RAID Report: Native mSATA RAID 0 w/ Samsung 840 EVO 250GB SSD's (TweakTown Exclusive) – TweakTown

Over the past few months, we’ve explored solid state RAID performance at a blistering pace. As technology marches forward, we are seeing new SSD form factors. The mSATA form factor has been around for a while now; it allows SSD manufacturers to pack an entire SSD into a very small, thin package designed mainly for ultra-thin PC form factors. A variety of desktop motherboards have been equipped with a single mSATA slot for some time now. Until now, desktop implementation of an mSATA port has been done with drive caching in mind. Intel’s SRT (Smart Response Technology) Storage Technology has been built into their RST (Rapid Storage Technology) drivers for over two years now.
Typical desktop implementation of mSATA has been largely SATA II based, which means it lacked the performance necessary to make it an appealing to enthusiasts/power users. With the launch of Z77 based laptops, we started seeing a wide adoption of native mSATA III based ports, but because Z77 is limited to two native SATA III ports, desktop motherboards typically utilized a native SATA II channel to power a single mSATA slot.
Intel’s newest platform has changed all that. Haswell based motherboards are equipped with six native SATA III Intel ports via its Z87 Lynx Point chipset. With Z87, Intel has made native mSATA III based slots an attractive option for desktop motherboards. Even with an mSATA slot on board, users still have five powerful native Intel SATA III based ports available. An mSATA III port combined with new high capacity mSATA SSD’s has become an attractive storage option for desktop builds. Having high performance storage integrated right onto the motherboard with no need for additional connections to another piece of hardware is in my opinion, an attractive feature afforded by an integrated mSATA slot.
It’s fair to say that mSATA has “finally arrived” so to speak. We’re starting to see high-end laptops utilizing dual mSATA SSD’s running in RAID 0 for Uber storage performance and high capacity. Naturally though, we want even more. The next logical progression is native Intel Based mSATA III RAID on a desktop platform. Multi-slot native implementation of mSATA ports on a desktop platform has been on our wish list for some time now.
It appears ASRock has had the same thing on their minds, because they’ve granted us our wish. We recently debuted TweakTown‘s no.2 consumer based RAID testing platform. Our Test Rig no. 2, as we call it, is built around ASRocks super cool Extreme 11 a/c Z87 based motherboard. This Uber board, in addition to its six native Lynx Port SATA III ports and 16 LSI 3008 powered SAS 12Gb/s ports, is outfitted with… you guessed it, two mSATA Z87 Lynx Point powered slots.
We believe we will start seeing many others jump on the bandwagon by implementing multiple native mSATA ports onto their own designs. ASRock’s newly launched Extreme 11 a/c socket 1150 motherboard has granted us one of our long time wishes. Right now, we can outfit our motherboard with up to two terabytes of SSD goodness via native mSATA III ports, but even more importantly, we can RAID 0 those babies.
TweakTown is NV storage headquarters, and as such, it’s only natural that we’re first to publish a native based mSATA RAID Report. Today, we are going to closely examine what kind of performance we can extract from a pair of Samsung SSD 840 EVO mSATA SSD’s running balls out in RAID 0, strapped to our ASRock Test Rig no. 2 benching platform.
Samsung’s 840 EVO mSATA SATA III SSD is available in four capacity sizes, 120GB, 250GB, 500GB, and 1 TB. Specifications list the 250GB mSATA EVO SSD as capable of 540MB/s sequential reads, and 520MB/s sequential writes. Random read/write speed is listed as 97K/66K IOPS at QD32.
The write speeds listed by Samsung are for sequential writes that fit within the boundaries of Samsung’s Turbo Write emulated SLC write acceleration layer. Writes that exceed the emulated SLC layer’s capacity, and are written directly to the drive’s TLC NAND array, will be written at a speed slower than advertised.
PRICING: You can find the Samsung 840 EVO mSATA SATA III SSD for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing, but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.
United States: The Samsung 840 EVO mSATA SATA III SSD (120GB) retails for $140.99 at Amazon, theSamsung 840 EVO mSATA SATA III SSD (250GB) retails for $229.00 at Amazon, the Samsung 840 EVO mSATA SATA III SSD (500GB) retails for $422.91 at Amazon, and the Samsung 840 EVO mSATA SATA III SSD (1TB) retails for $714.94 at Amazon.
