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 Forum index » Advanced Topics » Hardware
USB Flash Drive Speed
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smokey01


Joined: 30 Dec 2006
Posts: 2657
Location: South Australia

PostPosted: Mon 12 Sep 2016, 05:34    Post subject:  USB Flash Drive Speed
Subject description: What are the fastest USB flash drives?
 

For some time now I have been looking for a reliable flash drive that is a respectable size at a cost that won't break the bank. I probably have about 100 flash drives but many are the same brand and size as I tend to buy them in batches for giveaways.

Recently I was reading Barry's blog.
http://barryk.org/news/?viewDetailed=00402

I had a few questions about this drive so I bought one from MSY today for $AUD57.00. Using this test method "hdparm -t --direct /dev/sde" it actually performed quite well. The manufacturer claims read speeds of around 245MB/sec and I actually received 196MB/sec, not too bad. I only tested it formatted as vfat, the default. I often format USB flash drives as Ext3 or f2fs.

I assumed the above command "hdparm -t --direct /dev/sde" is showing read speeds and not write speeds. If it's the write speed then that's even more impressive.

The reason I raise this is because it seems USB flash drives read faster formatted as vfat than Ext?
To prove this I tested two 64GB SanDisk Ultrafits, one formatted as vfat, the other as Ext3. The vfat came in at 109MB/sec while the Ext3 could only manage 67.40MB/sec which is quite a difference.

I rather like the little Ultrafits as they are small and only protrude a little from my laptop. One issue I have noticed, they become quite hot.

Recently I was reading an article that stated they can get so hot they can damage the USB port. To get around this problem I bought a 0.5M extension cable. This means the heat is away from the actual port. I'm not sure this will completely solve the problem but sadly I've lost my small footprint. I also discovered one of the main differences between USB2 and USB3 cables is the numbers of connectors. USB2 only has four and can only transmit or send, not both at the same time (half duplex). USB3 has nine connectors and is full duplex, no wonder it's faster. USB3 flash drives and cables are identified by blue fittings. Inside the plugs are blue. You will also notice the cables are thicker as they have more wires to accommodate.

I would be interested in hearing other views on fast USB3 drives and how well they perform.

Is the hdparm command above the best way to test USB drives or is there something better?

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drunkjedi


Joined: 24 May 2015
Posts: 684

PostPosted: Mon 12 Sep 2016, 05:57    Post subject:  

Hi smokey, use F3 utility,
you can find it on our forum.
It works like h2wtest for Windows.

It will give you read and right speed and also test your drive for capacity and other defects.

I use it to check newly purchased drives.

And manufacturer quoted speed is never achieved by me.
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LateAdopter

Joined: 27 May 2011
Posts: 275
Location: Reading UK

PostPosted: Mon 12 Sep 2016, 05:58    Post subject:  

Hello smokey01

The power-off data retention time for MLC flash can be quite short, according to Intel data, if they are stored at a higher temperature than they were written. This is unlikely to be significant in the UK but could be a factor for you and BarryK in Australia.

MLC flash is used in the highest speed USB sticks and in consumer SSDs.

I use a Transcend Premium 300x microSD card, which is not MLC in a Transcend USB3 card reader. The command that BarryK used gives a read speed of 55MB/s when formated FAT32 with 64kB clusters. The write speed is about 25MB/s when copying a 2GB MPEG file.

The same card gave a read speed of 90MB/s in a review on a chinese website, so I suspect that the linux test is not fully sequential,
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TyroBGinner

Joined: 30 Mar 2016
Posts: 177

PostPosted: Mon 12 Sep 2016, 06:52    Post subject:  

This is a subject that interested me quite a bit at one time. It has been discussed in this forum, but not too recently, I think.

I swear that I have seen, surprisingly, what appear to be 3.0 connections without the characteristic blue color of the plastic inner tab. Has anyone else encountered this? I found such a case, for example, on a new Dell Optiplex. The commands lsusb -t and lsusb -v reported a 3.0 connection and I read some 1 gig files off a SanDisk Ultra drive at about 100 MB/s. I don't think that the hdparm command gives a good sense of the transfer speeds. I prefer direct file transfers - and keep in mind that write caching can skew results.

The SanDisk Extreme drives appear to be well-received and at good prices. A few months ago, they were less than a dollar a gig. Forum member April mentioned some USB SSD flash drives at $40. Which brings up what I think is the main issue - the use of SSD-style controllers in the truly fast drives. The type of flash memory is important, and so is the number of dies, and so on...but the controller is the biggest factor. For example, Mushkin has put out SSD-type flash drives and are very fast, but I saw reports of rapid overheating (and resulting automatic throttling) of such devices on sites like Anandtech. This seems to be in keeping with what Smokey said. It seems suprising that it would get hot enough to damage the receptacle on the computer. Maybe the heat and price issues will improve with time. Just look around at review sites (Anandtech is a good example) and who is selling what products.

