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Bartimaeus

Odd SSD Behavior

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Motherboard: Asus Maximus VI Hero
CPU: Intel i7-4770k
RAM: 2x4GB DDR3 1600MHz
Video Card: AMD 5770
System Drive: PNY XLR8 120GB
Storage Drive: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 7200RPM
OS: Windows 7 SP1, 64bit

 

I have two copies of a game, S.T.A.L.K.E.R...one on my SSD, one on my HDD. I'm playing at minimum settings for the sake of the test. The HDD version plays perfectly. The SSD, on the other hand, while having much faster load times, stutters for about half a second every 3-10 seconds, no matter what I'm doing - even if I'm standing perfectly still. I'm loading from the same save, with the same settings. Both drives are plugged into the Intel SATA solution on the board, not any third party controllers. It is in AHCI mode, not IDE. My specifications should be more than capable of running S.T.A.L.K.E.R., particularly on minimum settings. Light benchmarking utilities say my SSD reads close to 400MB/s for 1MB random reads, with my HDD only getting around 50MB/s. The system is not overheating, (having monitored my drive temps, as well as my CPU and HDD temps).

 

Anyone have any idea what's going on?

 

(edit): Oh, also, the SSD is only 40% filled - about the same for the HDD, too.

(edit): Also, furthermore: this happened on my previous computer, which was a quadcore Phenom II 3.5GHz with a Gigabyte 990FXA-UD3 motherboard. This is also a recent reformat, and it's new for this computer. So I can't see this being anything else besides the SSD itself.

Edited by Bartimaeus

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Just a cursory google search acually produced hits warning against it. Swithcing sectors to improve performance is done automatically in the background on SSDs. Just delete, unless it's filled with system files and it wont let you.

 

I shouldn't think stuttering in game would happen when it isn't reading from disk.

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I'm sorry: what was warned against? I didn't propose actually doing anything, I don't think, so I'm not sure what you mean! Thanks for the input.

 

I decided to monitor Resource Monitor on the drive tab on my second monitor while playing the game on my C:\ drive.

 

dHN67ve.png

 

Strange results. For every spike you see for the queue length on the C:\ drive, there was an associated stutter. This was easy to notice because during the time where there was no drive activity for a little, there were also no spikes. I'm not sure what it's loading, because, as I said, I'm not moving my character or even my camera, and the one major thing that would normally cause stutter loading in in Stalker - AI characters as they reach the arbitrary distance from your character to be switched "on" - I have virtually completely disabled, (the vanilla switch is 150 meters - I have it set to 1 and I'm in a remote location - ergo, no character switching). My OS is also not hardly interacting with my SSD when it's happening, so I don't think it's that that's causing the stutter, either...

Edited by Bartimaeus

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General SSD advice would be to check its alignment, update the SSD firmware, update the Intel/motherboard drivers. Use something like AS SSD to verify the AHCI driver being used.


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Oops, I forgot about that. Yes, I did use AS SSD to do that - incorrect alignment, incorrect controller, and incorrect drivers. Fixing all of that didn't really make any difference, besides switching from the ASMedia SATA controller to the Intel solution, which made the SSD go about 15% faster. Speed doesn't really seem to be the problem, as far as I can tell, though, so...

 

I also installed the RST drivers - I didn't originally, 'cos I didn't think I needed them, but apparently they include some semi-important drivers that are good to have even if you're not planning on using RST itself. The alignment was incorrect because I foolishly used the Windows 7 re-imaging process, which was the sorriest excuse of a re-imaging tool I could've ever possibly imagined, so it didn't surprise me when I found out the alignment offset was incorrect and set to 31 K instead of a more normal value, (I corrected it to 2048 K, and it reports as being good). I'm new to SSDs, so give me a break. :p Like I said, though, none of that really made a difference.

 

Mayhaps I should try a secure erase and a complete, clean reformat - no Windows re-imaging?

 

(edit): Except, now that I think of it, my previous install, for my AMD computer, was a completely new format - not a re-imaging...and it had the same exact problem. So that's bunk, too.

