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HDD/SSD Discussion Thread - (WAS: is the cache size that important now?)

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Alain Kinsella
#1 - 2011-10-03 22:54:14 UTC  |  Edited by: Alain Kinsella
EDIT - Question answered, and problem fixed (post 20 - cannot put the link today) but still interested in any generic HDD discussion - including the new SSDs.



[Got stricken with the 'post eating' bug, that needs to get fixed badly CCP. *sigh*]

TLDR question - is a 16 Meg cache drive really that much slower than a 32 Meg one?

Both drive types are Seagate Barracuda. Current is 7200.12 (1 TB, 32 Meg cache), plan to replace with a pair of 7200.10 (320 Gig, 16 Meg cache) that I had lying around.

re-install of win-7 on the older drives seem sluggish. Its not a huge show-stopper (so far), but would like any input before I get too far into installing everything. Both checked out 100% clean in SeaTools before starting. And I'm willing to go get another, smaller 32 Meg cache disk - just wanted to use what I had already if possible.

Current disk I want to leave around for a few months, just in case. A Ghost image is not possible - Ghost not working is one of the reasons driving this reinstall. *sigh*

Thanks in advance all...

"The Meta Game does not stop at the game. Ever."

Currently Retired / Semi-Casual (pending changes to RL concerns).

SpaceSquirrels
#2 - 2011-10-04 02:21:49 UTC
I forget. Honestly though just google speed times for HDD's see what the seek read, read write times are for both. But cache is the fastest type of memory so...
Sir Substance
Sebiestor Tribe
Minmatar Republic
#3 - 2011-10-04 03:32:02 UTC
I've never paid attention to HDD cache sizes, ever.

A PC is only as fast as it slowest component. Your HDD cache size is going to have a miniscule effect on your overall system speed. I'd only be looking at that if I've already fussed over ram timings and airflow dynamics in my case, both of which will have more impact on system performance.

If you are certain it is the drive that is running slowly, there are several things I could check and consider before I look at cache sizes, and the first is whether the drives are getting the full voltage they require. If you are using a cheap PSU, or have lots of things connected to the same rail on an expensive one using lots of splitters, it is possible your drive is not receiving enough power to run at 7200RPM, and is instead rotating at a slower speed.

Check that the motherboard is not known for having ****** sata controllers (if you are using IDE, that's your problem).

Finally, consider getting a separate drive, preferably a solid state drive, for your operating system.

Only after you have exhausted all these things should you start worrying over something as trivial as hard drive cache sizes.

The beatings will continue until posting improves. -Magnus Cortex

Official Eve Online changelist: Togglable PvP. - Jordanna Bauer

Cpt Placeholder
School of Applied Knowledge
Caldari State
#4 - 2011-10-04 05:38:02 UTC
It's normal and probably not because of the cache. Bigger disks tend to be faster because of the bigger platters.
leviticus ander
The Scope
Gallente Federation
#5 - 2011-10-04 05:45:12 UTC
as has been stated, google the 2 drives and compare them. to answer your question, yes cache does affect the drives performance.
if you can, get an SSD, they are well worth it.
if you are going SSD, it's also worth it to get SATA3 if you have that on your motherboard.
Headerman
Native Freshfood
Minmatar Republic
#6 - 2011-10-04 06:30:27 UTC
There should be no great difference at all. Maybe the 16 meg version would be very slightly alower, you'd only notice the difference with massive and frequent file transfers

Australian Fanfest Event https://forums.eveonline.com/default.aspx?g=posts&find=unread&t=90062

Remarka Belle Locus
University of Caille
Gallente Federation
#7 - 2011-10-04 17:43:29 UTC
Sir Substance wrote:
I've never paid attention to HDD cache sizes, ever.

A PC is only as fast as it slowest component. Your HDD cache size is going to have a miniscule effect on your overall system speed. I'd only be looking at that if I've already fussed over ram timings and airflow dynamics in my case, both of which will have more impact on system performance.


Typically, the slowest component is the hard drive. The biggest bottleneck in most people's computers is the data transfer rate from the hard drives. Maybe you should start paying attention to that component?

OP: If you have the money, get a SSD. Worth every penny. I still use traditional platter drives for my storage needs, but I load all my apps, the OS, and other frequently accessed data on the SSD. It's one of those things that you don't notice until you use it, and then you use someone else's computer and you're amazed at the difference. Like the first time you used a dual monitor setup, you don't understand how you worked before you had it.
Zagam
Caldari Provisions
Caldari State
#8 - 2011-10-04 18:25:05 UTC
Part of your problem is that you're using a Seagate HDD. I've had them before. I've also had them fail - often. I use only WD now - one of them has been running strong for 7-1/2 years (I keep it around to see how long I can keep it going - all of its data is backed up).

And the increase in speed from 16 to 32 is negligible. You most likely won't notice it.
Alain Kinsella
#9 - 2011-10-06 01:11:20 UTC
Thanks for the input, and I'm tempted to +1 Sir Substance for creative trolling (was a Volunteer Moderator on the old Second Life forums, so not much fazes me here).

