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Old 13-Dec-2010, 09:16   #1
Phil
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Default PlayStation3 + SSD benchmarks

Last week, I got the Corsair F120 SSD drive and thought I'd try it out in my PS3 to see how much of a benefit they'd give.

I've already used this drive before successfully in a Linux server with quite impressive results. Running ext4, I've successfully had (sequential) read and write speeds of 250MB/sec.

These benchmarks aren't all that scientific, just a stopwatch and as a game benchmark, I used Gran Turismo 5 since it allows a big chunk of the game to be copied onto the harddrive and when doing so, doesn't use the bluray drive anymore. I didn't test how long the installation procedure took (it's definately a bit quicker than using the original SATA drive) but given that the bottleneck is probably mostly the bluray drive, I didn't bother.

Because the SSD harddrive was empty after mounting it to the PS3, I couldn't test the load times from the career mode. It probably wouldn't make much sense anyway, as the complexity would probably decrease the accuracy of the results. Instead, all tests I did was from the arcade mode and covers the loading time from the car selection screen to the race menu. Here they are:

Code:
Gran Turismo 5 (v.1.03) / Arcade Professional A mode

Track                           Car             Corsair F120 SSD        Original SATA
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
London                          Zonda R         19.26s                  39.47s
Nürburgring GP/F                Zonda R         25.12s                  46.45s
Capering                        Zonda R         20.03s                  40.71s
Suzuka                          Zonda R         21.73s                  43.82s
Chamonix Main changable Weather Ford RS WRC     21.25s                  31.09s


Alternative Tests
Test                                            Corsair F120 SSD        Original SATA
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Loading GT5                                     29s                     55s
Copying 1566MB from Mediatomb Upnp to PS3       3.11m                   3.12m
I wasn't sure how much installing GT5 does even after you install the 8 GB of data, so as a precaution, I loaded each test-case twice. To eliminate another factor, I also made sure I wasn't logged onto PSN in both cases.

For the record, I built the SSD into my old fat PS3 and used my PS3slim with the original SATA drive for the test case. Both PS3s had the latest firmware on them. The reason I used this setup was because it was easier to compare them side by side and apart from the differing bluray drives, I'm not aware of any large changes to the hardware that should have an impact on load times. Later, testing the fat PS3 with its original SATA drive confirmed that the above load times are +/- equal to the times I did with the PS3slim.

My thoughts on the results are a bit mixed. On one hand, it shows how long the GT5 load times are despite the huge HDD install option. It's nice to see that the SSD can have such a positive benefit. On the other hand, factor 2 in most cases is a little disappointing given the Corsair can do up to 250MB (sequential read/write) and beyond in a normal Linux environment - with more than one thread easily between 65 and 130 MB/sec constantly. A "2.5 SATA drive in my experience on the same setup gets around 50-70MB/sec (sequential write) and with more than one thread not over 20MB/sec, not to mention slow latency. I'm also not sure why the chamonix test-case didn't have the usual factor 2 benefit, but those numbers were double checked. Perhaps the chamonix track is compressed higher.

The mediatomb test was a simple copy the file over the local 1Gbps lan network. Both have similar times with nothing really in it, so I suppose the limiting factor was some other component (perhaps network). 8 MB/sec is quite slow.


Is it worth it? Not for me - not for that price. Perhaps when SSDs become a bit cheaper, I may get one cheap one day for the PS3. I'm also not sure how optimized the PS3 filesystem is for SSD usage and how long such a drive would live. No way really to benchmark this sadly.


Feel free to add anything to the topic if you've done something similar or have questions. I made this topic specific to the PS3, but if it can be done on the Xbox (without getting it banned for using 3rd party hdds ) mods can feel free to change the title.

Cheers Phil
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Old 13-Dec-2010, 09:26   #2
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My guess would be that the encryption layer may be a bottleneck here? It's also extremely likely that the encrypted filesystem is based on ext3 I'm guessing.

