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The Amazon Kindle Fire: Benchmarked, Tested, And Reviewed

Storage Performance: Slightly Faster Than USB 1.0?!

Space on the Kindle After Installing All Our Apps

Though there's not a lot of user-accessible space on the Kindle Fire, it's a real pain to fill it up over USB.

USB File Transfer2.8 GB H.264 encoded MP4 MovieAvg. Transfer RateTime
Amazon Kindle Fire (OS Level File Transfer)2.76 MB/s17:14.615
Apple iPad 2 (iTunes)19.19 MB/s02:29.090
Motorola Xoom (OS Level File Transfer)13.18 MB/s03:36.990

The process is excruciatingly slow, with a top sequential speed somewhere around 2.7 MB/s. If you're moving small files, expect initial speeds around 1.2 MB/s. Meanwhile, other tablets that support USB 2.0 frequently hit average speeds above 10 MB/s. 

Samsung's eMMC NAND In Kindle Fire

Hardware isn't the problem. Amazon employs a Samsung 8 GB KLM8G2FEJA eMMC NAND package. You find the same product in competing tablets, like Acer's 8 GB A100. Motorola employs a 32 GB eMMC NAND chip from Toshiba with similar specs. And yet, transfers are much faster on the Xoom.

The zippy transfer rate on the iPad 2 in the table above shouldn't come as a surprise. Apple is the only major tablet manufacturer to use vanilla MLC NAND, which is found in the zippy SSDs we all know and love. But that also means the A5 contains extra logic to add block management and ECC.

Since Tegra 2 and OMAP lack the same circuitry as Apple's A5, nearly all Android-based tablets use a simpler storage implementation called eMMC, which embeds block management and ECC onto the NAND itself. The difference is highlighted in the slide above.

Since everything is managed at the NAND level, the operating system doesn't have to bother issuing commands like secure erase or TRIM. The MMC controller in the storage device handles all of that. However, this also means that eMMC NAND is blind to much of what the operating system is doing. The result is a significant amount of performance overhead.

Amazon Kindle FireApple iPad 2Motorola Xoom
NAND ChipSamsung KLM8G2FEJAToshiba TH58NVG7D2FLA89Toshiba THGBM2G8D8FBAIB
NAND BuseMMC v4.41Toggle 1.0eMMC v4.4
NAND Bus Speed104 MB/s133 MB/s104 MB/s

Of course, the difference between eMMC and regular NAND isn't limited to block management. The bus interface is also different. Whereas Toggle Mode 1.0 is limited to 133 MB/s, for instance, eMMC tops out at 104 MB/s. There's a new revision of eMMC that bumps speeds up to 200 MB/s, but it's currently too new and too expensive for tablet manufactures to implement.

Xoom: Uses Media Transfer Protocol

It's not clear if there's a way to address the Kindle Fire's low transfer speeds through firmware. Other Android tablet vendors implement Microsoft's Media Transfer Protocol, whereas Amazon chooses the more generic USB Mass Storage Class (MSC) driver. That's good news for Mac users, since you don't need a special program to transfer files.

Kindle Fire: Appears As Generic USB Device In Mac OS X

It's possible that the problem is with Amazon's USB MSC implementation. The only way to transfer files is to put the Fire in Mass Storage mode preventing you from using the tablet at the same time. However, it also suggests that Mass Storage mode is a hosted layer above the operating system.

RIM got around this issue with its Blackberry line by implementing a pass-through mode for transfers. It's likely that Amazon will have to do something similar in order to speed up USB performance. Currently, transferring files to your Kindle Fire over your home network using Astro (along with its SMB module) is likely faster than using USB.

  • JeTJL
    Should of done other comparisons with Tablets around the Kindles Price range like the Coby Kyros. I personally don't have either the Kyros or the Kindle Fire. But recently My sister bought it and she is thoroughly enjoying it. I received a Ipad2 though because of the Academy at my School that I belong to and I'm quite pleased with it, even though I'm a big android fan.
    Reply
  • How do I win a Radeon 6990?
    Reply
  • acku
    9523250 said:
    How do I win a Radeon 6990?

    Ummm.... what? :heink: This is a Kindle Fire review.....

    Cheers,
    Andrew Ku
    TomsHardware.com
    Reply
  • Goldengoose
    ackuUmmm.... what? This is a Kindle Fire review.....Cheers,Andrew KuTomsHardware.comJust give him the 6990, the poor fellow just wants to play BF3.
    Reply
  • amk-aka-Phantom
    ackuUmmm.... what? This is a Kindle Fire review.....Cheers,Andrew KuTomsHardware.com
    Ever heard of bots? There're tons of those on Tom's nowadays.

    GoldengooseJust give him the 6990, the poor fellow just wants to play BF3.
    A GPU of a 560 Ti level maxes it out @ 1080p, no need for a 6990.

    Back to topic...

    Notably, it's missing a slew of features, including a GPS, front- and rear-facing cameras, and a microphone.

    ROFL, and who needs a tablet without all that? That's right, Amazon fanboys. That company is an utter POS that is not unlike Apple, designing underpowered useless products and delivering them as "innovative". The only "innovative" thing here is a complete dependency on the company's online services... oops, nevermind, Apple did it first :kaola:
    Reply
  • donovands
    Wait, what? Is there such a thing as an Amazon fanboy?
    Reply
  • donovands
    The iPad took a part of the market away from the PC, in the sense that there are folks out there who don't need the full functionality of a PC and the media consumption tablet gave them a device more suited for their needs. The same thing is happening here, if not as dramatically. The Fire may not have all the functionality of an iPad, but there's a lot of folks out there that will get the Fire *instead* of the iPad because it provides all the functionality they need. It isn't an iPad killer. But it *is* going to hurt iPad sales.
    Reply
  • SneakySnake
    I think it's hilarious how the best selling droid tab this year is completely closed off, limited, and controlled. Sounds familiar doesn't it :P

    And do not say "ya, but you can root it!!!". That's nice, people can jailbreak their iPads. You cannot include rooting and jailbreaking when you talk about something being open
    Reply
  • acku
    __-_-_-__"That rules out video conferencing using Skype or mapping out directions to the bar across town."There are some new devices called WEBCAM and bluetooth or usb GPS that would enable that. you might want to check this huge innovation. -.-
    The Fire doesn't have either of those things. Not going to work. You should check out the specs of the Fire first.
    Reply
  • BlackHawk91
    Actually this tablet surprised me, I didn't expect that much from the kindle fire.
    Reply