Edited by Bartimaeus

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Can't say for sure because I've always done clean installs as far back as I can remember. It's worth noting that Win7 is Microsoft's first SSD-aware OS, and as part of installation will set up appropriately (including things like not scheduling defrags, moving the swap file, etc), so perhaps something was missed by not doing that.

 

Hopefully it's not just another Sandforce-based disk doing a dodgy, firmware is more important to those than just about any other controller.


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Once again, I forgot to mention something: its firmware is flashed to the latest. Pagefile...as well as my entire user and temp/appdata folders, are all on my D:\ drive, not my C:\. So, if anything, the stupid SSD should be having an even *easier* time than it would normally - not that there's any bloody excuse for what it's doing now even if I were running a typical setup.

 

I run Diskeeper, an automatic and manual defragmenting program. Enabled for my D:\ drive, completely disabled for my C:\ drive, obviously.

You might've missed my previous edit: "(edit): Except, now that I think of it, my previous install, for my AMD computer, was a completely new format - not a re-imaging...and it had the same exact problem. So that's bunk, too."


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Did you turn off any kind of "HDD"-sleep behaviour in Windows Power Options?

 

Also, the "image" thing has me wondering: Did you take an image from your AMD platform and migrate this to your Intel platform? Might be cause of these issues as well (how such a move would even allow Windows to run would be rather surprising to me anyway ;) )

 

 

Other than that:

 

If you're using the Intel storage driver: Given the Intel-platform I'd have said it might have something with LPM, and while it's strange that it would happen on the AMD computer as well, it might be worth a try to disable that (randomly googled link about how to proceed)

 

Otherwise, try switching to MSAHCI, Microsoft's standard AHCI driver.


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Hardware doctors would say your PC suffers from digital hypochondriasis. It's a common problem, generally improved just by talking about it. 


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Did you turn off any kind of "HDD"-sleep behaviour in Windows Power Options?

 

Also, the "image" thing has me wondering: Did you take an image from your AMD platform and migrate this to your Intel platform? Might be cause of these issues as well (how such a move would even allow Windows to run would be rather surprising to me anyway ;) )

 

 

Other than that:

 

If you're using the Intel storage driver: Given the Intel-platform I'd have said it might have something with LPM, and while it's strange that it would happen on the AMD computer as well, it might be worth a try to disable that (randomly googled link about how to proceed)

 

Otherwise, try switching to MSAHCI, Microsoft's standard AHCI driver.

1. Sleep after: Never; Turn off hard disk after: Never. I also have any special "power savings" modes disabled in my BIOS.

 

2. For the image, what I basically did was setup a super basic computer, stick in an old 80GB Barracuda, formatted it to Windows 7, 64bit, install all the stupid Windows Updates that take forever to install, (this was the main purpose of creating an image - so I wouldn't ever have to install the hundreds of Windows Updates as a result of having the initial release copy of Windows 7 every time I reformatted a computer), and not install any drivers specific to the computer, nor any third party programs, so that I could re-image any computer I wanted within a fairly fast amount of time, and without worrying about incompatibilities. I'm sure a few generic drivers were installed to make the system usable at the time, but that shouldn't be a big deal. My previous AMD system was not a re-imaging, but, as I said, had the same problem - this system was re-imaged, but it came from an entirely different computer I setup, so it doesn't really make sense for the problem to translate over. FTR, it was an old Intel Pentium 4 system. :p

 

3. Thanks. Tried it, but no effect. :(

 

4. I actually started with the Microsoft standard AHCI driver - I didn't really know I was supposed to install the Intel one. I also started with the third party ASMedia SATA controller, too. As far as I can figure out, there's something wrong with the SSD itself...can't see how it can be anything but at this point. Wanted to fix it on my own, if possible...but at this point, it seems unlikely. Another thing - I only updated the firmware fairly recently - the previous version of the firmware, which was a few versions back, had the same exact problem. Bah.  :p

Hardware doctors would say your PC suffers from digital hypochondriasis. It's a common problem, generally improved just by talking about it. 

