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Q&A: Tom's Hardware And Kingston On SSD Technology

Q&A: Tom's Hardware And Kingston On SSD Technology
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Getting new information from a major vendor isn't always easy. Once you get through the marketing pages and white papers, it can feel like everything has all been said before. And maybe it has. But by getting information straight from the horse's mouth, in a candid, informal conversation, sometimes new facts emerge or get said in new ways that make them more intelligible or pertinent.

This particular conversation between Tom’s Hardware and Kingston grew from the memory vendor’s ongoing evangelism meetings, called SSD Acceleration Programs, in which the company goes out and presents the technology to IT professionals to explain what it is and the benefits it offers. Attendees cover the whole spectrum of technical knowledge, but several questions seem to always emerge from audiences. We used those as the basis of the following conversation with Kingston senior technology manager Louis Kaneshiro and lead engineer Tony Chen.

Tom's Hardware: Hi, guys. I know the technical press, including Tom’s, has done a good job of describing the ins and outs of SSD technology. I’d like to see if we can tackle some of the big issues within SSD, like endurance and TRIM, in a little different way.

Louis Kaneshiro: That sounds good. I should throw in here, William, we launched the V+ drive just a few days ago, and that does support TRIM.

TH: Great—now I’ll have to upgrade my V-series. Thanks. Any more product placements you want to add?

LK: No, I'm good. [laughs] Just so you know, I'm more of a user first and a geek second. I know the geek route has been traveled many times on this subject. So I'm going to try to take it from a little bit more of a user perspective. Let's move out of the benchmarks and into the real world.

TH: OK, let's start with endurance. We know that early SSDs were at risk of failure. What's the reality today?

LK: Tony should jump in here, but it’s true. They do wear out—the NAND that's in your USB drive, the microSD card in your BlackBerry, your camera, all of that. It has a limited amount of program/erase cycles—write cycles—and sooner or later you are going to reach the end of that. When you do, essentially that drive will stop working.

Tony Chen: More precisely, when you reach the mean time of a drive—its data endurance—it’s not really a fail. It's not like the data is no longer there or the format has vanished. It just becomes read-only at the end of its life. You still can recover your data to other media. Most of our Kingston SSD drives carry at least one million hours MTBF, their average life span. We also cover at least three years in the drive warranty. That data endurance compares well against traditional hard drives. Actually, SSD has a better life span in the media and in the interface. And SSD has 1500 G of operational shock tolerance. You’re not going to find that on a hard drive. So however you want to look at it, SSD has a better life endurance.

TH: So SSD failure isn’t like an HDD head crash where I'd just lose everything. I don’t have to panic, even if the drive goes “bad.”

TC: Yes.

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  • 0 Hide
    nonxcarbonx , February 8, 2010 5:23 AM
    Kingston's mitigation software is the best I've seen. On another note, is there a link to the destruction video?
  • 0 Hide
    pink315 , February 8, 2010 5:23 AM
    "Now, with a hard drive, the arm has to move. Now, with a hard drive, the arm has to move."

    I'm not sure if you were trying to be dramatic, or if you just accidentally wrote the same thought twice. Just pointing it out.
  • 4 Hide
    ta152h , February 8, 2010 5:56 AM
    One way to preserve some of the life of any hard drive is to shut off virtual memory. Most computers don't need it, and if you do, than you're probably better off getting more memory anyway.

    The ideal thing for booting up fast would be to go back to using core memory :-P. RAM that doesn't lose power when you turn it off is pretty cool. Low power, low heat, and would impress people when you say "Oh, that? It's my core memory array.". You'd get dates for sure. Can't say what they'd look like, or if they'd be sane. Or even female :(  .

    Still, I'd buy it. Cache handles most reads anyway, and I'm too old fashioned to feel something is a computer without some form of magnetic storage in it.
  • 0 Hide
    outlw6669 , February 8, 2010 8:19 AM
    Fun read but nothing really new...

    I like how good they are at dodging the tough questions.
    What value is there in Kingstons Intel based SSD's vs Intel original?
    Well, they helped Kingston launch a very strong product :p 
  • 7 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , February 8, 2010 8:27 AM
    Maybe it's just me, but I don't feel they properly answered the question of why there's a wear difference bewtween sequential and random ...
  • -6 Hide
    mitch074 , February 8, 2010 12:42 PM
    I solved my netbook's boot times...

    It runs Linux, with a compressed kernel image.

    Looks like real mode disk access, registry hives, antivirus and such do slow Windows boot times.
  • 2 Hide
    vvhocare5 , February 8, 2010 1:27 PM
    I guess Im not a fan of these types of interviews. The interviewee is really just trying to get advertising for their product and they only say good things and gloss over the negatives. They also have some good one liners they toss out, but thats about it.

