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Tech tips: The search for hard drive speeds!


Oicu812
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I am doing research on hard drive speeds, and seeing just how fast I can get drives to read and write data.  Faster loading times for regular software, faster games.

 

I had to replace my old computer which had a major hardware issue.  It was freezing up constantly, even after I underclocked it by 50%.  

Because of the chip and tech shortage right now, it's darned near impossible to buy a top tier video card.  The only option I had was to purchase a "pre-built" machine with the bones that I wanted, i.e. the right motherboard, CPU, case, and most importantly the GPU / Video card.  Ram and other small parts are easily replaceable, which I have done.

 

So I said goodbye to the old i7 4770k with dual GTX 770's,  and hello to my little friend:   

 

 

Processor :: AMD Ryzen 9 5900X Processor 24 cpu cores (24X 3.7GHz/64MB L3 Cache)
Memory :: 16GB [8GB x 2] DDR4-3200MHz RGB     Replaced with 128GB [32GB x 4] DDR4-3600MHz ARGB  (more on this and why this much is needed in a bit)
Storage :: 1TB M.2 NVMe SSD
Video Card :: GeForce RTX 3080 - 10GB GDDR6X (VR-Ready)
Motherboard :: ASUS PRIME X570-PRO ES W/ WiFi

 

 
So on with the story.    As everyone knows, the bottlenecks in any computer system have always been around the storage solutions. 
 
Floppy disks gave way to hard drives, then on to SSD's, and recently there came the M.2 drives, each generation getting much faster than the one prior.  I was once given a 1.5TB high voltage SCSI array (high end server hardware!) directly out of a business server room.  It had 15 drives in a RAID 5 configuration to reach that storage size.  I took it home happily, because 1.5TB hard drives weren't even available in the mid 1990's!  I ran it for a couple of months, and then realized that the array cost me over $200 a month in electric bills.  All by itself.  Buhbye.
 
A while back I had purchased 5 Samsung Pro 256GB SSD drives (solid state, no spinning platters) from a friend on the forum.  I decided to add them into the new machine as a RAID 5 striped array.   All 5 drives are used as one "logical" drive, with each one only having to read and write 1/5th of the data.  This means that you can read and write up to 5 times faster than a single drive on a SATA6 port (this varies in the real world, but is a good starting point in describing a raid drive).
 
Additionally, I added a 4TB old style hard drive with spinning platters for data and some other items that will be shown below.
 
And now let's get on with the speed testing, and I will show you the results from the slowest to the fastest (The last item is an eye opener, no doubt!).
 
 
 
First up, I tested an old USB 2.0 30GB thumb drive on the new system:   (Here are what the codes mean: SEQ means sequential reads/writes, RND means random reads/writes, 1M is 1MB file size for the reads/writes, RND4k means random reads/writes of 4k in size)
 
Speed-Test-USB2-28-GB.jpg
 
Traditional hard drives until recently could only read and write at 50MB per second, and that is only if you had a decent one...  A USB 2 drive is about half that speed, as you can see.
 
 
The next drive up is a new USB2 1TB stick, which is worse than the older one above:
 
Speed-Test-USB2-1-TB.jpg
 
 
Next in line is the 4TB hard drive:   (with the advent of  SATA6, hard drive speeds more than doubled!)
 
Speed-Test-4-GB-HDD.jpg
 
 
Now here comes some better speed.  The M.2 NVMe drive that came with the system:    (M.2 NVMe is a small board, not much bigger than a thumb drive that attaches on top of newer motherboards.  They have a direct interface with the CPU, cutting out all of the traditional slowdowns by running all of the data through the motherboard chipsets)
 
Speed-Test-M-2.jpg
 
As you can see, the data transfer rates are now in the GB per second range (1,000 x MB), instead of merely measuring in sub 150MB speeds.  This is over 20 times faster than the old style hard drives! 
  
 
Here are the numbers for the SSD RAID 5 array.  Better than the M.2 NVME, but not by a whole lot:
  
Speed-Test-Raid5-SSDs.jpg
 
Still, 2.6GB of sustained transfer speeds is amazing.
 