Regarding the various answers:

- Both drive specs were already looked up in NewEgg (was easier as I bought both there). They're effectively identical except for actual size and cache. Motherboard is a decent model (for a Q6600 CPU, which I've maxed now and then, and all SATA ports are 3gig).

- For the Seagate/WD comparison, I've owned both over the past 10-15 years. No differences that I've ever noticed. Did have one Seagate fail in that time, my only failure, but was replaced on warranty (and is why I have SeaTools). I suspect this is going to matter more on when you got the drive and which company was bleeding edge at the time.

- OK, now for the SSD guys - do *any* of you have a PCIe-based disk (such as an ioDrive)? If I'm going to get an SSD, I think PCIe drives are the best way to get the best performance out of one. Our company was part of the Solaris x64 beta for FusionIO, so I know firsthand how fast these are (and still poking them about SPARC drivers - we'd be able to get rid of an FC-based RamDisk for the same cost as two Sun FC card).

Unfortunately I'll need to wait for a new mainboard - using my 4x PCIe will disable everything else - including the PCI card I'm using with a spare network card.

Anyway, I'm not going to worry about the disk speed then. Back to the re-install on Friday. Lol

"The Meta Game does not stop at the game. Ever."

Currently Retired / Semi-Casual (pending changes to RL concerns).

Taedrin
Virtues Corporation
#10 - 2011-10-06 01:23:57 UTC  |  Edited by: Taedrin
SpaceSquirrels wrote:
I forget. Honestly though just google speed times for HDD's see what the seek read, read write times are for both. But cache is the fastest type of memory so...


Cache isn't a type of memory, it is technique for reducing read/write times by storing frequently accessed data somewhere convenient to access. A cache can be implemented in hardware (as with hard drives) or in software (as is the case with databases).

Hard drive caches are almost EXCLUSIVELY flash memory, which is much faster than the hard drive itself, but is still much slower than ROM, SRAM or DRAM.

EDIT: Due to the way hardware caches work, larger caches are actually slower. For hard drives, the sweet spot for cache sizes are between 16 and 32MB, depending upon the hard drive.
SpaceSquirrels
#11 - 2011-10-06 02:01:03 UTC
Oh for heavens sake you knew what I meant... cache memory is the fastest type because it's damned near always sram which is why they stick it on cpus for quick access time. (Ok one of the reasons) Come on now you gonna throw my balls over the fire for every explicit detail not described?

As for the PCI E stuff I believe the only SDD's with that are enterprise or soon to come out those combo SDD and mechanical drives, but all those are way way more expensive. I'm not sure of the data rates either. 400 to 500 compared to the 150 -300 in normal slc drives. (Could be wrong so look up the times again)
Nova Fox
Novafox Shipyards
#12 - 2011-10-06 02:08:40 UTC
currently my slowest component is the cpu according to the readouts, the HDD outperforms. Then again its a core 2 duo the rest of the guts are mostly made in the i7 core era.

Dust 514's CPM 1 Iron Wolf Saber Eve mail me about Dust 514 issues.

Alain Kinsella
#13 - 2011-10-06 04:00:04 UTC  |  Edited by: Alain Kinsella
SpaceSquirrels wrote:
As for the PCI E stuff I believe the only SDD's with that are enterprise or soon to come out those combo SDD and mechanical drives, but all those are way way more expensive. I'm not sure of the data rates either. 400 to 500 compared to the 150 -300 in normal slc drives. (Could be wrong so look up the times again)


Actually OCZ is selling a low end model (about 60 Gig) for ~$200, which ain't too bad. They're giving a 3-yr guarantee before the drive shrinks.

The other main contender, FusionIO, is definitely enterprise. They give a 5-yr guarantee, but I heard that's because they mirror every single memory chip. The low-end 'consumer' model is something like 80 Gig for $1000 when I checked last year. That's still a LOT cheaper than a 64 Gig RamSan-300 (a 'true' DDR Ramdisk), while being about twice as fast. We'd have replaced those ages ago except they talk to Sun SPARC systems. P

"The Meta Game does not stop at the game. Ever."

Currently Retired / Semi-Casual (pending changes to RL concerns).

Taedrin
Virtues Corporation
#14 - 2011-10-06 04:24:17 UTC
SpaceSquirrels wrote:
Oh for heavens sake you knew what I meant... cache memory is the fastest type because it's damned near always sram which is why they stick it on cpus for quick access time. (Ok one of the reasons) Come on now you gonna throw my balls over the fire for every explicit detail not described?

