Kevin OBrien

Lenovo ThinkPad W520 Review: First Thoughts Discussion

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32depth 4K results look a tad slow.... what Intel RST version is that?

EDIT: Thought you were using the Vertex 3 based off the partition size. For the Intel 510 that looks spot on.

Thanks! I should have a Vertex 3 to try in a week. I'll let you know those results too. (I have RST Version 10.1.0.1008.)

To test the Vertex 3 I can just make a disk image of the Intel 510 (instead of a fresh install).

Am I correct?

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Looking much forward to the full review. I've been told the raid equipped models will be available here in May/June, and I certainly plan to buy one.

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I just ran the PCMarkVantage Benchmark on my W520.

With the OCZ Vertex-3 I get: 14,307 http://3dmark.com/pcmv/441150;jsessionid=1u2bpqmyg5air?show_ads=true&page=%2Fpcmv%2F441150%3Fkey%3DPrhjNqLEZz9sn2cZTKfRFE0j7EF6Tx

UPDATE: I re-ran the benchmark with NVIDIA enabled. The correct score for the Vertex-3 is 16,006

http://3dmark.com/pcmv/441442;jsessionid=py31my4977fv?show_ads=true&page=%2Fpcmv%2F441442%3Fkey%3DXdVxajqqEqk5SHRdFmxXaQ7KQL0NUt

With the Intel 510 the score is better: 16,302 http://3dmark.com/pcmv/439951;jsessionid=1u0rpikc26ooy?show_ads=true&page=%2Fpcmv%2F439951%3Fkey%3DJbEHBr3MhRJeD2MqyY3jEDWPJw5YtP

This is contrary to my Crystaldiskmark results and other OCZ Vertex vs. Intel 510 SSD benchmarks.

Can you explain?

Edited by platini

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Did you have the basic version or pro? Is there any chance you could just do the HDD test in the series?

I only have the BASIC PCMarkVantage license.

I noticed that in your T420 review the Intel 510 PCMarkVantage scores were higher also.

Someone at the W520 Owners Forum referred me to this link, which explains a lot to me: http://forum.notebookreview.com/alienware-m17x/568771-ocz-vertex-3-120gb-sata-iii-vs-intel-510-120gb-sata-iii-m17x-r3-2.html#post7354820

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You are right! I re-ran the benchmark and now the PCMarkVantage result for the Vertex-3 is now 16,006 (about the same as the Intel 510) http://3dmark.com/pcmv/441442;jsessionid=py31my4977fv?show_ads=true&page=%2Fpcmv%2F441442%3Fkey%3DXdVxajqqEqk5SHRdFmxXaQ7KQL0NUt I decided to stick with the Intel 510 240GB and ordered a second Intel 510 240GB to put it in a RAID 0 to get a PCMarkVantage score close to the 20,700 you got in your W520 RAID 0 test. http://www.storagereview.com/lenovo_thinkpad_w520_review_first_thoughts

2 questions about RAID 0:

1. The instructions in the Lenovo Hardware Manual on creating a RAID 0 setup say: "All existing data will be erased while the RAID volume is being created." But the Intel RST site says: http://www.pentium.co.za/support/chipsets/imsm/sb/cs-016585.htm

"a RAID ready system is a configuration that enables a seamless migration from one, non-RAID Serial ATA (SATA) drive, to a SATA RAID configuration. A reinstall of the operating system is not required."

Can I can use my single SSD, install the RST drivers, switch the BIOS to RAID and then add a second SSD and migrate to RAID 0 without having to do a backup and restore?

2. Since TRIM is not supported within Intel Rapid Storage Technology RAID ( http://www.intel.com/support/chipsets/imsm/sb/CS-031491.htm ), will the 510 SSD drive controllers Garbage Collection be sufficent to maintain performance?

Edited by platini

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I received my RAID enabled Thinkpad W520. I took out the Seagate drives and replaced them with the Intel 510 from the non-RAID W520 and a second (blank) Intel 510.

The system runs fine with the single SSD.

When I start up RST 10.1.0.1008 it recognizes both drives and suggests that I should create a raid volume. I follow the instructions, and it offers me the ability to create a RAID 0 while keeping the data from one of the disks. I click next, it says it is now creating the volume, which may take some tima. A few minutes later it stops with the message:

"An unknown error occurred during the volume creation process.

Please try creating the volume again."

When I re-boot, I get a Windows BSOD with a "Driver_Power-State_Failure: and a "Stop: 0x0000009F" error code during shut-down of the system.

