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Why we choose Solidigm SSDs for Chillblast PCS?

  October 19, 2023

Why we choose Solidigm SSDs for Chillblast PCS?
 

Why we choose Solidigm SSDs for Chillblast PCS?

Who are Solidigm?

What happens when Intel decides they no longer want to make SSDs? Solidigm is the phoenix that rises from the ashes backed up by the SK Hynix umbrella. For those who don’t know, Solidigm is primarily made up of ex-Intel SSD engineers who, combined with many of the ex-Intel Rapid Storage Technology driver & software team have created a very special range of products by using their decade of experience in creating SSDs and other storage opimisations. They’ve kept the focus on the economical pricing and reliability that Intel SSDs were so well known for but moved the focus from low performance drives to pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. The key difference is that their focus is keenly pointed at performance that matters to the end user, so even though their headline figures (typically Sequential performance) aren’t breaking any new ground, behind the scenes, the drives are arguably the fastest drives on the market in the tasks that you’ll actually be using them for.

Technical Explanations

Sequential data is predictable data. This typically means large, single files. Examples of this would be a large video file encoded to .mp4 or .mkv etc, i.e. something 1GB or larger where the data is ordered, meaning there is a start and finish to the data. It could also include very large ‘raw’ files from photography/videography. Most users won’t be regularly interacting with these types of files, and those who are, typically, aren’t moving them from ultra fast drive to ultra fast drive regularly, meaning that sequential data is rarely, if ever, actually seen in the real world. The reason drives on the market use the Sequential read/write figures as headline marketing fields is because the numbers are big and generally consistent.

Random data is essentially everything else. By that I mean any kind of mixed workload of small, medium and large files where the drive is going to be jumping around the stored data to find stuff. This is the kind of workload that Hard Drives find extremely difficult and why SSDs are so popular as they can speed up this process. Examples of random data would be: Windows itself – the boot process almost exclusively relies upon random reading of data, as do Windows updates; Game installing and loading times as game textures are typically stored in separate files or bundles of textures but the data itself is random as you’re only loading a sub-set of the textures within a bundle; documents, pictures, most web browsing, etc. Pretty much 99% of what you do on your system is random read or writes of some sort.

Queue Depth you’ll see throughout this, put simply, it means how many things are trying to happen at the same time, as the more things you try to do the longer the queue gets. We test up to a queue depth of 32 but that’s unrealistic for a real world scenario (excluding HDDs and data centres) and typically you’ll see more like 2-8 QD in most usage and up to 16 for ‘heavy’ users. Typically, the higher the queue depth, the slower the drive will be regardless of the workload.

IOPS is basically a way of measuring the number of operations a drive can do each second, in some ways this can relate to queue depth as the more operations that can happen, the lower the queue will be. However, beyond about a hundred thousand this figure only really matters in a data centre and isn’t relevant to a human user.

Drive Specifications

Product Size Form Factor Interface Sequential Read Sequential Write Random Read Random Write Endurance Rating
P41 Plus 512GB M.2 2280 PCIe Gen 4 x4 NVMe 3500MB/s 1625MB/s 390K IOPS 540K IOPS 200 TBW
P41 Plus 1TB M.2 2280 PCIe Gen 4 x4 NVMe 4125MB/s 2950MB/s 390K IOPS 540K IOPS 400 TBW
P41 Plus 2TB M.2 2280 PCIe Gen 4 x4 NVMe 4125MB/s 3325MB/s 390K IOPS 540K IOPS 800 TBW
P44 Pro 512GB M.2 2280 PCIe Gen 4 x4 NVMe 7000MB/s 4700MB/s 1.4M IOPS 1.3M IOPS 500 TBW
P44 Pro 1TB M.2 2280 PCIe Gen 4 x4 NVMe 7000MB/s 6500MB/s 1.4M IOPS 1.3M IOPS 750 TBW
P44 Pro 2TB M.2 2280 PCIe Gen 4 x4 NVMe 7000MB/s 6500MB/s 1.4M IOPS 1.3M IOPS 1200 TBW

Performance Analysis

Product 1TB Solidigm P41 Plus 1TB Solidigm P44 Pro 1TB Samsung 980 Pro 2TB Crucial T700
Sequential Read (1MB/QD8/T1) 4130 7383 6912 12390
Sequential Read (1MB/QD1/T1) 2969 6278 4349 9590
Random Read (4KB/QD32/T16) 835 1152 840 847
Random Read (4KB/QD1/T1) 87 89 95 99
Sequential Write (1MB/QD8/T1) 2969 6520 4948 11839
Sequential Write (1MB/QD1/T1) 2890 5464 4477 10293
Random Write (4KB/QD32/T16) 1052 1110 808 680
Random Write (4KB/QD1/T1) 392 395 280 374
Price (*at time of writing) £52.26 £85.70 £89.32 £354.33
(1TB=£192.43)
Diablo IV – Game Install 00:12:11 00:12:07 00:12:12 00:12:09
Diablo IV – Save Load 00:00:12.9 00:00:12.0 00:00:11.9 00:00:12.4
Remnant II – Game Install 00:10:33 00:10:35 00:10:38 00:10:36
Remnant II – Save Load 00:00:07.4 00:00:07.5 00:00:07.3 00:00:07.4

 

As you can see, the P41 Plus’ Sequential performance isn’t anything special, it would be easy to dismiss this drive based upon this figure, however it would be a massive mistake to do so. The Random read and write performance tells the real story here and you can see, with the Solidigm driver & software installed, it outperforms the Samsung 980 Pro and Crucial T700 drives that are significantly more expensive than it in most of the tests. This was reproduced in real world testing too with Game Install and Loading times being effectively identical to the more expensive drives.

The P44 Pro on the other hand, has competitive Sequential performance thanks to its faster NAND but yet again the Random Read/Write performance is ahead of the competition thanks to the fantastic driver Solidigm have engineered. Once again, in real world testing, the drive unsurprisingly performed in the same league as the more expensive drives.

Conclusions

The Solidigm SSDs are a really exciting prospect thanks to the engineering technology behind the drives. Their price to performance is incredible and the commitment to focusing on the performance that matters to consumers is something that truly hit home with us here at Chillblast. For a company to buck the industry trend to focus solely on sequential performance figures and instead start showcasing performance in more random data sets, which is most of what an actual user will do, is to be commended. When talking about a more typical user workload, they’re statistically outperforming the high rollers in the space, including the Crucial T700 that has the fastest sequential speeds on the market right now, which is very impressive. In real world testing the drives performed identically, so game load & install times were identical (within margin of error) even with the P41 Plus when compared to the T700 that is ~4 times the price.

Since launching the drives Solidigm have made a big splash in the industry, impressing Level1Tech’s in the YouTube space as well as high praise from the likes of TechPowerUp and KitGuru amongst others. If you’d like a more technical discussion of the technology, Anandtech also have a nice write up about the drives.

 
 

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