USB Thumb Drive Vs. Hard Drive

Results: Access Time, Interface Bandwidth

The access time test only includes read operations, which is why the Pico C USB 2.0 flash thumb drive by Super Talent is significantly faster than the IBM DTTA hard drive. MLC flash devices are excellent when they have to deliver data (read operations), but they often show severe performance handicaps for writes.

This is one of the main reasons we selected these two drives for our comparison. They both deliver similar potential when it comes to throughput. Actual throughput is different, though.

Results: Read/Write Transfer Rates

The MLC flash-based Super Talent Pico C 8 GB USB drive not only delivers 2.5x faster read transfer rates, it typically maintains this throughput with few exceptions (see the transfer diagram). It clearly outperforms the hard drive. You would need at least a 30-40 GB circa-2000/2001 hard drive to keep pace with the flash memory stick.

Things look different in the write throughput test, even though the flash drive is still the clear winner. The fact that MLC-based flash products don’t deliver the same write throughput as read throughput, and have slower write access times, causes the Super Talent Pico C to drop in transfer rate by more than 50%. The DTTA hard drive cannot match its read throughput either, but it doesn’t compare as badly as in the read throughput test.