Microsoft to Make Solid State Disks More Efficient

Dennis Faas's picture

Despite only a having a marginal impact on the data storage market in the past, Microsoft has revealed their desire to help improve flash memory.

Current plans call for the creation of software that uses solid-state storage (such as a solid state drive, or "SSD") in conjunction with RAM and hard disk, while eliminating random writes and other wasteful operations.

Calling the program "FlashStore," Microsoft will be able to use flash storage as a bridge between RAM (primary storage) and hard drives (secondary storage). The current software would essentially fit between a hard drive and RAM, acting as a high-speed holding area for frequently used data.

Tiered Storage Maximizes Efficiency

Using flash in conjunction with other types of storage is not a new process. Storage vendors call this practice "tiered storage" and claim that it maximizes the cost-effectiveness of storage by putting frequently accessed data on faster tiers (such as SSDs) and less frequently accessed data on slower tiers (such as hard drives).

Current flash memory is about 100 to 1,000 times faster than hard disk, but 100 times slower than DRAM (dynamic random access memory). Naturally, the biggest discrepancy between the two is price: flash is 20 times more expensive than hard disk, but 10 times cheaper than DRAM. (Source:

By comparison, Microsoft's FlashStore performed 60 times faster than Oracle's open-source Berkeley DB systems and at greater energy and cost-efficiency.

Random Writes Eliminated

Microsoft also added a few other enhancements to FlashStore that would enable it to eliminate useless random writes that tend to clutter the system, thus resulting in file fragmentation.

As one Microsoft representative stated, FlashStore organizes data in a log structure on flash so that new data sent to flash does not lead to random writes and, hence, is not subject to garbage collection by the device." (Source:

The new software even uses a specialized RAM index to access data from flash in such a way as to reduce usage of RAM.

While Microsoft did not reveal any release date, they did mention that Xbox Live and ad-sponsored online searches would be the kinds of applications that would benefit most from such a system.

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