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Written by Olin Coles   
Friday, 04 December 2009
Table of Contents: Page Index
Marvell SATA-6G SSD Performance vs Intel ICH10
Features and Specifications
Seagate Barracuda XT: SATA 3G vs 6G
OCZ Agility SSD: SATA 3G vs 6G
OCZ Agility EX SSD: SATA 3G vs 6G
OCZ Vertex Turbo SSD: SATA 3G vs 6G
Final Thoughts and Conclusion

Marvell SATA 6G SSD Performance vs Intel ICH10

When the Seagate Barracuda XT was revealed as the World's first-ever third generation SATA 6Gb/s hard drive, expectations for performance were raised to match the new bandwidth limit. While this drive offered tremendous storage capacity paired to good performance, the transfer speeds were nowhere near the second generation SATA-3 Gb/s limit. This is where Benchmark Reviews turns to our vast collection of Solid State Drive storage products, some of which eclipse the SATA-II range. However, our history of SSD performance tests on the Intel ICH10 Southbridge would prove to be very different than our results on the new Marvell 88SE9123 or 88SE9128 SATA-III chips. In this article, Benchmark Reviews compares Marvell SATA-6G SSD performance against tests on the Intel ICH10 chipset.


This project was created from by the perfect storm: Benchmark Reviews was already testing the Seagate Barracuda XT ST32000641AS on the ASUS P7P55D Premium (Intel P55/ICH10 + Marvell 88SE9123) and Gigabyte GA-P55A-UD6 (Intel P55/ICH10 + Marvell 88SE9128) motherboards. After receiving less than impressive differences between SATA-II and SATA-III benchmark performance with the new Seagate SATA 6G hard drive, a handful of SSDs were connected to help find potential differences. There were differences, to be sure, but not the kind that improve performance. Our results didn't fit-in well with the respective review projects, as they were off-topic, so this Marvell SATA 6G SSD Performance vs Intel ICH10 article was created,

The basis of this article revolves around two notions: SATA 6G connections offer more bandwidth than SATA 3G controller did, and that SATA-II products that came close to the 3 Gb/s limit may see some improvement with the new SATA-III controller. Although it is still very early on in the SATA 6G lifecycle (Marvell announced the 88SE9128 SATA-III 6Gb/s controller on 22 September 2009), and only one major manufacturer offers a viable storage controller (the aforementioned Marvell Technology Group), the media hype has create a very high bar for expectations. So what's to be expected?

About Intel Corporation

Intel (NASDAQ: INTC), the world leader in silicon innovation, develops technologies, products and initiatives to continually advance how people work and live. Additional information about Intel is available at

About Marvell Technology Group Ltd.

Marvell (NASDAQ: MRVL) is a leader in the development of storage, communications, and consumer silicon solutions. The company's diverse product portfolio includes switching, transceiver, communications controller, wireless, and storage solutions that power the entire communications infrastructure including enterprise, metro, home, and storage networking. As used in this release, the terms "company" and "Marvell" refer to Marvell Technology Group Ltd. and its subsidiaries. For more information, visit



# NiceMichael 2010-08-06 00:49
I was just in the process of rebuilding my PC and was about to connect my SSD (the OCZ Agility one) to the Marvell chip - good thing I found this in time! Cheers!
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# wowpit 2010-08-09 11:13
wow that is some horrible performance.. no wonder my benchmarks ate it when I started using the marvell controller
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# RE: Marvell SATA-6G SSD Performance vs Intel ICH10Milli 2010-10-19 15:31
Your Marvell test systems make this review useless.
If you check out the schematics of your motherboard (page 8):

You will see that the Marvell chip gets it's PCI-Express lane from the P55 chip. The P55 chipset runs it's PCI-E 2.0 ports at half speed what results in the horrific performance you're getting.

I think it would be adviced to withdraw this article and save face.
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# RE: RE: Marvell SATA-6G SSD Performance vs Intel ICH10Olin Coles 2010-10-19 15:37
Correction: It's not a review, it's a technology comparison. You'll notice, or not, that I'm illustrating how the on-board Marvell controller operates when integrated on a P55 motherboard. P55-Express was the first motherboard platform to receive SATA 6Gb/s ports... so way to miss the entire point of this article.

What was that you were saying about saving face?
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# RE: RE: RE: Marvell SATA-6G SSD Performance vs Intel ICH10Milli 2010-10-20 03:29
Well your article misses the point completely.
Nowhere do you mention why the Marvell controller is slower on those boards and what is needed to be done by motherboard manufacturers to make it fast (or which board(s) are implementing it good). Nor do you add a P55 motherboard that has it implemented correctly.
The way you present it, one might conclude that it's a controller deficiency.
There are many ways to get the Marvell up to speed. At least mention one but instead you run the same test five times. To top it of, you conclude (wrongly) that the deficiency is caused by driver optimizations.
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# RE: RE: RE: RE: Marvell SATA-6G SSD Performance vs Intel ICH10Olin Coles 2010-10-20 18:06
Actually, "you've missed the point completely". Gigabyte's P55 Express series were the first SATA 6Gb/s equipped motherboards on the market, beating ASUS and others by several weeks. This article was written when no other options existed. It wasn't until many months later that X58 versions became available. So, as you can figure, there wouldn't be any mention of other solutions... because they didn't exist.