Assuming that for each track (load-times include cars as well) the game is loading about 500MB worth of assets, you can deduce the average loading speed is probably around 15MB for the regular 2.5" and closer to 30MB for the SSD. it is definitely interesting to note that this could be down to 2-3 seconds for a load from SSD in more optimised circumstances though!

Thanks a bunch for sharing.
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Old 13-Dec-2010, 09:35   #3
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GT5's install is a series of thousands of tiny little files. Running the game on a debug system allows me to see exactly what's going onto the hard drive

So the phenomenal sustained reading and writing skills of the SSD aren't being put to good use here. However, the virtually instantaneous seek times of the SSD definitely are making a massive difference.
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Old 13-Dec-2010, 09:39   #4
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We know the PS3's filesystem is UFS (except for dev_flash__). Those mediatomb transfers look disappointing indeed, although I agree with your suspicion that it is something with your network since transfers over my 1gbps lan are around 20mb/s (which is still slow!).

Last edited by xatnys; 13-Dec-2010 at 09:42. Reason: are
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Old 13-Dec-2010, 09:53   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grandmaster View Post
GT5's install is a series of thousands of tiny little files. Running the game on a debug system allows me to see exactly what's going onto the hard drive

So the phenomenal sustained reading and writing skills of the SSD aren't being put to good use here. However, the virtually instantaneous seek times of the SSD definitely are making a massive difference.
An argument for a good chunk of flash storage in a console for small-file caching. Sounds like 8GBs of USB flash card might achieve the same faster loading times without costing the earth.
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Old 13-Dec-2010, 11:19   #6
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Someone else did the same thing:

http://www.gtplanet.net/forum/showthread.php?t=135479
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Old 13-Dec-2010, 16:39   #7
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I have an old 320GB 7200rpm hard drive in my PS3, and I saw incredible loading time differences in Fallout 3 (about half) compared to the stock 120GB drive. Full GT5 install took 30 minutes instead of the 45-minutes or so they said in the reviews as well.

USB drives are nowhere near as fast as SSD's though...especially in write speeds, they suffer very badly.
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Old 13-Dec-2010, 16:59   #8
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I plopped a 320GB 7200RPM drive in my original 60GB PS3 almost 2 years ago. It definitely makes a huge difference on anything loading from the HDD.

I have a 160GB PS3 slim I got earlier this year in my bedroom and I can tell the difference in load times.

I'd imagine if it was optimized more for an SSD, we'd see a bigger gulf between that and regular HDDs.
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Old 13-Dec-2010, 18:56   #9
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About Mediatomb... don't use that, it's REALLY slow compared to others, like PS3 Media Server. I can stream 100mbit/s easily via my GBit connection, which doesn't work with Media Tomb.

Also, there's a HUGE difference when using Mpeg2 and AVC. It's pretty strange, like it buffers MUCH more with Mpeg2 or so...
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Old 13-Dec-2010, 20:10   #10
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DF should get an older JTAGged 360 from ebay/craigslist and put the same SSD in it that they used it in the USB storage article and run some tests. This would show whether the sata interface is any faster than the usb interface in the 360.
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Old 13-Dec-2010, 20:41   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by corduroygt View Post
DF should get an older JTAGged 360 from ebay/craigslist and put the same SSD in it that they used it in the USB storage article and run some tests. This would show whether the sata interface is any faster than the usb interface in the 360.
If I recall correctly, I believe there is only 1 or 2 models of a specific hard drive that can be used in a 360. After you break open the enclosure and load some files.
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Old 13-Dec-2010, 20:41   #12
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Phil: You're famous!
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Old 13-Dec-2010, 20:53   #13
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aren't the sata conections 1.5 instead of 3.0 ?
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Old 13-Dec-2010, 21:17   #14
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If I recall correctly, I believe there is only 1 or 2 models of a specific hard drive that can be used in a 360. After you break open the enclosure and load some files.
That's why I said "JTAGged xbox" which can use any hard drive. People put 2TB hard drives in their 360's with that method. Unfortunately, the only reason they do this is piracy
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Old 14-Dec-2010, 01:45   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by damienw View Post
I'd imagine if it was optimized more for an SSD, we'd see a bigger gulf between that and regular HDDs.
I wouldn't count on that. Even on PC with highly efficient controllers, level load times range anywhere from very slightly faster than mechanical drives to a bit less than 3x as fast as a mechanical drive with the average being a fair bit less than 2x as fast. Depending on games and drives used. 3x speed is when comparing the fastest available SSD to a slow 2.5" drive in a game that benefits the most. In other games, even comparing fastest SSD to a 2.5" drive results in less than a 2.x speed up. And comparing to a modern day 7200 rpm 3.5" drive is less than 50% faster.

