Patriot WildFire SSD Review

Author: Chris Ledenican
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Wednesday, July 13th, 2011
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Hardware/Reviews/Patriot_WildFire/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.

Like other memory manufacturers, Patriot has expanded into the SSD market over the last few years and to date they have released multiple drives and utilized various controllers. The WildFire SSD though differs from all other drives released thus far, by being Patriot's first to utilize SATA 6Gb/s technology. Along with the SATA 6Gb/s interface, the WildFire utilizes the latest Sandforce SF-2281 controller which allows the drive to support incredibly fast read and write speeds of 555MB/s and 520MB/s, respectively. In addition, the WildFire has a max random write performance rating of 85,000 IOPS, which is very impressive for any SSD, and should put it line with the OCZ Vertex 3 Max IOPS drive.

The WildFire is a consumer grade SSD that offers enterprise-class performance. This is achieved largely through the SandForce controller, but ultimately the performance of an SSD is also determined by what type of NAND it has. To this end, Patriot has decided to use sixteen 32nm Toshiba NAND flash memory modules capable of 133 megatransfers/second and utilizing an asynchronous design. This toggle mode design requires no clock signal and instead uses a bi-directional DQS to generate input/output signals using the rising and falling edge of the write erase signal.

32nm NAND is more expensive than its 25nm counterpart, and since the SF-2281 controller is new to the market, the 120GB WildFire currently has an MSRP of $279, with many e-tailers artificially inflating the price upwards of $309. Currently the Wildfire is available in 120GB, 240GB and 480GB storage capacities. We are going to be reviewing the 120GB model, but since this SSD is driven by the SandForce controller there should be no performance difference between this model and those with larger storage capacities.

Specifications
Read/Write Performance
555MB/520MBPEEDSPEED
Interface
SATA III 6Gb/sec
Form Factor
2.5-inch, 3.5-inch adapter included
Capacities
120GB, 240GB, 480GB
Patriot Part # PW120GS25SSDR (120BG)
Warranty
3 Years

The drive Patriot sent to us was a pre-production model, but we do have an image of the final design and packaging that will be used at the retail level. As you can see, the overall design of the WildFire is similar to other SSD drives on the market. It uses a standard 2.5-inch form factor and measures 99.8 x 69.63 x 9.3mm (3.9 x 3.7 x .3 inches). While this means the SSD will easily fit into any laptop, it does limit the desktop PC support. To address this, Patriot is including a 2.5-inch to 3.5-inch adapter that will allow the drive to fit into 3.5" drive bays that countless cases on the market still use.

The Patriot WildFire SSD is a SATA 6Gb/s storage device that supports read speeds of up to 555MB/s, write speeds of 520MB/s and has a 4KB random write performance of 85,000 IOPS. This makes it comparable to other enterprise-class drives on the market such as the Vertex 3. To utilize all the performance available, the drive must be connected to a SATA 6Gb/s port, but since the device is backwards compatible it will still work with the SATA 3Gb/s interface. Note that this will decrease performance by nearly 50%. This shouldn't be an issue though, as motherboards that utilize the SATA III technology are becoming readily available at virtually any price range.

The 120GB WildFire has sixteen 32nm Toshiba Toggle flash (TH58TAG6D2FBA49) MLC NAND modules (eight on each side) that are 8GB each, giving the drive a total capacity rating of 128GB. However, one of the memory modules is set aside for over-provisioning and the SandForce fimware, which gives the drive its actual rating of 120GB. This large amount of over-provisioning is actually acceptable for the consumer market, as the the storage loss is only 6.2% of the total memory capacity. Note that formatting the drive will reduce the total capacity even further, and in the end the available storage will be closer to around 111GB.

Since the WildFire uses the latest SF-2281 controller, it includes all the features that make the SandForce controller so successful. These include AES-256 and 128 data encryption, DuraClass Technology, RAISE, ECC Recovery and Native Command Queuing (NCQ) of up to 32 commands.The WildFire also has native TRIM support when the drive is used with Windows 7. The drive comes with the latest 3.1.9 firmware, which reportedly fixes the BSOD issue that led to a recall of some Corsair Force 3 drives. While we can't vouch with 100% certainty that the WildFire is free of any bugs, we can definitely say that we didn't experience any issues during the week we spent testing the WildFire.

Test Setup

Patriot WildFire 120GB

OCZ RevoDrive & OCZ Agility 2 60GB

Patriot Torqx 128GB, Corsair Force 120GB

Patriot Zephyr 128GB

 

Benchmarks Used

Since the drives were tested on two different platforms, we made sure that our benchmarks were not processor-bound, hence they are not exactly the same as they were in the OCZ Agility review.

File Copy

This test consists of copying our standard 100MB, 500MB and 1GB folder also used in our WinRAR test from one partition to the other, thus requiring reads and writes. The chronometer is started as soon as the "paste" button is clicked and is stopped whenever the window indicating the copy status disappears.

In our first benchmark the WildFire comes out strong, as it was able to transfer a 1GB file 29% faster than the Agility 2 and RevoDrive.

