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If your SSD sucks, blame Vista, says SSD vendor

SanDisk pledges next-gen Flash disks will be better

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It's Windows Vista's fault that solid-state storage isn't performing as well as its proponents predicted. So said SanDisk CEO Eli Harari, but at least he didn't go as far as saying it's Microsoft's problem to fix.

SSDs are viewed as the heir apparent to the hard disk, particularly for laptops and other mobile computers. SSDs are way more shock-resistant and consume less power. Theoretically, they should deliver better performance.

Alas, many tests reveal that they don't.

SSD "performance in the Vista environment falls short of what the market really needs", admitted Harari at the company's earnings conference this week.

Why not? According to Harari, it's because "Vista is not optimised for Flash memory solid-state disks".

But isn't that the disk makers' problem? Despite pointing the finger at Vista, Harari tacitly admitted it was by signalling that what's needed are new Flash memory controllers that can be built into the SSDs and "compensate for Vista shortfalls".

We'd say they're the SSD's shortfalls. Vista works the way it does because of its long hard disk heritage. If SSD makers want their products to replace HDDs, it's up to them to develop drives that can be slotted into existing systems and deliver real benefits. Grumbling that it's Microsoft's fault isn't going to help.

The problem surely stems from Windows' use of hard disk space for memory caching, something all modern and not-so-modern operating systems do. So it's not like the SSD manufacturers didn't have any warning this could be an issue.

Small, Cheap Computer will continue to benefit from Flash storage, Harari said, because they have "relatively unsophisticated and demanding requirements" - they're either running very basic Linux apps or, when they come with Windows XP, have virtual memory disabled.

SCCs will provide a role of SanDisk's current SSDs while the company works on next-gen controllers better suited to Vista. They won't appear, however, until late 2008 or early 2009, and then only in sample quantities, Harari said.

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