The Irenabyss Gallery - Equipment - Matt Brain

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The OCZ Revodrive on a Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD4P

This page is largely a spot to keep my own records

This page is primarily a record for my own use, but it may be interesting to others keen to know real world performance of a couple of popular SSD drives.

We recently got sick of the slow booting 500gb SATA drive and decided to go with an SSD. I have previously used the intel X-25M 80gb SSD, which operated well but was a little too small - it ran the operating system fine, but to really improve the performance of programs like Adobe Lightroom, you need to run the thumbnails off the fast drive too and the 80gb wasn't big enough for our Lightroom Library. Consequently I moved the 80gb SSD to my laptop which I predominantly use for word processing and MS Excel.Crystal Disk Mark info for 80gb Intel X-25M SSD June 2010

Here is the Crystal Disk Mark data and boot up times for the Gigabyte ex58-UD4P MB with the 80gb Intel SSD and the RAID 10 drive set up managed with the onboard Intel controller. Moving the Intel SSD to the laptop worked out really well; the cooling fan hardly ever turns on and at full charge with about 50% screen brightness, the battery reads about 7.5hours compared to 4 hours with the Hitachi 2.5" SATA that it came with.

Below is the crystal disk for the Intel in the laptop: Note the drive runs around 80% full and it is a year older now. I am not sure if the slower numbers are influenced by the free space the drive has or whether this is the performance degredation to be expected by these drives. Either way it is still much faster than the old SATA and so far very stable.

Intel SSD in lenovo laptop 1 year later, note drive is more full

It should be noted that Gigabytes AHCI/RAID bios takes a lot longer to run through than the boot sequence in IDE and thus somewhat detracts from any speed increases from the hardware RAID10. Below is the Western Digital Caviar Black crystal disk tests from the intel hardware RAID10 set up. The left is July 2010 and the right is November 2011 - a bit older and more full:WD caviar black RAID10 speeds

What was interesting is that the hardware RAID10 on this settup isn't much faster than the native disk speed from the SATA2 controller. Below left is the native disk (note this is freshly formatted on a new windows installation). What was most impressive was the result using Windows 7 dynamic disk (below right) to build a software based RAID 0 using the same drives. This outperformed the hardware RAID 10 (note unfortunately I never built a hardware RAID 0:

WD Caviar black, native and win7 software RAID

To free up a SATA port from the main board so I can disable the on-board JMicron chip I decided to go with an OCZ revodrive - a PCI express based SSD. The JMicron RAID chip takes a significant amount of the bios boot time and I actually only use it to run an eSATA port which I use for backups.

What I didn't realize was that the Revodrive has compatability issues with onboard RAID on many motherboards. This is (apparently) due to the limited (128k) OROM memory space that the bios can use. I can confirm it is the case for my MB: With the drive in the PCI-4x slot, in bios AHCI/RAID mode it showed up straight away but as soon as it completes a format the system hangs. Similarly if one follows the setup sequence off the Windows 7 install disk, you get a BSOD after it formats the drive. This link provides a list of MB compatibilities with the Revodrive. Description of bios compatability with the revodrive and varios motherboards.

After updating the BIOS to the latest version (F14P) and changing the bios to IDE, it worked fine (I did have to enter the OCZ RAID controller, reformat and recreate the RAID 0 after the first install attempt though). I was able to install the operating system with no issues what so ever. Below is the crystal disk mark info:

OCZ Revo Drive

The only other issue that started occuring a few days later was unexpected shutdowns after the system had been on for 5-10 minutes. This wasn't alleviated by the usual measures (reseating the graphics card and memory modules), nor did memtest display any errors. Running Coretemp soon unmasked the problem - the CPU idle temp was around 70degress. I must have inadvertanly bumped the CPU heat sink off its plate and allowed the thermal grease to dry out. With new grease the idle temp is at 30 degrees and as yet there has not been another problem.

Now with all that sorted out, I can get back to editing some photos!

Matt Brain: November 2011

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