Breaking in a Kingston SSD
Solid state hard drives are all the rage these days due to their higher performance and decreased failure rates. Solid state drives store data in much the same manner as USB sticks. This eliminates the weak link in the chain in data storage safety because the platter and arm design has been replaced with NAND flash memory. No moving parts mean less chance of mechanical failure and that translates to safer data storage. It also boosts the performance, runs cooler, and is more shock resistant. The only real drawback has been the increased price and smaller capacity when compared to mechancial drives - both of which are moving in favor of the consumer as time passes.
One of the brightest spots in this area is the Kingston SSDNow V100 drive kit. The Kingston drive kit is a complete upgrade package that contains a set of adapter brackets so one might install this 2.5 inch drive in a 3.5 inch bay, two sets of screws to attach the drive to brackets and the brackets to the case, a peripheral power connector to SATA adapter, a SATA data cable, and a cloning tool CD. This makes installation and upgrading computer drives a snap. The three year warranty is a plus as well. The model tested is the 128 GB version selling for less than 250 USD at popular online retailers such as amazon.com or tigerdirect.com.
The hard drive internals are completely encased in a sturdy plastic housing, decreasing the chance of static shock. Kingston reports that the normal operating temperature runs from 0°C to 70°C. Sequential read throughput is rated at 250MB/sec and sequential write throughput is 230MB/sec. Average seek times for this model test at 0.2 milliseconds where most mechanical hard drives can average approximately 13.0. Actual benchmarking tests here:
SAMSUNG HD103SJ (mechanical): Timing cached reads: 4936 MB in 2.00 seconds = 2468.23 MB/sec
Timing buffered disk reads: 412 MB in 3.00 seconds = 137.25 MB/sec
Writing 665MB file: 0m49.560s
Seagate Momentus XT: Timing cached reads: 4830 MB in 2.00 seconds = 2415.77 MB/sec
Timing buffered disk reads: 296 MB in 3.01 seconds = 98.45 MB/sec
Writing 665MB file: 0m49.569s
Kingston SSDNow V100: Timing cached reads: 4932 MB in 2.00 seconds = 2466.81 MB/sec
Timing buffered disk reads: 618 MB in 3.00 seconds = 205.74 MB/sec
Writing 665MB file: 0m49.529s
Read tests were performed from live CD with no partitions mounted using hdparm. The write tests were run with only the first partition with a filesystem of drive mounted and copying a Linux install image from USB stick. It appears from these basic tests that the SSD drive is indeed faster than a hybrid or regular platter and arm drive.
The Acronis disk management utility was written to resemble Windows although it sits on top of a Linux base. It gives users tools to backup and restore, partition, and clone partitions and disks as well as a few other functions. Unfortunately, it doesn't support the Ext4 filesystem. It supports ext2, ext3, ReiserFS, NTFS, and FAT; but all partitions (including those with ext2 and ext3 filesystems) on existing disks were marked with a red X and not selectable. No Windows install was present.
Another issue sometimes raised with SSD is performance degradation over time. Memory devices make use of internal garbage collection to regain areas no longer being used by programs. But due to certain drawbacks with garbage collection (such as time required to move data around), TRIM is recommended as well. The TRIM function detects and "informs" an SSD which blocks are no longer being used and can be wiped and reused. In Linux, one can use TRIM with ext3 and ext4 by adding the word discard to the options when mounting (or in /etc/fstab). An example of use could be: /dev/sda3 / ext4 acl,user_xattr,noatime,discard 1 1.
In summary, the Kingston SSDNow V100 drive has found the sweet spot of high performance, acceptable size, and reasonable pricing. The full drive kit is perfect for someone fairly new to these drives of smaller size and might need the brackets, cable, and adapter. Personally, I can definitely feel the performance increase in everyday computer activities but most noticeably during gaming. I can highly recommend this drive.