Canada: The Samsung 840 EVO mSATA SATA III SSD (120GB) retails for $262.48 at Amazon Canada, the Samsung 840 EVO mSATA SATA III SSD (250GB) retails for $388.69 at Amazon Canada, the Samsung 840 EVO mSATA SATA III SSD (500GB) retails for $676.19 at Amazon Canada, and the Samsung 840 EVO mSATA SATA III SSD (1TB) retails for $846.47 at Amazon Canada.
Germany: The Samsung 840 EVO mSATA SATA III SSD (120GB) retails for EUR 101,88 at Amazon DE, the Samsung 840 EVO mSATA SATA III SSD (250GB) retails for EUR 171,13 at Amazon DE, the Samsung 840 EVO mSATA SATA III SSD (500GB) retails for EUR 330,49 at Amazon DE, and the Samsung 840 EVO mSATA SATA III SSD (1TB) retails for EUR 554,90 at Amazon DE.
France: The Samsung 840 EVO mSATA SATA III SSD (120GB) retails for EUR 105,62 at Amazon France, the Samsung 840 EVO mSATA SATA III SSD (250GB) retails for EUR 173,30 at Amazon France, the Samsung 840 EVO mSATA SATA III SSD (500GB) retails for EUR 323,94 at Amazon France, and the Samsung 840 EVO mSATA SATA III SSD (1TB) retails for EUR 588,52 at Amazon France.
Since this is a RAID review, we are going to focus on performance rather than features. For a more in-depth look at the Samsung SSD 840 EVO mSATA SATA III SSD feature set, I will refer you to Chris Ramseyer’s extensive review of Samsung’s SSD 840 EVO mSATA SATA III SSD.
Samsung’s SSD 840 EVO mSATA SATA III SSD comes packaged in an attractive dark grey colored box. There is a picture of the drive on the front of the box. The front of the box states the drive’s capacity as well as its mSATA form factor.
The rear of the dark grey box informs us that the mSATA EVO is backed by Samsung with a three-year limited warranty.
The mSATA EVO ships inside of a protective plastic clamshell style container. Included with the drive are the printed User Manuel and a Warranty Statement Summary, and a pair of “Samsung SSD activated” stickers.
The top of the drive has its components covered by a factory sticker that’s designed to tear if removed. This factory sticker lists the drive’s capacity, part number, and serial number, along with other pertinent information.
Under the factory sticker, you would find two 128GB 19nm Samsung TLC NAND packages, Samsung’s proprietary MEX 8 channel tri-core flash storage processor, and a 512MB DRAM buffer chip. The bottom of the drive’s tiny PCB has assorted surface mounted components, and a sticker that designates this drive as an 840 EVO mSATA SSD.
The majority of our testing will be done with our test drive/array as our OS volume. Our boot volume is 75% full for all OS Disk “C” drive testing, to mimic a typical consumer OS volume implementation. We’re using 64K stripes for all of our arrays. Write caching is enabled.
Our testing includes charting the performance of a single drive, as well as a RAID 0 array of our test subject/s. We are utilizing Windows 8.1 64 Bit OS for all of our testing.
Version and / or Patch Used: 2.47
ATTO is a timeless benchmark used to provide manufacturers with data used for marketing storage products.
Transfers are excellent, ramping up quickly, and staying strong throughout. All transfers are occurring within the EVO’s Turbo Write emulated SLC write acceleration layer, so they look fantastic. Both read and write speeds exceed 1GB/s.
Equipped with a larger ratio of DRAM buffer, the 250GB mSATA EVO manages to outperform the larger 500GB standard SATA interfaced EVO array, and takes the win in this test.
Read performance is excellent, hanging right in the mix of the best performances on our chart. Single drive performance is also outstanding.
Version and / or Patch Used: RC6
So what is Anvil Storage Utilities? It’s a storage benchmark for SSDs and HDDs where you can check and monitor your performance. The Standard Storage Benchmark performs a series of tests; you can run a full test, or just the read or the write test, or you can run a single test (i.e. 4K QD16).
