Microsoft: Windows 7 to boost solid-state drives

At WinHEC 2008, the software maker will talk about better solid-state drive support and performance on Windows 7.

Updated at 3:40 p.m.with additional comments and clarifications about solid state drives and ATA commands.

Will solid-state drives thrive on Windows 7? Microsoft is set to address that question at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference this week.

Microsoft will speak to both overall support for solid-state drives and Windows 7 support for Netbooks in Los Angeles at WinHEC 2008 , which kicks off Wednesday.

In a conference abstract titled "Windows 7 Enhancements for Solid-State Drives," Microsoft states that "PC systems that have solid-state drives are shipping in increasing volumes" and that it is planning "Windows enhancements that take advantage of the latest updates to standardized command sets, such as ATA."

"Windows7 will be able to identify a SSD uniquely," according to Gregory Wong of Forward Insights. Certain ATA commands will improve the speed that solid state drives write to disk, Wong said.

ATA is most commonly associated with Serial ATA, or SATA, technology, which is the most popular data transfer standard for PC storage devices. Most new hard drives use the SATA-2 standard, and the newest solid-state drives are based on this standard also.

Until recently, solid-state drives used an older--and theoretically slower--PATA (Parallel ATA) standard. But the newest drives shipping with, for example, the Dell Latitude E4200 and HP EliteBook 2530p ultraportable laptops, use SATA-2.

"It is pretty widely held that SSDs are unlikely to meet with much acceptance until Windows undergoes significant tuning to take advantge of all the speed that SSDs have to offer," according to Jim Handy of Los Gatos, Calif.-based Objective Analysis.

Topics covered in the Microsoft SSD talk will include "file system optimizations" and "thoughts on the future of SSDs and their role in Windows," according to a prepared statement by Frank Shu, a senior program manager on the Windows Storage Platform team.

Another session, titled "Designing Flash-Based Netbooks for Windows 7," will cover how to design flash-based Netbooks using Windows 7, according to a statement by Leon Braginski, a senior lead program manager in Microsoft's PC3 team. "We will explain how to calculate the lifetime of a flash-based netbook based on specific workload numbers," a summary states.

The session will also "introduce a revised version of the Flash-Based PC Design Guide, which has been updated for Windows 7."

Other solid-state drive related talks include one by Seagate, titled "Is Your Disk Drive Going Away?" Seagate will talk about solid-state drive platforms and hybrid hard-disk drives (HDDs), among other topics.

Retail flash memory drive giant SanDisk will talk about Multi-level Cell (MLC) NAND in PCs. MLC technology allows solid-state drive suppliers to build higher-capacity drives at lower cost. The latest high-capacity 128GB solid-state drives are based on MLC.

"Analysts uniformly agree that the key challenge to solid-state drive adoption is reducing cost, and the key to reducing cost is advancing to multi-level cell technology," SanDisk said in a statement.

"The PC pushes MLC flash like no other application with its high random write rate, small block size and long life expectations. SanDisk has...introduced the first metric for SSD endurance--Long-term Data Endurance (LDE). LDE allows customers to evaluate the lifespan of an SSD in their application," SanDisk said.

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.

 

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