SSD breakthrough means 300% speed boost, 60% less power usage... even on old drives

A breakthrough has been made in SSD technology that could mean drastic performance increases due to the overcoming of one of the major issues in the memory type. Currently, data cannot be directly overwritten onto the NAND chips used in the devices. Files must be written to a clean area of the drive whilst the old area is formatted. This eventually causes fragmented data and lowers the drive's life and performance over time.

However, a Japanese team at Chuo University have finally overcome the issue that is as old as the technology itself. Officially unveiled at the 2014 IEEE International Memory Workshop in Taipei, the researchers have written a brand new middleware for the drives that controls how the data is written to and stored on the device. Their new version utilizes what they call a 'logical block address scrambler' which effectively prevents data being written to a new 'page' on the device unless it is absolutely required. Instead, it is placed in a block to be erased and consolidated in the next sweep. This means significantly less behind-the-scenes file copying that results in increased performance from idle, during intensive jobs and a longer lifetime for the drive as SSDs have a finite number of possible write operations.

In tests, drives using the technology wrote data 55% less often than drives without and performance increases of up to 300% were noted. This could enable high-end devices to easily reach transfer speeds of 1.5GB/s as current models achieve around 500MB/s typically; 60% less power was also used in the lab tests due to the lack of additional drive writes.

If you are reading this on a computer booting from an SSD and are thinking of splashing out on one of these next-generation models equipped with new NAND chips then perhaps you should wait a moment. The changes made by the team were purely software-based. There is definitely a possibility that existing devices still in support by their manufacturers may get firmware updates in the near future so that they store data in the new manner and  benefit from the increased speed, decreased power consumption and increased expected life of drives equipped with the new NAND controller firmware. 

Source: Pocket-lint | Image via Intel

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86 Comments

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This is one of those "scientists came up with a way to boost battery performances to last a 30 times compared to current batteries". How many of those have we seen, yet we're still charging our devices every few hours. We will get 10% faster SSDs next year, then 10%, etc. Business is business.

hold the phone this is middleware ie: driver level
Hardware/firmware>Driver(middleware)>OS
why does this require SSD manufacturers to update firmware to use this the article states that the tests were done via software or am I getting muddled up somewhere along the line

I just dropped $300 on crucial's new M550 (512GB) SSD since they were 100 bucks off this weekend for memorial day. Should I return it? :p

I sent a support question to Intel to see if this will be added to their 520SSD firmware, got the following reply:

"You gave us a real good question but unfortunately I dont have a response for you now. If you allow me to investigate for the next couple of days, I will give you a response."

Support in "can't answer your question shocker"...

I hope you are oing very well.

I made the investigation related to your question and so far as I understand, Intel provides an automatic way to let customers knows about new firmware releases.

Your SSD 520 is one of the lastest SSD manufatured by Intel and the new update will be posted via SSD toolbox or from the following link:

https://downloadcenter.intel.c...=Intel%C2%AE+SSD+520+Series

Unfortunately, I cannot give you a date for a new release since this is handle by the developers. As i mentioned, please keep checkug our site and you will get the updates there as well.

Please have a great day.

_Heavens said,

Is this firmware update compatible with HDDs?

Nope. HDDs don't have this problem.

You can directly overwrite any cluster (4KB) on a HDD. On a SSD, you can't overwrite old pages (4KB) until the entire block of pages is garbage collected. This firmware is simply an optimization of that process.

Sure it might be able to be put into older drives, but marketing and money will say "this isn't compatible with our current lineup, BUT we have new drives out right now that can do it!"

I hope i'm surprised, but i'm not holding my breath.

I have a 120bGB Mercury Electra 6G SSD (2nd gen) from OWC that boots my Mac Mini with 16GB memory and it is very fast but if this becomes reality I think my will fly lol.

Edited by belto, May 24 2014, 1:43am :

When the new Ssd with this technology available on market?
I hope the longer ssd life and faster will attract more user.

Bad Ass... regardless of Bus limits: Less power use, Less wear, slightly faster even on a slower Bus.

What a crock of a PR piece written by someone that has no history of FLASH as storage device, sigh.

We were doing this stuff back in the early 90's. Jeez, talk about a desperate attempt at getting attention.

Seriously.
Anyone really thinks Intel SSD gurus (or any other major manufacturer) never thought about this or did not research ways to circumvent these issues?

This a wishful thinking BS.

I dont believe a word of it.
If it was true that a single software mambo-jambo woodoo magic (yes, in my eyes without any technical details clarified, this is nothing more than CEO-level BS speech) would be possible, all the hundreds or thousands of R&D engineers at the various vendors wouldnt have found that solution years ago?
Just because they say "FIRMWARE", it doesnt mean something from another dimension. Its a simple piece software, just its running hidden from the enduser eyes in some built-in chip. Its not capable of doing more miracle, than ordinary software running in the front of your eyes on the windows desktop. People tend to believe literally any sham, if its about a topic that they are completely unfamiliar with.

To be fair, it was presented at an IEEE conference, and seems to be legit. Following the links from Neowin a few hops we get...

http://techon.nikkeibp.co.jp/e...sh/NEWS_EN/20140522/353388/

However, the devil's in the details. The speed increase is primarily for SSDs with less than 20% free space. Given that the speed of the SSD does slow down when there is little free space left, this advancement may only be restoring the original speed. No where do they say they achieved a speed boost from 500MB/s to 1500MB/s as the Neowin author claims above.

http://techon.nikkeibp.co.jp/e...WS_EN/20140522/353388/3.jpg

Edited by jasondefaoite, May 24 2014, 5:53am :

All the figures published in the original thesis were based on simulations. None were real test results. The system comes across more as an SSD defragmenter than real firmware. No doubt the concepts will be integrated into future devices if any real effects, not necessarily the inflated figures published, are seen. Here's a Japanese link that has more details: http://techon.nikkeibp.co.jp/e...sh/NEWS_EN/20140522/353388/

ha older drives... common you know they will just rebrand the current drives with a new firmware and say look how great our next line is! and never update the older ones

Yea, because I was just thinking that SSDs are too slow.