Your claim that I "wrongly" concluded that driver was not yet optimized is also made in ignorance. Since Marvell's chipset operates on the same bus as Intel ICH10 controller, the performance should be similar for lower-speed devices. Look at the transfer rate tests, and you'll see that speeds didn't reach 250 MB/s (half-speed) and they were still faster on the Intel ICH.

Furthermore, since bandwidth has little impact on IOPS performance, please explain how 2.5 lanes would impact very low input/output rates.
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# RE: Marvell SATA-6G SSD Performance vs Intel ICH10Milli 2010-10-21 04:22
Your P55A-UD6 motherboard actually supports full speed PCI-E 2.0 bandwidth for the Marvell controller but it's not enabled by default. The option in the bios is called Turbo SATA3. Why didn't you use that? So not only did solutions exist, you had one.

About the driver:
Obviously you came to that wrong conclusion because you think the Marvell controller is on the same bus as the Intel controller. Tests have shown that the Intel AHCI controller has around 650MB/s effective bandwidth at it's disposal.
I haven't seen P55's PCI-E ports go over 200MB/s (showing that theoretical bandwidth doesn't mean effective bandwidth).
Another thing that bothers me is that if you have so much doubt about the Marvell driver, why didn't you bother trying the MS AHCI driver? Because that would have show you straight away that nothing is wrong with the Marvell driver (even though it's a really early one).

IOPS are in direct relation with bandwidth.
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# RE: RE: Marvell SATA-6G SSD Performance vs Intel ICH10Olin Coles 2010-10-21 07:17
Turbo SATA3 is how you enable the Marvell controller on this motherboard, as I noted in the actual motherboard review, and it WAS used. Furthermore, IOPS performance falls in the low double-digit range, and in no way strains PCI-E bandwidth. Explain how it's so much lower on the Marvell controller, as opposed to the Intel controller.
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# RE: RE: RE: Marvell SATA-6G SSD Performance vs Intel ICH10Milli 2010-10-21 15:01
'Turbo SATA3' is not how you enable the Marvell controller. You enable the Marvell controller with the 'GSATA Controller' option in the bios.
Did you set the 'GSATA Ctrl Mode' to AHCI?

If 'Turbo SATA3' is enabled, the Marvell controller will bypass the P55 chipset and connect straight to the CPU (effectively taking one controller and thus putting the GPU to 8x mode).

Or you're missing something or your board/bios has 'Turbo SATA3' non-functioning.
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# RE: RE: RE: RE: Marvell SATA-6G SSD Performance vs Intel ICH10DankNugs 2010-11-18 20:23
Completely agree with Milli here, everything he says is pretty much spot on. This article is completely misleading and not explained correctly, only after reading the comments did I understand what exactly you were trying to prove, and even then the results are completely bogus because of the systems used.

Even if the P55 was the only chipset to have 6Gb/s ports, the Intel system has a much faster CPU and more RAM. SATA port performance is affected by your system, so how is this a fair "technology comparison" in any way...

I think it's obvious you didn't spend enough time on this article or with this hardware and you should really consider retracting this article.
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# Agree with Olinkoblek 2010-11-21 07:35
I have a P7P55D-E LX with a Marvell controller and a fast SSD. I tried running the SSD on the Marvell controller using the latest Marvell supplied drivers (actually they are from ASUS; Marvell will not post drivers on their site) and I get BSODs from the "mv91xx.sys" driver. Using MS drivers makes it less flaky but I still get better performance off of the Intel ICH10 SATA ports.

Hey Milli, you sound very defensive as if you wrote these drivers or designed the chipset on the Marvell side. Could you please look into having some updated drivers released that can fix the BSOD's?

If you read around the ASUS forums, there have been quite a few RMAs related to this chip. I'm just staying away from mobos with Marvell chips in the future since board manufacturers can't figure out how to implement them correctly...
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# Not badOblivionLord 2010-10-27 09:20
Good review however I think the title should have been adjusted to fit the review better.

The title mainly says "Marvell SATA-6G SSD Performance vs Intel ICH10". Not that we are saying anything wrong here since we are comparing these exact 2 controllers. The issue is that someone will see the "Sata-6g" included in the title and immediately assume right off the bat that this is going to be a review based off the 'new' SATA 6Gb/s compared to the old SATA 3Gb/s.

The author does a great job at exposing the infancy of the Marvel driver performance compared to the mature Intel drivers performance however us readers are assuming we are going to be looking at a review showing off the full bandwidth of the Marvel controller even though it's only limited to 5GT/s.