 
Now, as a real world test, I copied an 80GB file from the M.2 NVMe drive to the raid array:
 
Speed-Test-Real-World-C-to-G.jpg
 
1GB per second (a real world 1 Gigabyte transfer rate is kinda mind blowing, as the "modern" wired networks only transfer 1 gigabit per second!)
 
 
 
Now comes the biggest, baddest disk transfer speeds I have ever seen!   There is a piece of software available that allows you to portion out the RAM on your computer, making it into a functional "hard drive".  It's called RAMDisk, and if you have enough RAM on your system, you can utilize it for some amazing storage and transfer speeds.  This is why I spent the extra $550 dollars on the ram upgrade, and $21 for the personal use RAMDisk.
 
 
 
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Here's the weird thing:  I purchased the RAMDisk Extreme upgrade, which supposedly raises your RAM drive allocation to 64GB.  It did not limit me to that size, but instead allows me to use as much of my RAM as I like.  I don't think that they intended this, and I sure as hell am not going to tell them they screwed it up! 
 
I apportioned a hard drive in RAM that is 80GB of storage, leaving my system with 48GB of usable RAM for the operating system.   It doesn't sound like much, but I can load 6 or 7 of my favorite games on it, and enjoy the fastest machine possible for my budget.  Anyone familiar with computers knows that your RAM disappears when you shut your computer off.  This software writes all new or changed data to a file on an actual disk drive, backing up the RAMDisk in real time.  When your system starts, it automatically loads the drive back into your RAM.
 

 
Here are the speeds that I achieved today with the new RAMDisk:
  
Speed-Test-Ram-Drive.jpg
 
14.4 and 12 Gigabytes per second transfer speeds?  Are you freakin' kidding me??  Now my mind really was blown.
 
 
I loaded several of my favorite games on the new ram drive.  Portal 1 and 2.  Half Life 2.  Quake 2 RTX.  Pinball Arcade.  They loaded in a blink of an eye.  Even level changes were darned near instantaneous.  Just incredible.  I also moved my "Temporary Internet Files" to a folder on this drive to speed up web browsing.
 
 
Anyway, just thought you would like to see some real world options, so that the next time you are either building or buying a system you can make more informed decisions.
 
Oicu
 
 
 
 
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1 hour ago, Seadog said:

Very cool.  Thanks for explaining all that.

 

You're quite welcome.  I was doing this for my own enjoyment and information, so I thought I would share it with the world.

 

If you are in the market, I would buy a new PC soon.  The supply chain is breaking down, and costs are going up.  The base machine I purchased 3 weeks ago was $2,600. 

 

In those 3 weeks, the same machine has gone up to $3,300.  Ouch.

 

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11 minutes ago, Oicu812 said:

 

You're quite welcome.  I was doing this for my own enjoyment and information, so I thought I would share it with the world.

 

If you are in the market, I would buy a new PC soon.  The supply chain is breaking down, and costs are going up.  The base machine I purchased 3 weeks ago was $2,600. 

 

In those 3 weeks, the same machine has gone up to $3,300.  Ouch.

 

I will stick to a Amazon fire tablet..

I have Chase tech before... no thanks... by the time you buy it..

 

it becomes ...it's To late this model is out of date...

 

 

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6 minutes ago, dirtmudd said:

I will stick to a Amazon fire tablet..

I have Chase tech before... no thanks... by the time you buy it..

 

it becomes ...it's To late this model is out of date...

 

 

I agree, and it all comes down to what you want to do.  Code developer, game developer or user?  You might need a machine at this level.  I am a code and automation developer for some of the largest companies globally.

 

If all you do is browse the web and watch videos, a tablet is perfect.  We have both, and use both daily.

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My newest PC is an thrown away Dell workstation. I have $100 invested in it.Two 6 core xeons (24 threads) and 64G of RAM. Can't hear it run and it overkill for what I do. My eprsonal opinion is that unless you are making money with a computer, there's no reason to chase down that rabbit hole.

 

BUT, enjoy you new computer.

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I guess I should update my 386 with DOS 5.1.....

 

 

Didn't the old systems allow you to allocate hard drive space to become extra RAM?

 

I too have a throw away.  Paid $100 for it.  Does what I need but every now & then it would be nice if it were a little faster.  Now, my WORK provided laptop???  UGH....  that thing bottlenecks on me but, nothing I can do about it.

