SOURCE: Bruce Boyers Marketing Services

November 17, 2008 18:35 ET

Bringing Performance Through the Technology Shift

BURBANK, CA--(Marketwire - November 17, 2008) - A term that the technology media has always loved to use though the years is "paradigm shift." It means a drastic change in the way things are done in a particular area. One outstanding example was the shift in emphasis from the mainframe and minicomputer standards to the client/server model, and then of course the standardization of a majority of enterprises on the Windows operating systems.

Another case of paradigm shift that is now occurring is that of flash drives, also known as solid state drives or SSDs. For decades, the old reliable hard drive has been the standard for storage, and the entire computer industry has had to make due with a media that was hundreds of times slower than the components to which it was providing data. The reason for this enormous difference was the fact that the drive was mechanical, while other components were composed of electronic circuitry and were incredibly faster. Hence, research departments have been laboring for many years to come up with a reliable storage media that could approach the speed of memory, and with the SSD have now done so.

Because of flash drive speed, it is certain that it will eventually replace its slow but reliable forbearer. As this replacement occurs, a celebratory mood will probably overcome those that believe that along with the crawling speed, other problems inherent in hard disks will probably be left behind also.

Well, almost. Unfortunately, one problem that has been brought forward is fragmentation, although it has nothing to do with the mechanics of the drive itself. In fact, the root of the problem is the same as that of file fragmentation on hard drives -- the NTFS file system. Common to all Microsoft Windows operating systems, NTFS saves data to flash drives in such a way that free space is rapidly fragmented. These small free spaces cause write performance to degrade by as much as 80 percent, and that degradation will begin to manifest within a month or so of normal use. This performance degradation defeats a primary value of SSDs, which is speed.

Flash drives also have a limited number of erase-write cycles, and increasing the occurrence of erases and writes wears out the SSD faster. The fragmentation of free space causes a greater number of erase-write cycles, thereby shortening the life of the drive.

Like the hard drive, SSD performance must be optimized in order to provide the most gain. This is done by employing a solution that frees space on an SSD. Utilizing such a solution, write performance is brought back to a high-speed level and maintained there, and once the solution has been in operation a short time, the normal-use write-erase activity becomes substantially reduced. SSD performance is maximized, and the life of the drive is lengthened.

So while proceeding through this paradigm shift, ensure you bring all possible performance gains along with you.

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