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All posts tagged "flash memory"

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Cost / Performance Shootout at the SSD Corral

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Laptop Thoughts Talk" @ 09:00 AM

"It’s no secret that replacing your notebook’s hard drive with a solid state disk can dramatically transform your computing experience. With even last year’s SSDs, tasks such as opening large files or starting bulky applications take mere moments to complete. And if you own a notebook powered by one of Intel’s 2nd Generation Core Series CPUs, you’re in for a whole new world of fast, courtesy of SATA III, a high-speed interface Intel included in its new chipsets starting in 2011."

One of the secrets of enhancing computer performance is to remove bottlenecks, and a few years ago the biggest (and cheapest) way to gain added performance was to add memory. Today, memory seems to be no longer an issue, so we've moved on to the venerable hard drive as the point where data flow slows down. As SSD prices drop, expect to see the hard drive start to go the way of other past drives, and be replaced all or in part by solid state drives. We already are starting to see hybrid (multi-drive) systems, where the boot (OS and programs) drive is an SSD, and day-to-day data is still stored on a spinning drive.

This review tests SATA III SSDs from Samsung, Intel, OCZ and Patriot, and they also do an interesting comparison on cost per gigabyte, ranging from $1.53 (OCZ 240GB) to $2.31 (Intel 120GB). Retail prices are expected to be lower. Their comparison hard drive was a 500GB 7,200rpm model, but at a significantly lower cost per GB. The tests are interesting, and the SSDs perform as expected, with Samsung's 830 winning the shootout (cost today $229 for 128GB and $429 for 256GB).

Please note that these performance tests were done on laptops with Intel's current chipsets (supporting SATA III). Older systems will not see this performance.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Is Upgrading Your Old Computer With an SSD Worth It?

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Articles & Resources" @ 10:00 AM

"It's a foregone conclusion that SSDs are must-haves in performance-oriented PCs, but our testing reveals that solid-state drives are reasonable upgrades in older mainstream machines, too. We build three old boxes to gauge the impact of an SSD on each."

There are only a few Web sites out there that I trust to tackle thorny questions with the scientific rigour that would make a molecular biologist proud, and Tom's Hardware is one of those sites. They post a fascinating question: is it worth it to put an SSD in an old computer? They reach all the way back to a typical system from 2005, equipped with a 300 GB Samsung hard drive that benchmarked at 54 Mbps, and move forward from there to several newer generations. Their conclusions? SSDs rock performance, even on an older system. The catch though is the price tag; if you need a lot of storage, it starts to make less sense to put an expensive SSD in an older system. One option is to use a smaller, less expensive SSD for the boot drive, then use a large hard drive for mass storage.

Personally, after years of multi-drive, multi-partition setups, I've enjoyed the simplified approach of a single partition, single drive setup on most of my PCs and have resisted going to an SSD until the price on 200+ GB drives comes down. I might re-evaluate that on my next build...we'll see.

Have you installed an SSD in an older computer? Was the performance increase noticeable?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Memory Card Standard Upgrades: CompactFlash's Turn This Time

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home News" @ 09:00 AM

"Today SanDisk, Sony and Nikon 'announced the joint development of a set of specifications that address the future requirements of professional photography and video markets.'"

CompactFlash still has plenty of life left in it as a professional medium for photographers; its durability and physical size (SD is a bit fiddly to work with in the field) are great plus points. What Nikon, Sandisk and Sony should do next after making them go faster (500 MB/s is the target), larger (2TB cards anyone?) and tougher, is to make a portable and fast CF card reader solution. I have had enough of dangling card readers and fiddly cables I keep on losing.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

New And Improved X25-M For Your Solid State Pleasure

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 02:30 PM

"While Intel is sampling 25nm MLC NAND today it's unclear whether or not we'll see drives available this year. I've heard that there's still a lot of tuning that needs to be done on the 25nm process before we get to production quality NAND. The third generation drives will be available somewhere in the Q4 2010 - Q1 2011 timeframe in capacities ranging from 40GB (X25-V) all the way up to 600GB."

Wait, did they say 600GB SSD? Is it true that SSDs might just start reaching similar capacities as traditional hard drives? Yes, you can get hard drives that hit 2TB, but for most people, they usually end up with something around 320-500GB with a new computer. One still expects a premium for SSD, but with these larger capacities, and hopefully, increased popularity, we might see some economies of scale going on and making an SSD a more standard purchase for a computer. Even if these new fangled SSDs become more cost effective, I would probably stick with traditional hard drives for storage or archival purposes. At least until 600GB becomes 2TB.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Toshiba Crashes Panasonic's SD UHS-I Party With Faster Cards; New Standard Still Confusing

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 07:30 AM

"Panasonic must be mighty annoyed right about now, because Toshiba's seemingly got it trumped -- when the first batch of lightning-quick UHS-I cards ship in November, Toshiba's chips will be faster and larger on day one."

