Reader Question: DiskTester and OS X Cache
Reader Frank W writes:
Do DiskTester files land in a system (or other) cache?
MPG: DiskTester bypasses the OS X unified buffer cache so that all its tests are actually reading and writing to the drive. This is mandatory for any meaningful results.
The drive (HDD, SSD) or a controller card might have its own cache; this is all “the drive” and is necessarily part of the test.
The DiskTester fill-volume test is useful for characterizing drive performance, whatever the type of drive.
DiskTester fill-volume produces output that can be pasted into a (supplied) Excel graph template so that volume performance can be interpreted at a glance (“volume”, not “drive” — a single drive or multi-drive RAID or an SSD or whatever is tested as a file system volume).
- For hard drives, the graph shows how performance declines across the volume (see The Fastest 2TB Volume is on a 4TB Drive and related articles). It also shows if there are any oddball irregularities, which could indicate a marginal drive.
- For solid state drives (SSDs), the graph makes any performance breakdowns or irregularities visible.
- For RAID or any other type of device, the same ideas apply.
For a Fusion drive, the graph below makes clear the abrupt loss of performance when the SSD fills up.