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Fujitsu looks to flash for 1.8" storage needs

The market is definitely looking brighter for solid-state discs (SSDs). More and more manufacturers are beginning to embrace flash as a suitable alternative to traditional hard disc drives (HDDs) and device manufacturers are increasingly putting them in their mobile products.

NAND flash, which was once relegated to memory cards used in digital cameras and portable media players like the iPod, is now finding its way in larger capacities and faster operating speeds in UMPCs and notebook computers.

SanDisk recently announced a new 2.5" 32GB SSD destined for notebooks and Samsung countered with 1.8" 64GB SSD of its own offering read/write speeds of 65MB/sec and 45MB/sec respectively.

The lower weight, higher transfer speeds, lower power requirements and silent operation coupled with dropping flash prices has enticed Fujitsu to halt development of its 1.8" HDDs. The company reports that more portable device manufacturers are asking for solid-state storage instead.

Falling prices for 2.5" HDDs have hurt Fujitsu's profit margins, so it's no surprise that it is looking to NAND flash to increase its bottom line. "We want to see if the market tips toward flash, or if it stays with hard drives," said Masao Sakamoto, a Fujitsu spokesman.



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Flash drives not as sturdy
By glitchc on 4/11/2007 11:45:59 AM , Rating: 0
Have any of these manufacturers thought about the impact of NTFS on a flash device? An OS, or more specifically the filesystem, performs a tremendous number of writes to secondary storage in a very short time. Flash devices were never designed for that. Each word in Flash must be erased before being written to. A large number of block erases and block writes can severely degrade the quality of NAND gates in very short order.

It seems to me that most companies are simply slapping on NAND flash with a IDE/SATA interface, with no regard for wear-leveling or garbage collection. Even some cache which acts as a buffer, and does not commit the writes, would be useful. Wear-leveling must be handled somehow: either in hardware (unlikely given the amount of space required for look-up tables), or by the filesystem. To date, I haven't read of any new filesystems for Windows which incorporate this feature.

Embedded systems have some variants on traditional filesystems. Embedded Linux has a mod for JFS called JFFS (Journaling Flash File System), which handles the wear-leveling.

I don't know too much about ReadyBoost, so I don't know if this feature has been incorporated in. I'm guessing it has not, although I could be wrong. If not, then given the heavy use of virtual memory as an indication, I'm expecting many users to complain about premature failures and data losses on their USB drives.

Don't get me wrong. I'm as excited about SSD as the next geek. I've been waiting for them for over a year now, since they seem to be the logical next step in reducing noise levels and heat dissipation, especially for mobile devices. I just hope enough thought has been put behind these devices in order to guarantee their reliability over a reasonable time frame. I would hate to have to replace my hard drive every six months.




RE: Flash drives not as sturdy
By zsouthboy on 4/11/2007 11:49:21 AM , Rating: 5
You went on a rant about nothing.

The HDD manufacturers know all about wear-leveling flash, just like the regular flash mem makers.

NTFS can write to the same damn block a million times and it won't matter. Yes, literally.

It's handled in hardware, and has been for ages now.


RE: Flash drives not as sturdy
By PandaBear on 4/11/2007 2:38:23 PM , Rating: 2
Every reputable flash card/drive company has wear leveling build in. So if you write to one sector 5000 times, they will be written to different physical location in a circular fashion.

Yet another reason not to buy a cheap no-name brand of flash card/drive.


RE: Flash drives not as sturdy
By saratoga on 4/11/2007 4:19:20 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
It seems to me that most companies are simply slapping on NAND flash with a IDE/SATA interface, with no regard for wear-leveling or garbage collection.


All flash IDE devices will have hardware wear leveling.

IDE interfaces have been on flash since the beginning. Non-IDE interfaces like SD or MCC are actually fairly new. Look up what compact flash was doing in the early 90s.

You don't actually know what garbage collection is, so don't use it.

quote:
Wear-leveling must be handled somehow: either in hardware (unlikely given the amount of space required for look-up tables), or by the filesystem. To date, I haven't read of any new filesystems for Windows which incorporate this feature.


Oh wow. You should quit while you're ahead.


RE: Flash drives not as sturdy
By glitchc on 4/11/2007 4:21:52 PM , Rating: 3
My apologies for the ill-informed rant. Need to read up more on the issue....


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