I have the latest Lenovo BIOS (1.22) and RAID enabled in the BIOS.

I have checked the SSDs using the Intel SSD Toolbox. Both SSD check out OK.

I have tried for hours ... no go!

What should I do?

PS:

Problem signature:

Problem Event Name: BlueScreen

OS Version: 6.1.7601.2.1.0.256.48

Locale ID: 1033

Additional information about the problem:

BCCode: 1000009f

BCP1: 0000000000000004

BCP2: 0000000000000258

BCP3: FFFFFA8006CD3040

BCP4: FFFFF80000B9C3D0

OS Version: 6_1_7601

Service Pack: 1_0

Product: 256_1

Files that help describe the problem:

C:\Windows\Minidump\051211-11107-01.dmp

C:\Users\......\AppData\Local\Temp\WER-796572-0.sysdata.xml

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For RAID creation on the W520, why not use the post-BIOS RAID manager (CTRL+I) and handle it from there instead of Windows?

Thank you for your answer. I REALLY appreciate your help!

Yes, the problem was that the Volume was created by a non-RAID W520.

If I use the steps outlined here http://www.intel.com/support/chipsets/imsm/sb/CS-021701.htm

Create a RAID Volume

Follow these steps to create a RAID volume:

Press Ctrl and I at the same time when the option ROM status screen displays during POST to open the option ROM user interface.

Select 1: Create RAID Volume and press Enter.

Use the up or down arrow keys to select the RAID level and press Enter.

Use the up or down arrow keys to select the strip size and press Enter.

Press Enter to select the physical disks.

Use the up or down arrow keys to scroll through the list of hard drives and press Space to select the drive.

Press Enter.

Select the volume size and press Enter.

Press Enter to create the volume.

At the prompt press Y to confirm the volume creation.

Select 4: Exit and press Enter.

Press Y to confirm and exit.

will I be able to keep the apps, data, preferences and settings?

I am trying to avoid having to re-install all my apps, preferences, bookmarks etc.

Or should I use the second SSD, make it a RAID Volume and then copy the apps and data over using Norton Gost or Acronis or Intel's SSD Migration Software?

I am afraid that it may overwrite the drivers that make it into a RAID Volume.

This is not easy ....

Edited by platini

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Yea, the process I am talking about is starting fresh from the beginning, getting a blank RAID0 volume setup and then installing Windows on top of it. If you have a spare drive to backup you stuff though (not one that will be part of the RAID) it should be doable.

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Yea, the process I am talking about is starting fresh from the beginning, getting a blank RAID0 volume setup and then installing Windows on top of it. If you have a spare drive to backup you stuff though (not one that will be part of the RAID) it should be doable.

Thanks for your advice! I took the plunge and reinstalled everything from scratch and it works. :)

My PCMarkVantage score with 2 240GB Intel 510s in RAID0 is 18,639 http://3dmark.com/pcmv/443968;jsessionid=6drg5c8nfo89?show_ads=true&page=%2Fpcmv%2F443968%3Fkey%3DbK7FHdXkXaANYq85dUU8ByrT5jv3sh

In your tests, you have been getting a score of over 20,000. Can you share your secret?

I have not (yet) turned the write-back cache on for the RAID0, perhaps that is the reason?

Or I may need to give it some time to do its Garbage Collection after the heavy install? I tried to use TRIM through the SSD toolbox, but it won't let me do it in a RAID :(

Edited by platini

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Oh, enabling write-back will make up that difference easily. That is a no-brainer to enable :)

Also TRIM through the RAID will be a no go. I would run the maintenance thing every couple of weeks through the SSD toolbox and basically not worry about it.

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Oh, enabling write-back will make up that difference easily. That is a no-brainer to enable :)

Also TRIM through the RAID will be a no go. I would run the maintenance thing every couple of weeks through the SSD toolbox and basically not worry about it.

With the write-through cache enabled, the PCMarkVantage score is 19,105. http://3dmark.com/pcmv/444131;jsessionid=11zpy6a6xdahl?show_ads=true&page=%2Fpcmv%2F444131%3Fkey%3DEfznVR4YP2sHhLdn6wSJvQ5np4pdRa

Still got to do some tweaking to get your 20,700 score...

And these are the CrystalDiskMark results for my 2x240GB Intel 510 in RAID0:

post-72771-0-37863000-1305558205_thumb.j

Edited by platini

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i7-2820QM

NVIDIA Quadro 2000M

8GB RAM

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Also TRIM through the RAID will be a no go. I would run the maintenance thing every couple of weeks through the SSD toolbox and basically not worry about it.

