How Windows 7 will, and won't, work better with SSDs

Microsoft cites 4 ways that Windows 7 will support solid-state drives better than XP or Vista does

Defragging disks speed ups the reading of data from conventional hard drives by moving similar data together. But flash-based SSDs are already fast at reading data. Rather, SSDs are slow at writing data. Moreover, the process of erasing and moving data requires "flashing" the memory cells with high voltage. That gradually wears out the SSD.

Defragmentation thus shortens an SSD's lifespan without improving performance, Shu said.

Second, Windows 7's new "trim" feature will improve performance three ways. It will: Reduce the amount of data to be deleted, which improves the SSD's lifespan; delete garbage data in advance, which speeds up writing of data; and maximize the amount of unused data, which helps even out the wear and tear on the SSD, Shu said.

Third, Windows 7 will partition the SSD more efficiently to cut down on unnecessary read-write cycles, Shu said. This requires Windows 7 to be installed fresh and not upgraded from XP, he said, since the latter OS formats SSDs in an inefficient way.

Finally, Microsoft plans to create a certification program for SSDs. To win the software maker's logo of approval, SSDs must identify themselves to Windows 7 properly, prioritize data reads over slower data writes, comply with the Serial ATA (SATA) drive interface for faster connections, and more, Shu said.

On the other hand, Microsoft is not taking more radical steps. For instance, it's not trying any tricks to decrease the number of times data is written, such as using RAM to cache data, Shu said.

Writing data to flash memory, especially small amounts of it, takes 100 times longer than reading it, according to SanDisk.

SanDisk's Barnetson agrees that Microsoft is limited by what it can do in this vein.

"The challenge is that it's not just Windows, it's all of the applications constantly issuing commands to the SSD," he said. Software vendors "aren't going to change, that's the reality of it."

Moreover, Microsoft appears unlikely to have Windows 7 adopt a new disk interface technology written specifically to boost the speed and longevity of SSDs. It's called Non-Volatile Memory Host Controller Interface. Developed by Intel, NVMHCI would replace the ATA interface that was developed originally for hard disk drives (though, out of necessity, also used by SSDs today).

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags SSDWindows 7

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Eric Lai

Computerworld
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?