PCMark 10 Storage Bench - Real-World Access Traces

There are a number of storage benchmarks that can subject a device to artificial access traces by varying the mix of reads and writes, the access block sizes, and the queue depth / number of outstanding data requests. We saw results from two popular ones - ATTO, and CrystalDiskMark - in a previous section. More serious benchmarks, however, actually replicate access traces from real-world workloads to determine the suitability of a particular device for a particular workload. Real-world access traces may be used for simulating the behavior of computing activities that are limited by storage performance. Examples include booting an operating system or loading a particular game from the disk.

PCMark 10's storage bench (introduced in v2.1.2153) includes four storage benchmarks that use relevant real-world traces from popular applications and common tasks to fully test the performance of the latest modern drives:

  • The Full System Drive Benchmark uses a wide-ranging set of real-world traces from popular applications and common tasks to fully test the performance of the fastest modern drives. It involves a total of 204 GB of write traffic.
  • The Quick System Drive Benchmark is a shorter test with a smaller set of less demanding real-world traces. It subjects the device to 23 GB of writes.
  • The Data Drive Benchmark is designed to test drives that are used for storing files rather than applications. These typically include NAS drives, USB sticks, memory cards, and other external storage devices. The device is subjected to 15 GB of writes.
  • The Drive Performance Consistency Test is a long-running and extremely demanding test with a heavy, continuous load for expert users. In-depth reporting shows how the performance of the drive varies under different conditions. This writes more than 23 TB of data to the drive.

Despite the data drive benchmark appearing most suitable for testing direct-attached storage, we opt to run the full system drive benchmark as part of our evaluation flow. Many of us use portable flash drives as boot drives and storage for Steam games. These types of use-cases are addressed only in the full system drive benchmark.

The Full System Drive Benchmark comprises of 23 different traces. For the purpose of presenting results, we classify them under five different categories:

  • Boot: Replay of storage access trace recorded while booting Windows 10
  • Creative: Replay of storage access traces recorded during the start up and usage of Adobe applications such as Acrobat, After Effects, Illustrator, Premiere Pro, Lightroom, and Photoshop.
  • Office: Replay of storage access traces recorded during the usage of Microsoft Office applications such as Excel and Powerpoint.
  • Gaming: Replay of storage access traces recorded during the start up of games such as Battlefield V, Call of Duty Black Ops 4, and Overwatch.
  • File Transfers: Replay of storage access traces (Write-Only, Read-Write, and Read-Only) recorded during the transfer of data such as ISOs and photographs.

PCMark 10 also generates an overall score, bandwidth, and average latency number for quick comparison of different drives. The sub-sections in the rest of the page reference the access traces specified in the PCMark 10 Technical Guide.

Booting Windows 10

The read-write bandwidth recorded for each drive in the boo access trace is presented below.

Windows 10 Boot

The read-heavy nature of the workload allows the P40 to shine here. As we saw in the earlier sections, reads are the strong suite for the P40.

Creative Workloads

The read-write bandwidth recorded for each drive in the sacr, saft, sill, spre, slig, sps, aft, exc, ill, ind, psh, and psl access traces are presented below.

Startup - Adobe Acrobat

Creative workloads are either read-heavy (startup cases) or deal with small writes. Fortunately for the WD_BLACK P40, the writes fit within the SLC cache of the drive. It also appears that the drive has enough time to recover the SLC cache, allowing the P40 to be in the top 3 performers across all the workloads in this segment.

Office Workloads

The read-write bandwidth recorded for each drive in the exc and pow access traces are presented below.

Usage - Microsoft Excel

Office workloads appear to be a bit of a challenge for the firmware optimizations in the WD_BLACK series. In fact, we see the gaming-focused SSDs from both WD and Seagate not performing well in both sub-tests.

Gaming Workloads

The read-write bandwidth recorded for each drive in the bf, cod, and ow access traces are presented below.

Startup - Battlefield V

Moving on to the workloads relevant to the P40's target market, we find the tag of a mid-range product working well for the drive. It lands right in the middle of the pack in all three game-loading scenarios.

Files Transfer Workloads

The read-write bandwidth recorded for each drive in the cp1, cp2, cp3, cps1, cps2, and cps3 access traces are presented below.

Duplicating ISOs (Read-Write)

Read-only and mixed workloads see the P40 performing fairly well for a mid-range product, but the write-heavy workloads are it slip down in the rankings.

Overall Scores

PCMark 10 reports an overall score based on the observed bandwidth and access times for the full workload set. The score, bandwidth, and average access latency for each of the drives are presented below.

Full System Drive Benchmark Bandwidth (MBps)

The P40 lives up to its mid-range moniker well, performing very decently across the board to land in the top three in the overall results.

AnandTech DAS Suite - Benchmarking for Performance Consistency Miscellaneous Aspects and Concluding Remarks
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  • TheCurve - Saturday, November 19, 2022 - link

    Loved this review! Direct, no fluff, just honest advice and data
  • AlB80 - Sunday, November 20, 2022 - link

    Support for USB3 10Gbps x2 links are optional for USB4.
  • hMunster - Monday, November 21, 2022 - link

    Does OS X finally support TRIM on non-Thunderbolt external SSDs?
  • Techie2 - Monday, December 5, 2022 - link

    It's now December and not a single Gen 5 consumer SSD is being offered for sale. That's rather strange considering all the hoopla and claims that these drives would be available in Oct. '22.
  • yifu - Tuesday, December 13, 2022 - link

    we need to support anandtech, when innerfidelity went away, there is only commercials reviews. we need anandtech.com, we need some kind of honest authority, otherwise it's just chaos, and shit!!!
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  • sonsjhon09 - Thursday, December 29, 2022 - link

    I appreciate your work

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