ReadyBoost Performance

It almost sounds too good to be true - just plug in a USB drive and you get an instant performance upgrade. At the same time, it sounds a little hard to believe; flash memory is fast, but so are modern day hard drives. While it's true that USB flash drives aren't bad at random I/O, performance with small file sizes isn't exactly anything to brag about.

We spent days trying to test ReadyBoost and come up with benchmarks to truly showcase its real world impact on performance. Although it shouldn't be a surprise to you, ReadyBoost impacts application loading, closing and switching time, but CPU intensive tasks aren't impacted nearly as much. As such, most of our conventional benchmarks, even when running with only 512MB of memory, don't serve as a good benchmark for ReadyBoost. If your system has so little memory that it is swapping to disk while running a single task then you're in trouble, and ReadyBoost isn't going to save you.

Our first ReadyBoost benchmark has us encoding a video using Windows Movie Maker and benchmarking the completion time.

ReadyBoost Performance

This is one of those cases where ReadyBoost isn't given the chance to do much as the task we're running is mostly CPU bound.

Another example of a situation where ReadyBoost isn't able to do much is in one of Intel's Vista benchmarks - a Microsoft Word 2007 document compare test. This test simply takes two documents and compares them, generating a third document created from the differences between the two documents. The test has an I/O element to it as it is reading large Word documents from the hard drive in order to compare them.

ReadyBoost Performance

Once again there's virtually no performance difference that can be attributed to ReadyBoost.

This next test is pretty simple, we started Adobe Photoshop CS3 and timed how long it took for the application to start and finish loading 14 images.

ReadyBoost Performance

ReadyBoost does increase performance, cutting down the load time by around 13 seconds. In this particular test the performance impact of ReadyBoost levels off once you have around 1GB of flash memory. The real point to take away however is the performance benefit you get from ReadyBoost: even with 4GB of ReadyBoost storage, it is nowhere near what you get from simply moving to 1GB of memory.

We then looked at how long it took to close Photoshop/images with the various configurations:

ReadyBoost Performance

There's a pretty sizable performance impact due to ReadyBoost, but once again, you can't beat simply having more system memory.

Our final ReadyBoost test was a bit more strenuous: we opened Adobe Photoshop CS3 along with 22 images, iTunes, Microsoft Word 2007, Adobe Reader 8 and an Explorer Window. We then timed how long it would take to simply close all of those windows and get back to the desktop. The results are below.

ReadyBoost Performance

ReadyBoost makes a very significant impact on performance here. With 4GB of flash dedicated to ReadyBoost, we saw an increase in performance of over 47%. However for the cost of a 4GB flash drive you could probably upgrade to 1GB of memory which results in an even larger performance gain. That said, if you don't want to open up your system, ReadyBoost does actually work.

ReadyBoost Hard Drive Performance and ReadyBoost
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  • thebrown13 - Thursday, February 01, 2007 - link

    This is TOTALLY false. Microsoft allows content providers to do what they want with their content. Again, THE CONTENT PROVIDERS DECIDE WHAT THEIR CONTENT PLAYS ON. MICROSOFT DECIDES NOTHING. Reply
  • MAIA - Thursday, February 01, 2007 - link

    The architecture is still x86 with 64-bit extensions. The correct naming should be 32-bit x86 and 64-bit x86. Although some vendors use the x64 "slang", this only serves to create more confusion, making people believe it's a different architecture. More, editors and reviewers should use the correct definitions, they also have an educating factor which have to live up by a good standart. Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Thursday, February 01, 2007 - link

    It makes little sense on our part to use something different than Microsoft's own terminology here when talking about Vista. The x86-64/EMT64/AMD64 versions of Vista are all called Vista * x64, so we're going to be consistent on using Microsoft's naming to avoid possible confusion among Windows versions. Reply
  • Myrandex - Thursday, February 01, 2007 - link

    Eh I don't know how x64 can get confusing, but x86_64 is pretty typical as well. Reply
  • smitty3268 - Thursday, February 01, 2007 - link

    Actually, it is a new architecture that just happens to be backwards compatible with x86. That is why there are twice the number or registers available and not just the same amount doubled in size. You're right that x64 is not the correct name, (it's technically called x86-64) but what does it matter? Everyone knows what it means. Reply
  • Gunlance - Thursday, February 01, 2007 - link

    I wish I could agree about the new installer. My experience with trying to boot windows vista so far is worse than when I learned how to put NetBSD on an Apple G3.

    In fact I am still trying to get into the Windows Vista setup as I type this comment. I have been up all night :( I simply just don't get it. Every OS I have ever put on my desktop at least boots, and the vista beta's installed fine. Ugh.

    The article was great! Heh. It has made me a bit more frustrated though. Because here I am with vista but still only being able to read about.
    Reply
  • erwos - Thursday, February 01, 2007 - link

    Your OpenGL performance numbers are radically higher than what Tom's has. Could you comment on the drivers and installation that you used? Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Thursday, February 01, 2007 - link

    Normally I tend to avoid commenting on anything involving competitors, but...

    Assuming I'm looking at the right article here, they were using the Catalyst 8.31.100.3.2.1 driver, which was released back in December. We were using the Catalyst 7.1 driver(version # 8.33.something). ATI did not include an OpenGL driver until 7.1(and just barely at that).
    Reply
  • ktgktg - Thursday, February 01, 2007 - link

    I'm surprised that the article didn't mention how much ReadyBoost could lower the boot time. A member of notebooreview forums claimed that http://forum.notebookreview.com/showthread.php?t=1...">he lowered the boot time on a laptop (slower HD) from 80 to 43 seconds (including POST) with a 2 GB SD card. Remember that http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_memory_...">SD cards are slow compared to USB and CF. Although they're all slow compared to RAM, they have the benefit of storing the data until next boot.

    SuperFetch seems to be just another reason for using standby mode.
    Reply
  • yacoub - Thursday, February 01, 2007 - link

    Any word on FireFox compatibility with Vista? That is, does it run just as flawlessly as it does under XP x86 and x64?

    Just wondering. The comment on the Conclusions page about IE 7+ being the new standard for Safari is what made me think to ask.
    Reply

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