The software is used several different ways, and to show different aspects for each drive. We’ve chosen to use this software to show the performance of a drive with two different data sets. The first is with compressible data, and the second data set is incompressible data. Several users have requested this data in our SSD reviews.
Knocking on the door of 10,000 points is hyper-class performance. Again, this test fits within the EVO’s write acceleration layer, so results are stellar.
Our array’s read performance is excellent overall. This time, the Extreme II and 500GB EVO arrays put up a slightly better performance.
Unexpectedly, our mSATA EVO array beats the competition in this test. Turbo Write is working its magic. Most notably, our 250GB EVO mSATA array is way out front of our 500GB EVO SATA array.
Incompressible scoring is pretty much the same as compressible scoring, but this time we are able to blast through the 10,000 point plateau. This is some remarkable performance from our little mSATA array.
Read IOPS charting of incompressible data mirrors that of compressible.
Incompressible data does not affect the outcome of this test. Our mSATA EVO array is again able to outperform the competition. It is interesting that our smaller capacity mSATA EVO array is able to outperform our larger capacity EVO array. The mSATA EVO array has a twice the DRAM buffer to NAND ratio as our standard EVO array, which is undoubtedly contributing to these results.
Version and / or Patch Used: 3.0 Technical Preview
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CrystalDiskMark is disk benchmark software that allows us to benchmark 4K and 4K queue depths with accuracy.
Note: Crystal Disk Mark 3.0 Technical Preview was used for these tests since it offers the ability to measure native command queuing at 4 and 32.
The numbers speak for themselves: Hyper-class performance from top to bottom.
EVO’s have outstanding QD1 performance, and our mSATA EVO array is no exception. Our mSATA doesn’t win any single categories, but overall it puts up a performance second only to our larger capacity EVO array.
Our standard 1GB CDM write test fits within both of our EVO arrays Turbo Write write acceleration layer, so the drive’s larger TLC NAND array isn’t being hit by this test. This is a prime example of how emulated SLC technology implementation is utilized to mitigate the shortcomings of lower performing NAND technologies.
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.7.4739.38088
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AS SSD determines the performance of Solid State Drives (SSD). The tool contains four synthetic, and three practice tests. The synthetic tests are used to determine the sequential and random read and write performance of the SSD. These tests are carried out without the use of the operating system caches.
As long as what you are writing fits within the EVO’s emulated SLC layer, Turbo Write technology delivers fantastic performance.
All of the testing we’ve done to this point has fit within the EVO’s emulated SLC layer. Most of the testing moving forward will not fit inside this layer, so we will get an idea of how the drives perform without this advantage.
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PCMark Vantage is the first objective hardware performance benchmark for PCs running 32 and 64 bit versions of Microsoft Windows Vista. PCMark Vantage is perfectly suited for benchmarking any type of Microsoft Windows Vista PC, from multimedia home entertainment systems and laptops to dedicated workstations and high-end gaming rigs. Regardless of whether the benchmarker is an artist, or an IT Professional, PCMark Vantage shows the user where their system soars, or falls flat, and how to get the most performance possible out of their hardware. PCMark Vantage is easy enough for even the most casual enthusiast to use, yet supports in-depth, professional industry grade testing.
The reason we like PCMark Vantage is because the recorded traces are played back without system stops. What we see is the raw performance of the drive. This allows us to see a marked difference between scoring that other trace based benchmarks do not exhibit. An example of a marked difference in scoring on the same drive would be empty vs. filled vs. steady state.
We run Vantage three different ways. The first run is with the OS drive/Array 75% full to simulate a lightly used OS volume filled with data to an amount we feel is common for most users. The second run is with the OS volume written into a “Steady State” utilizing SNIA’s guidelines (Rev 1.1). Steady state testing simulates a drive/array’s performance, similar to that of a drive/array that has been subjected to consumer workloads for extensive amounts of time. The third run is a Vantage HDD test with the test drive/array attached as an empty lightly used secondary device.
As you can see, there’s a big difference between an empty drive/array, one that’s 75% full/used, and one that’s in a steady state.
The important scores to pay attention to are “OS Volume Steady State” and, “OS Volume 75% full”. These two categories are most important because they are indicative of typical consumer based user states.
