The Impact Of HDD/SSD Performance On Linux Gaming

Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Gaming on 21 November 2017. Page 1 of 4. 27 Comments

Last week we presented our initial benchmarks of the Intel Optane SSD 900P on Linux and it offers mighty performance potential for those using I/O heavy workloads thanks to the use of 3D XPoint memory. But is a solid-state drive like this really worth the price if you are just a Linux gamer? Here are some tests comparing load times and boot times between a HDD, SATA 3.0 SSD, NVMe SSD, and this 3D XPoint NVMe U.2 SSD.

The focus of this testing is looking at the game load time difference across these different storage devices as well as the Ubuntu Linux boot speed. The drives tested for this comparison included the:

Western Digital WD5000AADS-0: A 500GB SATA 3.0 "Western Digital Green" hard drive with 32MB cache.

Crucial CT525MX3: The Crucial MX300 series SATA 3.0 SSD with 525GB capacity.

Samsung 950 PRO SSD: The 256GB Samsung 950 PRO NVMe SSD in M.2 form factor.

INTEL SSDPE21D280GA: The new Intel Optane 900P 280GB SSD with 3D XPoint memory. This model was in the U.2 form factor so it was connected to the gaming test system using the Funtin SFF-8639 U.2 NVMe SSD to PCI-E adapter.

The test system was an Intel Core i7 8700K Coffee Lake box with an ASUS PRIME Z370-A motherboard, 16GB DDR4 memory, and Radeon RX 580 graphics card. This system was running Ubuntu 17.10 on each of the drives while upgrading to the Linux 4.14 kernel and the Padoka PPA for Mesa 17.4-dev.

Via the Phoronix Test Suite these benchmarks were run. The systemd-boot-total test profile records the system's boot speed using systemd. For the gaming tests, the RUN_TIMES_ARE_A_BENCHMARK=1 environment variable was set to activate the module that will precisely record the test run times of all automated tests executed by the Phoronix Test Suite. From there we can see precisely how long each test took when the only thing being changed out was the HDD/SSD for seeing the impact on build time.

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