Perhaps the title could have been named something like "Marvell 912x driver performance vs Intel ICH10"

That's just my 2 cents :)
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# RE: Marvell SATA-6G SSD Performance vs Intel ICH10Machete 2011-07-04 11:19
Unfortunatly i brought an Agility 3 (500mb read/write) but my board Asus P7P55D-E Deluxe has a marvell 88se9123 sata6 controller that with the latest drivers is SLOOOOOWER than the intel ICH10 sata3 controller. The marvell wins on very few read tests breaking the 250mb/s barrier to 400. But writing is just awfull. Check that marvell almost doubles the read from the write speed. But the intel controller can write and read almost the same with little and bigger files. Windows system hang very much in SATA6 mode but it runs like butter with the intel SATA3 controller!!!
Can you imagine? Its wrong. A marketing trick from PC manufactures. Oh sure...itīs 6gbps speed...but it isnīt a native controller. Itīs an addon. So donīt blame us in the future. THIS ARTICLE IS REALLY IMPORTANT! BECAUSE INTEL IS THE BEST AMONG THESE RIDICULOUS MARVELL MANUFACTURES THAT TRICKED ME AND MANY MANY PEOPLE WITH THIS STUPID CONTROLLER. Motherfuc....
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# RE: Marvell SATA-6G SSD Performance vs Intel ICH10odiebugs 2011-07-28 02:03
Nice job, Olin. Ignore the comments, with the firmware updated and the newest drivers installed, bios set, the Marvell controller is utter garbage and they should be sued. The mobo mfg should have tested the junk before using the junk. Marvell has no clue what their doing. To call the controller 6g is pathetic. Like your test, in the real world, the controller is all hype and a waste.

Marvell, get jobs at walmart, Please, where you can make a real difference. Your updated firmware that you just made for gig and forget about the other boards is sad, must be to busy handling all the complaints.
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# MrPeter Lippig 2011-08-08 13:47
Would appreciate follow up comments regarding this subject, since Marvell is a rip off.
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# dont buy mb with marvell 9128 for sata 3 usebutthead 2011-08-14 14:26
to cut thru all the crap any motherboard with marvell 9128 controller is a total waste of money if your trying to upgrade to sata 3 solid state drives. intel sata 2 ports are faster than marvell controlled sata 3 ports.
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# RE: Marvell SATA-6G SSD Performance vs Intel ICH10odiebugs 2011-09-04 15:42
After testing the vertex 3 on both the Marvell with the old driver, and new driver, against the Ich10r.

Testing raptors in RAID on Marvell, Raptors in RAID on the Ich10r, the Marvell is GARBAGE.

I would love to hear from the IT professionals above how to make the Marvell get higher read write speeds then the Ich10r IN THE REAL WORLD, and not in their fantasy land.

Pathetic speeds from Marvell, have no right to call it 6g, whit its limited using pci-e.

I don't even think if Marvell gets off their butts and puts out a new Firmware for the 88se9128 on Asus boards they can achieve a 600MB transfer.

Thanks again Olin Coles, the only thing decent about having the Marvell, is being able to run an OS on the Marvell and use Ich10r for a RAID set storage, to keep size off the SSD's and speed up by having app's and all small writes to the RAID array,EX- browser. Until the Marvell is on a pci-e 3.0, it should be called Sata 2.5
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# RE: Marvell SATA-6G SSD Performance vs Intel ICH10coastie65 2011-10-25 08:47
Ok. This seems to be an older Thread / test. Would be nice to see this done with the Z68 Chipset which is the newest. I am using an ASUS P8Z68-VPro Motherboard with Z69 Chip set. It too has a ppair a Marvell SATA3 headers as well as a Pair of Intel SATA 3 Headers ( 4 SATA 2 Headers ). The tests I've seen in the past tell me that the 3g & 6g speeds are rather bloated as neither come close. For speed, it is the SSD which I have not gone to until the pricing comes down a bit. I read test results regularly, but take them with a grain of salt for the most part.
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# RE: RE: Marvell SATA-6G SSD Performance vs Intel ICH10Olin Coles 2011-10-25 09:10
Yes, I agree, it would have been nice to have a Z68 chipset two years ago when this was published.
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# How to get higher speeds on MARVEL controllersIDDQD 2012-03-21 08:25
Put them in the trunk of a Ferrari and hit the gas. At the moment the Ferrari hits 300mph, then your MARVELL-controllers are at high speed.

Otherwise you canīt get them to work as they should.
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# sata III marvelldcovema 2013-11-18 10:42
jep, experienced it once again, downloaded latest drives, ran it on p7p55d-e-lx enabled every option for the boot to set in AHCI and run it from it's sata marvell controller, worked, got #ty speed, pc ran stuck for 1 or 2 sec then came through. after 2 weeks it eventually ended up in a lethal BSOD, got to reïnstall everything. SSD was agilty III 120GB
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