When a drive/array is in a steady state it means garbage collection is running at the same time it’s reading/writing. There’s a huge difference in performance between a single drive and a two drive array. Our mSATA array manages to come in third place. This test seems to be writing enough data to get outside of the mSATA EVO’s Turbo Write layer, at least part of the time.
We are going to introduce a new “Heavy Usage Model” test in upcoming reviews, and the Steady State portion of this test will become our “Light Usage Model” test. Samsung drives perform exceptionally well in what we consider a “Light Usage Model” scenario.
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.4.00
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PCMark 7 includes seven PC tests for Windows 7 & 8, combining more than 25 individual workloads covering storage, computation, image and video manipulation, web browsing, and gaming. Specifically designed to cover the full range of PC hardware from netbooks and tablets to notebooks and desktops, PCMark 7 offers complete PC performance testing for Windows 7 & 8 for home and business use.
We will look to the raw system storage scoring for RAID 0 evaluations because it’s done without system stops, and therefore allows us to see significant scoring differences between drives/arrays.
PCMark 7 testing definitely writes enough data to fall outside of our mSATA EVO array’s accelerated write layer for a good portion of the test. Our mSATA EVO array delivers a good performance, but nothing like what our larger 500GB based EVO array can deliver.
The 500GB EVO has a larger capacity Turbo Write layer, as well as better base write performance, which is the reason for the fairly large performance gap between the two arrays.
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.2.157
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PCMark 8 Futuremark’s latest version of their popular series of PC benchmarking tools. Improving on previous releases, PCMark 8 includes battery life measurement tools, and new tests using popular applications from Adobe and Microsoft. Whether you are looking for long battery life, or maximum power, PCMark 8 helps you find the devices that offer the perfect combination of efficiency and performance for your needs.
Use the PCMark 8 Storage benchmark to test the performance of SSDs, HDDs, and hybrid drives with traces recorded from Adobe Creative Suite, Microsoft Office, and a selection of popular games. You can test the system drive, or any other recognized storage device, including local external drives. Unlike synthetic storage tests, the PCMark 8 Storage benchmark highlights real-world performance differences between storage devices.
PCMark 8’s Storage Performance Benchmark is an absolute beast of a test. The benchmark beats the hell out of your drive/array for well over an hour, resulting in a very thorough evaluation of a drive/array’s real-world performance.
Once again, this test is operating outside of Turbo Write for a good part of the test. In this scenario, our mSATA array can’t fully utilize the advantage afforded by its write acceleration layer, and delivers a third place performance.
A single 250GB EVO finishes in fourth place. Higher capacity EVO’s have higher write performance outside of Turbo Write ,which is the reason our larger EVO array does so much better in this test.
Version and / or Patch Used: 2.1.1
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Disk Speed Test is an easy to use tool to quickly measure and certify your disk performance for working with high quality video! Simply click the start button, and Disk Speed Test will write test your disk using large blocks of data, and then display the result. Disk Speed Test will continue to test writes and reads from your disk, so you can evaluate both performance and readability over time.
We rate a drive/array’s video capabilities by the number of different categories that the device is capable of passing. The maximum number of tests that are possible to pass are 45 write tests and 45 read tests. We chart the number of tests a disk/array is capable of passing for a comparison of one drive/array verses another.
It’s very hard for a single drive to be completely HD video capable. This is why serious video processing is almost exclusively done utilizing RAID arrays. Sequential incompressible performance is the name of the game when it comes to video processing. We allow our test to run for several iterations, which means after a couple iterations our mSATA EVO array is not benefiting from write acceleration.
As you can see, neither a single nor a two drive array can deliver performance that’s completely HD video capable. I would not recommend utilizing EVOs in this usage model anyway, because TLC NAND doesn’t have the endurance over time that’s necessary for the massive amounts of writing associated with video processing.
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1.0
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Iometer is an I/O subsystem measurement and characterization tool for single and clustered systems. It was originally developed by the Intel Corporation, and announced at the Intel Developers Forum (IDF) on February 17, 1998; since then it’s become wide spread within the storage industry.
We use Iometer to measure disk response times. Disk response times are measured at an industry accepted standard of 4K QD1 for both write and read. Each test is run twice for 30 seconds consecutively, with a five second ramp-up before each test. The drive/array is partitioned and attached as a secondary device for this testing.
