Random Read Performance

Our first test of random read performance uses very short bursts of operations issued one at a time with no queuing. The drives are given enough idle time between bursts to yield an overall duty cycle of 20%, so thermal throttling is impossible. Each burst consists of a total of 32MB of 4kB random reads, from a 16GB span of the disk. The total data read is 1GB.

Burst 4kB Random Read (Queue Depth 1)

The QD1 burst random read performance of the SK hynix Gold P31 is similar to what we see from drives using the Silicon Motion SM2262EN controller, which has dominated this test since it hit the market.

Our sustained random read performance is similar to the random read test from our 2015 test suite: queue depths from 1 to 32 are tested, and the average performance and power efficiency across QD1, QD2 and QD4 are reported as the primary scores. Each queue depth is tested for one minute or 32GB of data transferred, whichever is shorter. After each queue depth is tested, the drive is given up to one minute to cool off so that the higher queue depths are unlikely to be affected by accumulated heat build-up. The individual read operations are again 4kB, and cover a 64GB span of the drive.

Sustained 4kB Random Read

On the longer random read test that reaches into higher queue depths, the Gold P31 pulls narrowly ahead of the SX8200 Pro to set a new record for TLC-based SSDs.

Sustained 4kB Random Read (Power Efficiency)
Power Efficiency in MB/s/W Average Power in W

The power draw of the Gold P31 is only a hair above that of its SATA sibling, the Gold S31. But the P31 is delivering almost three times the performance of that drive, and twice the performance per Watt of the next most efficient drive.

The Gold P31 delivers class-leading performance across the entire range of queue depths covered by this test. Its performance is starting to taper off by QD32, but at that point it has caught up with the throughput of the Optane 905P. The widest margins over other TLC SSDs are around QD8 through QD16. Power consumption remains very low throughout the test, not even reaching 2W at QD32 - that 2x efficiency advantage over the competition remains just as true at high queue depths.

Plotting the P31's results against the entire benchmark database shows that the P31 stakes out new territory. The closest competition on the power/performance landscape are the tiny Intel Optane Memory M.2 drives, and at QD4 or higher all the other flash-based SSDs need considerably more power to deliver the same performance (at QD4 and below, the P31 is still in SATA performance territory where there are more low-power competitors).

Random Write Performance

Our test of random write burst performance is structured similarly to the random read burst test, but each burst is only 4MB and the total test length is 128MB. The 4kB random write operations are distributed over a 16GB span of the drive, and the operations are issued one at a time with no queuing.

Burst 4kB Random Write (Queue Depth 1)

The burst random write performance of the Gold P31 is lackluster: slower than most high-end NVMe drives, though actually still a bit faster than the Samsung 970 EVO Plus.

As with the sustained random read test, our sustained 4kB random write test runs for up to one minute or 32GB per queue depth, covering a 64GB span of the drive and giving the drive up to 1 minute of idle time between queue depths to allow for write caches to be flushed and for the drive to cool down.

Sustained 4kB Random Write

On the longer random write test that includes some higher queue depths, the high-end NVMe drives mostly have fairly similar scores, and the P31 falls in the middle of the pack for performance.

Sustained 4kB Random Write (Power Efficiency)
Power Efficiency in MB/s/W Average Power in W

Once again, the power consumption of the Gold P31 is more in line with low-power SATA or DRAMless NVMe drives, even though it offers high-end performance. This time, the efficiency score isn't quite twice that of the next best competitor, but a 75% improvement is still impressive.

The performance profile for the Gold P31 on the random write test is fairly typical: fill performance is reached at QD4, and performance is mostly steady through the rest of the test. The P31 starts out slightly slower at QD1, but at full speed it is definitely competitive.

Comparing the Gold P31's random write performance against our entire database of results shows it standing out even more clearly than it did for the random read results. The QD1 random write performance is already beyond the reach of SATA drives, and none of the other NVMe drives we've tested operate at such low power levels.

AnandTech Storage Bench Sequential Performance
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  • Srikzquest - Thursday, August 27, 2020 - link

    Ok thanks Billy. I am going to get this. I have a 960 EVO in my laptop which I will transfer it to my Desktop (which doesn't use an NVMe SSD currently) and replace that with this in my laptop.
  • lmcd - Thursday, August 27, 2020 - link

    Good plan -- make sure though that your laptop mobo supports a new enough NVMe version! 960 was one 1.X release earlier.
  • Billy Tallis - Thursday, August 27, 2020 - link

    There are very few ways that NVMe could have trouble with forwards compatibility. I don't think any of them apply to features necessary to boot an OS, or to consumer drives in general. Almost all new stuff in recent NVMe versions has been optional features that your motherboard would never need to use, and your operating system can get by without.
  • vladx - Thursday, August 27, 2020 - link

    So most of the newer NVME protocols are enterprise only?
  • Billy Tallis - Thursday, August 27, 2020 - link

    It's been a mix of enterprise-only features and embedded-only features. Some of the more enterprise-oriented features would be slightly useful on consumer systems, but only in a world where consumers weren't held back by Windows and its lack of good storage admin tools.
  • lmcd - Thursday, August 27, 2020 - link

    I guess 99% of laptops are probably fine but I needed a BIOS update for my Lenovo E485 to accept an EVO 970, afaik. Or maybe I'm mixing it up with my desktop motherboard. All I know is that compatibility hasn't been as consistent as you'd expect.
  • Srikzquest - Friday, August 28, 2020 - link

    Thanks Imcd for the headsup as my current laptop is also a Lenovo one, T470. So, I will keep my eyes open.
  • MikeMurphy - Friday, August 28, 2020 - link

    I think the low power consumption should also help with thermals, though it's a stretch to think of a typical workload that would keep an NVMe SSD under load for very long.
  • Hul8 - Thursday, August 27, 2020 - link

    The ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro 1TB is missing from the list of included comparison drives on page 1.

    I only noticed because I was disappointed by its omission (I have one), but then found it in the graphs anyways.
  • Billy Tallis - Thursday, August 27, 2020 - link

    Thanks for pointing that out. I've added it to the list on page 1.

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