As for the PCI E stuff I believe the only SDD's with that are enterprise or soon to come out those combo SDD and mechanical drives, but all those are way way more expensive. I'm not sure of the data rates either. 400 to 500 compared to the 150 -300 in normal slc drives. (Could be wrong so look up the times again)


Except that HDD caches are flash memory, not SRAM. 32MB of SRAM would probably be quite expensive considering it is only a single part of the entire package.
Myfanwy Heimdal
Heimdal Freight and Manufacture Inc
#15 - 2011-10-06 10:47:14 UTC
I've just been given a 15,000 rpm disk from a grateful client.

Not sure in which machine to put it because, ideally, it would have to be a system disk and I don't fancy installing XP all over again...

Pam:  I wonder what my name means in Welsh?Nessa: Why?

Cpt Placeholder
School of Applied Knowledge
Caldari State
#16 - 2011-10-06 12:38:44 UTC
Taedrin wrote:
Hard drive caches are almost EXCLUSIVELY flash memory

Citation needed. I very much doubt that. If my hdd caches were flash they would've been broken long ago.

Also, if cache isn't a "type" of memory then ROM isn't a "type" of memory either :P
AlleyKat
The Unwanted.
#17 - 2011-10-06 15:30:32 UTC
This is going to form part of my new build next year.

900 mb/s, 1TB, PCI-e - ticks all my boxes

AK

This space for rent.

Taedrin
Virtues Corporation
#18 - 2011-10-07 03:29:16 UTC  |  Edited by: Taedrin
Cpt Placeholder wrote:
Taedrin wrote:
Hard drive caches are almost EXCLUSIVELY flash memory

Citation needed. I very much doubt that. If my hdd caches were flash they would've been broken long ago.

Also, if cache isn't a "type" of memory then ROM isn't a "type" of memory either :P


Sorry, was trying to post this earlier but forums seemed to be down at the time.

I was getting mixed up between Hybrid Drives and SSDs which use flash memory. Normal hard drives use *DRAM* for their cache, not flash. Please note that DRAM is still much cheaper, and is considerably slower than SRAM. SRAM is one of the most expensive memory types out there and is only used for L1 CPU caches and register memory (and perhaps you see a little bit of it in L2 caches too). Note that while the SRAM chip I linked above costs only $5, it's has just 64k of memory. I *was* able to find a 16mbit SRAM chip for $13, however the access time is much worse. That's over 1 USD per megabyte. A 32MB SRAM cache would cost over $32 - not including the costs for any other hard drive parts. And if you use the good stuff, it could probably cost more than most hard drives too.

And ROM *is* a type of memory - in fact it is the simplest type of memory there is. Technically called "Bit masked ROM", plain ROM chips are simply hardwired at the time of fabrication with the memory addresses permanently wired to a high voltage for "1" and wire to ground for "0". ROM is the simplest and fastest type of memory. It is also the cheapest when ordered in mass quantities. Of course ROM has the downside of requiring you to retool your fabrication process if you want to change the contents of your ROM chip.

Eventually ROM gave way to PROM - Programmable ROM. It worked similarly to ROM, except that each memory address was wired with a fuse, which could be blown/burned out to program the ROM with data after fabrication. This allowed the PROM chip to be programmed after fabrication - greatly simplifying fabrication processes.

In time, PROM was suitable to the not entirely read-only EPROM and EEPROM memory types, which eventually lead to the flash memory that we know and love today.

I apologize if I ramble, but computers are my passion.
Sir Substance
Sebiestor Tribe
Minmatar Republic
#19 - 2011-10-07 03:54:26 UTC
Remarka Belle Locus wrote:
Sir Substance wrote:
I've never paid attention to HDD cache sizes, ever.

A PC is only as fast as it slowest component. Your HDD cache size is going to have a miniscule effect on your overall system speed. I'd only be looking at that if I've already fussed over ram timings and airflow dynamics in my case, both of which will have more impact on system performance.


Typically, the slowest component is the hard drive. The biggest bottleneck in most people's computers is the data transfer rate from the hard drives. Maybe you should start paying attention to that component?

This is about relative performance gains, not absolute performance. You are right, the transfer speeds of modern magnetic hard drives are not very impressive, and probably the biggest bottleneck. That doesn't change between a 16mb or 32mb cache. They are both still **** slow.

You advocate swapping a 16mb cache drive for a 32mb cache drive as a system performance upgrade? You are bad and should feel bad.

The beatings will continue until posting improves. -Magnus Cortex

Official Eve Online changelist: Togglable PvP. - Jordanna Bauer

Alain Kinsella
#20 - 2011-10-20 12:30:48 UTC
Quick update - The two 300 Gig drives were failing when doing high write I/O to them (they actually dropped from the SATA port), so were written off. Bad controller board probably.

I ended up getting a Seagate Momentus XT 'Hybrid SSD Drive' (500 Gig). It was either that or the 300 Gig VelociRaptor, and the Seagate was $60 less for 200 more Gig and almost the same access times.

Updating the topic now, since I'd like to continue with any generic HDD discussion; Some of the points made here have been interesting - thank you.

"The Meta Game does not stop at the game. Ever."

Currently Retired / Semi-Casual (pending changes to RL concerns).

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