Toshiba is usually second to Panasonic when it comes to SD Card announcements, and so here is their announcement. The new cards are actually faster than what Panasonic has announced, with the full sized SD cards doing 95MB/s read versus Panasonic's 60MB/s read. Writing speed is not shabby at a stated 80MB/s, though we have yet to see how it will be in actual use. There are also microSD versions doing 40MB/s read and 20 MB/s write. Again, remember that the device also has to be UHS-I, else the cards will not perform at their full perfomance.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Here We Go Again: Panasonic Announces Stupid Expensive SDHC Cards on SDHC UHS-I Standard

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 01:00 PM

"Panasonic has announced its newest 8GB and 16GB SDHC UHS-I memory cards. UHS-I is the new standard for higher-speed Bus interface defined by the SD Association as part of the SD Memory Card Specification Ver.3.01, which provides up to 104MB/s performance."

Alright, so there's no pricing information yet, but like with all Panasonic SD cards based on the latest standards, they will be expensive, with promised speeds of 60MB/s. The announcement of the new speed standard has slipped under my radar, but now we have SDHC and SDXC standards to track, and the speed standards of Class 2-10 and UHS-I 1 to keep tabs on as well. Can the SD Association get their act together and get everything together in one standard for the future? Thanks!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Sandisk 16 GB SDHC Extreme SDHC Memory Card: Worth It?

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 07:00 AM

The evolution of storage usually goes something like this: the medium gets a lot of attention when it's young, then as it grows older, it typically becomes a commodity that we care less about. Think of the early years of hard drives: moving from 40 MB to 80 MB was a massive improvement, and it was a big day when the first 1 GB drives hit the market. But now? We hardly bother to yawn when a 3 TB drive is announced. Sure, there are some stand-out drives (Western Digital's Raptor line for instance), but for the most part, hard drives are the forgotten technology inside your computer. SSDs, however, are still a young technology: performance improvements, capacity enhancements, and cost drops are still exciting enough to get a geek's heart going.

Flash memory falls somewhere in between those two; from a digital photography perspective, Flash memory storage has become so cavernous that the average person never needs to think twice about running out of space, unless they're shooting 1080p video alongside their still photos. There's still a bit of excitement left in the performance realm though, and SanDisk is at the forefront of pushing faster Flash memory. Their line of Extreme SDHC cards for instance are Class 10 performance, and claim up to 30 MB/s (200x) read and write speeds. They also cost a fair bit more than other brands. I set out to answer a fairly straight-forward question: was it worth it, from a practical standpoint, so shell out the extra money for a SanDisk Extreme SDHC card? Read more...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Transcend Ultimate 64GB Class 10 SDXC Memory Card

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 01:30 PM

Looks like the SDXC cards are slowly trickling out into the market. Transcend has just announced its 64GB Class 10 SDXC cards, but there seems to be no mention of pricing and availability. Ah, the joys of product launches. Press Release at the link.

I'm curious though; is anyone currently using 32GB cards in their digital cameras? Multiple 32GB cards? I'm sure that once prices go down we'll be buying 64GB cards like candy, but there are many days when I don't even touch 2GB on my 8GB cards...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Eye-Fi Must Share Its Pie With a Company Named Toshiba

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 04:00 PM

"We're big fans of Eye-Fi's wireless memory cards, which enable you to toss that card reader out the window and download all your pictures wirelessly. So far Eye-Fi is about the only player in that little niche, but Toshiba's looking to blow it wide open with charmingly titled "Standard Promotion Forum for Memory Cards Embedding Wireless LAN," which could be given the equally catchy abbreviation SPFfMCEWLAN (a name that is, thankfully, subject to change)."

