Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Getting the SSD finally , but no TRIM yet

So finally I’m getting an SSD kudos to Mahen and Anusha (for dragging me into this :P). "SSD" (Solid state drive) might be an alien term for some of you; it’s a drive that is based on Flash memory cells (unlike your traditional hard disk which is based on a magnetic media). Which is quite fast in terms of sequential transfer speeds, random write/ read speeds and has an ultra low latency (~ 0.1ms) compared to your venerable hard drive (~ 13ms).

The new kid on the block: Kingston SSDNow 40GB MLC boot drive, in fact an Intel X25-M G2 drive in disguise. It comes in 2 retail versions one with the desktop bundle and the other with just the 2.5” (Notebook) drive. We opted to get it from Newegg and Mahen had ordered it through comgateway.com, but few days later we got to know Newegg has run out of stocks and had to search elsewhere. Dell had it but was out of stock, it’s the way it is, they are supposed to sell like hot cakes given the price tag. Then we tried Amazon, they had it but only the Notebook version was readily available, we had no chance but to opt out with it, besides you are not missing much, just the 2.5” to 3.5” enclosure, cables and the CD contains Acronis True Image ; not a deal breaker at all.

As of yet this drive doesn’t support the TRIM extension though Intel has already released a TRIM firmware for their X25-M G2 drives, Hopefully Kingston will release a TRIM firmware once Intel starts shipping their 40GB drives. SSDs degrade their write performance over time, once the cells started to fill up with your data + junk data that you deleted from the drive (you know that a hard drive doesn’t really delete data when you delete a file; same goes with SSD), Let me explain you the reason.

SSDs are made of zillion memory cells each cell holding a single bit, so these cells are grouped together to create a unit called a page (4KB usually). These pages are arranged to create a so called block which is usually 512KB (128 pages). You can write into these pages one by one but when you have to delete a single 4KB page you must erase the entire 512KB block, weird ha? That’s the way it is, you have no way of controlling it. Luckily the SSD controller applies wear-leveling algorithms and it ensures each and every memory cell of the SSD across the drive is used for writing data, thus eliminating writing to the same cell over and over again, but once every cell is used you have to overwrite the existing cells that are filled by junk data you had deleted from windows. This is where it gets interesting. Imagine you have a file to be written which is 256KB in size and imagine the block which is selected by the SSD controller has 256KB of valid and 128KB junk data, so you have 128KB of free space on the block. Your file needs 256KB and the block has 128KB of free space, so the controller needs to erase the 128KB junk data prior to writing your file, as I said earlier the controller can’t just erase a single page or couple of pages, it must erase the whole freakin 512KB block. So the controller reads the block, gets the 256KB of valid data and caches it in the controller cache/ DRAM memory. Now it erases the whole block and writes your file which is 256KB along with data on cache. Wait! What happened? Did the controller write 512KB worth data to the block? Yeah. Feel dizzy? LOL. You wanted to write a 256KB file and ended up reading old 256KB and writing 512KB of data which in turn crippled your write speed severely.

So technically your drive might become slower even when you have plenty of free space on it. TRIM to the rescue, though you need to have a TRIM supported OS (Win 7) and a TRIM supported firmware with your drive. When TRIM is enabled a simple delete operation you pass to the OS goes through the SATA controller of your motherboard from all the way up to the SSD controller and it really erases the deleted file from your drive. So your drive is free from junk data and it’s always ready for writing to it the absolute data you want. Delete operations may become slower since it has to do all the boring read-erase-write operations. That’s not a big deal. Remember if your drive doesn't support TRIM you have no way of regaining the full performance unless you secure erase the drive, formatting or partitioning cannot help here. So that's it for now, Sorry if it was boring to you. :D

Hopefully we will get the SSDs before this weekend and planning to visit Mahen’s place to eyewitness his Alienware-MX17, that’s a once in a lifetime chance for me I guess. catch ya' all later.

