Saturday 7 June 2014

Increase the speed of your SD card or Flash drive by up to 10%

Just in case didn't know, if you format your SD card or Flash drive as FAT32  (which is used by many SD cards in cameras), then by formatting it using RMPrepUSB you can increase the write performance by up to about 10%.

This speed increase can only be measured when writing files - many benchmark tests will not show any increase in write speed because they do not write files when they run their tests. However, in real life, we write files to these devices and the files are written in groups of sectors called clusters to the FAT32 filesystem on the drive.

When you format a drive as FAT32 using RMPrepUSB, the clusters are aligned to start on a 1MB boundary. This is important for flash memory because in order to write sectors, a whole page of flash memory has to be erased first. RMPrepUSB ensures these 'erase-pages' are correctly aligned with the clusters to minimise the number of erase cycles that are required. This also has the side-affect of extending the life of your flash memory as it reduces the number of  read-erase-write cycles over it's lifetime.

If you want to read a discussion on about this, click here. The theory for how this works is explained in this post.

So if file-write speed is an issue for you (e.g. the delay after you press the camera button to take a picture or interval between a series of pictures, or when you copy lots of files to a FAT32 USB drive) try formatting the media with RMPrepUSB next time!

Since I 'discovered' this and added this enhancement to RMPrepUSB, it has been copied by a few other people/utilities. For instance, I believe BootIce now uses the same technique now too.

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