I’ve posted about Windows Readyboost before, the new feature in Windows Vista that allows you to use USB flash memory to speed up disk reads and writes, while there are motherboards already coming out with this flash memory built in, I bet lots of people are tired of a USB drive hanging off of their PC. Here are a couple devices that you can add to your desktop computer that will allow you to add the flash memory without having to have your USB drive hanging out of the front of your computer. From Channel 10:
You’ve probably seen by now that Windows Vista can be kicked up a notch by using a USB drive to help extend memory and cut the amount of time it takes for your computer to come back from sleep mode. But who wants a USB drive hanging off of their computer and taking up a precious external USB slot? New options are starting to show up to solve this. You may recall the ASUS motherboard that I mentioned in February that comes with Readyboost memory already on the board. Source: ReadyBoost Inside
The devices they are talking about are pretty cool, Innodisk’s Readyboost memory plugs into the USB pin connectors on your motherboard, and save that precious USB port for something else.
Currently there is a large offer of Ready Boost drives but one that will surely get anyone?s attention are InnoDisk’s new internal drives. Instead of taking up one precious USB port, the drives in question will simply connect to the motherboard’s USB pin connectors.
InnoDisk’s Ready Boost Memory comes in 2GB and 4GB flavors and although the are not the fastest drives out there with their 3MB/s for 512KB random read/write and 5MB/s for 4KB, price tags are set to be very attractive – $15 for the 2GB drive. Source: InnoDisk releases internal Ready Boost flash drives
The USB Header Adapter also plugs into one of the USB headers on the motherboard, and you can just plug your thumb drive into it, so if you already have a drive you can use, you can simply buy this header adapter for only $9 dollars and be ready to go.
I was reading some articles this morning and I saw one referenced on Techmeme by John Dvorak called Will Vista make an impact? Commentary: It’s just not the same as earlier Windows releases. In it he describes how Microsoft is slipping on promoting it’s own products and technology, specifically, [tag]hybrid hard drives[/tag], a device that is needed to see benefits from Windows Readyboost, Windows Readydrive and some other technologies. So, I thought I would post an article about hybrid hard drives that contained what little I already knew with what I could find online.
It’s possible that some buzz will evolve, but it’s beginning to look like a pretty standard news story rather than anything like the marketing events we’ve seen in the past. I have to assume that the promoters who put on a worldwide show for Windows 95, for example, have long since left the company.
One of the interesting things I’m seeing is the relative ignorance of the computer-using public in general about the system requirements for Vista. Most obvious is the complete lack of knowledge regarding the next generation hard disk that is required to make Vista perform well.
Knowledgeable folks who should know about these drives never heard of them except in some relation to laptop battery life which seems to be the only promotion done so far. The only reason I know so much about them was by an odd coincidence of moderating a panel that discussed the drives in great detail. Source: MarketWatch
A hybrid drive is a new type of large-buffer computer hard drive, it’s different from standard hard drives because it uses a large non-volatile flash memory to cache data during normal use, such a drive developed by Samsung has a 2 gig cache. Windows Vista can use this cache for non-volatile data storage, so the platters of the hard drive are not spinning all of the time, as they do in current hard drives. There are three main reasons this will help Windows Vista run faster, including, decreased power consumption, improved reliability, and a faster boot process. This will help most users as the drives are only used between 2 and 10%, in some studies, of normal usage, there will be situations where more drive access will be needed, because of opening and closing of files, etc, and the benefit will not be as great.
So, the drives platters will be docked most of the time, allowing for less power consumption, mainly beneficial to notebook users, the hard drives will not put off as much heat, again, mainly useful to notebook users, less wear and tear on the drives, so they should last much longer, less noise, faster performance since most accesses will be to the flash and not the hard drive and an almost instant boot up process. As is the case of the Samsung drive, boot up data for the operating system can be contained completely on the flash portion of the drive allowing for boot up times of less than ten seconds. It has even been said that since the drives will not be running as hot, they should be able to increase the maximum rotation of the platters to allow for faster burst speeds than the 15,000 rpm limit on SCSI drives or the 10,000 rpm limit on some ide drives.
