Why you should use the Intel H67/P67 SATA 6G controller
We mentioned it and warned you about it in the introduction already, but when you go for such a high performance SSD, you need to choose the proper SATA 6G controller for it as well.
Pretty much all H67/P67 and future motherboards will have two SATA 6G controllers, one is 6G native from the Intel chipset (two ports), and optionally you can connect (if the motherboard has it) a Sata 6G controller from Marvel. That last controller does not have the processing power for such high performing products like the one tested today. Next to that the Marvel controller is plugged into one PCIe lane. Legacy PCIe 1.x - offers 250MB/s per lane and the PCIe 2.0 standard offers 500MB/s per lane. In theory that should be enough, however the controller itself needs to be capable enough as well of course. The Marvel controller is using a single 1x PCIe link on pretty much any H67/P67 based motherboard.
Now before we begin, we verified and made very sure that both host controllers are setup at SATA 6G properly, also all tests have been performed in AHCI mode.
Let's run a couple of tests and explore Vertex 3 PRO SSD performance on both the 6G controllers from Intel and Marvel, and again this additional marvel controller is a solution you'll find typical for any modern P67/H67 motherboard.
Atto Disk Benchmark
One of the finest tools available to measure storage performance is ATTO. I love it to death as it is so reliable and produces such accurate results. The great thing about ATTO is that we can test with predefined block sizes. So we can test with a 32MB sequence of 4KB files, yet also 32MB in 1MB files. This gives us an excellent scope of overall performance with small and large files.
ATTO Read performance
As you can see in READ performance there's just so much less peak bandwidth available on the Marvel 9128 SATA III controller. Still this is nothing (yet) to be ashamed of. Let's have a look at write performance.
ATTO Write performance
Well, as you can see the Marvel 9128 SATA III controller performs HORRIBLE. Now in all fairness this might be a bug on the motherboard. But the prognosis is seriously not looking good thus far.
PCMark Vantage HDD test suite
PCMark vantage has a very good test suite to benchmark storage performance. The software will look at tasks you normally perform with your PC and will try to measure what kind of an effect that has on your user experience by testing eight different segments, stressing the storage unit.
Windows Vista startup
HDD1 - Spyware is very common on systems without protection against it, letting Windows Defender scan & protect your system is recommended.
HDD2 - Streaming data from an HDD in games allows for massive worlds and riveting non-stop action.
HDD3 - Importing digital photos to Windows Photo Gallery is where a high performance HDD shines.
HDD4 - Starting Windows Vista is a rather demanding task for the storage device, but a fast HDD will notably decrease the loading time.
Again we see a big performance drop using the Marvel 9128 SATA III controller here.
Media Player Music Adding
HDD5 - Home video editing with Windows Movie Maker can be very time-consuming unless you have a high performance HDD.
HDD6 - Windows Media Center with a high performance HDD can handle simultaneous video recording, time-shifting, and streaming to an Extender for Windows Media Center, such as Xbox 360.
HDD7 - Cataloguing your music library is a breeze for fast and powerful HDDs.
HDD8 - Starting various applications can take a long time unless you have a high performance HDD.
And also in the last set of Vantage tests we see the Marvel 9128 SATA III controller cave in completely.
SiSoft Sandra HD test
Another synthetic test with Sandra, peak read performance is OKAY'ish for the Marvel 9128 SATA III controller but the write performance is way off base.
HD Tune Pro 4.5
HD Tune Pro is a hard disk utility and benchmarking utility for Windows. This tiny application allows you to scan your hard drives in search for errors or take a deeper look at several performance figures coming from the storage unit.
One last test with HD Tune Pro - Above native SATA 6G performance deriving from the Intel P67 chipset.
And here we have the Vertex 3 PRO connected to the Marvel 9128 SATA 6G controller.
The above tests have all been conducted on the MSI P67H Big Bang Marshal, the most high-end P67 motherboard currently available.
So we are a bit worried that there is a bug in the motherboard with the MArvel controller as the write performance really doesn;t make any sense. We have informed MSI and their engineers will look into it. But even at READ performance ,which seems 100% spot on, the performance of the Marvel controller is a good chunk slower.
So concluding on this little extra controller snippet, though fast in READ performance, any platform using the Marvel 9128 or 9130 will see much lower performance scores as the Marvell controllers use a PCI-Express Gen2 x1 lane interface to the system which restricts performance and is simply worse as processing against lowering down performance.
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