Samsung drive to turbocharge Vista

Samsung is to start selling a 4GB flash memory cache drive for use with PCs designed to use Vista's ReadyBoost feature.

The new idea is to have a separate 4GB NAND flash memory unit, a solid-state disk (SSD), fixed directly to a PC's motherboard or connected to it by an ATA port.

In that event there would be both 1.8-inch and 2.5-inch form factor units, fixed in a PC case's standard 2.5-inch bay.

The ReadyBoost facility in Windows Vista will store application code and data in the SSD to speed up switching between applications. Currently inactive applications and data are paged to disk when memory is full and it takes time, seconds or more sometimes, to fetch them into memory again.

The idea is to, in effect, page them into the SSD so they can be fetched back to memory more quickly.

Vista compresses data before putting it in the SSD and Samsung says this will double capacity to 8GB. The company says its SSD can respond to 5,000 requests a second compared to a hard drive's 100-200 requests a second; that's up to 50 times faster, largely due to the elimination of disk seek time.

Samsung's SSD can also work with hybrid hard drives to speed operations even more.

Originally up to 256MB flash memory unit could be added to a 1.5-inch hard drive to provide a hybrid storage unit that saved on notebook battery power.

Don Barnetson, Flash marketing director at Samsung Semiconductor, said: "By caching hard drive data using Samsung's flash SSD and the Microsoft Windows Vista operating system, a typical user will see performance gains that will make working with their PC lightning fast."

Such PCs will also be significantly more expensive as GB of SSD capacity cost a lot of money. IDC figures suggest 4GB of flash currently costs US$70. Samsung suggests a price under US$200 could be expected.

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Chris Mellor

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