Patriot Wildfire 120GB Sata 3 SSD
Upgrades all round
Review Patriot Memory’s latest Wildfire Sata 3 SSDs come with the promise of read and write speeds in excess of 500MB/s along with read and write IOPS in the 60K region. All of this blazing speed is available in 120GB (£240), 240GB (£420) and 480GB capacities – a 60GB version is in production, but not currently available in the UK.
Life in the fast lane: Patriot Memory's Wildfire
The 120GB drive I have here for review is an engineering sample, but I am assured that purchasers of the retail product will receive the usual complement of proper packaging and 3.5in drive bay adapter.
Delivering on Patriot’s promises is a SandForce SF-2281 controller, much like that found in OCZ’s Vertex 3. The Wildfire is, theoretically, the fastest drive I’ve ever had on my test rig, so I was certainly keen to see how it performed.
Crystal DiskMark and AS SSD test revealed some very impressive read numbers around the 375MB/s mark, even if it wasn’t the promised 500MB/s. ATTO took those numbers even higher, up to 415MB/s with 4MB blocks. However, when it came to read performance, I have to admit I was disappointed to see numbers topping out at 210MB/s, less than half of what I should have been seeing.
CrystalDiskMark test results
Longer bars are better
At this point I started to wonder if I had reached some kind of limit on my system, but I’ve seen higher numbers on Marvell based SATA 3Gb/s drives. So I'm inclined to think my rig might not be particularly SandForce-friendly as, given the right hardware, reports suggest this drive does indeed deliver on its promises.
Next page: Out with the old...
You mention the Vertex 3 running the same controller, yet don't compare them
the received wisdom on the hardware sites is that Marvell controllers don't do terribly well with the new-gen Sandforce drives; the Intel P67 onboard 6Gb controllers are generally approved of. Might want to re-test with one of those.
SSD Testing Hint
Don't rely on your motherboard's SATA controller. Get a quality (And relatively cheap) LSI SASII (compatible with SATAIII / 6Gbit) HBA (Not a RAID controller, there's too much black box magic on those.) The LSI SAS 9211-4i is a lovely 4 port card that will eliminate any questions as to whether your motherboard SATA controller disagrees with a given drive.
It's also been reasonable well documented that the top-end performance of a 6gbit drive on a 3gbit controller has little relation to what you'll see on a 6gbit controller. And by 'documented' I mean either I read it somewhere on the Internet, or I did it myself... probably the former, since this sounds like a lot of work that I'd remember complaining about. Anyway it's down to latency and queue depth and things that all get better on the newer interfaces..
Also (haven't had my coffee yet, so apologies if I missed this) it doesn't seem that you specify what kind of data you're writing to the drive. Sandforce controllers have lots of magic going on, so if you use repeating test patterns, or compressible test patterns, you'll see vastly different performance than if you have a utility which uses non-compressible, unique test patterns. I strongly suspect that many Sandforce vendors quote the best possible performance numbers found using the most unrealistic data possible.
Also, this drive shouldn't have any power fail protection, as the Sandforce 22xx line isn't supposed to support that feature. Can't see myself buying a drive that doesn't have a bank of capacitors on it these days, and I wouldn't recommend anyone else does either.
80%? A reg review hasn't got that in a while....
"So I'm inclined to think my rig might not be particularly SandForce-friendly as, given the right hardware, reports suggest this drive does indeed deliver on its promises."
I'm more inclined to think Patriot are claiming performance figures that their products cannot deliver - it certainly wouldn't be the first time. The only worthwhile performance metric for SSDs that is worth looking at is random-write IOPS using 4KB blocks. Most of the rest is purely for making the marketing brochures look impressive.