AnandTech Storage Bench - The Destroyer

Our AnandTech Storage Bench tests are traces (recordings) of real-world IO patterns that are replayed onto the drives under test. The Destroyer is the longest and most difficult phase of our consumer SSD test suite. For more details, please see the overview of our 2021 Consumer SSD Benchmark Suite.

ATSB The Destroyer
Average Data Rate
Average Latency Average Read Latency Average Write Latency
99th Percentile Latency 99th Percentile Read Latency 99th Percentile Write Latency
Energy Usage

For SATA drives, the Samsung 870 EVOs turn in class-leading scores on almost all of the performance metrics. But these improvements are all marginal at best; the SATA interface bottleneck almost completely levels the playing field. The small improvements to read latency brought by the 870 EVO pale in comparison to what is achieved by even entry-level NVMe SSDs.

In stark contrast to the performance numbers, the 870 EVOs turn out to be the most power-hungry TLC drives in this bunch: they sacrifice some of the efficiency improvements the 860 EVO provided, even though drives like the SK hynix Gold S31 have been able to deliver significant improvement on this.

AnandTech Storage Bench - Heavy

The ATSB Heavy test is much shorter overall than The Destroyer, but is still fairly write-intensive. We run this test twice: first on a mostly-empty drive, and again on a completely full drive to show the worst-case performance.

ATSB Heavy
Average Data Rate
Average Latency Average Read Latency Average Write Latency
99th Percentile Latency 99th Percentile Read Latency 99th Percentile Write Latency
Energy Usage

The scores for the Heavy test paint much the same picture as for The Destroyer. The full-drive test runs additionally show that the worst-case performance of the mainstream SATA SSDs is still superior to many entry-level NVMe SSDs, even though the NVMe SSDs significantly outperform SATA for any more normal workload.

AnandTech Storage Bench - Light

The ATSB Light test represents ordinary everyday usage that doesn't put much strain on a SSD. Low queue depths, short bursts of IO and a short overall test duration mean this should be easy for any SSD. But running it a second time on a full drive shows how even storage-light workloads can be affected by SSD performance degradation.

ATSB Light
Average Data Rate
Average Latency Average Read Latency Average Write Latency
99th Percentile Latency 99th Percentile Read Latency 99th Percentile Write Latency
Energy Usage

On the Light test, the measurable but imperceptible performance advantages of the 870 EVOs over other SATA drives have basically disappeared. The read latency scores on the full-drive test runs may be a tiny bit better than the 860 EVO, but the only scores that have clearly shifted with this new generation are the energy consumption figures that have creeped up.

PCMark 10 Storage Benchmarks

The PCMark 10 Storage benchmarks are IO trace based tests similar to our own ATSB tests. For more details, please see the overview of our 2021 Consumer SSD Benchmark Suite.

PCMark 10 Storage Traces
Full System Drive Overall Score Average Bandwidth Average Latency
Quick System Drive Overall Score Average Bandwidth Average Latency
Data Drive Overall Score Average Bandwidth Average Latency

The Full System Drive test from the PCMark 10 Storage suite shows a much wider spread of performance scores among SATA drives than our ATSB traces, but also a much smaller advantage for the NVMe drives. Judging by this test, the 870 EVO offers a small but real improvement to performance compared to earlier SATA drives. The 4TB 870 QVO also scores quite well since it benefits from the same controller and has enough SLC cache to almost match the performance of the 4TB 870 EVO.

The subset of tests included in the Quick System Drive and Data Drive benchmarks show a more level playing field among SATA SSDs, and a greater advantage for NVMe drives. Since we run these tests before the Full System Drive test, each drive is closer to its fresh out-of-the-box state, which helps these tests get closer to showing the theoretical peak performance of a drive.

Introduction Synthetic Tests: Basic IO Patterns
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  • Eliadbu - Wednesday, February 17, 2021 - link

    It kills me that there are no U.2 drives that I'm aware of aimed for consumer market, all you can find are enterprise oriented drives, plus other than select motherboards few have U.2 connector and you then need to use some silly m.2 adapters. I wished that U.2 would have replaced SATA (at least moderately) but I don't see this happening anytime soon in consumer space. Reply
  • Jorgp2 - Wednesday, February 17, 2021 - link

    SAS connectors provide power and up to 4x PCI-E lanes. Reply
  • Kevin G - Wednesday, February 17, 2021 - link

    At the time SATA was developed, it made sense. Times of course have changed with SATA now feeling more of a legacy technology. It'll continue to hang around as the protocols it was built upon (AHCI etc.) are present in legacy OS where as NVMe support may not be there. Similarly there is no support for removable media though leveraging USB for that now is trivial. Main barrier for the formal death of SATA is still cost as NVMe still carries a slight premium over SATA and consumer systems have limited PCIe connectivity. Reply
  • Glaurung - Wednesday, February 17, 2021 - link

    The main barrier for the formal death of SATA are hundreds of millions of perfectly usable older systems that don't support NVME or have limited NVME slots. Reply
  • Qasar - Wednesday, February 17, 2021 - link

    " Main barrier for the formal death of SATA is still cost as NVMe still carries a slight premium over SATA and consumer systems have limited PCIe connectivity. "

    i think you might be also forgetting the aspect of the space requirements of the nvme connector as well.
    Reply
  • Lord of the Bored - Wednesday, February 17, 2021 - link

    I've always thought SATA was a mistake.
    Removing the ability to chain multiple drives made for an ugly cabling situation, and the connectors are flimsy as hell. The new power connector in particular served no purpose whatsoever aside from annoyance.

    If it had used more robust connectors and allowed chaining drives, it would've been fantastic. But that would've been to much like the right decision for them to entertain it.
    Reply
  • Glaurung - Wednesday, February 17, 2021 - link

    SATA on the desktop and in NAS boxes is still very much alive, TYVM.

    Sata SSDs will continue to be made and sold as long as there are older computers in use that have a SATA bay in them. My main computer only has 1 NVME slot, but it also has a SATA bay. WIthout that SATA bay I'd have to have all my files crammed onto on a single SSD.
    Reply
  • Kamen Rider Blade - Wednesday, February 17, 2021 - link

    The technology to update SATA is there, it just takes a bit of will power from the SATA group to borrow the SAS speeds and bring it to the consumers.

    The SATA connector is far better suited for "Hot Swap" and M.2 was never designed for "Hot Swap" capabilities.
    Reply
  • powerarmour - Wednesday, February 17, 2021 - link

    No, we'll require SATA for bulk storage for a good few years yet.
    How many M.2 only NAS systems are there?
    Reply
  • CaedenV - Wednesday, February 17, 2021 - link

    SATA is still perfectly fine for old spinning rust drives. Sure the burst performance could be better with a faster connection... but how often is that needed? For sustained data transfers SATA3 is still faster than any spinning drives on the market that cap out at 150-200MBps on a good day. Reply

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