Peace out!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Impressions on Sony Ericsson C902

It’s been a month since I bought my shiny, brand spanking Sony Ericsson C902. I never thought I would caught up with this mobile mania, My K550i (@W610i) wasn’t bad at all, due to some *sweet* reason I decided to buy a new mobile. There were few contenders in my dream list, as I’m aiming for not so high (lol) they were not that expensive or dreamy for most of the guys... he he.

Here are my concerns.

1). Fast UI.
2). Multi tasking capability.
3). Good Camera. (Well! Better than my modded K550i)
4). Good Multimedia capabilities.
5). Can it be modded to my needs. ?
6). Good battery life.
And here are the few contenders.

1). Nokia 6500Slide. (S40 / Lacks Multi tasking: Crap)
2). Nokia 6220Classic. (S60 / Great camera, Multi tasking, el-cheapo look though :-/ )
3). Sony Ericsson K850i. (A200 / Superb Camera, Multi tasking, great look, chubby though :-/ )
4) .Sony Ericsson C902. (A200 / Great camera, Multi tasking, slim sexy spy (lol) look, relatively smallish screen :-/ )

So the C902 finally won my heart and cost me 35K. Hehe.

Here are the pros,
1). Well built very slim metal body.
2). Exceptional, stylish camera slider.
3). 5MP Auto Focus Camera with Face Detection, Geo Tagging ( Saves the accurate location of the photo taken in EXIF information, and can be viewed on a map /flickr yada yada) and all new Photo Flash+ 8 Touch sensitive Camera buttons. (After all it's a CyberShot :-) )

4). Great multimedia capabilities. (Super fast Media manager , handles 5MP pics each about 2MB like nothing)
5). Accelerometer sensor.
6). HSDPA- 3.6Mbps : w00t!
7). One of the best displays of SE : Great sunlight legibility.
8). Smart search for contacts, filter SMS into categories.
9). Track ID Music recognition (It Rocks)
This screen shot is from a live footage of mine. lol (Refer the previous post for full details)

10) .Yeah baby! This (A200) can be modded .. :)
11). Great battery life.

Unfortunately here are the cons,

1). Slower UI compared to my K550i :( (Still C902 wins hands down in media playback)
2). Photo flash is not as powerful as Xenon or as SE suggests.
3). Smallish screen. 2.0” (Coz of 8 Touch sensitive camera buttons around the screen)
4). Distant Night shots are far from perfection due to underpowered LED flash, not a complete disaster either.. lol
5). Display is a Fingerprint magnet

Click to view the full sized image

As you can see there are many reasons to buy this nifty thing though there are few drawbacks as well, who cares ? Nothing is perfect.. lol
As a whole I'm satisfied with SE C902 and recommend to everyone
P.S: On a side note I would like to mention that this is the James Bond's phone in Quantum of Solace :P
Pictures : Courtesy of a 5610XM (Yohan :-) )

Monday, March 9, 2009

Sony Ericsson TrackID™ FTW! lol

Today I came up with a cool free feature that Sony Ericsson brought to the table; "TrackID" : TrackID is a nifty tool you may find mostly in W series phones.. I'll tell you how I suddenly become a fan of this tool. I was watching SmallVille on my PC and usually at the end where it becomes sensitive (lol) there was a nice background song playing. It was really nice so I wanted to download the original track. But who is the Artist ? Title of the Song ? Album ?.. I just held my mobile few cms near to the PC speakers, started the trackID service, within like 15seconds - Violah!!. I got the Artist, Track, and Album info directly to my mobile freely..
TrackID was the most handy tool I've ever seen on a mobile phone..
How it Works
1. When music fans hear a song they want to identify, they tap a command on the phone keypad to start the audio recognition process, and then hold the phone up to the music source.
2. The phone captures a few seconds of the audio and extracts a waveform fingerprint of the snippet. The snippet can be from any section of the song, even the last few seconds.
3. The fingerprint is sent to the Mobile MusicID recognition service from the service provider that may be located anywhere in the world.
4. The Mobile MusicID recognition server compares the fingerprint to its database of reference fingerprints and responds with the exact match.
5. The artist, song title and related information, as well as content like album art and download links are relayed to the fan.

