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Intel SSD 335 240GB. Performance in Sata 2. Raid card issues w/ trim and intel ssd toolbox.

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Hi all,

Just bought an intel 335 240GB and installed it in my rig (see below). My mobo is sata2 so I'm posting this to set expectations for users who think about putting an SSD in a sata2 mobo / older system as I didn't find anything similar in the forum.

Things aren't always what specs say.

For starters, I unpacked the ssd and connected it to my mobo to check speeds and to verify drive wasn't doa. It was connected to sata1 port on my mobo with ahci enabled in bios.

The sata2 spec is 3 Gbit/sec which translates to a theoretical speed of 384MByte /sec. I thought if I achieve somewhere near this I would be happy even though intel specs are 500+ MB/s for reads and 450+ MB/s for writes in sata3.

I wasn't impressed with the following screen!!!


ATTO (an ancient disk test which nobody uses but me) confirmed the above results


I thought it was the windows driver so I changed the driver from the nvidia driver above, to the microsoft driver from windows update, to the nvidia driver from microsoft update. Every time the driver was changed I rebooted and run the command fsutil behavior query disabledeletenotify to verify trim was enabled in every driver change (it was).

The results were very similar in every driver change. IE, SLOW.

I also run AIDA 64 which confirmed the above results. Although I haven't kept a screenshot, read results were
Linear read: 128 MB/s
Random read: 125 MB/s
Buffered read: 128 MB/s
Average read access time: 0.05 msec

Fortunately for me, I also have a hardware raidcard in my system which has 4 wd blacks on it and 4 free ports. The raidcard (Areca ARC-1220) is sata2 as well. Decided to test the intel ssd on the raidcard as well.

ATTO*


AIDA64* (compared to 4 X 1TB wd blacks (WD1001FALS) in raid5). Note the difference in read access times which is the primary advantage of all SSDs.


WEI (hard disk part) is 7.6 for whoever is interested.

As you can see, the raidcard saved the day, as performance of the ssd was several times higher on the same interface (sata2). I had paid an arm and a leg for it but has paid over many times over its 5 years I have had it.
*The 800mb/s speeds in atto as well as the buffered read result in aida64 are due to the raidcard's big cache and obviously not real life speeds.

Conclusion is that If I didn't have the raidcard, the ssd would probably have been a waste of money for my case as it wouldn't have added much difference from the two raptors in raid0 it replaced. Don't get me wrong, obviously any SSD would speed up a laptop with a slow 5200 2.5 drive or a system with one slow drive (wd green, blue etc). But given the slow speed of the sata2 implementation of my admittedly old system, results would not be (and still aren't) around advertised speeds of SSDs in terms of performance.

I proceeded to setup a fresh install of W7 x64 on the intel ssd (which is of course connected to the raidcard) and my boot time is 11 seconds from time bios boot is finished to windows user selection screen. User login is quite fast as well at about 6 seconds.

Your thoughts are welcome.

Silkman
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post #2 of 8
Your benchmark results with your SSD on your mother board's SATA ports (NOT the RAID card) are actually easy to explain, and "normal" given the situation. Simply put, it's the NVIDIA chipset on your board, or more specifically, the NVIDIA "southbridge" SATA chip.

Your board is ~2007 vintage, when Nvidia tried to enter the CPU support chip market, what are generically called the north and south bridge chips. That failed and Nvidia stopped selling those chips, as well as ending all support for those chips, as in driver updates.

When your Nvidia SATA chipset was designed, the SATA 6Gb/s (SATA III) interface did not exist, SATA 3Gb/s (SATA II) was the fastest standard PC interface, much better than the first SATA 1.5Gb/s (SATA I) standard. BTW, Gb/s means Giga-bits per second, not bytes, 'b' = bits, 'B' = Bytes. Also, the absolute maximum real world speed of each SATA link is, SATA III: ~540MB/s, SATA II: ~270MB/s, SATA I: ~135MB/s.

When an optical drive, HDD, or SSD is connected to a SATA interface and powered up, the SATA interface (chipset/south bridge) reads information from the drive to determine what the device is and its capabilities, including speed potential. The speed portion is known as "negotiating" the SATA link speed. Beyond this things are complicated, but basically the SATA chipset tries to setup the connection to the drive correctly.

Then we hit the problem with Nvidia SATA chipsets, they do not know or understand what the SATA III standard is. It can read the data for the drive's speed from any SATA III device (SSD or HDD), but that was before its time, either the driver or chipset (must be the latter) does not recognize the SATA III data or indicator as a valid interface speed. Since it does not know what speed the device is capable of, it plays it safe (programmed that way, which is reasonable) and sets the link speed to... SATA 1, or 1.5Gb/s.

