For these tests, we use RankDisk, an application developed and copyrighted by IntelÂ®. In our testing, we found RankDisk to be suitable for a neutral benchmark. RankDisk is used to record a trace of disk activity during usage of typical applications. These traces can then be replayed to measure the performance of disk operations for that usage.
RankDisk records disk access events using the device drivers and bypasses the file system and the operating system’s cache. This makes the measurement independent of the file system overhead or the current state of the operating system. In replaying traces, RankDisk always creates and operates on a new ‘dummy’ file. This file is created in the same (or closest possible) physical location of the target hard disk. This allows the replaying of traces to be safe (does not destroy any existing files) and comparable across different systems. Due to the natural fragmentation of hard disks over time, they should be defragmented before running these tests.
The traces used for each test were created from real usage. The traces contain different amount of writing and reading on the disk; total ratio in the HDD test suite disk operations is 53% reads and 47% of writes.
The following input traces are used:
Windows XP Startup: This is the WindowsÂ® XP start trace, which contains disk activities occurring at operating system start-up. The test is 90% reading and 10% writes. This trace contains no user activity.
Application Loading: This is a trace containing disk activities from loading various applications. It includes opening and closing of the following applications:
AdobeÂ® AcrobatÂ® Reader 5
WindowsÂ® Media Player
LeadtekÂ® WinfastÂ® DVD
Mozilla Internet Browser
The application loading trace is 83% reads and 17% writes.
General Hard Disk Drive Usage: This trace contains disk activities from using several common applications.
Opening a MicrosoftÂ® Word document, performing grammar check, saving and closing
Compression and decompression using Winzip
Encrypting and decrypting a file using PowerCrypt
Scanning files for viruses using F-SecureÂ® Antivirus™.
Playing an MP3 file with Winamp
Playing a WAV file with Winamp
Playing a DivX video using DivX codec and WindowsÂ® Media Player
Playing a WMV video file using WindowsÂ® Media Player
Viewing pictures using WindowsÂ® Picture Viewer
Browsing the internet using MicrosoftÂ® Internet Explorer
Loading, playing and exiting a game using Ubisoft™ Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon
The General Usage trace is 60% reads and 40% writes.
Virus Scanning: Virus scanning is a critical task in today’s PC usage. As the major bottleneck of scanning viruses is in hard disk activity, it is reasonable to include virus scanning as a HDD test. The test consists of HDD activity of scanning 600MB of files for viruses. The Virus Scanning test is mostly disk reading (99.5%).
File Write: This trace contains disk activities from writing 680MB files on the hard disk and no read operations are involved in this test.
Disk idle times have been compressed to 50 milliseconds to speed up the playback time. Our studies showed that 50 milliseconds was the smallest idle time interval that didn’t affect the test results. The results of the HDD tests are reported in Megabytes processed per second.
The differences are even more exaggerated in the favor of the Gigabyte iRAM in PCMark05 as the tests that were setup for this benchmark simply couldn’t have thought a device like this would exist so soon. There is nearly an order of magnitude difference in the performance between the fastest Raptor hard drive and the iRAM!
These application tests are not completely storage bottlenecked but also utilize a lot of CPU time, so the performance benefits of the iRAM are slightly less. A 36% and 69% increase in speed is still very impressive.