Official Page

Monday, February 2, 2009

Does your HSPA modem heat up ?

Long time no see ? lol
OK, I made up my mind buying the Dialog HSPA Uni student package on the day before yesterday.. It is pretty much fast despite the fact that I have very low signal reception at my home. Even when the signal strength was 20% I got around 200-220KBps with IDM.
One thing I noticed was this teenie weenie modem (Huawei E220) heats up pretty much. Even though it may not be a problem for this I thought to add some sort of a heatsink to this. So I grabbed my old dead (sob sob) ASUS P4PE2-X mobo off my junk yard (lol) and removed the Northbridge heatsink, and placed the modem on the heatsink as this, (Edit:: The Heatsink is replaced with up side down now. There was a rubber substance on the Heat sink spreader so till I remove it using some chemicals I had to use it like this)

Although this is a very inefficient method (surfaces are barely touched) I noticed some considerable amount of heat level drops off the modem.
Here is a little video clip to show you how does it look like ( Sorry for the lower frame rate as the blogger has encoded it with a low frame rate)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Stuck at 4GHz with the Phenom II X4 940...

When Anusha showed me this I was like WTF!
Here's the full article for you from Anandtech.


We have been testing the overclocking capabilities of the Phenom II X4 940 (seriously, who names these products?) for an AMD roundup and have hit the proverbial brick wall. It has not been for the lack of trying or even using a stellar motherboard to test these processors. The motherboard choices have ranged from some wicked little 790GX overclockers from ASRock, Gigabyte, and DFI to the flagship 790FX products from ASUS, MSI, and Foxconn. We even tried a few NVIDIA 780a based motherboards along with a slew of newly arrived AM3 compatible boards. We changed cooling, processors, video cards, disk drives, memory, and tried every available voltage setting. It did not matter. We could not break the 4GHz barrier and still complete our benchmark test suite.
The only commonality between our 30 different setups is the operating system. We recently standardized on Vista Ultimate 64 SP1 for testing. Granted, we had this same problem when our 940 engineering samples first arrived and we asked AMD about it. However, AMD never did get to the bottom of it before the launch date. We thought our results might change with retail processors. Alas, they did not. We have four retail CPUs, three with 0850 lot codes and one from the 0849 batch that all behave the same way under Vista 64.
Our final benchmark stable clock speed is 3.955GHz reached via a 17.5 core multiplier and a 226 HTT setting on our . This required a 1.6V VCore setting (with droop, real voltage is around 1.585V) on our DFI DK 790FXB-M2RSH motherboard. Memory speed is DDR2-1205 at 5-5-5-18 timings with VDimm at 2.060V. This is the setting we will utilize in our upcoming roundups. We mention it now as our Core i7 920 will operate at 4GHz and Q9550 at 4.25GHz, not exactly fair, but we are looking at platform capabilities on air cooling in the overclocked sections. As one would say, it what it is.

What is really strange is the behavior of the OS and Phenom II X4 940 at the 4GHz mark. We actually have 3.990GHz (19x210) stable for all tests except Crysis and the PCMark Vantage TV/Movies test suite. With that in mind, a simple change to 19x211 for a 4.009GHz clock speed results in the majority of our tests failing. We sometimes have trouble even entering Vista at 19x211, while 19x210 is about 97% benchmark stable. We have tried every possible combination (20x200, memory at DDR2-800, 1GHz NB speed, etc.) and even chilled the processor down to 16C and raised processor voltages above 1.7, nothing worked above 4GHz.
At least under Vista 64 as Vista 32 was much different. The settings mentioned earlier allowed us to reach a stable 4.275GHz (19x225) with the same components. However, we are not utilizing Vista 32 in testing anymore, especially considering our standard benchmarks are completed with 4GB and 8GB configurations on the DDR2 platforms. As such, it appears at this time that any overclocking comparisons will be limited to under 4GHz on the AM2+ and AM3 platforms. We have addressed this problem with AMD again and hopefully an answer is forthcoming. In the meantime, we figured out a way to get a screenshot above 4GHz before we received the standard BSOD routine. At least it is a consolation prize at this point.