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Samsung, Microsoft in talks to speed up SSDs on Vista

There is a mismatch between Windows Vista and SSDs

By Agam Shah
August 7, 2008 12:00 PM ET

IDG News Service - Samsung Corp. isn't just pushing the envelope in storage capacity of solid-state drives; it's also working with software makers to boost SSD performance on operating systems.

The company today said that it was in talks with Microsoft Corp. to improve the performance of SSDs on the Windows operating system.

The speed and manner in which SSDs fetch and cache data are different from those of hard drives, said Michael Yang, flash marketing manager at Samsung. Samsung hopes to work with Microsoft to boost SSD performance on Windows by discovering optimal packet sizes for data transfers and the best ways to read and write files, for example.

"We have been so used to hard drives for so many years, Windows is optimized for that obviously," Yang said.

Windows is designed to fetch and cache data using rotating media, but by working with Microsoft, Samsung wants to distinguish SSDs from hard drives on the Windows operating system, Yang said.

Yang declined to provide further information on the discussions with Microsoft.

It is generally thought that SSDs could replace hard drives, but SSDs and hard drives differ in data sizes and how Windows should treat both types of drives, said Gregory Wong, an analyst at Forward Insights.

There is a mismatch in the way Windows Vista handles data sizes on hard drives and SSDs, Wong said. Vista has been optimized to handle hard drive data in smaller chunks. In contrast, the sector size — also known as page size — of a SSD is larger than the sector size of a hard drive. That results in inefficient SSD performance when it's slotted into a disk drive bay, Wong said.

"My guess is that [Samsung and Microsoft] are maybe working on the OS recognizing an SSD with a 4KB sector size instead of a hard disk drive with a 512-byte sector size," Wong said.

Sun is already working with Samsung to bulk up SSD support on the ZFS (Zettabyte File System), which is included in the Solaris operating system and will also be supported in Apple's upcoming Mac OS X 10.6, code-named Snow Leopard. Sun is adding capabilities to boost the durability and performance of SSDs on ZFS-based operating systems. For example, Sun may add defragmentation capabilities for SSDs; defragmentation organizes data in a particular order to enable quicker data access.

SSDs were not considered ideal for defragmentation because of limited read-and-write capabilities, Wong said. However, Samsung and Sun in July jointly announced an 8GB SSD that bumped up durability from 100,000 read-and-write cycles to 500,000. That brings defragmentation in SSDs closer to reality, which could improve the technology's caching and provide quicker access to data. Sun plans to put SSDs into storage products later this year.

Reprinted with permission from Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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