non-volatile storage methods.

Next up is Intel, who recently presented at the UBS Global Technology Conference:

XPoint_DIMM.png

We've seen Intel's Optane in many different forms, and now it looks like we finally have a date for 3D XPoint DIMMs - 2nd half of 2018! There are lots of hurdles to overcome as the JEDEC spec is not yet finalized (and might not be by the time this launches). Motherboard and BIOS support also needs to be more widely adopted for this to take off as well.

Don't expect this to be in your desktop machine anytime soon, but one can hope!

Press blast for the Micron 32GB NVDIMM-N appears after the break.

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Intel

Introduction and Specifications

Back in April, we finally got our mitts on some actual 3D XPoint to test, but there was a catch. We had to do so remotely. The initial round of XPoint testing done (by all review sites) on a set of machines located on the Intel campus. Intel had their reasons for this unorthodox review method, but we were satisfied that everything was done above board. Intel even went as far as walking me over to the very server that we would be remoting into for testing. Despite this, there were still a few skeptics out there, and today we can put all of that to bed.

DSC01136.jpg

This is a 750GB Intel Optane SSD DC P4800X - in the flesh and this time on *our* turf. I'll be putting it through the same initial round of tests we conducted remotely back in April. I intend to follow up at a later date with additional testing depth, as well as evaluating kernel response times across Windows and Linux (IRQ, Polling, Hybrid Polling, etc), but for now, we're here to confirm the results on our own testbed as well as evaluate if the higher capacity point takes any sort of hit to performance. We may actually see a performance increase in some areas as Intel has had several months to further tune the P4800X.

This video is for the earlier 375GB model launch, but all points apply here
(except that the 900P has now already launched)

Specifications:

specs.png

The baseline specs remain the same as they were back in April with a few significant notable exceptions:

The endurance figure for the 375GB capacity has nearly doubled to 20.5 PBW (PetaBytes Written), with the 750GB capacity logically following suit at 41 PBW. These figures are based on a 30 DWPD (Drive Write Per Day) rating spanned across a 5-year period. The original product brief is located here, but do note that it may be out of date.

We now have official sequential throughput ratings: 2.0 GB/s writes and 2.4 GB/s reads.

We also have been provided detailed QoS figures and those will be noted as we cover the results throughout the review.

Read on for our review of the 750GB P4800X!

Flash cache compatibility is Crucial to the Momentum of adoption

Subject: Storage | November 6, 2017 - 03:22 PM |
Tagged: crucial, Momentum Cache, NVMe, Crucial Storage Executive

The SSD Review noticed something very interesting in the latest update to Crucial's Storage Executive software, the Momentum Cache feature now works with a variety of non-Crucial NVMe SSDs.  The software allows your system to turn part of your RAM into a cache so that reads and writes can initially be sent to that cache which results in improved performance thanks to RAM's significantly quicker response time.  If you have a Crucial SSD installed as well as another NVMe SSD and are using the default Windows NVMe driver, you can set up caching on the non-Crucial SSD if you so desire.  Stop by for a look at the performance impact as well as a list of the drives which have been successfully tested.

WD-Black-Intel-600P-Crucial-Storage-Executive-Momentum-Cache.png

"Crucial’s Momentum Cache feature, part of Crucial Storage Executive, is unlocked for all NVMe SSDs, or at least the ones we have tested in our Z170 test system; the key here, of course, is that a compatible Crucial SSD must initially be on the system to enable this feature at all."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

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