I tried to run maintenance from the SSD Toolbox, but it would not let me.

Then I found this: "The current implementation of the Intel® SSD Toolbox does not support SSDs installed as part of a RAID configuration." (from: http://download.intel.com/support/ssdc/hpssd/sb/intel_ssd_toolbox_fqa.pdf_

and:

"Intel SSD Toolbox provides limited functionality for SSDs that are part of RAID and Dynamic Disks configurations with multiple partitions: Intel SSD Optimizer and Secure Erase are not supported in these configurations." (from: http://downloadmirror.intel.com/18455/eng/Intel_SSD_Toolbox_User_Guide_2.0.pdf)

Is there another tool I can use?

Edited by platini

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re: "Using CrystalDiskMark, we measured an average sequential read speed of 1,103MB/s and a write speed of 643MB/s".

With 2x240GB Intel 510s in my W520 (i7-2820) I am getting a write speed similar to yours (656MB/s), but 25% less (817 MB/s) sequential read. I don't think the small difference in CPU speed could account for that.

I have attached the Intel SSD Toolbox report.

Any ideas?

EDIT: I may have just figured it out. I used the 128kb strip size when I set up the RAID, as recommended by Lenovo.

But now I see that for SSDs a 16kb strip size is recommended.

Arrrrgh!

I don't think I can change it "on-the-fly".

EDIT 2: EDIT: While Intel recommends 16kb strip size for SSDs, the reviewers here

http://www.madshrimps.be/articles/article/976/RAID-0-Stripe-Sizes-Compared-with-SSDs-OCZ-Vertex-Drives-Tested/9#axzz1NUcjZxBV

concluded that 128kb is best (at least for the Vertex 30GB).

post-72771-0-96073100-1306439185_thumb.j

intel-510-ssd-toolbox-smart-report.txt

Edited by platini

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On mine I went with the default 64k stripe. We use 128k on all of our main RAID tests though, since it offered the best performance under most conditions in our traces.

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On mine I went with the default 64k stripe. We use 128k on all of our main RAID tests though, since it offered the best performance under most conditions in our traces.

Oh. good.

So perhaps that isn't the reason for the 25% Read performance loss?

Edited by platini

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I wonder why Intel recommends 16kb strip size for SSDs (in the RST Help section.)

Perhaps your 64kb setting has something to do with your better performance?

It would be great if you could do a RAID0 test comparing PCMarkVantage scores with modern SSDs and different strip sizes.

EDIT: I found this:

The reason smaller is better when it comes to stripe size on SSD RAIDs has to do with the nature of the storage medium combined with the mechanisms of RAID. I will explain in short here, and you can read up more for yourself you are more curious.

Intel SSDs can do 90-100% of their sequential bandwidth with 16-32KB blocks @ QD 1, and at higher queue depths they can reach it at 8KB blocks. Harddisks on the other hand reach their maximum bandwidth around 64-128KB sequential blocks, and do not benefit noticably from increasing the queue depth.

When you RAID-0, the files that are larger than the stripe size get split up in chucks equal in size to the stripe size and distributed amongs the units in the RAID. Say you have a 128KB file (or want to read a 128KB chunk of a larger file), this will get divided into 8 pieces when the stripe size is 16KB, and with 3 SSDs in the RAID this means 3 chunks for 2 of the SSDs, and 2 chukcs for the third. When you read this file, you will read 16KB blocks from all 3 SSDs at Queue Depth 2 and 3. If you check out ATTO, you will see 2x 16KB @ QD 3 + 1x 16KB @ QD 2 summarize to higher bandwidth than 1x 128KB @ QD 1.

The bandwidth when reading or writing files equal to or smaller the stripe size will not be affected by the RAID. The sequential bandwidth of blocks of 1MB or larger will also be the same since the SSDs will be able to deliver max bandwidth with any stripe size since data is striped over all in blocks large enough or enough blocks to reach max bandwidth for each SSD.

So to summarize, benefits and drawbacks of using a small stripe size:

+ Higher performance of files/blocks above the stripe size while still relatively small (<1MB)

- Additional computational overhead from managing more blocks in-flight, although this is negligable for RAID-0.

The added performance of small-medium files/blocks from a small stripe size can make a difference for OS/apps, and can be meassured in PCmark Vantage.

PS: Someone did a test of 16kB vs 128kb here and the 16kb strip size got 10% faster sequential reads and 20% faster performance in PCMarkVantage:

From: http://www.xtremesystems.org/forums/showthread.php?p=4344222[/url

Edited by platini

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