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SSD Compiler Benchmark

by Alex Peck on June 5th, 2010

Anandtech has some good articles illustrating the type of performance gains you might expect using an SSD disk for everyday tasks. Using Visual Studio, and in particular, compilation, are not considered. I did a cursory inspection of the rest of the Internet, and found no decent benchmarks investigating the impact of SSDs on compile time. So, I decided to perform my own. It’s well known that a lot of the operations performed by Visual Studio are disk bound, so it seems like there is some potential.

I discussed this with colleagues at work, and someone suggested that compiling managed code is more CPU intensive than native. This would suggest that it might be CPU bound, rather than disk bound. I therefore decided to test both native and managed code compilation, using both a conventional hard disk drive and a solid state drive.

Test Setup

I used my ageing PC running Windows 7 x64 Ultimate and Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate. For each disk I did a clean install and didn’t apply any updates.

I ran my tests on the following:

I selected the following test code to compile, based on it being relatively fast and self contained (I didn’t want to spend hours doing this!), and be fairly representative of a small system (compiling multiple dependent binaries):

  • Microsoft Enterprise Library 5.0 – a small set of managed components written by the Microsoft Patterns & Practices team.
  • LAME, the open source MP3 encoding library. I used version 3.98.4, and did a little hacking to get it to build against a recent GTK+.

Results

I compiled each test program three times and took the average result. I turned on build timing in Visual Studio by going to Tools->Options->Projects and Solutions->Build and Run->MSBuild project build output verbosity=Detailed. VS2010 now uses MSBuild for native code.

Compile time in seconds. Lower is better.

So, using an SSD we get around a 21% gain in speed on native code, and a 16% gain compiling managed. Not bad. Although my Raptor isn’t the most recent model, it is representative of the fastest conventional SATA hard disk available. On this basis, I would expect a RAID setup based on 10k RPM disks to outperform the SSD.

3 Comments
  1. Thanks for the performance of actual use. I can see here its not that much difference. In my opinion thats not a noticeable difference. Think of this, would you trade in a 2ghz cpu for a 2.6ghz cpu? I don’t think you would, you would probably go for 3.6ghz, something 2x faster or about. So in the comparison between the raptor and the SSD, its not enough difference in my opinion to upgrade.

  2. peterchen permalink

    @Bill: The point is that even going from a 2GHz to a 3.6GHz CPU might not increase in build speed significantly, if the bottleneck is disk access.

    The question is: 21% of what? With a hour-long build, the money is well spent.

    @OA: We’ve got a lo of kicks out of: Win 7 x64, 8G RAM, and building on 8 threads (4 cores with HT). It’s a factor of 2 faster than on a x86 Vista with 4GRAM and a slightly weaker CPU.

    For robust parallel builds, we had to set up a custom script handling dependencies of projects, but well worth it. What’s your HW config, besides “ageing”?

  3. @peterchen: hit the ‘ageing pc’ link to get to the CPU-Z summary of my hardware.

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