Flash may be fast, but not fast enough for smartphones, according to a recent presentation at the Usenix Conference on File and Storage Technologies in San Jose this week. Tests conducted by a Georgia Technology student in the US revealed that simple tasks, including browsing the web and using Facebook, can suffer performance drops of 100-300 per cent, depending on the brand of flash memory used.
The student in question, Hyojun Kim, ran a battery of tests on flash cards from manufacturers including Kingston, Sandisk, Transcend and A-Data. The results were always the same — noticeable performance hits, in the range of 100-300 per cent, though the Kingston flash was some 2000 per cent worse. Kim blames big random writes for the sluggish scores.
Transcend and Sandisk topped the tables as the best performers, while Kingston and RiData phoned it in. Kim notes in his paper that the slower cards have an "indirect impact" on energy consumption as they use more CPU time, cause the screen to remain on longer and prevent the phone from entering a low-power state as you wait for responses to your latest tweet.
It should be noted all tests were carried out on Android phones, as the iPhone does not support flash cards.
Image: Nrbelex / Wikipedia.