Netac N550S Elite 240GB SSD review

Netac N550S Elite 240GB SSD review

Power requirements and efficiency

Storage device manufacturers by law must
provide power consumption specifications with their storage device products.
Quite often these specifications are quite vague, and rarely, if ever, publish
the power efficiency of their storage devices with regard to how much work a
storage device can do for a given amount of energy consumed. In this article we
will disclose with unprecedented precision, the energy efficiency of some
popular storage devices. 

Myce has now secured a piece of ‘state of
the art’ test equipment, which takes a sample every four micro-seconds, that I will
be using to measure the power consumption of consumer grade SSDs and HDDs. I’m so
very proud to be able to announce that Myce.com, in partnership with Quarch Technology, now aims to bring our readers
the most comprehensive, and accurate, power consumption tests ever carried out
on consumer grade storage devices, to be found anywhere on the Internet.

Myce’s Power Testing will be carried out using
Quarch Technology products. More specifically we are privileged that Quarch has
allowed us to use their latest Programmable Power Module (‘PPM’) and we would
also like to take this opportunity to give a huge ‘thank you’ to Quarch for
providing this equipment. The PPM is specifically designed for testing low
power sleep states on modern SSDs and as such has a remarkably accurate low
level current measurement, down to 100
μA (micro amps,
or millionths of an amp). Please click here
for details.

Quarch Technology is a world leader in the
supply of testing solutions for the data storage industry and if you would like
any further information please visit their website by clicking here

Let’s take a closer look at the Quarch PPM
box in a bit more detail.

Netac N550S Elite 240GB SSD review

Quarch
Technology PPM

The Quarch Technology PPM is able to
provide two power supply rails to the target SSD. A 12V (volt) rail is required
for PCIe based SSDs, and also for SATA HDDs, SATA HDDs also require the 5V rail
to function. All the power requirements of a SATA SSD are handled by the 5V
rail.

The Quarch Technology PPM can switch
between 5V and 3.3V on the secondary power output channel as required. So for
SATA based SSDs it is set to 5V, and for PCIe based SSDs, it is set to 3.3V.  

On the right of the Quarch PPM, you can see
the socket where the main power injection lead connects.

On the rear of the box (not shown) you will
find a USB 2 socket, a power socket (to supply power to the unit) and a Torridon
connection interface, for connecting to external equipment.

My setup.

Although the Quarch Technology PPM can be
used on a single PC, which can act both as host and measurement system, I will
be using two PCs to run the tests. One PC will handle the measurements, and the
second PC will act both as a host for the target SSD, and will also be used to
load the target SSD with data. This will allow me to do some pretty fancy power
consumption tests.

 


I will first show the type of workload
being used to load the SSD during the power consumption test. I will then
present the power consumption graph, and power consumption statistics of the
SSD.

I will display the results in the form of
bar graphs, at the end of each test carried out in this article, so one can
compare the results obtained on all the SSDs featured in this article.

I will use the following IOMeter test
patterns to load the SSD or HDD.

  • 4K random read and write at a queue depth
    of 1 (to emulate a lightweight consumer workload).
  • 4K random read and write at a queue depth
    of 4 (to emulate a medium workload).
  • 4K random read and write at a queue depth
    of 32 (to emulate a heavy workload).
  • 512K sequential read (to emulate reading
    a sequential file from the storage device).
  • 512K sequential write (to emulate writing
    a sequential file to the storage device).

Power requirements for a lightweight consumer workload. –
4K random read and write QD1

A typical lightweight consumer workload
will generally be at very low queue depths. Typically at a queue depth of one
or less. I’m testing random data at a block size of 4 Kilobytes, as this block
size of small random files is generally accepted as the most frequently
occurring in the consumer environment.

I will show the chart generated by the
Quarch PPM for the drive that I have tested. I will then show the results in
the form of bar graphs, so one can easily compare with other recently tested
SSDs.

There will actually be two bar graphs for
each test. The first graph will show the average power consumption during the
test run. The second graph, which is much more important, will indicate the
power efficiency of the storage device, showing how much work the storage
device can do for each Watt of energy it consumes.

4K Random Read – queue depth 1

Netac N550S Elite 240GB SSD review

Netac
N550S Elite 240GB – 4K random read QD1

Netac N550S Elite 240GB SSD review

The Netac N550S Elite SSD’s average power
consumption is very good for a TLC SSD.

Netac N550S Elite 240GB SSD review

Also the IOPS per Watt result is very good.

 

4K Random Write – queue depth 1

Netac N550S Elite 240GB SSD review

Netac
N550S Elite 240GB – 4K random write QD1

Netac N550S Elite 240GB SSD review

When it comes to the average write power
consumption result, the Netac N550S Elite gives the performance level that you
would expect for a TLC SSD.

Netac N550S Elite 240GB SSD review

As we saw in the IOMeter test the overall
performance wasn’t that good, and this result is also verified here.


Power requirements for a medium weight consumer workload.
– 4K random read and write QD4

A typical medium weight consumer workload
will generally be at a queue depth of four or lower. This workload would
typically involve some multitasking, with perhaps two or three applications
running, and processing data simultaneously.  I’m testing random data at a
block size of 4 Kilobytes, as this block size of small random files is
generally accepted as the most frequently occurring in the consumer environment.