That is the speed you are seeing in ATTO (which is still used now), SATA I. Any and all SATA III devices used with the Nvidia chipsets will operate as SATA I speeds. I've seen this issue on and off for a while now, and unfortunately some users stuck with this blame the SSD. Apple, for some bizarre reason, used the Nvidia chipsets in some of their PCs in 2009 - 2010, and the owners of those PCs rage and rant about the "bad SSD" from... whatever manufacture's SSD they bought. I've argued with these people in forums many times, but logic is not what they want to hear.

What made this worse is, one SSD company (I won't name) created a firmware update to "fix" this issue. What's the fix? Change the SSD's speed data/indicator from SATA III to SATA II. The Nvidia chipset knows what SATA II is, so sets the link to that speed, done. Those PCs were rated at SATA II, so all was well again... kinda. This fix turned the SSD into a SATA II device. Put it in a SATA III capable PC, and it runs at SATA II speeds. You can imagine what then happens with those owners... "fix it, bad SSD!"

The vast majority of SSD manufactures do not provide a "fix" for the Nvidia chipsets, and for good reason IMO. To many people see, Firmware Update, "oh I gotta have it!", and blindly apply it. You can imagine the rest. doh.gifmad.gif

Intel, that only provides firmware updates for true bugs and issues, would never add an update as described above. Nothing else can be done about it, except asking your mother board manufacture why they don't support their products and supply a driver update that at least adds AHCI mode operation (which this chipset also does not have), or a fix for the chipset that cannot work with SATA III devices. Nvidia apparently just walked away from this product, and given their resources, the fix is not just a driver update but something in the chipset itself that cannot be changed, sorry to say.

I happen to know about this as I tried to fix the SSD problem a special lady friend of mine was having. With that inspiration, I went to the wall on this one, hit it hard, and learned my lesson. wth.gif
post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 
Great reply parsec thumb.gif

It never crossed my mind that the ssd was initialised as a sata1 device on my evga "vintage" board, but it makes absolute sense. Strange also about AHCI because in the bios there's an option to enable AHCI in sata. Is this also the reason why Intel SSD Toolbox doesn't recognize the intel ssd (didn't mention this in my OP)?

Your point about "oh a new firmware, let's update it" behavior is more true than life. biggrin.gif

I always thought that 3 Gbits/sec translates to 3 X 1024 Mbits/s = 3072 Mbits/sec, divide this by 8 to get the bytes ie 3072 / 8 = 384 MBytes /sec (sata 2 speed). You say it is 270 then?

So all the drivers I tried are in essence the same old nvidia driver with a different name... Anyways, socket 2011 mobo and cpu are not far away for me. wink.gif

/s
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post #4 of 8
Yes, why would you think your mother board's SATA interface would change to SATA I speeds, that is very unusual and AFAIK, the Nvidia chipset is the only one that commonly does that with SATA III drives.

So you do have an AHCI option in your BIOS?! Great, if you can use it with the Nvidia or Microsoft msahci driver, it would help enhance your performance. If you installed your OS in IDE mode, you can't simply change to AHCI mode and boot afterwards, it will BSOD. There is a Windows registry update you can perform that will allow you change to AHCI mode when the OS was installed in IDE mode. Just search on "change to AHCI mode", you should get all kinds of hits.

Your SATA II speed calculation is basically not wrong, but there are other factors involved. First the SATA interface uses a transmission protocol called "8b/10b encoding". Simplified, for every 8 bits of user data sent, 10 bits are transmitted. The extra bits are used for multiple reasons, and 8b/10b encoding is used in many computer interfaces, including gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0, DVI, and HDMI.

Taking into account the overhead of 2 bits for every 8 bits of data sent, the maximum theoretical SATA II transfer rate is 2.4 Gbit/s, or 300 MB/s. The 8b/10b encoding is used in all three current SATA interfaces, and the theoretical maximum SATA transfer rates are 150MB/s, 300MB/s, and 600MB/s respectively.

Given those figures, subtract from that overhead in processing the 10 bits transmitted into an eight bit data byte, the OS's file system processing, the non-perfect electrical connections, etc, and we loose another ~10% of the maximum theoretical transfer rate. As usual, things are not as simple as they might seem.

Regarding the Intel SSD Toolbox, it does not always work well or at all with non-Intel chipsets or drivers. Intel does not state that AHCI mode is required for the Toolbox to function, although firmware updates on their SSDs will not work in IDE mode with their earlier SSDs. Intel does mention the NVIDIA nForce* Pro 3600 will not work with the Toolbox. I'm not surprised the Toolbox does not work with the Nvidia SATA chipsets, sorry to say.

An Intel socket 2011 board would be a great upgrade from your current board, they have two Intel SATA III ports, as do all the Intel 6 and 7 series chipset boards. The new Haswell CPU and Z87 chipset boards have six Intel SATA III ports, which is a dream come true for SSD and RAID enthusiasts.
post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
Ok I am fed up with this.

