emmc vs NVMe real-world performances
#1
I am considering upgrading my Pinebook Pro with NVMe memory (at the moment it's using the stock emmc module). I am wondering what difference would it make on the Pinebook Pro for common, real world use-cases, and if it's worth it. Of course, boot times and moving/copying files would be noticeably faster, and browsing the internet would probably not be affected, but what about general responsiveness and other common tasks, such as:
  • Starting/using desktop applications
  • Compiling from sources
  • Installing packages
  • Playing "heavy" 3D games (my testbench is Supertuxkart)
I don't need benchmarks (even though that would be great), just anedoctical evidence is enough. Fundamentally, I would like to know if upgrading the memory will improve the general user experience with the Pinebook Pro and make it feel faster and snappier.

I searched the forum for this and, while there are multiple posts on how to install memory, I could not find anything related to performances. If I missed a relevant post, a reference would be of great help!
#2
Hi, personally I opted against this since most NVMe drives consumes quite a lot of energy compared to the eMMC flash. Of course, you will get much higher throughput (around 800 MB/s compared to around 100 MB/s from the eMMC - measured on the rockpro64 that has the same SoC) but at the cost of heat and battery life.

If you do some heavy lifting and need more performance it's worth thinking about it. However, if you just want to use your PBP for browsing the internet and the like and don't need more storage either, personally, I wouldn't consider it.
#3
(11-14-2020, 02:44 PM)kuleszdl Wrote: Hi, personally I opted against this since most NVMe drives consumes quite a lot of energy compared to the eMMC flash. Of course, you will get much higher throughput (around 800 MB/s compared to around 100 MB/s from the eMMC - measured on the rockpro64 that has the same SoC) but at the cost of heat and battery life.

If you do some heavy lifting and need more performance it's worth thinking about it. However, if you just want to use your PBP for browsing the internet and the like and don't need more storage either, personally, I wouldn't consider it.

I didn't opt for a NMVe driver right away for the same reasons you mention. Currently I am making very light use of my PBP, but I had a mind of using it for something more intense, such as programming/compiling. I suspect compilation is fundamentally CPU-bounded, and faster memory would not help with that. Am I correct?
#4
Also you'll have to work out how you'd use it, and whether it not you want to boot from it. If you do decide to boot from it, then you've got to determine how you're going to do it.

There are some mechanical concerns, too. I don't recall exactly; something keyboard/touchpad related, I think.
#5
I have an NVMe drive but I'm not entirely convinced that it is ideal, there are a number of problems:
  1. The drive uses some power, and even though I selected the drive with very low wattage and good power control options, it's taken maybe 2 hours off the battery capacity.
  2. Getting the OS to boot from the drive can be a nightmare and you can get an unbootable system after an update etc. depending on your setup. Order the serial cable as well when you order the adapter.
  3. If I limit the power to something that doesn't eat the battery immediately, the performance is not orders of magnitude faster.
There are of course benefits:
  1. Can be much faster in sequential read and random read.
  2. Can be very much larger than the eMMC
  3. Since the drive is big you can use a real swap partition.
  4. Compilation can really use a faster drive, too, it is after all loading a lot of small files and some programs (especially C++) need a lot of RAM to compile which means swap may be necessary.
Anyway, I'm using the WD Blue SN550 250GB and so far I'm quite happy with it, the power management is quite good on it. I have it set on power level 2 at boot.
#6
Imho, you can get a decent boost in terms of performance and longevity from low-end flash such as eMMC/microSD by just using f2fs instead of ext4. Of course, no comparison to using a NVMe drive with ext4, but it might give you a sufficient boost in order to do your compilation/development stuff on eMMC. Have a look at these benchmarks:

https://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=a...tems&num=2

However, depending on the actual OS used, it must be noted that getting it installed using f2fs might not be straight-forward.
#7
(11-15-2020, 05:54 AM)kuleszdl Wrote: Imho, you can get a decent boost in terms of performance and longevity from low-end flash such as eMMC/microSD by just using f2fs instead of ext4. Of course, no comparison to using a NVMe drive with ext4, but it might give you a sufficient boost in order to do your compilation/development stuff on eMMC. Have a look at these benchmarks:

https://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=a...tems&num=2

However, depending on the actual OS used, it must be noted that getting it installed using f2fs might not be straight-forward.

That makes a lot of sense! I use Manjaro for PBP and now I am wondering why it doesn't default to f2fs. I don't remember being given a choice by the installer either! I know Arch supports f2fs, so it should be possible on Manjaro as well.
#8
(11-15-2020, 01:40 PM)Henry Wrote:
(11-15-2020, 05:54 AM)kuleszdl Wrote: Imho, you can get a decent boost in terms of performance and longevity from low-end flash such as eMMC/microSD by just using f2fs instead of ext4. Of course, no comparison to using a NVMe drive with ext4, but it might give you a sufficient boost in order to do your compilation/development stuff on eMMC. Have a look at these benchmarks:

https://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=a...tems&num=2

However, depending on the actual OS used, it must be noted that getting it installed using f2fs might not be straight-forward.

That makes a lot of sense! I use Manjaro for PBP and now I am wondering why it doesn't default to f2fs. I don't remember being given a choice by the installer either! I know Arch supports f2fs, so it should be possible on Manjaro as well.

I used https://aur.archlinux.org/packages/fstransform-git/ for converting few sdcards from ext4 to f2fs without data loss.
I guess you can boot from sd and launch it on your manjaro partitions (make a backup before).


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