So in that respect, GT5 on PS3 is doing very well on SSD. And since it appears to rely on thousands of small files it's already taking advantage of the largest differentiator between an SSD and HDD, random seek times. So it's already highly optimized to take massive advantage of SSDs.

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Old 15-Dec-2010, 10:53   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arwin View Post
Assuming that for each track (load-times include cars as well) the game is loading about 500MB worth of assets, you can deduce the average loading speed is probably around 15MB for the regular 2.5" and closer to 30MB for the SSD. it is definitely interesting to note that this could be down to 2-3 seconds for a load from SSD in more optimised circumstances though!
Yep. I do think the numbers are a bit higher though, as for accuracy reasons, I stopped the timer when the "race menu" was fully visible (not when the fade starts, which is probably when loading is already done). I'd also suspect the data on the harddrive to be highly compressed for a trade-off between performance and install-size. The data that's effectively being transfered may be quite a bit bigger than what ends up in memory.

Which makes me wonder: Would buying a cheaper SSD (with less read/write performance) yield the same benefit? While the factor 2 benefit is extremely nice, the Corsair F120 is a bit too pricey. Going smaller than 120GB doesn't really make sense as install sizes are becoming larger (GT5, LittleBigPlanet, MGS4 not to mention many PSN games)...


Quote:
Originally Posted by xatnys
We know the PS3's filesystem is UFS (except for dev_flash__). Those mediatomb transfers look disappointing indeed, although I agree with your suspicion that it is something with your network since transfers over my 1gbps lan are around 20mb/s (which is still slow!).
Yeah, I agree. In fact, I think the cause may be that I was running an old cable that may not be 1Gbps capable (I switched that recently to my XBMC box). I'll look into this further, although it is strange - as I've definately seen up to 160Mbps when fast forwarding in movie files streamed over mediatomb to the PS3 using iptraf. Not really important to this topic though.


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Old 15-Dec-2010, 11:51   #17
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Could a SSD improve the streaming efficiency of certain games? The Assassin's Creed games, at least on my PS3, constantly have those annoying micro-pauses when the protagonist runs around at full speed (and it's even worse on a horse). Sacred 2 seems unable to keep up with the data load as well.

Still, a 200€ SSD with 120 Gigs for a 300€ Console is a wee bit overkill.
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Old 15-Dec-2010, 12:51   #18
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Sorry Sigfried1977, don't have any of the Assassin's Creed games unfortunately, or else I'd certainly test them.

How much free space do you have on your harddrive? I could swear I thought CoD:Black Ops runs a bit worse after installing GT5 and nearly completely filling up my harddrive. That also could have been network related though...
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Old 15-Dec-2010, 20:08   #19
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Originally Posted by Phil View Post
Which makes me wonder: Would buying a cheaper SSD (with less read/write performance) yield the same benefit? While the factor 2 benefit is extremely nice, the Corsair F120 is a bit too pricey. Going smaller than 120GB doesn't really make sense as install sizes are becoming larger (GT5, LittleBigPlanet, MGS4 not to mention many PSN games)...
I would imagine any SSD with low random seek times should perform similarly for this. As well, since you don't really need high write speeds, then you can focus almost entirely on read speed and random seek times. Even read speed shouldn't be hugely important as with thousands of small files, your seek time is going to far more important. But, other titles may have less and larger files so read speed is still something to look at.