    I would prefer to see the product benchmarked and compared on price..and then let us decide how we are going to spend our money.
  • -1 Hide
    JohnnyLucky , February 8, 2010 1:30 PM
    It's interesting but what about the price? Still too high.
  • 0 Hide
    anamaniac , February 8, 2010 1:48 PM
    Interesting interview.
    Keep them coming. =)

    Now I have the urge to go buy a 256GB SLC drive and play flaming baseball with it... I probably shouldn't...
  • 0 Hide
    El_Capitan , February 8, 2010 3:20 PM
    I like how they say, "The worst kind of writes that you can apply to an SSD are random. You will wear a drive out quicker that way". However, Kingston and Intel put all their advertising efforts into promoting the speed of their IOPS for their SSD's for server environments. That means they want you to buy their product to use it so it wears out quicker... which means you need to buy another one to replace it. Now that's a wicket smart business strategy.
  • -5 Hide
    El_Capitan , February 8, 2010 3:20 PM
    I like how they say, "The worst kind of writes that you can apply to an SSD are random. You will wear a drive out quicker that way". However, Kingston and Intel put all their advertising efforts into promoting the speed of their IOPS for their SSD's for server environments. That means they want you to buy their product to use it so it wears out quicker... which means you need to buy another one to replace it. Now that's a wicket smart business strategy.
  • 3 Hide
    GullLars , February 8, 2010 3:31 PM
    A couple of comments on the interview:
    1. Apploading is NOT sequential, it has a high ammount of random reads. This is why SSDs are so much faster than harddrives at it. You can see this in PCmark vantage, where harddrives get 4-10MB/s in apploading, and SSDs go from 80-160MB/s.

    2. Booting from an SSD over USB 3.0 is wastefull. Most SSDs support NCQ, and get 3-8x higher random read IOPS when NCQ is active, and this is noticable in everyday use. USB 3.0 does NOT support NCQ.

    3. You say Windows 7 requires minimum 16GB to install, wich is true. The PARTITION must be minimum 16GB for the installer to allow it to be selected, however you can reduce the size needed for windows a lot. My windows folder is 13,5GB, and even with 20+ apps installed (MS and Open office suites included) i still use less than 20GB on my C: partition.
    The need for a pagefile is reverse proportional to your ammount of RAM, if you have 4GB or more RAM you can safely deactivate it for normal general computer usage and save a lot of space.
  • 0 Hide
    williamvw , February 8, 2010 3:36 PM
    nonxcarbonxKingston's mitigation software is the best I've seen. On another note, is there a link to the destruction video?

    I think you mean "migration" software. Although mitigation software could be really useful for resolving hardware errors. ;-)

    The Kingston videos are fun. Start here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=udJ8TzvJne8
  • -2 Hide
    ArgleBargle , February 8, 2010 4:54 PM
    Until flash memory as a whole becomes more reliable, I refuse to use an SSD. Having had a number of USB flash drives from various companies including Kingston fail (one from Sandisk became outright unuseable) even though I am careful with them and always use the "safely remove hardware" command. Flash memory has a very long way to go before I will trust anything important to it.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , February 8, 2010 5:26 PM
    You should of asked them why the aren't supporting TRIM on last years V+ models with a firmware update. It uses a Samsung controller that was supposed to eventually support TRIM. I bought it with that in mind, and now they have said in email conversations with their support team that they will not be supporting it. Basically anyone who bought an SSD without TRIM is doomed to have worse performance a traditional platter drive eventually. I feel like I was robbed 180 bucks.
  • -3 Hide
    nevertell , February 8, 2010 5:28 PM
    mitch074I solved my netbook's boot times...It runs Linux, with a compressed kernel image.Looks like real mode disk access, registry hives, antivirus and such do slow Windows boot times.


    This dude IS wright. And that old nt filesystem isn't helping either.

    If you optimize X startup, use a different kernel start-up event manager, you can get below 10 seconds startup time with a netbook.
  • -5 Hide
    El_Capitan , February 8, 2010 5:29 PM
    Woohoo, Kingston is awesome! I get a Thumbs up for this comment and Thumbs down for my other comments that aren't Kingston positive! Woot!
  • -7 Hide
    Anonymous , February 8, 2010 5:38 PM
    rectum and ball juice with a baseball bat!!


  • 2 Hide
    milktea , February 8, 2010 7:44 PM
    I like the idea that even if SSD goes bad, I can still recover my data possibly avoid paying thousands of dollars for the recovery. That is one thing that pulls me away from hard-disk into SSD.
  • -1 Hide
    darkguset , February 8, 2010 9:52 PM
    neiroatopelccMaybe it's just me, but I don't feel they properly answered the question of why there's a wear difference bewtween sequential and random ...


    True... it looks like they avoided answering the question and they just talked about the difference in speed (again!).
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