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52 minutes ago, Coytee said:

Didn't the old systems allow you to allocate hard drive space to become extra RAM?

Actually, you did it the other way, as drives were so slow. At boot up you would create a drive in memory and copy the program into that. Memory access was way faster than drive access.

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On 11/18/2021 at 11:36 AM, dirtmudd said:

I will stick to a Amazon fire tablet..

I have Chase tech before... no thanks... by the time you buy it..

 

it becomes ...it's To late this model is out of date...

 

 

 

This is true if you buy a mid or lower grade machine.  Performance will drop off as software installation and updates start building a lot of bloat.  I used to buy $599 computers, too, but the last few times, I went with the latest high performance CPU, plenty of RAM and an SSD.  I get years out of them.  

 

Intel i-7's have been out a good, long time, and they are still fast in relation to almost everything else.

 

I am sometimes tempted to get an i-9, but I can wait.  IMO, $1,200 buys a really good computer.  Avid gamers will want much more.

 

 

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12 hours ago, Jeff Matthews said:

 

This is true if you buy a mid or lower grade machine.  Performance will drop off as software installation and updates start building a lot of bloat.  I used to buy $599 computers, too, but the last few times, I went with the latest high performance CPU, plenty of RAM and an SSD.  I get years out of them.  

 

Intel i-7's have been out a good, long time, and they are still fast in relation to almost everything else.

 

I am sometimes tempted to get an i-9, but I can wait.  IMO, $1,200 buys a really good computer.  Avid gamers will want much more.

 

 

 

Wise words.

 

My goal with this machine was to "spec out" with an eye towards lasting a decade or more.  I doubt that ten years from now I will still feel the need to play the latest and greatest, and to be honest this machine should be good for the rest of my life (at my age and level of health).  Future income can go towards picking up those Klipsch pieces that I definitely want to experience.

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1 hour ago, Oicu812 said:

 

Wise words.

 

My goal with this machine was to "spec out" with an eye towards lasting a decade or more.  I doubt that ten years from now I will still feel the need to play the latest and greatest, and to be honest this machine should be good for the rest of my life (at my age and level of health).  Future income can go towards picking up those Klipsch pieces that I definitely want to experience.

 

I am intrigued by the RAM drive, but I know little about its stability.  I know if you shut off the machine, RAM is toast.  I know they must have safety features to prevent data loss, but how vulnerable is a RAM drive to data loss, despite these safety features?

 

I do legal work, which includes a lot of drafting and commenting on documents every day.  An unlucky "blip" for me would not be good.

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10 hours ago, Jeff Matthews said:

 

I am intrigued by the RAM drive, but I know little about its stability.  I know if you shut off the machine, RAM is toast.  I know they must have safety features to prevent data loss, but how vulnerable is a RAM drive to data loss, despite these safety features?

 

I do legal work, which includes a lot of drafting and commenting on documents every day.  An unlucky "blip" for me would not be good.

 

The software actually stores all of the data to another drive in real time, in the background.  Make sure your machine is on a battery UPS type system so that a brown out or power loss doesn't affect your desktop.

 

I set up the ram drive to store it's own image file on the 5 SSD drive array.  That drive array is faster than everything else in my system, even the directly connected M.2 drive.  So the image file is continuously updates in real time.  In theory, nothing is lost.  I pulled the power on the machine as a test, and everything was good when it came back up.

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10 hours ago, Oicu812 said:

 

The software actually stores all of the data to another drive in real time, in the background.  Make sure your machine is on a battery UPS type system so that a brown out or power loss doesn't affect your desktop.

 

I set up the ram drive to store it's own image file on the 5 SSD drive array.  That drive array is faster than everything else in my system, even the directly connected M.2 drive.  So the image file is continuously updates in real time.  In theory, nothing is lost.  I pulled the power on the machine as a test, and everything was good when it came back up.

What about if the machine freezes, and the only thing you can do is to reboot?

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16 minutes ago, Jeff Matthews said:

What about if the machine freezes, and the only thing you can do is to reboot?

 

That's what I tried to simulate by pulling power on it.  It worked just fine after dropping power in the middle of running a program.

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