Windows 7 Boot & Shutdown

The title of this test says it all. The countdown starts as soon as we hit "Enter" in the boot manager, until the desktop has appeared and the LAN is connected.

During our boot time testing, the WildFire shaved two seconds off the time recorded by the Agility 2, but it wasn't quite able to shut down Windows in 4 seconds. Still, I highly doubt anyone will notice the difference between a four and five second shutdown.

Call of Juarez

This time, the score used is not the benchmark score, but rather the time it takes to load.

Far Cry 2

It's the same principle here for Far Cry 2's built-in benchmark.

The WildFire was able to load Call of Juarez in 15 seconds, which puts in right in the middle of our batch of comparison drives, but it still loaded Far Cry 2 faster than all but the RevoDrive.

HD Tune

HD Tune is an application for benchmarking hard drives. This time, both the read and write tests will be run.

HDTune really showcases the advantages of having a SATA 6Gbs SSD. The WildFire was able to nearly reach a 500MB/s maximum read and write speed, and even at "minimal" performance it was better than the highest performance level of a SATA 3Gbs drive.

Write Amplification

What is measured here is the write performance loss due to the write amplification. As said on the first page, SandForce's DuraClass technology achieves a write amplification factor below one, so the write speeds should not suffer compared to some other drives which need a utility to be run on them to get the same performance. Since HDTune writes tests write speeds everywhere on the drive, running it twice in a row will force the drive to write on used sectors. The numbers reported in the following graph are the performance loss from the first run to the second, in percentage.

The SandForce controller is known for its ability to transfer large amounts of data without succumbing to large write amplification, and it didn't fail the WildFire.

Futuremark PCMark Vantage

PCMark is a benchmarking suite from FutureMark, who also make the renown 3DMark. It includes many tests to calculate overall system performance including hard drive performance. The hard drive suite performs tasks such as scanning for viruses, streaming, recording and more. It is a fairly good indicative of general real-world performance.

The WildFire impressed us once again with it's performance, as it is the first SATA drive we have tested that managed scored higher than the RevoDrive in FutureMark.

AS SSD

While most other storage benchmarks are designed with mechanical hard drives in mind, AS SSD, developed by Alex Schepeljanski, is built specifically for solid state drives. The application measure sequential and random read and write performance as well as access time. The first screen shot is of the Patriot Widlfire then followed by the RevoDrive, Agility 2, Corsair Force, Patriot Torqx, and Zephyr drives.

The WildFire was able to perform better than all the other tested drives in AS SSD.

SiSoftware Sandra 2009

Sandra, by SiSoftware, is a tool capable of benchmarking about every component found inside a computer. In this case, we are using the physical disk tool, which measures read and write performance of a given drive.

The WildFire really shined in Sandra 2009, scoring extremely high read and write performances.

ATTO Disk Benchmark

The ATTO disk Benchmark, developed by a company of the same name, measures the storage systems performance with various transfer sizes and test lengths for reads and writes. Once again, the first graph in order shows results from the Wildfire, RevoDrive, OCZ Agility 2, Corsair Force, Torqx, and Zephyr.

Here the WildFire demonstrated phenomenal results that put most of the other drives we have tested to shame.

The Patriot WildFire is the second SF-2281 driven SSD we have tested to date, but it is the first to utilize 32nm MLC NAND memory. The reasoning behind the decision to utilize more expensive memory over the 25nm NAND seen in similar SandForce driven SSDs simply comes down to performance. The Toshiba 32nm Toggle Mode NAND has a 133 megatransfers/second speed rating and an asynchronous memory design, allowing the Wildfire to perform more in line with enterprise grade SSDs.

In addition, the SandForce controller is able to support blisteringly fast speeds that exceeded 500MB/s according to Patriot, and we verified in our testing that the Wildfire can support read speeds of up to 555MB/s, write speeds of up to 520MB/s and 4k aligned random writes of 85,000 IOPs. This all adds up to the Wildfire boasting best in-class performance, not to mention making it the fastest SSD we have tested.

Along with the strong performance, the Wildfire also offers all the built-in features included with the SandForce controller. These include AES-256 and 128 data encryption, DuraClass Technology, RAISE, ECC Recovery and Native Command Queuing (NCQ) of up to 32 commands. On top of these, the SF-2281 controller also has features a real-time compression algorithm that reduces the size of transferring data, and in turn eliminates the bottleneck issue that was prominent with older SSD controllers. The WildFire also natively includes TRIM support, which is beneficial for anyone using a operating system that supports it.

All in all the WildFire is an outstanding SSD that offers top-class performance while dodging the problems of the second generation SandForce controller by using the latest 3.1.9 firmware. However, the WildFire is an expensive product with an MSRP ranging from $275 to $309 just for the 120GB model. We had little luck finding it listed at the lower-end pricing, so expect to pay a hefty premium for performance. Even with the high price, the Wildfire is a highly recommend SSD that will kick the performance of any PC or laptop to the next level.

»Neoseeker.com

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