Practical performance – FilesMoving onto the practical tests, we started by looking at write and read speeds for various groups of files. These groups were composed as follows:
- Extra large: 731.17 MB on average
- Large files: 5.2 MB on average
- Medium sized files: 800.88 KB on average
- Small files: 48.78 KB on average
We used a RamDisk as the source or the target for reads or writes on the SSD. Given the speed of recent hard drives and so as to obtain results that are less subject to variation, we used Robocopy with some in-house software that allows us to carry the tests out continuously.
[ Reads ] [ Writes ]
The two SSDs were pretty similar for reads. The Octane was faster on small files and the M4 was faster with the rest. The OCZ SSD stands out in writes however, especially with small files where it’s almost twice as fast!
Practical performance – Applications
Next we carried out the purely practical tests, namely various timed operations after installation of Windows 7 64-bit on each of the HDDs:
- Booting Windows 7
- Booting 3D Studio Max 2011
- Booting 3D Studio Max 2011 + Visual Studio 2010 + Bibble Pro 5
- Rescan of Ogre source code in Visual Studio 2010
- Regeneration of thumbnails from a directory of 48 RAW files in Bibble 5 Pro
- Launch of Battlefield 3
- Launch of a level in Battlefield 3
Note these timings are not comparable to those of previous tests. Firstly, the processor was overclocked to 4.5 GHz here. Secondly, for Windows 7 we now take a reading of the time between the start of the Windows boot (following the boot menu that can be accessed using F8) and the appearance of the desktop.
For 3d Studio Max 2011 we measure the time between launch and the appearance of the tips window, while the multi-application boot is carried out using a batch. The source code for the 3D Ogre engine is used in Visual Studio 2010, while a repertory containing 48 RAW files from a 5D mark II serves as the basis for the test in Bibble 5 Pro. In Battlefield 3 we measured the launch time of the game from the validation of the Origin password and the start of the introduction video, and the load of a level between validation of the resumption of the campaign (mission 7 – Thunder Run) and the appearance of the image on screen.
For information we also included the performance data for a Hitachi 7K3000 hard drive.
Windows takes 10 seconds to boot with both the OCZ Octane and the Crucial M4. While OCZ is highlighting its 'Fast boot' technology that is supposed to allow the Octane to achieve better results in this domain, it is in fact the M4 that is slightly faster.
The M4 is also fastest to boot 3d Studio Max and with the multi application boot. Compared to booting 3ds alone, launching two other applications at the same time only slows it down by 0.1s, as against 0.5s on the Octane. Of course, this type of situation only comes up quite rarely but it does allow us to see the big advantage SSDs have over hard drives: on the SSDs every task is executed more quickly and performance isn’t really affected when we’re doing something else at the same time, while on the 7K3000, launching Bibble and VS 2010 at the same time as 3ds takes 22.5 seconds longer than launching 3ds on its own.
Rescanning the Ogre source code is slightly faster on the Octane than on the M4, while it’s the other way round for the regeneration of thumbnails in Bibble. Lastly, in Battlefield 3 the M4 has the advantage again, but here it’s slight in comparison to the gains any SSD will give over a hard drive. Note however that not all games benefit as much from the use of SSDs and given the size of games and the cost per GB of SSDs, it is worth thinking twice before you splash the cash!