Intel X25-M G2 vs. Old Laptop Drive Benchmarks

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I thought it would be a good idea to run some quick benchmarks on my old mechanical drive before I wipe it and use it in another laptop. I have some pseudo-scientific charts and numbers here, but I also have some "me with a stopwatch" boot time numbers. They mostly only show how abysmal my boot-up times are, mostly because of all the extra junk I have starting up.

I clocked the time from hitting the power button to seeing grub at well under 2 seconds. For both tests, I brought up the grub menu and I did my best to hit enter and start my stopwatch (a.k.a. my old Treo 650) at the same time. When the GDM login appeared, I stopped the clock.

The 120 GB 7200 RPM laptop drive came in at a whopping 36 seconds. The X25 gave a much better result of 15 seconds. The software installed on both drives is exactly the same, but the root file system on the mechanical drive is ext3 instead of ext4. It isn't quite apples to apples, but it is what I have here in front of me.

Some Real Bonnie++ Benchmarks


Charts are nice, but here's the actual numbers to go along with it:

Version 1.03c                           ------Sequential Output------ --Sequential Input- --Random-
                                        -Per Chr- --Block-- -Rewrite- -Per Chr- --Block-- --Seeks--
Machine                              Size K/sec %CP K/sec %CP K/sec %CP K/sec %CP K/sec %CP  /sec %CP
Laptop PIIX Deadline X25-M          6464M 48265  96 81809  23 37340  11 36500  70 108486  18  5502  12
Laptop AHCI Deadline X25-M          6528M 45836  96 74973  15 36691  10 43531  78 139407  17 13431  39
Laptop PIIX CFQ X25-M               6464M 47577  96 82931  21 38706  11 46920  91 116400  20  4482  26
Laptop PIIX CFQ 120 GB 7200 RPM     6464M 45043  91 53992  14 19104   5 37053  81  46116   7 161.7   0
Laptop AHCI CFQ 120 GB 7200 RPM     6528M 41883  87 49245  10 17348   4 43423  82  56122   7 178.1   0
Xen Server Deadline RAID 10         1080M 68909  97 128789 45 48402  18 55770  91 106948  24 326.2   0
Laptop PIIX DL X25-M v1.4*          6280M 41521  77 69559  15 23754   6 30857  78 142922  13  5309   0
Laptop PIIX DL X25-M v1.4 TRIMed**  6280M 50354  98 66394  16 24923   8 31937  80 119348  19  4569  10
Laptop AHCI DL X25-M v1.4 TRIMed*** 6528M 42587  81 49367  11 23277   7 41588  81 150217  21 14115  35
Core I7 Laptop AHCI DL X25-M        8192M 56415  89 87157  11 39827   9 69707  98 298590  29 16150  45
KVM to FreeNAS                      4096M   349  92 15619   4  6191   2  1884  95  57328   8   590  37

I included an old benchmark of my web server. It has four 7200 RPM SATA drives in a Linux software RAID 10. I am very happy with how well the X25-M compares to the array.

I tested both the CFQ and Deadline IO schedulers on the X25. The machine felt more responsive when the test was running on the Deadline scheduler. I started a to test the noop scheduler but the machine felt much worse than it did during the CFQ test. I didn't bother letting that test continue after that.

Having AHCI and NCQ improves read performance pretty significantly and it seems to improve seek time dramatically, especially for the SSD. If you are able to use AHCI, I would recommend it.

I wanted to run some bonnie++ benchmarks against the X25 because I couldn't find any anywhere else. Bonnie++ doesn't do a very good job of highlighting the biggest advantage of the X25 because it only has one random access test.

Results From the "Butt Dyno"

Every time you make a performance modification to your car you have to take it for a test on the "butt dyno." It just means you get in the car and see how much faster it feels. Sometimes the performance boost is mostly in your head, like when you upgrade to a K&N air filter or a bigger exhaust.

Sometimes you install a bigger turbocharger. I remember the last time I did that. I bet I had a great big smile on my face during that first shift from first to second gear. It made a very noticeable difference in the performance of the car.

That's the way the X25-M feels. Everything loads a bit faster and I/O intensive background tasks are much less likely to bog down the rest of the machine. I sure didn't enjoy booting up the old platter drive to run the benchmarks on it…

How Hot is the X25-M?

When I pulled the X25 out to swap in the old drive, I noticed that it was warmer than I expected it to be. I imagine the metal housing makes it feel a bit warmer than an overworked SD card. My brain thought it was almost as warm as the old drive got.

I was very wrong. I pulled the mechanical drive out almost immediately after the bonnie++ runs. I would describe it as actually being hot. I put it down pretty quickly; it was uncomfortable to hold.

*Update 2009-10-27: X25-M v1.4 Firmware Update

I reran Bonnie with the latest firmware update. My test methodology is a little bit unfair. The previous tests were done on a very fresh drive. I'm now over 80% full and I probably have hundreds of gigs of rewrites on this drive.

I probably should have run a quick benchmark before I updated the firmware, but it is too late for that now! I am not surprised that most of the numbers went down. I am very surprised the sequential input speed is up by 30%. That is outperforming even my previous speeds with AHCI enabled.

**Update 2009-11-15: X25-M after a TRIM

I was able to TRIM my X25-M, so I reran the bonnie. Small sequential output was improved. I have no idea why sequential block input was up so high on the last test.

***Update 2009-12-15: X25-M freshly TRIMed with AHCI and 2.6.31 kernel with BFS

I was pointed to a better AHCI quirks patch in a comment by felix krull.

The patch is working very well so far, and I was itching to run a benchmark with AHCI and the newer v1.4 X25-M firmware. This benchmark may not be quite apples to oranges, though… I'm currently running Linux kernel version 2.6.31 patched with the BFS scheduler and most of the preempt options turned on.

Update 2010-03-24: X25-M transplanted into my new HP DV8T Core i7 laptop

The SATA 150 bottleneck is now gone. I expected it to break 200MB/s on the sequential input test but I certainly didn't expect to be approaching 300MB/s.

Update 2012-02-08: Bonnie++ in a KVM virtual machine…

This one is quite unrelated to the original topic of this article but this seems to be the place where I’ve been dumping all my random disk benchmarks…

I recently helped a friend build his FreeNAS box and I figure try out its iSCSI functions and hammer on his new home network a little bit. I’m running a KVM virtual machine on my laptop. KVM is using connecting iSCSI target over gigabit ethernet to the FreeNAS server. The disk is visible up as a KVM/QEMU disk to the virtual machine.

The iSCSI target is a file-based extent sitting on a four-drive RAID-Z6 volume. The results are less than stellar but not really any worse than I was expecting. I’m impressed that the IOPS is nearly twice as high as my benchmark on my old RAID 10 Xen server.