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

Real-World Benefits

TH: We obviously do a lot of benchmarking on Tom’s. What’s the official rule on how people should condition their SSDs for proper testing?

LK: For us at Kingston, it's no secret. We just take Iometer and run it through a 4K, 100%, random write test. Iometer will basically fill up the drive so every piece of NAND, essentially every cell, now has data, and then it's benchmarked at that point. That process levels off the drive very quickly. If you take a brand new SSD from Kingston, create a partition, format it, and run any kind of benchmark. You'll get a monster number. But as soon as you go back and level that off with something like Iometer, you'll see that number settle into a consistent result. And the number that we publish publically is that leveled-off number.

TC: I think we do a 5- or 10-minute Iometer test. You'll see the drive level off when you're doing that. Another way is to run a secure erase before the benchmark. From then on, the drive will be conditioned.

TH: Do competing brands use the same process when they state their numbers?

LK: Funny that you mention that. We do a lot of competitive analysis, but I don't think we do too much comparison to their marketing sheets. But based on the reviews I've seen, it seems like the numbers match up. You’d be pretty dumb not to because those numbers will drop pretty quickly.

TH: I have a cousin who borrowed my X25-M for his gaming rig at PDXLAN, thinking it was going to change his entire universe. After the event, he admitted that he really couldn't tell much of a difference, and I was like, “Dude, your game is going to be limited by your graphics card or CPU, not your drive. What did you expect?” So let’s clear this up. What are the top applications that people actually do need SSDs for?

LK: On the client side, for me, it’s all about boot times and being able to open up applications. Here in the office, we use Lotus Notes for email, which can be slow starting up. When I click on that icon to launch Lotus Notes from a hard drive, I'm waiting seconds and seconds and seconds for that password prompt to come up. With an SSD, it’s like I blink and it’s there. Or one common response from first-time users is, “Holy cow! My system’s booted already!” And we have all these little agents—anti-virus, firewalls, a bunch of stuff that the hard drive has to chew through even once it hits the desktop. For me, that's where SSD has really shined. Yes, with gaming, your levels will load quicker. If I'm playing Halo or whatever, the map will load faster from the drive, but the game play itself? I don't think that's going to make a big difference. Gaming like at PDXLAN, that's mostly about processor and GPU and RAM. From the corporate IT side, we've also heard a lot of good things on the encryption stuff. When we have corporate customers running encryption software, running it on SSDs seems to help with the transition from HDDs. In terms of the original image being created, we've heard numbers as bad as four hours to build an image and encrypt it. After switching to our SSDs, that dropped to one hour. That's huge.

  • nonxcarbonx
    Kingston's mitigation software is the best I've seen. On another note, is there a link to the destruction video?
  • pink315
    "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.
  • ta152h
    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.
  • outlw6669
    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
  • neiroatopelcc
    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 ...
  • mitch074
    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.
  • vvhocare5
    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.
  • JohnnyLucky
    It's interesting but what about the price? Still too high.
  • anamaniac
    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...
  • El_Capitan
    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.