Seriously, wow. More interested in the lifetime length and lower power, but frickin' nice.

Zagadka said,
Yea, because I was just thinking that SSDs are too slow.

Seriously, wow. More interested in the lifetime length and lower power, but frickin' nice.

SSD over SATA is too slow that's why we have the newer M.2 ports

M.2. is on the the bus so it could reach 1.4GB/s+ compared to 600MB of SATA3

SSD over SATA is too slow that's why we have the newer M.2 ports

So, do the manufacturers have to develop new drivers/firmware for the SSDs, even old ones, or is this something that could be implemented in an OS, like Windows or Linux?

My SSD could benefit from this. But since OCZ is now Toshiba that means I'm stuck with nothing?

There's a cynic in me that says manufacturers will bypass this in existing drives to push new sales.

But I also know that enterprise customers will be pushing them hard to make firmware updates, and I happen to have a model that's frequently ordered by that market.

I feel...managed optimism.

Joshie said,
There's a cynic in me that says manufacturers will bypass this in existing drives to push new sales.

I think this too for sure. Plus not all makers will want to license it but instead wait and create their own version.

This is great, I ran SSDbooster.exe and it kind of feels faster, I guess... but this window keeps popping up saying I need to pay Bitcoins to get to my files now?

Enron said,
This is great, I ran SSDbooster.exe and it kind of feels faster, I guess... but this window keeps popping up saying I need to pay Bitcoins to get to my files now?

You probably need to reset the internal ID 10T jumper, just pop the drive in a microwave oven on high for 5 minutes and it should be good as new.

Enron said,
This is great, I ran SSDbooster.exe and it kind of feels faster, I guess... but this window keeps popping up saying I need to pay Bitcoins to get to my files now?

You forgot to remagnetize your drives. Grab the most powerful magnet you can get hold of in the DIY store and swipe it horizontally across the drive several times.

I fix know everythin , send to me your SSD with SSDbooster.exe I fix small price.
Cheap, only cheap 50 $ , only for you. I repair gud. I have technology Japan , make your SSD very very very fast! only programs no open your SSD!

McKay said,

You forgot to remagnetize your drives. Grab the most powerful magnet you can get hold of in the DIY store and swipe it horizontally across the drive several times.


Wouldn't effect an SSD.

Scrap magnetising or frying your SSD. Grab a mallet and smash the top of the SSD 10 times and it should revert back to the latest backup of your data

JJ_ said,
Scrap magnetising or frying your SSD. Grab a mallet and smash the top of the SSD 10 times and it should revert back to the latest backup of your data

Lmao

This is good news indeed. If they update current drives firmware it would be awesome but I don't think they will because they can use these benefits to advertise new drives.

I can understand them not updating existing drives on the grounds that if they aren't broke then don't fix them.

DonC said,
I can understand them not updating existing drives on the grounds that if they aren't broke then don't fix them.

More because advertising NEW SSD with such technology will boost sales... and profits.
Unfortunate for us, the consumers, but understandable.

Cosmocronos said,

More because advertising NEW SSD with such technology will boost sales... and profits.
Unfortunate for us, the consumers, but understandable.


They could still update current drives while advertising that the new ones are faster. Joe Public won't know that they could just update their firmware, so they will still sell plenty.

DonC said,
I can understand them not updating existing drives on the grounds that if they won't make more money, they won't fix them.

Fixed that for you.

Chicane-UK said,
Incredible! Hope manufacturers incorporate this into firmware on their older drives!

Hopefully. When we broke the cache barrier on drives, pretty much every manufacture jumped on that with their next set of drives and that was a hardware based update.

It's times like these where an open firmware would be great for older drives to get the needed speed bump.

Chicane-UK said,
Incredible! Hope manufacturers incorporate this into firmware on their older drives!

I don't think they incorporates this into 3-4 years SSD drives. They need to sell the new ones. This is a great news unfortunately my vertex 3 is old for a firmware to be released.

RaulMR said,

I don't think they incorporates this into 3-4 years SSD drives. They need to sell the new ones. This is a great news unfortunately my vertex 3 is old for a firmware to be released.

Vertex 3? I am still running vertex 1 and vertex 2. Funny enough the vertex 1 was bought way earlier and is under much much heavier load. Yet ssdlife shows more life left in it then the newer drive

panacea said,

Vertex 3? I am still running vertex 1 and vertex 2. Funny enough the vertex 1 was bought way earlier and is under much much heavier load. Yet ssdlife shows more life left in it then the newer drive

My vertex is great. But i like to have more time on it and wast less energy, more speed always is good in my case less important i 'm happy with it. Unfortunately is to old for firmware updates, last one was October 2012 i don't expect any.

Well SATA3 is limited to something around 600MBps, so I wouldn't count on gaining much performance. Lower power usage and longer lifespan would definitely be huge improvements though.

I have a feeling though that these SSD makers who want people to buy their products periodically might not release this for their old products leaving us in dust. :/

FMH said,
I have a feeling though that these SSD makers who want people to buy their products periodically might not release this for their old products leaving us in dust. :/
Exactly... >.<

I think vendors, like Microsoft with their new Surface Pro 3 and earlier devices, will push the SSD vendor to release to them a firmware update so MS can release it via a MS update and speed up their machines. If you had any of the original Surfaces, they got much faster and battery sipping over time mostly due to firmware updates.