Some drawbacks I have seen include increased pricing, and the seek time of some file accesses will be increased because the platters will be at rest when a file from the hard drive is requested. If you have been in computers very long, you will remember the sound of some of the first scsi drives spinning up when they were accessed and the extra delay you had in bringing your system back up after it went to sleep. It has also been mentioned that there will be possible security problems, since the flash is separate it will not be automatically cleaned by some of these data cleaners businesses use to clean data from their old systems and it could possible be used by malware to hide from anti spyware and anti virus programs.
Security conscious organizations are taught to be very aware of data left on hard drives when PCs are disposed of. However, [Flash] memory is nonvolatile, so a company could end up with up to 512Mbytes of data lying around in memory on the motherboard or on the side of the drive.
Few companies own the industrial-scale degaussing equipment that can instantly be used to fry the data on a drive, and instead rely on software that laboriously overwrites the magnetic surface.
Another security implication of hybrid drives is that, depending on the interface between the operating system and the drive, it may also be possible to hide malicious code in the Flash memory that is not detected by virus scanners. Source: Applied Miscellany
An article from Cnet in 2005 discusses some of the benefits as the drives were first being developed.
Typically, hard drives rotate. Hard drive motors, along with LCD screens, are two of the largest consumers of power inside a laptop.
In the hybrid, the drive rarely spins. In the prototype hybrid being shown off Monday at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference, the drive spins only about 30 to 45 seconds every half hour, said Ivan Greenberg, director of strategic marketing for Samsung Semiconductor. The goal is to get it to 30 to 45 seconds for an hour.
“The traditional hard drive takes up about 10 to 15 percent of the battery power of your notebook,” Greenberg said. Thus, in a notebook with a four hour battery, the hybrid drive could extend battery life by about 36 minutes. Source: Cnet
This post from PCWorld references Superfetch, a term I don’t think I had seen before, but apparently it is the portion that manages the memory and will eventually learn which you will need loaded and will copy that data to the flash drive.
Three HHD-related Windows features you need to know: Superfetch, ReadyBoost, and ReadyDrive.
SuperFetch, a new memory manager for Windows, uses available memory to proactively cache data that you’re likely to need. Eventually, it learns which applications and data you habitually use and when you use them, and it does this on a per-user basis. I’ll be interested to see if SuperFetch works well enough to justify adding lots of memory to desktop machines.
As Denny Arar explains, ReadyBoost makes more memory available to SuperFetch by creating new memory pages on USB flash drives and the flash memory in hybrid hard disks. Source: Today @ PCWorld
The benefits I see are great and I can’t wait to get a Windows Vista system with one of these drives to try out, if my older, still fast but extremely hot laptop had some of these drives, I would probably still be using it every day. If anyone wants to send me one, I’d surely give it a good once or twice over. Oh, I almost forgot to mention, Windows Vista will be able to use USB drives for cache memory using Windows Readyboost, you will actually be able to leave it plugged in and boot from it, and, if you need to remove it, nothing will be lost as it will just be caching files that are already on the drive.
One of the new features in Windows Vista that I really want to take a look at is the Windows ReadyBoost, which allows you to use thumb drives, or jump drives, enter your favorite USB drive term here, to speed up Windows Vista. So, if you have a system that doesn’t have as much memory as you like, or as much as Vista wants, you can plug in your USB drive and Vista will use it as virtual memory, that is not quite as fast as system memory, but quite a bit faster than accessing the swap file on the hard drive. This one commenter said he has a 4gig USB drive and is thinking about just leaving it plugged in his computer, since it speeds it up so much.
If there is one thing that can really help applications on Windows Vista run better, it’s memory. When comparing the performance of Windows XP and Windows Vista on a PC with 1 GB of main memory, Windows Vista is generally comparable to Windows XP or faster. However, we also know that in some cases, on PCs with 512 MB of main memory, applications on Windows XP may seem more responsive. Why? Mostly because the features in Windows Vista use a bit more memory to do the things that make it so cool, like indexing your data, keeping the fancier AERO UI running using the desktop window manager (DWM), etc. The less memory in your machine, the more often the OS must randomly access the disk. This slows system performs in cases where your applications just barely fit in memory on Windows XP but not quite in Windows Vista.