A old review, but a good starting point, is here.

Also try http://usb.userbenchmark.com/.

People here often mention reformatting flash drives and changing partition structure. There is reason to believe that this can alter the speed of the device. It has the potential to change boundary alignment between the address space of the drive and the page boundaries of the physical flash memory. A utility, called flashbench, was developed to look at read/write timing of flash devices to help reveal where to place partitions on those devices. It might also be the case that the details of a particular filesystem, such as cluster and sector sizes, are important here as well. Writing to a region on the drive could require excessive erase operations, for example. The whole subject is pretty tricky, and I don't claim to have a solid understanding of it, but it is worth being aware of the issue.

These articles are old also, but interesting: here and here. The second item has a comment by Joe Zbiciak, developer of the jzintv emulator for Intellivision games - it's a small world.

Please note: If you want to use the flashbench program, it will erase data structures, such as file tables, on your flash drive!!! Use the program on blank devices.
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smokey01


Joined: 30 Dec 2006
Posts: 2657
Location: South Australia

PostPosted: Mon 12 Sep 2016, 07:33    Post subject:  

@drunkjedi
I remember looking at f3 in the past. Is there a way to tell it to write a single 1024M file instead of the entire available space?

It could take a while to test a 64GB drive. I think writing and reading a 1GB would give suffice to test the speed.

@TyroBGinner
Some interesting links, thanks.

@LateAdopter
Thanks

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ASD

Joined: 22 Mar 2016
Posts: 99

PostPosted: Mon 12 Sep 2016, 07:45    Post subject:  

Hi smokey01

Re: f3 - I think you can kill writing using Ctrl+c.
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drunkjedi


Joined: 24 May 2015
Posts: 684

PostPosted: Mon 12 Sep 2016, 08:23    Post subject:  

Yes you can kill f3write from writing and f3read will test whatever is available but I never tried that as I mostly use it to test newly bought drives, I let it run for whole drive.

Edit: I have never used f3probe, f3fix, and f3brew

You can read about them here...
http://oss.digirati.com.br/f3/

Last edited by drunkjedi on Mon 12 Sep 2016, 08:31; edited 1 time in total
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smokey01


Joined: 30 Dec 2006
Posts: 2657
Location: South Australia

PostPosted: Mon 12 Sep 2016, 08:30    Post subject:  

It appears it's possible to write file but I having trouble working out the help.

Usage: f3write [--start-at=NUM] [--end-at=NUM] <PATH>

f3write --start-at=0 --end-at=1024000000 /mnt/sde1 Embarassed

Doesn't work.

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Last edited by smokey01 on Mon 12 Sep 2016, 09:35; edited 1 time in total
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drunkjedi


Joined: 24 May 2015
Posts: 684

PostPosted: Mon 12 Sep 2016, 08:38    Post subject:  

try f3write --end-at=2

This should write 2 files only.
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smokey01


Joined: 30 Dec 2006
Posts: 2657
Location: South Australia

PostPosted: Mon 12 Sep 2016, 08:40    Post subject:  

I guess that would write 2 x 1 GB files.

f3write --end-at=1

Would only write 1 x 1GB file.

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drunkjedi


Joined: 24 May 2015
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PostPosted: Mon 12 Sep 2016, 08:42    Post subject:  

Yes I believe.

I can't test as I am at work.
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smokey01


Joined: 30 Dec 2006
Posts: 2657
Location: South Australia

PostPosted: Mon 12 Sep 2016, 08:45    Post subject:  

It worked. I guess we have it sussed.
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drunkjedi


Joined: 24 May 2015
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PostPosted: Mon 12 Sep 2016, 08:47    Post subject:  

Nice, so what write and read speed you got?
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smokey01


Joined: 30 Dec 2006
Posts: 2657
Location: South Australia

PostPosted: Mon 12 Sep 2016, 08:51    Post subject:  

I will have to bootup the lappy as this old clunker only has USB2.

I will report back soon.

I tried to write one file but it wouldn't work so I CTRL-C after 7 files and took notice of the speed. Write was 133.80 and Read was 182.87.

This was for a SandDisk Extreme 64GB.

Not too bad.
f3.tar.gz
Description  These were built in Fatdog64-710b
gz

 Download 
Filename  f3.tar.gz 
Filesize  11.28 KB 
Downloaded  55 Time(s) 

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mavrothal


Joined: 24 Aug 2009
Posts: 2909

PostPosted: Mon 12 Sep 2016, 15:04    Post subject:  

If you want a stick to house an OS the random read/write speed and the number of simultaneous reads/writes are the crucial factors.
Flashbench is a tool that may be useful in this case. Has also some good documentation and links (some of them mentioned above by TyroBGinner)

BTW the 64GB SanDisk Extreme is an excellent stick. Booting/running an OS is consistently at 30-40% of the performance of an internal high quality SSD

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