Linux Blog

What Read Times do you get on your hard disks?

Filed under: Linux Software — at 11:20 pm on Saturday, August 23, 2008

Hard drives are a vital part of system performance. They really are one of the biggest bottle necks in computing. Its nice to know how many MB/s your hard drives are capable of reading. If you perform the tests could share your results with other Linux Blog readers? With advances in hard drive technology I hope to see performance get better, and already see a major increase in performance over the old IDE type drives.

To check your hard drive read times use hdparm like so:

hdparm -t /dev/sdX

replacing sdX with whatever device your distribution assigned. Here are my results:

sda is my internal 80GB SATA drive.
Timing buffered disk reads:  224 MB in  3.02 seconds =  74.07 MB/sec
sdb is an internal 80GB IDE Drive
[owen@LinuxBlog ~]# hdparm -t /dev/sdb
Timing buffered disk reads:   62 MB in  3.09 seconds =  20.06 MB/sec
sdc is an internal 160GB IDE drive
[owen@LinuxBlog ~]# hdparm -t /dev/sdc
Timing buffered disk reads:   90 MB in  3.03 seconds =  29.70 MB/sec

The next two tests are rather interesting. sde is a brand new freshly formated 1TB external Western Digital MyBook Drive.

[owen@LinuxBlog ~]# hdparm -t /dev/sde
Timing buffered disk reads:    2 MB in  7.69 seconds = 266.25 kB/sec
[owen@LinuxBlog ~]# hdparm -t /dev/sde
Timing buffered disk reads:   68 MB in  3.01 seconds =  22.60 MB/sec

The first result was what the read time is like when you first initialize the drive. Since the drive was in power down, the read time was horrendous. This was fixed second time around. You will notice that the transfer rate over USB 2.0 is not all that bad in comparison to the internal IDE. Both IDE drives are not primary drives, and are also on the same channel. I’m not sure if that makes a difference or not. Also when I try to set DMA and 32 bit support I get an IOCTL error indicating that something went wrong, so I don’t think that this is a fair test.

Either way, post your results, if see if you can tweak the hard drive settings then see what the read times are. Check out my: Hard Drive Tuning with hdparm article.