Performance Testing and Closing Thoughts
The rest of the hardware used for the testing included an Intel Core i7-860 processor, 4GB of DDR3-1333 memory, the ASUS P7P55D Premium motherboard of course, an ASUS GeForce GTX 285 graphics card and Windows 7 Professional x64 RTM.

SATA 6G 6.0 Gb/s Performance Preview - Seagate XT drive tested - Storage  1

When we first saw these results were were dumbfounded.  It was shortly there after that we found out bits and pieces about the in-memory storage cache the new driver was using and put the pieces together.  Seeing burst rates as high as 4 GB/s is damn impressive, but we should be cautious in saying how much performance advantage you will see in day-to-day computing with this benchmark result. 

Looking at the older driver that did NOT implement this cache, the burst rates of the SATA 6G hard drive from Seagate do not really stand out from the crowd as we expected them too.  The 253.4 MB/s is nearly identical to the speeds we saw with the Intel 80GB SSD on the Marvell controller but is a bit higher than the Seagate 1.5 TB SATA-II hard drive. 

SATA 6G 6.0 Gb/s Performance Preview - Seagate XT drive tested - Storage  2

While the Seagate XT drive does see a modest improvement in average read speeds compared to the older Barracuda 7200.11 drive, that can likely be attributed to the higher density of a 2TB hard drive over a 1.5TB drive.  Note that the XT drive has the same speed improvement on the P55 chipset as it does on the Marvell chip.

SATA 6G 6.0 Gb/s Performance Preview - Seagate XT drive tested - Storage  3

The same said above is worth noting here: the Seagate XT hard drive sees no big boost in write speeds on the SATA 6G controller.  To be fair though, we weren’t expecting any changes on write speeds…


SATA 6G 6.0 Gb/s Performance Preview - Seagate XT drive tested - Storage  4

SATA 6G 6.0 Gb/s Performance Preview - Seagate XT drive tested - Storage  5

SATA 6G 6.0 Gb/s Performance Preview - Seagate XT drive tested - Storage  6

SATA 6G 6.0 Gb/s Performance Preview - Seagate XT drive tested - Storage  7

We ran these drives through some IOMeter testing as well to see if anything else showed up in favor of the Seagate XT 6.0 Gb/s hard drive, but unfortunately it didn’t.  The IO/sec seen on the Seagate drive (both using the 1027 driver and the 1008 driver) were less than those seen on the 1.5 TB Seagate drive that is available today.  Most of this performance gap likely can be attributed to the early firmware we are testing with on the Seagate XT drive and we hope that as the drive matures we’ll see these rates at least match their previous generation’s.

Closing Thoughts

So…what can we say here?  In reality, the performance benefits of SATA 6G technology are basically completely unrealized in our current testing.  We have no idea what really to expect in future iterations of SATA 6G hard drives, but if the Seagate XT is any indication, the performance benefits for standard spindle-based hard drives will be pretty low. 

Honestly, that is what we expected.  Where SATA 6G technology will likely shine is with solid state drives – they have been pushing on the boundaries of current SATA-II speeds for some time now.  We are already working on getting a hold of some of these early engineering samples and will report our results as soon as we do so. 

For today though, the benefits of ASUS’ implementation of SATA 6G seem a bit wasted.  Having the option for it on your motherboard, since it is both future proofing your computer and provides for backwards compatibility for SATA 3.0 Gb/s drives, still is a good idea and enthusiast users will still find themselves leaning towards that route.  Since Intel seems quite willing to sit back and let technologies breeze past their chipset department (both SATA 6G and USB 3.0 were left behind by Intel) it is up to companies like Marvell, NEC and ASUS to keep our hardware moving forward.

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