Samsung, Microsoft in talks to speed up SSDs on Vista

By  Hardware, Microsoft, Samsung

Samsung isn't just pushing the envelope in storage capacity of SSDs (solid-state drives), it is also working with software makers to boost SSD performance on operating systems.

The company on Wednesday said it was in talks with Microsoft to improve the performance of SSDs on the Windows OS.

The speed and way in which SSDs fetch and cache data are different than 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," Wang 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 OS, Wang said.

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

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

There is a mismatch in the way Windows Vista handles data sizes on hard drive 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 SSDs are larger than hard drive sector sizes. That results in inefficient SSD performance when 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 4K-byte 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 OS, and will also be supported in Apple's upcoming Mac OS X 10.6, codenamed 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, which organizes data in a particular order to enable quicker data access.

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