Yeah, the party is over for Eye-Fi. Hopefully, with the branding they've gained over the years, they will be able to stay in the forefront, and as long as their service remains fast and reliable, they have a shot of sticking around. Of course, supporting the N standard would be nice. With cameras getting more and more megapixelish, transferring photos seems to take longer every day. While a standard might be useful, I am unsure as to whether it will unseat the king of "unlimited" SD card storage for photos.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Hitachi-LG HyDrive Combines SSD with Optical Drives

Posted by Reid Kistler in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 05:00 PM

"Put simply, the HyDrive is a standard form factor optical drive (DVD burner or Blu-ray will be available), but there's a 32GB or 64GB SSD... tucked below. When this gets stuffed within a laptop, you're immediately able to access an optical drive, an SSD (for your operating system and critical launch applications) and a spacious HDD...."

Image Credit: Engadget

I am not certain that a 32GB - or even a 64GB - hard drive could really be considered as "spacious" these days, but this does seem like an obvious pairing of technologies, especially for the laptop market. Hitachi-LG is a joint venture that specializes in OEM products (no direct sales to consumers), and the first HyDrive equipped laptops are not expected until August 2010. Read the full article on Engadget for additional details, including a link to the official press release, which promises some enticing benefits for the current design, along with faster units, with greater storage, by mid-2011.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

New Eye-Fi "Endless Memory" Card Announced

Posted by Reid Kistler in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 05:00 PM

"Eye-Fi has announced the addition of two wireless SD cards into its X2 line-up of memory cards. The 4GB Connect X2 and 8GB Explore X2 both feature the Endless Memory Mode first seen in the RAW-compatible Pro X2 card. They also share its class 6 (6MB/s ) transfer speeds and high-speed 802.11n Wi-Fi. In addition, the Explore card uses location data from nearby WiFi points to geotag images." has picked up a press release for the new additions to the Eye-Fi X2 line of wireless SD cards, which now consists of three models, ranging in price from $49.99 to $149.99, and in native storage capacity from 4 to 8 GB. At first glance the price seems a bit stiff, but the cards offer a variety of features and I find it amazing that they are able to cram both storage and WiFi capabilities within a standard size SD card! Eye-Fi also offers a line of "Classic Cards" which lack several of the X2 line's features, including the Endless Memory programming. As hinted at by the above photos, the initial set up is done by connecting to your computer via an included USB reader, after which the card itself is inserted into your compatible camera: the Eye-Fi website provides a list of compatible models, including a number that provide enhanced capabilities. If you carry a wireless computer, or routinely find WiFi hotspots in your travels, this might be an attractive technology. Would be interested in hearing from any of our readers who have tried these out: Do they work as well as advertised?

Friday, April 2, 2010

100 TB Flash Drive!!!

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 02:00 PM

"The RamSan-6200 is the fastest, highest capacity SSD system on the market. The RamSan-6200 offers 100 terabytes of Flash-based storage in one 40U rack configuration that can sustain five million IOPS with 60GB/sec throughput. The RamSan-6200 is the only currently available SSD system offering anything remotely approaching this storage capacity and performance. For enterprises with large datasets requiring extreme performance and bandwidth, the RamSan-6200 is the ultimate solution."

Not vaporware, but for most of it probably might as well be. Based on the fact that you can only get a price quote via email, I guess I won't be throwing this on my home network anytime soon.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

New SSD Drives from SanDisk

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 03:00 PM

"SanDisk has just announced that its 60GB and 120GB G3 solid state drives are headed out to retailers as we speak. Both North America and Europe are getting served simultaneously, with the drives promising sequential performance of up to 220MB/sec on the read side and up to 120MB/sec on the write side."

Prices are $229.99 and $399.99 respectively. Load your OS and applications on this and put all of your data on a secondary standard drive and you should get a nice performance increase.

Monday, February 22, 2010

First 256GB Flash Drive Now Available

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 03:30 PM

"Today in a press release Kingston announced the first 256GB flash drive to ship in the US. This new flashdrive from Kingston will replace the Kingston 300, a 256GB flashdrive sold in Asia, Europe and other regions, and will be called the ‘DataTraveler 310’. Kingston’s DataTraveler 310 has data transfer rates of 25MB/Sec read and 12MB/Sec write speed and includes Password traveler Software which allows the user to create and access a password-protected privacy zone."

With a price tag of right around $1,100, I'm not going to be rushing out to get this, but man do I want! For me a full data backup runs at right around 100 GB, so I'm pretty much stuck using a portable hard drive. The ability to use a flash drive would make the process just that much easier and more reliable.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Infinitec Flash Drive is Infinite

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 04:00 PM

"Infinitec has created a USB stick that contains an 802.11n module capable of creating an ad hoc network through any device's USB port. But on the receiving end, it appears as nothing more complicated than a flash drive."

