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OCZ Octane SSD review

Posted 29 January 2012 19:37 CET by Wendy Robertson

I/O Performance

There is little point of having an SSD drive that has blazing sustained reading and writing speeds, if the drive can't handle reading and writing of small random files. If you intend to use your new SSD drive to store and run your operating system, then the drive must be able to cope with the many small random files that Windows will write to the drive continually. So I feel it is very important to test how many of these random files that a drive can handle in one second. I believe that anything over 1,000 I/O’s per second would be enough for most users running a consumer grade mainstream PC, and should provide a smooth running system. But obviously, the more I/O's that a drive can handle, the faster the drive will feel and leave more headroom for those huge multitasking sessions that users sometimes engage in.

The things that I will look at are the total I/O per second and total MB/s.

Partition alignment and sector boundaries

Windows 7 and Vista will automatically align a partition to 4k boundaries during partition creation, Windows XP won’t. It is imperative that an SSD’s partition is aligned. Windows XP is also restricted to sector boundaries, while Windows 7 will use 4k boundaries if it can. The Intel 510 is 4k boundary aware, and will use these boundaries if possible. Of course it will also remap LBAs for compatibility with the sector boundaries so that the drive can be used with Windows XP.

IOMeter allows us to set the sector boundaries for conducting the tests, and I have therefore set the sector boundaries at 4K, which means the IOMeter tests are valid for Windows 7 and Windows Vista users. XP users will not be able to obtain such results.

I will provide a screenshot of the tests on the review drive for those of you who like to see the actual test result. All the comparison drive results are represented in the form of graphs.

If any of you would like to see a screenshot from any IOMeter test on a particular drive, please feel free to request one, and I’ll post the screenshot in the forum thread.

All the IOMeter tests create a 10GB data set on the target drive, and each test is run for a duration of 3 minutes.


IOMeter 4K random write test with repeating data.

The first test involves creating continual 4KB random files on the target drive with IOMeter. I use a 4KB file size, as it is believed that Windows will create and modify many of this size of file constantly in the background during a typical Windows session. It is said that most 4K random writes take place at a queue depth of only one, and I have been requested to include this test in my reviews.

Queue depth 1

OCZ Octane 512GB SSD – 4K random write (QD1)

At 57.4 MB/s the OCZ Octane is performing very well indeed, although it can’t quite compete with the might of the OCZ Vertex 3 and the Crucial RealSSD C300 in this department.

Our next test involves creating continual 4KB random files on the target drive with IOMeter. I use a 4KB file size, as it is believed that Windows will create and modify many of this size of file constantly in the background during a typical Windows session. I will use queue depths of 4 and 32 for these tests.

Queue depth 4

OCZ Octane (Queue depth 4)

At a queue depth of 4, the OCZ Octane is performing very well.

Queue depth 32

OCZ Octane (Queue depth 32)

The OCZ Octane series isn’t the fastest when faced with creating 4K random files, and is a long way behind the SandForce based Vertex 2, Vertex 3, and also the Crucial M4. Queue depths above 8 yield no more performance, unlike the SandForce based SSDs which scale all the way up to a queue depth of 32.


IOMeter 4K random write test with incompressible data.

This test is exactly the same as the test above except that the test data is incompressible. This test was requested as SandForce based SSDs gain a lot of performance by being able to compress data on the fly. While the above test shows the SandForce based SSDs in a best case scenario, the following test will show the SandForce based SSDs in a worst case scenario. In the real world, the data is neither 100% incompressible nor 100% compressible, it is somewhere in between. So please keep this in mind.

Queue depth 4

OCZ Octane 512GB SSD – 4K random write (QD4 100% incompressible data)

While incompressible data has slowed down the OCZ Vertex 3 by nearly 100 MB/s, it is still miles ahead of the OCZ Octane.


4K random write queue depth profile

For this test I used various queue depths from 1 – 32 to give you an idea how this SSD performs at different queue depths. For a normal desktop user for lightweight multitasking, the queue depth will rarely rise above 2. For heavy multitasking, the queue depth is unlikely to rise above a value of 8.