While I fully expect the generation of PCs that ship with Windows Vista to include more memory, we also know that many existing PCs have 512 MB. While memory has gotten much less expensive, many (non-geek) people I know are just not comfortable opening up their PC and installing more memory. While there are some great PC shops that will do this for you, a lot of people may not want to bother. Well with Windows ReadyBoost, if you have a flash drive (like a USB thumb drive or an SD card) you can just use this to make your computer run better with Windows Vista. You simply plug in a flash drive and Windows Vista will use Windows ReadyBoost to utilize the flash memory to improve performance.
So, if you just want your PC to run faster with Windows Vista — it’s pretty simple — connect your flash drive through any USB 2.0 socket or PCI interface and when the auto play interface comes up, choose “Speed up my system using ReadyBoost.” You need to have at least 230 MB free on the flash drive and some flash disks are not fast enough to support Windows ReadyBoost, although you’ll be told if that’s the case. Source: Windows Vista Team Blog
What would be cool is if system manufacturers actually included some USB drives with their systems, you can get a 1gig drive for less than $50 nowadays. They noted that if you remove the USB drive, it won’t affect your system, because it is using files on the USB drive that are also on the hard drive, you will just loose the performance gains. The data on the drive is also encrypted, so you don’t have to worry too much about loosing the drive. He also noted that Windows Vista will learn what you do most often and will try to optimize your system for that as well.
Fujitsu has joined the ranks of computer manufacturers using flash memory in place of hard drives, offering 16GB or 32GB flash memory disks as an option on the new B-series machines due in late October and the Q-series machines in early November. Is this an advantage? Sure, the machines will boot up noticeably faster, the B-series machine will take about 19 seconds to start up running Windows XP Home Edition compared to 32 seconds for a hard-disk drive version. They will also have a longer battery life since the flash memory uses less power, adding 15 minutes uptime to the B-series and 30 minutes to the Q-series machines.
The flash memory is made by Samsung, who has already released two machines using the flash memory earlier this year, the Q30 laptop and Q1-SSD ultra-mobile PC. Sony is shipping one machine, a small size portable pc, released in Japan only.
The downside? Price. The 16GB disk will add $670 to the price of the computer while the 32GB disk will add $1340. Is it worth the small increases? Probably not yet. When there are more manufacturers shipping more machines using the flash memory, the prices will come down, but right now, I can’t see paying almost $700 more for 13 seconds of boot up time and 15 more minutes of battery life. Plus, with Windows Vista’s ability to use hybrid drives, using Windows Readyboost and Windows Readydrive, you will be able to add flash memory yourself to speed up boot up times.
My advice, if you are buying it for yourself, stick with a regular hard drive and save some money, but if your work is buying it for you, tell them you have to have it and let us know how much you like it.
Today Microsoft announced the Microsoft Software Protection Platform, which are new technologies to help Microsoft fight piracy, that will arrive in Windows Vista and Windows Server, Longhorn, my nickname in college. j/k The technology includes improvements in how they validate software, activate software and how the software acts when tampering or hacking is detected.
PressPass: What is the scope of the piracy problem around the world for the software industry?
Hartje: Piracy is one of the most significant problems facing the software industry globally. According to a report published by the Business Software Alliance a leading software industry forum 35 percent of all software installed worldwide during 2005 was pirated or unlicensed. That represents US$35 billion of industry losses in 2005 alone. While larger companies can still operate in the black, this piracy rate has a significant impact on the thousands of smaller organizations, from software publishers to software and PC resellers, that depend on the health of the software ecosystem to survive.
The only assumption that is wrong with this is that everyone who installes pirated software would buy it if they didn’t have an illegal copy. No way is this even close to being true. When I was younger and could not afford software, it didn’t bother me to try out stuff that I wouldn’t be able to buy anyway, and I’m sure most people are the same way. Now that I am older I buy everything I want to use, because I can afford it. What Microsoft and these other companies need to watch are the ones who install illegal software on systems that they sell, and are making a profit on pirated software. I’m not saying they should over look the normal user, but saying that all software piracy cost the industry 35 billion is crazy.