After the OP I have been trying to run intel ssd toolbox for the sole purpose to verify that trim is working / trim scheduling. The fact that a system is trim enabled (fsquery etc command) does NOT necessarily mean that trim is working properly.

After a couple of emails to intel support and after reading everything on the internet, intel says that ssd toolbox will NOT run on any raidcard, EVEN if the intel ssd is not part of a raid array and connected as a single drive. So basically I am screwed as no trim means ssd will go to sata 0 speeds eventually.

Last reply from intel
Quote:
Dear Mr XXXXXXX,
Thank you for contacting Intel® Technical Support.
After checking the SSD toolbox FAQ I found that:
"The current implementation of Intel SSD Toolbox does not support SSDs installed as part of a
RAID configuration. Intel is investigating RAID support for future versions of the tool...
Intel is working with customers and evaluating options for a future release the
Intel Matrix Storage Manager which supports Trim commands."
Although you do not use a Raid Array, the SSD is connected to a Raid controller and therefore the
SSD toolbox will not work properly.
Unfortunatly there is no beta version to download or a known work arround.
I am sorry mentioned a replacement of the SSD in my last email, of course it would not solve the issue.
For further queries please do not hesitate to contact us.
Kind Regards,
Nuno P.
Intel® Technical Support

Thats about putting an intel ssd in an old computer.... mad.gif
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post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 
***5 month update on intel ssd 335.

The SSD was working OK-ish but yesterday my pc stopped responding. Starting windows would stay forever on the starting windows screen or BSOD.

Spent about 4 hrs yesterday, gave up and went to sleep and today fixed it. Apparently the 335 was out of space to write (although about 60% full), this means that all blocks were used up at least once. Chkdsk (I know I shouldn't run it on ssd) would produce various errors on MBR and some times it would take for ever (1hr+) to complete. It was proven beyond doubt that trim / garbage collection wasn't working. Fixmbr / bootrec also wouldn't work.

Since trim wasn't working the recommended course of action was to fully erase the ssd and restore it back.

The problem was that I didn't have an extra pc to work. Although I had a recent backup, in order to erase the intel ssd you need 1)a windows installation b)intel ssd toolbox installed 3)the ssd must NOT be a system drive. After reading this I was able to load up hiren boot cd mini-xp, delete the partition, recreate it and quick format it from mini-xp (VERY IMPORTANT: mini-xp needs to restart for this to work) and then use win7 dvd to restore the image. If the ssd wasn't formatted win7 image restore wouldn't work...

Run Intel ssd diagnostic scans after restore and ssd is fine (I knew that already).

Although Intel SSD Toolbox has changed at least 3 versions since I begun this thread, it still won't fully recognize intel SSD's on anything else but a (late) intel controller. And it won't run trim or let you update ssd firmware.

And there's NO intel ssd tool/utility to run in dos/command prompt for troubleshooting purposes.

Moral of the story is always have a full *IMAGE* backup when working with ssd's. You will need it sooner or later.

S
Edited by Silkman - 9/20/13 at 7:36am
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post #7 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Silkman View Post


Moral of the story is always have a full *IMAGE* backup when working with ssd's. You will need it sooner or later.

S
Sorry man but i have to stop you from scaring people about SSDs been unreliable.Your SSD is not guilty for your problems.Problem is just your too old system.
I have now about 2 years SSDs and i never had ONE problem with them.In fact i can say that SSDs are more reliable,then HDDs.Of course in systems with Intel chipsets,TRIM support and with AHCI or RAID mode.
SSD return rate:
- Samsung 0.05%
- Plextor 0.16%
- Intel 0.37%
- Crucial 1.12%
- Corsair 1.61%
- OCZ 6.64%
HDD return rate:
- Toshiba 1.15%
- Seagate 1.44%
- Western 1.55%
- Samsung 2.24%
- Hitachi 2.40%

P.S.Of course i am not saying that we should not have a back up.Always back up of back up :-) no mater SSDs or HDDs
Edited by Unit Igor - 9/20/13 at 10:00am
post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 
Where did you get these numbers from? Because I suspect manufacturers don't advertise their failure rates and still, your numbers look TOO low. The best advice I have for hardware reliability is to look at newegg comments. Even if you and I can't buy from newegg, the comments are a treasure. See for example the comments for the new WD RED drives which are supposed to go in raid arrays rolleyes.gif

All my friends who have SSDs have had to RMA at least once, with corsair being the worst. That's why I chose an Intel SSD.

In theory, SSDs shouldn't fail (no moving parts) but in practice I think they fail much more than traditional HDD's. And with HDD you have warnings like click click sound of death but with SSD it's sudden death. Once it works and after you reboot its dead.
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