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Super Talent RAM Cache USB 3.0 flash drive prices  (Source: Super Talent)
Ram Cache tech promises up to 300% performance improvement in some uses

With USB 3.0 ports becoming more common on desktop and laptop computers, the number of USB 3.0 storage devices and other gear coming to market is growing. One of the most prevalent areas that USB 3.0 is being embraced is in the storage market.

The new drives are the Super Talent USB 3.0 Express RAM Cache drives. The drives are offered in 32GB and 64GB capacities. The new DRAM caching system that the drives use promise to boost performance by up to 300%. The company claims to be the only firm offering a caching system on its USB 3.0 drives.

Super Talent COO CH Lee said, "We've made the first, fastest, hardware encrypted, and most affordable USB flash 3.0 flash drives, now with the Express RAM Cache, we are offering affordable cache support on USB 3.0."

Super Talent claims that in real world performance tests copying large files and writing large amounts of smaller files the caching system it uses significantly increases performance. The maker claims that adding the caching system speeds up the copy process of 40 MP3 files by 260% compared to a drive without the caching feature. The time savings increases as the file count goes up.

Lee said, "No longer are we talking about a 10x performance increase over USB 2.0, now we are talking about a real world experience that is up to 110x what our customers have experienced before. Adding RAM Cache to our USB 3.0 Express Drive line-up raises the bar we have established with our first three USB 3.0 products and reiterates our commitment and leadership in the USB 3.0 space."

The USB 3.0 Express RAM Cache Drive in 32GB capacity sells for $129, the 64GB version of the same drive is $209, and both versions are shipping. Super Talent also offers the USB 3.0 Express Drive in 16GB for $59 and in 32GB for $99. The 16GB version of this drive was first announced in February of 2010.

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By Motoman on 9/8/2010 11:54:40 AM , Rating: 2
A. For small stuff, current USB 2.0 stuff is OK. But, on occassion, I have found myself trying to copy, say, a 20Gb server backup file onto a 32Gb USB 2.0 USB stick - and that process is GLACIAL. Takes over an hour.

B. The 32Gb price for that RAM Cache unit is about twice the cost of what I paid for my 32Gb USB 2.0 unit. If it's a bajillion times faster, as advertised, then it's worth it.

By Solandri on 9/8/2010 1:07:36 PM , Rating: 2
USB 2.0 is about 20-25 MB/sec in RL benchmarks. A 20 GB file copy that's USB-limited should only take about 15 minutes.

The slowness you're encountering is due to the speed of the flash memory in your USB stick. Solid state memory is still a lot slower than hard drives. The high speed SSD drives being put into new laptops get around the problem by having multiple controllers writing different parts of the file to multiple portions of flash memory simultaneously. Like a huge RAID-0 array of 4, 8, 12, or 16 drives. Unfortunately, most USB stick drives only have one controller so suffer from the full slowness of flash.

Also, adding a RAM cache will not help with a large transfer like a 20 GB file copy. It only helps when there's a cache hit due to some commonality in the files. I suspect the "40 MP3 files" they're talking about in the article are the same MP3 file being read over and over 40 times. Except for databases, real-world usage patterns rarely have that high a cache hit rate.

By ekv on 9/8/2010 2:09:20 PM , Rating: 2
I was kind of thinking the ram cache would act as a cache AND a write buffer. But that would only help if the controller could write to more than one flash chip at a time. I don't think the Express Drive series does that.

Why? you might ask. Super Talent also has a USB 3.0 RAIDdrive series that does emulate a RAID 0 setup. This is an older article but it suggests a serious performance improvement,705134/Super-Ta...

If you want performance, RAIDdrive is the way to go, though I could only find it for $219 (32 GB). Ouch.

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