The result is below.

As we can see, the OCZ Octane is quite a bit behind the OCZ Vertex 3 and Crucial C300 in this test, but nonetheless, the OCZ Octane is performing very well with firmware 1.13.

Below I present a table of the results in more detail.


IOMeter 4K random read test.

If there are many 4k files created, then that must also mean that many 4k files need to be read. This test measures 4k reading performance.

It is said that most 4K random reads take place at a queue depth of only one, and readers have requested that I include this test in my reviews.

Queue depth 1

OCZ Octane 512GB SSD (Queue depth 1)

The Crucial RealSSD C300 is the fastest but the OCZ Octane is close behind, and the OCZ Octane series SSD is faster than the OCZ Vertex 3.

Queue depth 4

 OCZ Octane 512GB SSD (Queue depth 4)

The OCZ Octane is showing strong performance here. It isn’t quite as fast as the Crucial SSDs, but it does come close to the performance of the Crucial M4 in this test.

Queue depth 32

OCZ Octane 512GB SSD (Queue depth 32)

The OCZ Octane series has performed well, but is still quite a long way behind the Crucial RealSSD C300, Crucial M4, and the SandForce based Vertex 3.

4K random read queue depth profile.

This test shows how the review drive scales with increasing queue depths.

Below I present a table of the results in more detail.

The OCZ Octane series performs extremely well here, and is ahead of the SandForce based SSDs at lower queue depths, although it starts to fall behind at queue depths 16 and above. It can’t however compete with the Crucial RealSSD C300.


IOMeter 512KB write test with repeating data.

Sequential writing performance is also very important; in this test sequential writing performance is measured.

OCZ Octane 512K Sequential write with repeating data

The OCZ Octane had excellent sequential writing performance with firmware 1412, but firmware 1.13 having been optimised for small random performance has meant that sequential writing performance has suffered. It’s still very good with firmware 1.13, but it’s a pity that it has dropped by over 50MB/s.

IOMeter 512KB write test with incompressible data.

This test is exactly the same as the test above except that the test data is incompressible. This test was requested as SandForce based SSDs gain a lot of performance by being able to compress data on the fly. While the above test shows the SandForce based SSDs in a best case scenario, the following test will show the SandForce based SSDs in a worst case scenario. In the real world, the data is neither 100% incompressible nor 100% compressible, it is somewhere in between. So please keep this in mind.

OCZ Octane 512GB SSD – 512K sequential write with incompressible data

When the OCZ Vertex 3 was faced with small file random data in a form that wasn’t compressible, it didn’t really have much of an impact on the performance. With sequential non compressible data, things are different for the Vertex 3, and it couldn’t keep pace with the Octane with firmware 1412, which manages to pull ahead of the Vertex 3. Things are turned around with firmware 1.13, and the Vertex 3 is faster.


IOMeter 512KB read test.

This test measures 512k sequential reading performance.

OCZ Octane 512GB SSD – 512K sequential reading test

Sequential reading performance is still very impressive with firmware 1.13, but it has lost 30MB/s when compared to the older 1412 firmware.


IOMeter Workstation simulation (outstanding I/Os = 64).

When running applications you will find that there is a mixture of small random files, and larger sequential files, being created and read. Not only that, it isn’t just one file at a time. In this test I measure a simulated workstation pattern, with a queue depth of 64 (threaded).

OCZ Octane 512GB SSD – Workstation simulation

The OCZ Octane didn’t perform that well with the older 1412 in this test, but we can see that with firmware 1.13 things are very much improved, and the OCZ Octane is doing very well in this test.

Summary

Overall, the OCZ Octane 512GB SSD has performed well in the IOMeter tests. It has excellent sequential performance, and very good small file random performance when queue depths are low. This probably means the Octane will not be a great choice for enterprise use, but then again, this is not the market segment that the Octane is aimed at. For mainstream desktop use and gaming, the Octane should perform extremely well

Now let’s head to the next page where we will look at how the OCZ Octane SSD performs using a brand new benchmarking application....

 

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