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Report: nine 2 TB hard drives!
by Marc Prieur
Published on August 24, 2010

The test
For this test, we mainly used the same test protocol as the one elaborated for our SSD comparison. 8 drives were tested:

- Hitachi 7K2000 (HDS722020ALA330)
- Samsung EcoGreen F3 (HD203WI)
- Samsung EcoGreen F4 (HD204UI)
- Seagate Barracuda LP (ST32000542AS)
- Seagate Barracuda XT (ST32000641AS)
- Western Digital Caviar Green (WD20EADS)
- Western Digital Caviar Green (WD20EARS, 3 platters)
- Western Digital Caviar Green (WD20EARS, 4 platters)
- Western Digital Caviar Black (WD2001FASS)

The test machine is a Core i7-920 mounted on a Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R with 6 GB of DDR3-1333 and a Radeon HD 5870. The synthetic tests are carried out in Windows 7 64-bit with the storage system as a secondary drive, the boot drive being an X25-M 80 GB, all with Intel RST 9.6 drivers in AHCI mode. The practical tests with the test hard drive with the OS are carried out with the Microsoft AHCI drivers from Windows 7.

Note that although the Barracuda XT supports SATA 6 Gbits, the tests were carried out on an Intel chipset and therefore at SATA 3 Gbits. Given the performance of these storage units, which are far from exceeding the interface limitations in terms of sequential speeds (around 250 MB/s), SATA 6 Gbits only adds something when it comes to the cache and therefore only makes a minimal difference.

While we prefer to use IOMeter for SSD testing, here we measured sequential speeds with h2bench so as to be able to gauge how speeds were affected by how far we were into the disk. In addition to this reading we used IOMeter to measure access times and read speeds and then random writes of 4 KB. The effectiveness of NCQ, which allows the processing of concurrent commands, is also measured by testing random accesses, read and write, with 1, 2, 4 and 8 simultaneous commands.

With respect to access times, it's worth highlighting the fact that some test tools only measure it over the 1st TB, even though this fact isn’t detailed. This is notably the case with h2bench and HD Tune in their old versions, so make sure you’re using the latest versions!

Next come the practical tests with writes and reads of various groups of files. These groups are made up of:

- A collection of large files: 6.8 GB on average
- Medium: 796 KB on average
- Small: 44 KB on average


The source or the target when reading or writing to the SSD is a RAID of six 150 GB VelociRaptor drives mounted on an ARECA ARC1280ML PCI-Express x8 card with a strip size of 8 KB.

Lastly there are some purely practical tests, namely various operations timed after installation of Windows 7 64-bit on each of the SSDs:

- Start-up of Windows 7
- Installation of Photoshop CS5
- Start-up of Windows 7 + various applications
- Launch of a Crysis level

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