I will show the charts generated by the
Quarch PPM, for the drive that I have tested. I will then show the results in
the form of bar graphs, so one can easily compare with other recently tested
SSDs.

4K Random Read – queue depth 4

Netac N550S Elite 240GB SSD review

Netac N550S Elite 240GB  – 4K random read QD4

Netac N550S Elite 240GB SSD review

Once again the N550S Elite SSD gives a very
good performance.

Netac N550S Elite 240GB SSD review

The same applies for the IOPS per Watt
result.

4K Random Write – queue depth 4

Netac N550S Elite 240GB SSD review

Netac
N550S Elite 240GB – 4K random write QD4

Netac N550S Elite 240GB SSD review

The Netac N550S Elite SSD shows a very low
average power consumption but how does this translate to the IOPS per Watt
chart?

Netac N550S Elite 240GB SSD review

As you have probably guessed the low
IOMeter result again puts the Netac SSD into a difficult place.


Power requirements for a heavyweight consumer workload. –
4K random read and write QD32

Whilst this workload is unlikely arise for
the casual consumer PC user, it could well appear in a semi-professional
consumer environment, such as in a graphics workstation. This workload would
usually involve heavy multitasking, and having several processes running
concurrently that require constant access to small files located on the storage
device for input or output.

I’m testing random data at a block size of
4 Kilobytes, as this block size of small random files is generally accepted as
the most frequently occurring in the consumer environment.

I will show the chart generated by the
Quarch PPM, for the drive that I have tested. I will then show the results in
the form of bar graphs, so one can easily compare with other recently tested
SSDs.

4K Random Read – queue depth 32

Netac N550S Elite 240GB SSD review

Netac
N550S Elite 240GB – 4K random read QD32

Netac N550S Elite 240GB SSD review

The Netac N550S Elite is in the middle of
the chart with another good result.

Netac N550S Elite 240GB SSD review

This time the result is surprisingly very
good.

4K Random Write – queue depth 32

Netac N550S Elite 240GB SSD review

Netac
N550S Elite 240GB – 4K random write QD32

Netac N550S Elite 240GB SSD review

Again the Netac SSD shows that it requires
less power to complete the task, but let’s see again how this translates to the
IOPS per Watt chart.

Netac N550S Elite 240GB SSD review

It’s clear that less power and less IOPS won’t
give you a good result.


Power requirements of a storage device when reading and
writing sequential data

Not all of a consumer workload is based
around the reading and writing of small random files. Many files are sequential
in nature, and can vary in size from a few Kilobytes to several Gigabytes, so
your storage device will spend a lot of time reading and writing sequential
data.

I’m testing sequential data at a block size
of 512 Kilobytes.

512KB Sequential read

Netac N550S Elite 240GB SSD review

Netac
N550S Elite 240GB – Sequential read

Netac N550S Elite 240GB SSD review

A very good result for the Netac N550S
Elite SSD.

Netac N550S Elite 240GB SSD review

Also the IOPS per Watt result is very good.

512KB Sequential write

Netac N550S Elite 240GB SSD review

Netac
N550S Elite 240GB – Sequential write

Netac N550S Elite 240GB SSD review

Once again the power consumption number looks
great but will it also translate to something equally good in the IOPS per Watt
test?

Netac N550S Elite 240GB SSD review

Unfortunately the answer is ‘no’, and as
expected the IOPS in the IOMeter test were very low which impacted on the IOPS
per Watt performance.


Power requirements of storage devices when they are idle
and doing no work at all

The practical reality relating to power
consumption is that it can be quite erratic and sometimes unpredictable. Some
of us will invest in the most powerful PC we can afford, only to find that the
PC can spend quite a lot of time running and doing absolutely nothing. Storage
devices are no different.

Often we can be sitting idly pondering what
to do next, or perhaps browsing the Internet. When we arrive at a page that
interests us, we will read it, and that can take a fair amount of time to
complete. During this period the storage device will most likely be idle, but
still consuming energy.

In this test, I’m measuring how much energy
the storage device consumes when doing no work at all and with link power
management disabled.

Netac N550S Elite 240GB SSD review

Netac
N550S Elite 240GB – Drive idle

Netac N550S Elite 240GB SSD review

Idle power consumption is good, and should
be able to save some power from your laptop battery.


I will now show one more test, and this
should be regarded as being for information purposes only.

Power requirement trace of an SSD booting Windows 10, in
real time.

This test is for interest only, and shows
the power requirements of the review SSD booting Windows 10 to the desktop.

Netac N550S Elite 240GB SSD review

Netac
N550S Elite 240GB – Real time trace of the drive booting Windows 8.1 to the
desktop.

Netac N550S Elite 240GB SSD review

These results are here as a reference, but
as we can see the Netac SSD was able to give a good result.

Summary

The Netac N550S Elite SSD is a nice drive,
but it’s a TLC drive and it also exhibits some of the negatives that come with
TLC NAND. These are mainly focused on the write speed, and in all the write tests
the drive had a hard time, although in the read tests it was able to deliver some
good results.

 

Now let’s head to the next page where we
will look at how the Netac N550S Elite SSD performs using Anvil’s Storage
utilities….