Solid-state drives (SSDs) are already fast, in fact, a little too fast. That doesn’t mean we’re going to say no to even more performance, even if data transport protocols need to catch up. While flash memory itself continues to improve in durability, speed and density, there’s also work ongoing on the software side, with a team of researchers in Japan reportedly boosting existing drive speeds with a simple middleware change.
According to Tech On’s Jyunichi Oshita, the team, headed by professor Ken Takeuchi of Chuo University, presented its findings last week at the International Memory Workshop in Taipei. Their research is covered in a paper entitled “NAND Flash Aware Data Management System for High-Speed SSDs by Garbage Collection Overhead Suppression”.
Perhaps the most notable aspect of the team’s work is that it doesn’t require a hardware change — it’s all to do with the drive’s logic, specifically, how it goes about choosing where to write new data. Usually it’s written to a fresh area however, the team proposes the data should be written to the next “invalid” area instead — that is, an area that once held data, but has been marked as free. The idea is to reduce the amount of work the drive has to do when committing information to NAND.
According to Oshita, the performance gains are in the area of 300 per cent and apply to the drive’s writing speeds. But the benefits don’t stop there — the tweak also brought power usage down by 60 per cent and reduced wear by 55 per cent.
What’s not clear is who needs to implement the change — SSDs manufacturers via firmware, or an update to the operating system’s file system driver — if indeed it functions as advertised. Going by this diagram, it looks like a firmware thing.