With this, any device that can read from a USB key could theoretically stream that same media over your wi-fi network. Wouldn't seem as useful for video game consoles (since they already have options to hook up to your network), but would be great for a TV or DVD player that doesn't have a network interface.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Engadget Reviews Kingston's 40GB SSDNow

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 03:00 AM

"From the moment that we heard of the new 40GB Kingston SSD, we couldn't help but get our hopes up. Who knows if (or more likely, when) SSD drives will ever completely replace spinning platters with all the digital media people collect today, so rather than stretching your budget and compressing your media in order to stuff everything onto a 256GB solid state drive, we dug the idea of snagging a small (and affordable) SSD for boot / application operations and utilizing a spacious HDD for archival. Not to mention -- regardless of how fast a disk is -- two are almost always better than one."

Now that the price/performance ratio is improving for SSD's it makes sense to start using a SSD as your boot drive. At under $100 bucks this seems like a great upgrade for building your own system. Wonder how long it will be until we start to see configurations like this in mainstream retail PC offerings.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Optimizing Windows Install on a SSD

Posted by Timothy Huber in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 09:00 AM

"SSDs are all the rage for performance-oriented builders these days, but they aren't without problems. Even the largest solid state drive is too small to hold all the stuff we need to store on the C: drive-games, photos, music, videos, etc.-and the inexpensive models max out at around 64GB of capacity. And there's the performance problem, to boot. All but the most expensive SSDs suffer from very slow write speeds, which can have a significant impact on your real-world performance."

SSDs, solid-state drives, have some good benefits, but they still are pretty expensive and write-speed is generally slow. Over at they've posted a great "how-to" article showing how to get the most out of an solid-state drive by pairing it with a traditional hard drive and tweaking the Windows installation for optimal performance. I haven't really considered using a SSD, but this article piques my interest.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Tom's Hardware Checks Out Two More SSDs

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 03:00 PM,2265-14.html

"The market is flooded with flash-based solid state drives (SSD) right now, all of which claim to deliver impressive throughput at power consumption levels low enough to save the world. So much for the theory, though—the reality is rather different. A few select products are truly impressive, but the bulk of these are just expensive offerings that do not deliver on their promises. Two new drives by Samsung and Solidata found their way into our test labs, and they are as different as they can be."

SSD Manufacturers are working hard to improve the performance of their product and bring them more into the mainstream. Of course, it almost seems as if everyone and their mom is making SSDs now. Solidata and Samsung have their latest babies wrung through the testing labs of Tom's Hardware and the results demonstrate that time does not always see improvements in technology. Of course, I welcome the extra competition, but the results that Tom's Hardware produces still leaves me a bit wanting and thinking that I may still stick with good old HDDs for the next year, maybe two. Sure, HDDs are a fairly mature product, but they've stood with me through the test of time. At least I'm not waxing poetic about 3.5" floppies, the Parallel Port or trying to convince people that VESA Local Bus really is better than ISA.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Specs for the Upcoming Archos 2

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 04:00 PM

"Details on a forthcoming MP3 player from Archos named the Archos 2 have been revealed on Though there's nothing revolutionary about the specs of the Archos 2, the $59 price tag (8GB) may be enough to have you overlooking its mediocrity. Basically, this is a budget MP3 player that emulates the candy bar designs and portrait-style screen orientations of the Apple iPod Nano and Microsoft Zune. The Archos 2 features a 1.8-inch color screen, and includes music playback (MP3, WMA), a photo viewer, video playback (AVI), and voice-recording capabilities. There's no FM radio, however, which is a little odd considering most iPod alternatives have one."

Looks like a pretty good deal for a 8 GB player. I'll be curious to see the build quality as that could be a make or break for this.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Western Digital Finally Joins SSD Club

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 05:00 PM

"Hard drive maker Western Digital has announced that its acquisition of SSD manufacturer SiliconSystems has been completed. The acquisition cost Western Digital $65 million in cash. SiliconSystems is a leading supplier of SSDs for the embedded systems market."

I have to say that the writing has been on the wall that SSDs are going to replace hard disk drives for quite some time. This is why I find it surprising that Western Digital has taken so long to get involved. Sure, solid state is still quite expensive but prices are coming down, capacity is going up. Several companies have already have built up a good reputation for SSDs and now Western Digital has an uphill battle. Still, it is good to see another major manufacturer enter the market since it should mean that prices will continue to drop. I've yet to jump on the bandwagon but I've seen the performance difference it can make. The future of Solid State is now just that much closer.

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