One of the things the Software Protection Platform enables is enhancements to the genuine experience in Windows Vista, thereby differentiating it from the non-genuine experience. Customers that use genuine Windows Vista product should expect, and will get, an enhanced set of features that will not work on non-genuine or unlicensed versions of Windows Vista. Customers using genuine and licensed copies of Windows Vista will have access to Windows Aero and Windows ReadyBoost features, as well as full functionality of Windows Defender and extra optional updates from Windows Update. Computer systems that do not pass validation will not have access to these features, although they will still have access to critical security updates. Aero offers Microsoft’s best-designed, highest-performing desktop experience and is available in Windows Vista Home Premium, Windows Vista Business and Windows Vista Ultimate. ReadyBoost lets users use a removable flash memory device to improve system performance without opening the computer to install additional memory. Both are key features that a user of non-genuine software will quickly realize are not running. Windows Defender helps protect a user’s PC against pop-ups, and security threats caused by spyware and other malware.
At least they will still allow users to get the critical patches not matter what, those users that are not patched hurt everyone, not just themselves, as they can become part of a botnet, or help spread viruses, and lord knows what else.
Ed Bott of the Microsoft Report weighs in here, he has documented many, many problems with Windows Genuine Advantage, the precursor to these new technologies.
My head practically exploded when I read this sentence describing the new, improved punishment regimen: “Windows Vista will have a reduced functionality mode but one that is enhanced.” Enhanced reduced functionality? Orwell would be proud.
The most chilling part of SPP is its new code to detect tampering. As Lindeman explained to me, “If the Software Protection Platform determines that the core binaries of your system have been hacked with, you will get a notification that operating system has been tampered with. Reinstallation is the remedy.” And the clock starts ticking immediately. When an anti-tampering warning first appears, you have three days to reinstall or otherwise fix your copy of Windows Vista or shift into reduced functionality mode.
That last part is pretty scary, three days? What is someone’s machine is hacked, Microsoft is going to protect them by going into reduced functionality mode. Sounds like the volume licensing is really going to be a pain in the butt, what is the reason everyone should upgrade to Vista, isn’t it supposed to make everyone’s lives easier and not just line Microsoft’s pocket?
He reports in another post about WGA validation problems with Windows XP and volume license keys, which are used by pirates when they can get them because they didn’t require validation.
This week, the WGA Validation Problems forum is awash in reports from customers in corporations and at universities that volume license keys (VLKs) are suddenly being reported as blocked.
The problem was the result of an issue on the Microsoft server side, and it is under investigation
If you are looking for security related info, you should visit Faill.com, a social bookmarking site that is all about security and security related info.
If you have used your computer for any length of time, then you’ve probably already guessed that the hard drive is the slowest component in your system. I’ve been waiting for the day when we have hard drives that are faster, lots faster, has that day arrived, well, yes and no. Tom’s Hardware has reviewed Samsung’s 32 GB Flash Drive and it looks like it could be very useful, even if it’s not ready for prime time. You can add this flash drive to your system and you can create hybrid hard drives, which allows Windows Vista to prioritize data accross the hard drive and flash drive to help cut down waiting times on data access.
Windows Vista has two new, related features, one is called Windows ReadyBoost, and it allows you to add flash storage, such as this flash drive or a usb thumb drive, and because Windows can retrieve data more quickly, it can really improve system performance, and the data is encrypted when the device is removed to prevent access by others.
The second feature is called Windows ReadyDrive and combined with the flash drive will allow your computer to boot up faster, resume from hibernate in less time, preserve battery power, and improve hard disk reliability. You can store your operating system files and swap file on the flash drive and cut your boot time in half, if their review is any indication.
Samsung has released mobile computers based upon its Solid State Flash hard drives into the Korean market as of early June. The Q30 laptop generates as little as ~30 db(A) of noise, while the Q1 portable runs totally silent and according to Samsung both boot Windows XP 25-50% faster than systems featuring traditional hard drives. Considering that both system run on conventional Pentium M / Centrino hardware, their respective MSRPs of $3,700 and $2,430 seem a little pricey.
As a stand-alone purchase it would wise to utilize the fast file access as a location for your operating system and swap files, and distribute file/system access between existing drives. Integrated features of the drive also let users easily take advantage of Vista’s new ReadyBoost/Superfetch features. The power consumption and physical sturdiness of the unit indicate strong inclinations toward mobile use and should allow for the manufacture of products with longer battery life, increased durability and reduced weight as well as decreasing boot times. Non-volatile, large capacity Flash based SSD is a fantastic idea whose time has almost come.
It’s a great review, click here and check out all of the comparisons with regular hard drives, suffering mainly in bandwidth limitations due to the interface, one of these drives could boost your system performance greatly.