 

lol. Uhh, thanks. :p

Edited by Bartimaeus

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Did a final test - only one I could think of. Stuck the SSD in another computer as a storage drive - i.e. not the boot drive - and loaded up S.T.A.L.K.E.R. from it. Still suffered from the stuttering, even doing nothing else besides playing Stalker. Blah.


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So after a secure erase and a clean install of the game? I guess the lesson here is never buy a Sandforce drive. :(


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No, I didn't do a secure erase. As it's a fairly new drive, (approximately 3 months old), what reason is there to? It's a clean...-ish install of the game. The only mod I have is a bugfix and minor feature compilation mod (ZRP) - it's irrelevant, though, as I've played without it on this PC and it had the same problem. So I doubt that'd make much difference!

Edited by Bartimaeus

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Well figured that it might be a final test before returning it or somesuch (though I didn't notice it was that new), in which you might as well try everything. Or are you just putting it down to Stalker possibly having a specific compatibility issue and everything else is running fine?


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That's the problem: how do I tell? And why would there be? I mean, it's essentially the same as a hard drive for program usage, except way faster, so...there's no reason it should be doing it, especially if a traditional HDD doesn't have the same problem. The reason I haven't done a secure erase yet is because it's currently my boot drive for my main system, and I'm almost absolutely certain it wouldn't make a difference at this point.

 

I'll have to contact the manufacturer to see if they have any ideas.


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While it does seem a weird notion, the Sandforce controller does a lot of funny things with data compression, which is where a lot of its raw speed comes from. If you look at comparative benchmarks, Sandforce-SSDs often come out with a huge lead in compressible data transfer, but are either at parity or slower when dealing with incompressible data.

Edited by Humanoid

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Decided to see if any other games would exhibit any problems like Stalker showed while being played off my SSD that never happened while being played off my HDD: loaded up Medieval 2, and what do you know, the game stutters randomly in a similar manner to Stalker right on the main map campaign screen. Not as much, and it's rarer - but that's to be expected, given that it's a fairly static screen. I never remember it happening while playing it off my HDD. Stupid drive...

Edited by Bartimaeus

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A quick google shows that this stuttering also happens to many other users of this drive and the 240GB version of this drive, so I'd say it's just the drive. They probably had some faulty batches.

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I would just run an OS off of an SSD, and let the game data be read/write off of a platter drive.

 

Flash Storage is still very experimental versus Magnetic Platters from the reports and studies I've read on SSD's they should only really be used for battery operated devices or something that can die (turn off) quietly. If you are running something from the drive and theirs a power surge that goes through your computer you have to pray it didn't corrupt a block during a write operation.

 

Either way that's my setup and I have been able to run all Stalker Games smoothly on max settings + V sync and some anti aliasing.

 

Also, have you install any mods to your copy of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.

Edited by Whitefox789

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Anything that's currently on my SSD is not really sensitive to data loss. All sensitive data is on my 1TB Seagate HDD, and then a copy of it all on my other HDD.

 

Yeah, like I said, the graphics options don't matter in the slightest. I can be on static lighting (DX8!) on the bare minimum settings, and it runs just as well as on the highest, and it runs just the same: only the SSD stuttering mars both.

 

Yes, I have ZRP, which is more likely to make it run better than worse - irrelevant, though, as I tried it without. Additionally, I tried playing the Lost Alpha mod, and it had the same exact problem. I thought it was just unoptimized at the time, but I was incorrect.


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Well the real rules of SSD purchasing are as follows:

 

1) Don't buy Sandforce

2) Don't buy OCZ

 

 

EDIT: These clauses are not mutually exclusive, and the repercussions of each are additive. Should you get your hands on an OCZ Sandforce drive, be sure to quarantine it inside a 1" thick lead case.

Edited by Humanoid

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Hah! I didn't care the slightest about speed, as long as it was within the ballpark, which the later gen Sandforce drives (mostly) are. That, and I only paid $35 for it new. Like I said, I'll have to talk to PNY and get it replaced...uh...eventually.


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