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The USB Stick Performance Challenge!

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Following on from me moaning about pointless USB sticks that vendors now give away as freebies, I decided to test out the performance of those devices to see which were worth retaining.  My wholly unscientific test measures the average throughput on writing a file as large as possible to the device.  For 1GB and above, I used a 942MB file, for smaller sticks, I used a smaller file that would just fill the device.  Performance is measured as throughput over time, in MB/s.  To ensure fair play, each USB stick is formatted using Disk Utility on the Mac before writing.  The results are quite interesting and are shown in the table below.

Vendor Capacity (MB) Performance (MB/s)
Xsigo 512 8.60
Brocade 2048 6.50
Hitachi 2 84 6.00
HP 2 2048 5.00
SAN Disk 4096 4.80
Hitachi 4096 4.60
Compellent 1024 4.50
Nirvanix 512 4.50
EMC vSpecialist 2048 4.40
HP 2048 3.80
Cisco 256 3.00
Data Robotics 2048 2.60
3Par 1024 1.90

Xsigo fared the best with an amazing 8.6MB/s, followed by Brocade, and 3Par languished in last place with a disappointing 1.9MB/s.  There’s also a clear “middle ground” of devices around the 4.5 – 5.0 MB/s range.  Of course this test is totally unscientific but it’s nice to think how much vendors are spending on us when they decide on the quality of their freebies…..

About Chris M Evans

Chris M Evans has worked in the technology industry since 1987, starting as a systems programmer on the IBM mainframe platform, while retaining an interest in storage. After working abroad, he co-founded an Internet-based music distribution company during the .com era, returning to consultancy in the new millennium. In 2009 Chris co-founded Langton Blue Ltd (www.langtonblue.com), a boutique consultancy firm focused on delivering business benefit through efficient technology deployments. Chris writes a popular blog at http://blog.architecting.it, attends many conferences and invitation-only events and can be found providing regular industry contributions through Twitter (@chrismevans) and other social media outlets.
  • Max


    You have too much time on your hands …

    • http://www.brookend.com Chris Evans

      Some things just pique your interest and you have to answer them… :-)


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  • Dave

    Interesting..but you have too much time!!

    Hey why not donate them all to a good cause.


    They go to schools in less privileged areas using sugar labs software livenin the USB stick.

    • http://www.brookend.com Chris Evans


      Do you run a similar scheme in the UK? I’d be interested in donating them locally here if that was possible.


  • https://www.ibm.com/developerworks/mydeveloperworks/blogs/storagevirtualization Barry Whyte

    LOL, i like it, unfortunately I started thinking the technical reasons behind the differences – don’t know if that makes me even more sad ;)

    • http://www.brookend.com Chris Evans


      It makes you more sad… :-)

      Actually, what would have been sadder is if you were trying to work out how to make them work in a RAID configuration and manage the difference in write response times to make the RAID work efficiently!


  • http://twitter.com/brackendawson Alan

    Brocade always give the best presents :-D

    • http://www.brookend.com Chris Evans

      Let’s test that assumption on Wednesday at IP Expo….


  • http://rogerluethy.wordpress.com/ Roger

    Great Test ! I have to search my UBS stick collection :-)

  • Gmo

    If you need to gang program them, you could do it with this standalone USB duplicator


  • Matt Mancini

    Hey email me your contact information and I’ll send you an official Phoenix VMUG 4GB USB stick to test.. :)

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