While waiting on my new E1705 to show up next week with Vista Ultimate, I've been looking into Vista's ReadyBoost feature that uses thumb drives or flash memory
cards as disk cache acceleration devices. I at first dismissed the idea but based on several users' positive results for decreasing certain tasks' load times, I'm going to give it a try as discussed below. The basic idea is to use a flash card or thumb drive to accelerate system response as a "booster" cache area for the window's page file. Even 2 Gb Ram
systems typically still use the page file to some degree, so accelerating it should provide noticeable benefits on certain types of applications.
I saw a YouTube video that demonstrated a reduction of login time to the desktop from the login screen (I'm assuming it was a "re-login" or switching users) with a normal time of 44 seconds reduced to just 14 seconds with a ReadyBoost device enabled. Other articles have described noticeably snappier index searches and general responsiveness increases, so I'm going to delve right into it for my machine.
My goal is to use the laptop's internal 5-in-1 flash card reader to tuck the media out of sight, so the focus of this post excludes USB thumb drives. To start with, here's a really great site for tracking down access and transfer speed differences among a lot of flash cards in various formats and in various readers:http://www.hjreggel.net/cardspeed/
The focus of the above site is for digital camera usage, so it's worth a look-see for that reason as well.
Here's a RB (ReadyBoost) compatibility listing site for over 400 flash cards and thumb drives:http://www.grantgibson.co.uk/misc/readyboost/
Based on these sites, I've selected the ReadyBoost compatible 2 Gb SanDisk SD Extreme III card as a $50 low cost addition to my Dell order in hopes that the E1705's internal 5-in-1 card reader performs decently with this hi-speed card. My experience with gaming applications is that optimizing your page file to the start of your disk drive's platter or better yet to a separate drive helps a great deal. So I'm hoping this feature can approach that type benefit for a system with just a single hard drive.
If it doesn't perform in the range of 19 Mb/s read and 18 Mb/s write speed with access latency of about 1 ms per testing when I receive the laptop, I'll look into the 3 or 4 card readers listed at the 1st site above that do acheive those speeds. I'd much rather not have to since it'll be buklier than a thumb drive, but I'd just velcro an external reader to the lid of my machine if the internal reader is too slow. Thumb drives don't typically achieve the faster access times of flash cards, and for this application fast access is very important as described further below.
The 2Gb SanDisk SD Extreme 3 card is among the top 3 flash memory
cards tested per the sites above and can currently be bought at Dell's accessories store for $71 with a $20 MIR for end price of $51 here:http://accessories.us.dell.com/sna/p...x?sku=A0918866
You might find it cheaper elsewhere, but I'm financing my Dell order and it was best for me to just buy it from Dell since it's a very reasonable price after the rebate and it has free shipping too. If this doesn't work as expected, then I'll just use the SD card for my digital camera even though I plan to keep its full 2 Gb size dedicated for ReadyBoost.
The SanDisk's 1 ms access performance level is roughly ten times faster for small file access times compared to hard drives that usually have latencies of 8 to 10 ms, so this should be an ideal route to go with for the RB cache feature. In addition, a lot of laptop drives actually fall to the 20 Mb/s speed level at the slowest portions of their platters such that the fastest flash cards can now transfer data sequentially at nearly hard drive speeds.
The flash card approach might therefore boost performance similarly to having a 2nd hard drive dedicated to a paging file like I do with all the gaming desktops I've built. The dedicated page file disk significantly reduces game stutters even for fast vid card Core 2 Duo machines with 2 Gb Ram
, and since any stutters usually get you "killed" in fast-twitch first person shooter games it's a big help.
It would sure be convenient if the E1705's internal reader works decently since we can just pop in the card and leave it without gettting in the way like a thumb drive or external reader. I've bent a couple thumb drives when I got up from sitting in a chair with the machine on my lap and forgot they were sticking out of either the side or back USB ports. And I also broke one of the USB ports while bending the thumb drive, so for clutzes like me the internal flash card seems the best route to take for a ReadyBoost device.
Has anyone tried any SD cards of this caliber yet to find out the E1705 or M1710 internal reader's performance? Slower thumb drives or flash cards that barely pass the minimum speed threshold of 2.5 Mb/s are 10 times slower than a disk drive. These will very probably not perform well enough to make them worthwhile in my opinion. And in fact this looks to me to be the reason that a lot of users have not seen noticeable improvements. However, using one of the latest hi-speed cards according to their specs should make ReadyBoost quite worthwhile indeed.
I'll make sure to follow up next week after I can test mine, and will also do performance timing comparisons of before/after adding the card.