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SSDs Load Fast, Play Fast at Blizzcon 2018

Blizzard Entertainment’s BlizzCon 2018 is fast approaching and professional and recreational gamers alike are buzzing with excitement. BlizzCon’s opening week will host an eSports competition taking place from Oct. 25 through 29 in Burbank, California, while the main event runs Friday, November 2, and Saturday, November 3 in Anaheim, California. The event will showcase games from Activision Blizzard and features competitions between professional and recreational gaming teams using some of the most popular developing and publishing titan’s most popular games, including: Overwatch; World of Warcraft; Hearthstone; Heroes of the Storm; StarCraft II; StarCraft Remastered; Diablo III; Call of Duty – Black Ops 4; and Destiny 2. The Overwatch World Cup will also be played during BlizzCon.

During the professional competitions, gamers are looking for every advantage they can get. For those building the PCs to be used in the events, this includes not only the latest CPUs, latest and fastest overclocked graphics cards, and loads of RAM, but also the fastest storage systems available.

High capacities are important, with Overwatch, for example, using 13GB for a full install. Both transfer speeds and access times are crucial, and the best gaming SSD can increase transfer speeds and reduce access times dramatically, with transfer rates rising from the 60 megabytes per second (MB/s) typical for hard drives, to 520 MB/s for SATA SSDs, to 2,500 MB/s for NVMe SSDs.

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The SSD Difference

Latencies, listed in milliseconds (ms), and random seek times are both good ways of evaluating an SSD to determine the best gaming SSD. Latency refers to the time it takes to get a piece of data back from storage once it has been requested. Random seek time, or random read time refers more specifically to a time to get chunks of data back that are randomly placed on the disk, as opposed to sequential seeks, which are congruent to each other on the disk.

Seek times, especially random seek times, tend to vary widely for hard disks, because retrieving data from different parts of the disk involves moving the read/write heads to a particular track on the disk, waiting for the disk to rotate until the appropriate piece of the track is under the head, then reading that data.

Since random reads may require that the heads move from the innermost track to the outermost, then wait for nearly a full rotation of the disk as well, and since the time that rotation requires can vary widely depending on whether the track is near the center of the disk or at the outer edge, random seek times can vary from the average by more than an order of magnitude.

In contrast, an SSD has both minimum and maximum random read times very near the average, because there is no physical apparatus to delay things – all cells take the same time to read. Writes can be a different story, but games generally don’t need to worry as much about write times. This means that even a consumer SSD can improve performance not only with higher speeds, but also with more consistent speeds.

High Speeds, Better Gaming

Several tiers of SSDs are available, and those choosing drives for their systems should be careful – older SSDs may be less expensive, but will also have less capability, not only in speed and latency, but in the overall life of the drive and the warranty offered.

Samsung is one of this year’s sponsors of BlizzCon, and brings several popular SSDs to the table. In ascending order of performance capabilities, they include the SATA interface 860 EVO and 860 PRO, and the NVMe interface 970 EVO and 970 PRO.

The Samsung 970 EVO is the second generation of Samsung’s 3bit-MLC NVMe SSDs for client PC, and is specially designed for tech-savvy gamers and professionals who frequently work on video creation and editing, or simulation that requires high performance.

At BlizzCon, Samsung’s 2TB 970 EVO will be used in the PCs operated by gamers inside the week-long event. Samsung will also be holding its own event, Samsung Game Night, from 6 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, November 2 at the House of Blues in Anaheim to showcase its SSD capabilities, featuring 1TB 970 EVOs.

Find out more about Samsung’s line of SSDs and what device types your organization will need in this assessment.

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Logan Harbaugh

Logan Harbaugh is an IT consultant and reviewer. He has worked in IT for over 20 years, and was a senior contributing editor with InfoWorld Labs as well as a senior technology editor at Information Week Labs. He has written reviews of enterprise IT products including storage, network switches, operating systems, and more for many publications and websites, including Storage Magazine, TechTarget.com, StateTech, Information Week, PC Magazine and Internet.com. He is the author of two books on network troubleshooting.

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