SanDisk Promises Big Performance Boost For Solid-State Drives

SanDisk said the new ExtremeFFS system, which will ship in SanDisk products starting next year, "has the potential to accelerate random write speeds by up to 100 times over existing systems." SanDisk unveiled the technology at Microsoft's Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC), taking place in Los Angeles this week.

While solid-state drives are generally faster at reading data than hard disks, the performance of solid-state drives generally lags when they randomly write data.

SanDisk introduced TrueFFS, an earlier-generation flash management technology, in 1994. ExtremeFFS uses a "page-based algorithm" that the company said does not rely on a fixed coupling between physical and logical location for writing data on the solid-state drive. That allows the drive to write data where it is "most convenient and efficient," SanDisk said. That improves random write performance by as much as a factor of 100, and boosts system endurance, according to the company.

Given the skepticism some still have about solid-state drives vs. spinning hard-disk drives, SanDisk proposed benchmarks for comparing the performance and endurance of the two technologies. Given that the speed of spinning disks is measured in revolutions per minute, the company proposes a virtual RPM or vRPM standard for comparing solid-state and hard-disk drives used in PCs.

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The proposed long-term data endurance, or "LDE," metric measures the total amount of data writes allowed in the life span of a solid-state drive. SanDisk has proposed both benchmarks in a paper sent to the JEDEC, a developer of standards for the solid-state drive industry.

Rich Heye, senior vice president and general manager for SanDisk's solid-state drive business unit, predicted in a statement that the performance of solid-state drives will improve by a factor of four in 2009 over current-generation solid-state drives and be six times faster than the newest 2.5-inch hard drives.