Have you ever seen your laptop's hard drive light on continuously and the system act as it was frozen? The problem is that Vista caches key operating system and application data to the hard disk. The solution; ReadyBoost, this is a little known feature in Vista which allows you to substantially improve performance by moving the cached data to faster flash memory found on USB 2.0 or card based flash memory. I finally decided to try this feature on my X60, and I can happily report that the performance increase is quite substantial, especially in three areas:
- Program loading and swapping when many applications are running
- Coming out of suspend
- Screen rotation to use the X60 as a tablet
If you have used a flash memory card or USB device, I am sure you have noticed the "Speed up my system" item in the AutoPlay pop up that is displayed when the system recognizes the device.
Every time I have clicked on the "Speed up my system" item in the past, I have been told that the device does not have the required performance. I performed some brief research on Tom Archer's Vista blog and found you need high speed flash memory. You need a device which supports 2.5MB/sec throughput for 4K random reads and 1.75MB/sec throughput for 512K random writes. The Lenovo X60 has an SD flash card slot, so I decided to use a SanDisk Extreme III card which boasts 20MB/sec read/write speeds. I could never find the basis for the published performance numbers, what block size they used and whether it was based on random or sequential operations. My suggestion is to go for the highest performing flash memory you can find. In the SanDisk product line, that would be the Extreme III. I found inexpensive ones on eBay, a 2GB Extreme III card can be had for less than $15 and 4GB for less $30. You should match the flash memory size to the amount of memory you have installed in your system. I just upgraded my X60 to 4GB of memory, so I purchased a brand new 4GB SanDisk Extreme III card for $26.
The ReadyBoost properties display for my SanDisk Extreme III card. I used the recommended 3780MB reserved space.
This is a simple and inexpensive to improve you Vista performance.
Tom Archer also has posted an FAQ of information he gathered from the Windows Client Performance team.
Office 2007 Word has been quietly updating the blogging feature. This is my first real post with it and it looks like we are at a point where it is really usable.