Delta Engine Blog

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Why cheap SSD sucks for Visual Studio

My new PC at work has a 64 GB SSD (Solid State Drive) hard disk and installing and using it went pretty ok. Installing Windows 7 and Windows Vista was pretty quick. Most benchmarks, tools, games and programs run also fine and reading a lot of small or big files is also fast. Even extracting big archives goes quickly. But the one thing I wanted to use the SSD for does not perform very well: Compiling in Visual Studio. Our project at exDream is pretty huge (17 GB, about 30k files) and recompiling everything takes quite a while. Reading small files is working well and it seems like opening and working with files in Visual Studio is also good enough. But once the compilation starts (also happens sometimes when installing programs with lots of little files), the performance goes way down. Once more than 50 files per second are being opened and written to, it takes up to 1 whole second (usually you have access times of <0.1 ms with SSD) to open new files. This is obviously very bad.

For now I'm just using the SSD for Windows and the Program files, but store all the code and projects I want to compile on a normal hard disk, plus I also moved the temp folder to D (the normal hard disk). Now things are pretty good again, but I did not gain the performance improvement I was looking for with this :(

Since I tweaked my Vista quite a lot already (see post below), I already fine-tuned a lot of settings that are also good for SSD, but OCZ has a nice guide with some extra tricks on what to do to get the best performance possible with those cheap SSDs:
General discussion and XP tricks: http://www.ocztechnologyforum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=43460
Vista 32/64 tweaks: http://www.ocztechnologyforum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=47212
Speeding up Vista: http://www.ocztechnologyforum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=43525

The SSD is the OCZ 60 GB SSD V2, which still has a JMicron controller, which just plain sucks for many IO operations. Its specifications say that it can do 170 MB/s reads and around 100 MB/s writes, the truth is more like 130 MB/s reads and around 100 MB/s writes for sequential data. The problem is other when copying files I never have those cases.

My brother has a Patriot Warp v2 SSD, which has similar issues because it also uses a JMicron controller. It is a little slower for sequential reads/writes, but a little faster for writing smaller files.

BTW: I tried using 2 Raptor Hard Disks with a Raid-0 configuration 2 years ago and it was a similar issue, the stupid software raid controller from the mainboard was slower than just using one single hard drive without any raid. Reading data was way quicker, but writing stuff to the raid was just way slower!

It seems only expensive SDDs like Intel's X25-M 80GB SSD (costs around 400 bucks) have a really good controller and can do many reads/writes with small files without any problems.