ADATA Premier SP550 Solid State Drive Review
By David Ramsey
Full Disclosure: ADATA Technology Co. provided the product sample used in this article.
Founded in 2001, the Taiwanese company ADATA Technology Corporation specializes in memory-based products. A few years ago they branched out into SSDs, and have been competing aggressively on price/performance as SSD prices continue to fall. Benchmark Reviews has previously looked at the ADATA Premier SP550 mainstream and ADATA XPG SX930 performance SSDs; today we have the ADATA Premier SP550. With Hynix TLC NAND backed by a Silicon Motion controller and LDPC error correction, is the SP550 the price/performance sweet spot in ADATA’s lineup? Let’s see…
Solid State vs Hard Disk
As the slowest component in your computer, the mechanical hard disk limits the overall system performance. Sure, you can have a killer processor that encodes 4K video in real time, and a set of high-end graphics cards that provide insane frame rates, but a mechanical hard disk slows boot times, program load times, and– given that Windows’ virtual memory service is continually swapping data to and from your hard disk– overall system responsiveness.
The access time of the slowest SSD is several orders of magnitude faster than the very fastest hard disk, and transfer rates are 2-5 times better as well. The SSD advantage increases with modern pre-emptive multitasking operating systems, where dozens of threads are running simultaneously and competing for your disk’s limited response time and bandwith.
At the end of the day, disks are limited by the fact that they’re comprised of physical, moving parts. Moving parts take time to move, and while it might only take a 7-15 milliseconds (on average) to move a hard disk’s read/write heads to the correct track (and wait for the proper sector of the disk to spin under them), SSD access times are typically measured in hundredths of a millisecond.
Bandwidth Speed vs Operational Performance
As we’ve explained in our SSD Benchmark Tests: SATA IDE vs AHCI Mode guide, Solid State Drive performance revolves around two dynamics: bandwidth speed (MB/s) and operational performance I/O per second (IOPS). These two metrics work together, but one may bemore important than the other. Consider this analogy: bandwidth determines how much cargo a ship can transport in one voyage, and operational IOPS performance is how fast that ship moves. By understanding this and applying it to SSD storage, there is a clear importance set on each variable depending on the task at hand.
For casual users, especially those with laptop or desktop computers that have been upgraded to use an SSD, the naturally quick response time is enough to automatically improve the user experience. Bandwidth speed is important, but only to the extent that operational performance meets the minimum needs of the system. If an SSD has a very high bandwidth speed but a low operational performance, it will take longer to load applications and boot the computer into Windows than if the SSD offered a higher IOPS performance.