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Revisiting the Caviar WD1000BB and the 'Cuda ATA IV


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Revisiting the Caviar WD1000BB and the 'Cuda ATA IV
  October 8, 2001 Author: Eugene Ra  


IPEAK RankDisk

In 1999, Intel released IPEAK SPT v3.0 (Intel Performance Evaluation and Analysis Kit - Storage Performance Toolkit), a comprehensive suite of software designed to assess the performance of various storage subsystems. As just one of IPEAK's many, varied tools, RankDisk plays back standardized sequences of disk accesses drawn from actual use... not unlike WinBench 99's Disk WinMarks. The Business and High-End Disk WinMarks, after all, are merely the disk accesses generated by the Business and High-End Winstone 99 application-level tests. ZD's Winstones play through actual applications scripted to mimic real use. Though in retrospect WB99 exhibits amazing staying power, it nonetheless suffers from age: WB99's patterns were drawn from an old suite of applications running on an old operating system featuring an old file system.

IPEAK features a tool called WinTrace32, a program that can capture the access pattern of any given real-world application load. The resulting raw trace file may then be examined (using another component, AnalyzeTrace) or be systematically replayed through RankDisk to comparatively evaluate various driver-controller-disk combinations. The combination of WinTrace32 and RankDisk allows SR to custom-create isolated playback patterns from real-world applications.

WinTrace32 requires some intricate OS customization before it can properly trace workloads under the Windows 2000 and Windows XP operating systems. As a result, our initial prototype pattern featured below was drawn from current applications running in Windows NT4 SP6a with the NTFS operating system. This "Typical Use" pattern was captured from an installation occupying about two gigabytes of disk space and represents an actual window of use by yours truly through a variety of light productivity applications. These programs include the various components of Microsoft's Office 2000, Internet Explorer 5.0, a telnet client, an FTP client, ICQ, and a small amount of the first-person shooter Half-Life: Counterstrike. RankDisk presents its results as an average of service times. In this case, "service time" equals the sum of the time required to access the requested data's position and the time it takes to transfer the data. Lower times indicate better performance.

IPEAK RankDisk - "Typical Use" Trace
Average Service Times in milliseconds (lower is better)
Western Digital Caviar WD1000BB-SE (100 GB ATA-100) - 1.26|
Western Digital Caviar WD1000BB (100 GB ATA-100) - 1.56|
Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 60 (60.0 GB ATA-100) - 1.71|
Seagate Barracuda ATA IV (80 GB ATA-100) - 1.74|
Quantum Fireball Plus AS (60.0 GB ATA-100) - 1.78|
Seagate Barracuda ATA IV (80 GB ATA-100) w/ AAM On - 1.84|

Though these results are drawn from a prototype trace (final traces will feature a more contemporary OS dealing with data spread over a larger capacity), relevant conclusions may nonetheless be made. Disabling AAM allows the 'Cuda IV to realize a small but significant 5% gain in performance. And in the case of the WD1000BB-SE, its quadrupled buffer propels it 21% ahead of the WD1000BB. The BB-SE's placing is so great that it's trails only the latest 15k RPM drives from Seagate and Fujitsu.

 Experimental IOMeter Indices...


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