by Andrey Kuznetcov
07/17/2005 | 10:28 AM
The modern technologies keep moving into our everyday life at a very rapid pace. So, that the miniature compact storage devices and media keep evolving very quickly.
One of the most widely spread applications for this type of devices is the digital cameras and pocket PCs, which are no going through a real boom of popularity. In the nearest future, we can expect compact personal storage media to become even more demanded, because they will get to the devices where they have never been used before. Here I can certainly list printers, scanners, home DVD players.
I would also like to mention a totally new type of devices that we have recently tested in our lab: the universal multimedia storage viewer from EPSON, which you can read more about in the article called EPSON P-2000 Multimedia Storage Viewer: Great Vacation Companion . If you have read the review you remember, that this device allows viewing digital photos and movies on a small LCD panel. This is exactly the tendency that inspires us to test as many memory cards as possible.
This time we will pay special attention to one of the tiniest compact storage solutions. We would like to introduce to you three SD cards and one RS-MMC card. Before we start let me point out that we dares mix these two different types of storage media in our review, because they are not only close from the dimensions prospective, but also tend to be targeted for the same fields of application.
Elite Pro family of SD memory cards are positioned intermediary among the other Kingston solutions of the kind. Their performance corresponds to 50x data transfer rate. However, if we take a closer look at the data mentioned on the manufacturer’s web-site, we will see that this value consists of the read speed up to 8.2MB/s and write speed of up to 7.7MB/s. Besides the 256MB card we are looking at this time, the product family also includes solutions with 512MB and 1GB storage capacity. The dimensions of the card are 24 x 32 x 2.1mm.
The card sells in retail for about $22.
Standard family of storage solutions from Kingston are the slowest memory cards in the entire Kingston SD product line. According to the company web-site, the manufacturer claims that these cards feature up to 5MB/s read speed, and up to 1.5MB/s write speed. Besides the card with 512MB storage capacity that we are testing today, the product line-up also includes solutions with 64MB, 128MB, 256MB and 1GB storage capacity. The size of the card is 24 x 32 x 2.1mm.
The retail price of the card is around $36.
One of the smallest memory cards out there is the reduced size MMC card. The solution we had in our lab was 256MB big. Besides this one, the product family also includes 128MB and 512Mb cards. The dimensions of this card differ from the full-size MMC, therefore, you may sometimes have to use a special adapter supplied together with the card. According to the manufacturer’s web-site, this card can’t boast supreme fastness. To tell the truth, we were not very much excited about the claimed maximum read and write speeds of only 2MB/s. the card is 18 x 24 x 1.4mm and weighs 1.5g.
The approximate retail price of a memory card like that equals about $25.
The SD memory card family from RiTek with 66x transfer rate includes the 512MB model we will take a closer look at today, as well as a number of models with different storage capacities: 16MB, 32MB, 64MB, 128MB, 256MB and 1GB. The card is 24 x 32 x 2.1mm.
Right now it is selling for about $45.
For our benchmarking session we used the following software:
The benchmarks were run on the following platform:
For our memory cards tests we used SanDisk ImageMate 5-in-1 Reader/Writer supporting USB 2.0 interface.
As usual, we resorted to FC-test program to obtain the actual performance results for all the memory cards tested. With the help of X-bit’s own FC-test utility we considered the situations emulated by three major patters, which demonstrated clearly how the file size (1, 10 and 100MB) and the number of files in a set (1, 10 and 100) could affect the performance of the storage media in question.
The first diagram shows how quickly the memory cards allowed saving 100 files 1MB each. Kingston solution from the Elite Pro family is far ahead of the others here. The second fastest would be RiDATA card. The third position among the SD media was taken by another Kingston product. As we have expected, the RS-MMC card was the slowest of all here. Of course, since the technical specifications claimed by the manufacturer could hardly give us any hope for success.
The diagram showing the read speed when we have 100 files, 1MB each, show a slightly different situation. We see that the SD memory cards form a much tighter group this time, although the positions within the group remain unchanged. Kingston SD/256-SCS is the winner, and its slower counterpart is the slowest of the three. RiDATA solution retained its position inbetween, while RS-MMC card is the slowest of all.
When we have a pattern of 10 files 10MB each, all the cards seem to be performing faster during file writing. Although this change is still too insignificant to affect the overall picture.
The diagram built for the reading of 10 files 10MB each again indicates that the performance of all the testing participants tends to grow up a little bit. The general positioning of the racers remained unchanged again.
Once the test file grew up to 100MB in size, the write speed increases. However, this increase in performance again doesn’t change anything generally.
The last diagram in this section shows that there is hardly any performance increase when it comes to reading a single 100MB file. Therefore, the testing participants again retained their positions.
The second benchmark we traditionally use during the testing of removable storage media is the AIDA32 utility. A special module of this program allowed us to capture the linear reading and writing speeds, as well as the access-time measurements. Basing on the average values of these three characteristics, we composed the following graphs:
The first diagram shows the average linear write speed. The situation is actually hardly any different from what we have just seen in FC-Test. Kingston Elite Pro appears the fastest of all here. RiDATA card followed closely behind the leader. As for the remaining two testing participants, Kingston Standard Secure Digital card and Reduced-Size MultiMediaCard, they performed much slower this time, which is not too much of a surprise, I should say.
The average linear reading graph didn’t surprise us with anything unexpected from the formal standpoint. All the testing participants performed as expected. Nevertheless, there was one difference from the previous case: all three SD cards showed results really close to each other.
The very last diagram reflects the average access time for each of the memory cards. The minimal value, which is the best, belongs to Kingston Standard Secure Digital card SD/512. The other two cards from Kingston show slightly worse result here. The very last one in this test appears RiDATA solution, which has revealed significantly larger access time than the other rivals.
Our tests of SD and MMC memory cards showed that in case of Kingston Elite Pro Secure Digital card SD/256-SCS the user gets a solution that performs almost as fast as it is supposed to, according to the claimed manufacturer’s specifications. If you go for Kingston Standard Secure Digital Card SD/512, you will get a notably faster device than the manufacturer promises you on their site. The third SD memory card, the one from RiDATA, failed to reach the claimed 66x performance level in the FC-Test, although it came real close to this point.
As for the fourth solution participating in our today’s test session, the Kingston Reduced-Size MultiMediaCard MMCRS/256, it failed to meet the specified speed rates. The 2MB/s speed hasn’t been reached in any of the tests. I assume that the last solution is a way too slow for the today’s user requirements. Although, I have to admit that we will only be more objective when we compare its performance with that of other MMC devices. We will do this in the nearest future, and in the meanwhile you might just take our results into account while shopping around for removable memory storage.
Stay tuned for more reviews of these small but highly demanded products: memory cards.