Write response times benefit most from RAID 0 because of write caching. There is a slight latency increase in read response times for an array vs. a single drive. Response times are excellent despite the drives’ TLC NAND array.
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Developer Homepage: Nodesoft
Product Homepage: DiskBench
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We use DiskBench to time a 28.6GB block (9,882 files in 1,247 folders) of mostly incompressible random data as it’s transferred from our OS array to our test drive/array. We then read from a 6GB zip file that’s part of our 28.6GB data block to determine the test drive/array’s read transfer rate. The system is restarted prior to the read test to clear any cached data, insuring an accurate test result.
Our data block is larger than our array’s Turbo Write layer, and we can see that transfer rates are down somewhat due to the drive/array’s write speed to capacity limitations.
Read Speed isn’t reliant on acceleration, and our mSATA EVO array is able to deliver stunning performance, even slightly outperforming our larger capacity EVO array.
Our data transfer test is definitely where the rubber meets the road. We’re transferring a huge chunk of random incompressible data. This is where everything we’ve seen so far comes together with actual data. It’s easy to see the performance increase an array can deliver over a single drive.
Solid state storage is the most important performance component found in a modern system today. Without it, you do not even have a performance system.
It’s been a long while coming, but mSATA that can satisfy power users and enthusiasts has finally arrived. Multiple mSATA ports powered by Intel’s awesome Lynx Point chipset are what’s for dinner. This exclusive RAID report is as much about our new testing platform as it is about the mSATA drives we utilized for the report.
ASRock has a reputation for innovation, and this is clearly on display with the introduction of the Extreme 11 a/c. This Uber board is the first of what we expect to be many motherboards that offer multiple on board mSATA ports. Being able to have storage performance that’s second to none delivered via tiny mSATA SSDs that attach directly to the surface of your motherboard, is a whole new kind of awesome. Think about it: NO storage cables or power cables attached to your SSD array.
Overall, I’m very pleased with the ASRock Extreme 11 a/c Z87 Board. I would like to see a third mSATA slot available in place of its mini PCIe wireless slot; hot plugging capabilities would be greatly appreciated as well. I certainly have no reservations recommending this mothership of a motherboard; in fact, I do recommend you own one. The LSI SAS/SATA ports are kind of icing on the cake, and provide excellent secondary storage capabilities as displayed by the following benchmarks:
Looking back at our test subject’s performances, it’s easy to see that mSATA can deliver performance that’s every bit as good as you get from a larger form factor SSD. Samsung’s mSATA EVO is a revolutionary drive because it takes TLC to a new level of performance and capacity. TLC keeps the cost down, while innovations like Turbo Write and RAPID Mode mitigate most of TLC NAND’s inherent shortcomings. We see mSATA RAID as a wave of the future, and both Samsung and ASRock are leaders in the technology and implementation behind the coming wave.
PRICING: You can find the Samsung SSD (120GB) 840 EVO mSATA SATA III SSD for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing, but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.
United States: The Samsung 840 EVO mSATA SATA III SSD (120GB) retails for $140.99 at Amazon, theSamsung 840 EVO mSATA SATA III SSD (250GB) retails for $229.00 at Amazon, the Samsung 840 EVO mSATA SATA III SSD (500GB) retails for $422.91 at Amazon, and the Samsung 840 EVO mSATA SATA III SSD (1TB) retails for $714.94 at Amazon.
Canada: The Samsung 840 EVO mSATA SATA III SSD (120GB) retails for $262.48 at Amazon Canada, the Samsung 840 EVO mSATA SATA III SSD (250GB) retails for $388.69 at Amazon Canada, the Samsung 840 EVO mSATA SATA III SSD (500GB) retails for $676.19 at Amazon Canada, and the Samsung 840 EVO mSATA SATA III SSD (1TB) retails for $846.47 at Amazon Canada.
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Jon joined the TweakTown team in 2013 and has since reviewed 100s of new storage products. Jon became a computer enthusiast when Windows XP launched. He was into water cooling and benching ATI video cards with modded drivers. Jon has been building computers for others for more than 10 years. Jon became a storage enthusiast the day he first booted an Intel X25-M G1 80GB SSD. Look for Jon to bring consumer SSD reviews into the spotlight.


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