That lets you potentially look at cheaper drives with controllers from Samsung or even potential early JMicron controller based SSDs whose problems mostly stem from the horrendous write/erase speeds. Although I'd still stay away from early gen JMicron controllers, although later ones which alleviated bud didn't entirely erase the problem might be suitable. If I had a PS3 I could test that myself as I have a couple JMicron based 128 GB SSDs as well as a 256 GB Samsung based SSD which I could then compare to my 256 GB Crucial C300.

Hmmm, although if the PS3 itself does a lot of writing to the HDD then the really old JMicron drives would definitely not be good. Although Samsungs should be fine, at worst they only dropped down to approximately 5400 rpm HDD write speeds unlike the old JMicron drives which could stall for up to a minute.

Then again looking at Newegg, the Corsair Force SSD is only 35 USD more than the cheapest 120 GB SSD, a Mushkin for 200 USD.

So unless you're willing to take a gamble on a used drive, it may or may not be worth it.

Regards,
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Old 15-Dec-2010, 21:18   #20
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Quote:
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Sorry Sigfried1977, don't have any of the Assassin's Creed games unfortunately, or else I'd certainly test them.

How much free space do you have on your harddrive? I could swear I thought CoD:Black Ops runs a bit worse after installing GT5 and nearly completely filling up my harddrive. That also could have been network related though...
Somewhere between the 5 and 10 Gigabytes range I believe. It's still the 120 Gig HDD that came with the PS3 Slim. I doubt that has anything to do with it, though. The HDD was still fairly empty when I played Assassin's Creed2, and that game had similar issues as Brotherhood. Either it's just the way the game performs on the console, or the 120 Gig HDD was a piece of crap all along.
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Old 16-Dec-2010, 17:00   #21
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Somewhere between the 5 and 10 Gigabytes range I believe. It's still the 120 Gig HDD that came with the PS3 Slim. I doubt that has anything to do with it, though. The HDD was still fairly empty when I played Assassin's Creed2, and that game had similar issues as Brotherhood. Either it's just the way the game performs on the console, or the 120 Gig HDD was a piece of crap all along.
Ding!Ding!Ding! you're a winner. That 120GB is the cheapest HDD they could make. Take it out and you'll see. Mine was a Toshiba.

Despite being a 5400rpm drive, it's a power hog at 5V and 1.0A. Other 5400rpm drives pull about 0.5A at 5V, and even the 7200 rpm I replaced it with pulls 0.7A at 5V.
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Old 16-Dec-2010, 20:08   #22
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Great job Phil! Thanks for the benchmarks.

I wonder if these improvements are specific to GT5. Do you have PSN versions of retail games like GT5 Prologue, LBP or inFamous ? It would be good to see some benchmarks of them too.
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Old 16-Dec-2010, 21:54   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by corduroygt View Post
Ding!Ding!Ding! you're a winner. That 120GB is the cheapest HDD they could make. Take it out and you'll see. Mine was a Toshiba.

Despite being a 5400rpm drive, it's a power hog at 5V and 1.0A. Other 5400rpm drives pull about 0.5A at 5V, and even the 7200 rpm I replaced it with pulls 0.7A at 5V.
Is the only way to not lose your copy-procted saves (seriously, Sony should outlaw those) still to network two PS3s? I actually have that option, but I'd rather avoid the hassle because I'd have to copy all my stuff from one PS3 to the other and then back again to a new hard drive)
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Old 17-Dec-2010, 08:51   #24
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It was suggested that GT5's save would be unlocked in the update coming on tge 20th. I certainly hope so!
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Old 17-Dec-2010, 15:18   #25
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Just swapped the HD yesterday. The backup function also moves the copy-protected savegames. The method with 2 PS3s and a network cable is a lot faster though. Took almost an hour to backup the hdd, even though I erased almost everything in advance (there was a mere 10 Gigabytes worth of stuff left)
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