Fast Solid State Drives That Stay Fast

Written by Ben Hardwidge

January 20, 2011 // 4:21 p.m.

LONDON, January 20, 2011

Utilizing SSD Optimizer

Solid state drives (SSDs) are capable of delivering outstanding speed. So
why don't they always do this? Why does the speed of a new laptop or netbook
degrade quickly during the first months of use?

It's because most PC operating systems have logical files that were
designed for HDD use. They really aren't optimized to exploit the potential
of SSD or NAND Flash. For these devices, drive performance falls off
dramatically over time, and the main factor at work is fragmentation.

Where there are free spaces scattered through a volume, the file system
will break up the file and write it in fragments to those open spaces. NAND
Flash is very vulnerable to write speed degradation and increased I/O when
the free space is moderately to heavily fragmented. In tests of SSDs from a
wide range of manufacturers, Diskeeper Corporation found that such
fragmentation will degrade write performance by as much as 80%.

Take NTFS, by far the most-used Windows file system, if users don't
curtail fragmentation they will degrade their write speed and increase I/O
significantly and rapidly. NTFS fragments free space rather aggressively over
a few months and then fragmentation continues to grow thereafter. Write speed
in such a system will decrease in direct relationship to the increase in
fragmentation.

Thus a new SSD device may offer write performance in the 80 MB/s range to
start, but after a few weeks of use, performance will quickly deteriorate to
35 MB/s. Over the span of a few more months write speed will drop still
further to a dreary 10 MB /s. To compound the problem, this dropped write
performance will make boot-up times longer for the SSD NAND Flash device.
Also, the excess write activity caused by fragmentation will overwork it and
shorten its lifespan.

Defragmentation has been automated for years by Diskeeper Corporation's
applications for systems ranging from individual workstations to enterprise
servers. In response to the particular fragmentation weaknesses of SSDs,
Diskeeper Corporation has recently developed HyperFast(R) SSD optimizer
(www.diskeeper.com/hyperfast/index.aspx?apid=PPS0006577) technology.

HyperFast technology uses Windows file system controls originally
co-written by Diskeeper Corporation and Microsoft. It delivers 100% safe
automatic maintenance of the file system, keeping a low level of free space
fragmentation through specific optimization techniques that force the file
system to write sequentially rather than randomly.

Because NAND Flash drives have limited erase-write cycles, any
optimization program intended to increase performance won't be worth doing if
it increases erase-write because its performance improvement will be done at
the expense of reduced drive life. With HyperFast technology, tests showed
that the net result is reduced erase-write activity on the Flash drive,
resulting in greater longevity.

In benchmark tests where HyperFast SSD optimizer (
www.diskeeper.com/hyperfast/index.aspx?apid=PPS0006577) was enabled,
performance gains were automatically realized with 5.9x faster reads, 19.5x
faster writes, 3.9X faster random reads and 9.0X faster random writes.
Performance improvements for write I/O created a bonus result: faster boot
ups. In fact, HyperFast technology improved even out-of-the-box boot times
and maintained them at the improved level.

HyperFast technology makes it possible to optimize SSDs to deliver
extended life, greater performance and faster system boot-up for NAND Flash
storage devices.

Source: Diskeeper Corporation
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