AnandTech Storage Bench - The Destroyer

Our AnandTech Storage Bench tests are traces (recordings) of real-world IO patterns that are replayed onto the drives under test. The Destroyer is the longest and most difficult phase of our consumer SSD test suite. For more details, please see the overview of our 2021 Consumer SSD Benchmark Suite.

ATSB The Destroyer
Average Data Rate
Average Latency Average Read Latency Average Write Latency
99th Percentile Latency 99th Percentile Read Latency 99th Percentile Write Latency
Energy Usage

For SATA drives, the Samsung 870 EVOs turn in class-leading scores on almost all of the performance metrics. But these improvements are all marginal at best; the SATA interface bottleneck almost completely levels the playing field. The small improvements to read latency brought by the 870 EVO pale in comparison to what is achieved by even entry-level NVMe SSDs.

In stark contrast to the performance numbers, the 870 EVOs turn out to be the most power-hungry TLC drives in this bunch: they sacrifice some of the efficiency improvements the 860 EVO provided, even though drives like the SK hynix Gold S31 have been able to deliver significant improvement on this.

AnandTech Storage Bench - Heavy

The ATSB Heavy test is much shorter overall than The Destroyer, but is still fairly write-intensive. We run this test twice: first on a mostly-empty drive, and again on a completely full drive to show the worst-case performance.

ATSB Heavy
Average Data Rate
Average Latency Average Read Latency Average Write Latency
99th Percentile Latency 99th Percentile Read Latency 99th Percentile Write Latency
Energy Usage

The scores for the Heavy test paint much the same picture as for The Destroyer. The full-drive test runs additionally show that the worst-case performance of the mainstream SATA SSDs is still superior to many entry-level NVMe SSDs, even though the NVMe SSDs significantly outperform SATA for any more normal workload.

AnandTech Storage Bench - Light

The ATSB Light test represents ordinary everyday usage that doesn't put much strain on a SSD. Low queue depths, short bursts of IO and a short overall test duration mean this should be easy for any SSD. But running it a second time on a full drive shows how even storage-light workloads can be affected by SSD performance degradation.

ATSB Light
Average Data Rate
Average Latency Average Read Latency Average Write Latency
99th Percentile Latency 99th Percentile Read Latency 99th Percentile Write Latency
Energy Usage

On the Light test, the measurable but imperceptible performance advantages of the 870 EVOs over other SATA drives have basically disappeared. The read latency scores on the full-drive test runs may be a tiny bit better than the 860 EVO, but the only scores that have clearly shifted with this new generation are the energy consumption figures that have creeped up.

PCMark 10 Storage Benchmarks

The PCMark 10 Storage benchmarks are IO trace based tests similar to our own ATSB tests. For more details, please see the overview of our 2021 Consumer SSD Benchmark Suite.

PCMark 10 Storage Traces
Full System Drive Overall Score Average Bandwidth Average Latency
Quick System Drive Overall Score Average Bandwidth Average Latency
Data Drive Overall Score Average Bandwidth Average Latency

The Full System Drive test from the PCMark 10 Storage suite shows a much wider spread of performance scores among SATA drives than our ATSB traces, but also a much smaller advantage for the NVMe drives. Judging by this test, the 870 EVO offers a small but real improvement to performance compared to earlier SATA drives. The 4TB 870 QVO also scores quite well since it benefits from the same controller and has enough SLC cache to almost match the performance of the 4TB 870 EVO.

The subset of tests included in the Quick System Drive and Data Drive benchmarks show a more level playing field among SATA SSDs, and a greater advantage for NVMe drives. Since we run these tests before the Full System Drive test, each drive is closer to its fresh out-of-the-box state, which helps these tests get closer to showing the theoretical peak performance of a drive.

Introduction Synthetic Tests: Basic IO Patterns
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  • Tomatotech - Wednesday, February 17, 2021 - link

    These SATA circuit board PCBs are really tiny. I’ve sometimes wondered about removing the PCB from the drive and just plugging it direct into the motherboard SATA socket, no cable or drive case needed. This wouldn’t work out of the box as I think the motherboard port and the drive’s port are both the same gender.

    So this would need 1) a small gender changer intermediary, and 2) a way to get the power cable in there as well. Depending on the orientation of the motherboard SATA port, there might be space next to it for the power cable.
    Reply
  • Tomatotech - Wednesday, February 17, 2021 - link

    The advantages would be fewer cables and less space taken in small cases. Reply
  • Tomatotech - Wednesday, February 17, 2021 - link

    If SATA drive manufacturers added a secondary power port at the top of the PCB (which they won’t do) and included a small cheap gender changer for the data port, this could become a feasible life extender for using SATA in small or crowded cases. Reply
  • npz - Wednesday, February 17, 2021 - link

    See SATA DOM:
    https://www.supermicro.com/products/nfo/SATADOM.cf...
    https://www.innodisk.com/en/products/flash-storage...
    Reply
  • npz - Wednesday, February 17, 2021 - link

    Very limited in capacity of course, primarily used as boot drives Reply
  • Tomatotech - Wednesday, February 17, 2021 - link

    I saw that a year or two ago, very neat idea, a small SATA circuit board that sits on top of the motherboard SATA port. Available in sizes up to 128GB.

    Still seems to require a special SATA port and special provision in the motherboard BIOS - possibly to provide a bit of bus power inside the SATA port - so it’s very much a Supermicro-only thing.

    I see no reason why that couldn’t become a new SATA port standard - the Supermicro port is backward compatible with standard SATA drives - and sizes 1TB+ should be possible now.

    But bah it’s probably too late for that now even though millions of motherboards are still being manufactured with SATA ports.
    Reply
  • Qasar - Wednesday, February 17, 2021 - link

    " I’ve sometimes wondered about removing the PCB from the drive and just plugging it direct into the motherboard SATA socket,"

    is that what nvme physically is ? :-)
    Reply
  • Gigaplex - Wednesday, February 17, 2021 - link

    No, NVMe is a protocol. You're thinking of M.2, which doesn't have to use NVMe. There are actually many M.2 drives that use the SATA protocol. Reply
  • Gigaplex - Wednesday, February 17, 2021 - link

    You've basically just described M.2 SATA mode. Reply
  • Lord of the Bored - Thursday, February 18, 2021 - link

    Funnily enough, that exists as a product already. Search for "disk on module".
    While more commonly known for the older IDE interface, SATA versions do exist.

    You could, of course, recreate it with an off-the-shelf SATA drive, a screwdriver, and a light touch of solder.
    Reply

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