Introduction Notebook owners using ZIF HDD or older SSD storage have a new performance storage upgrade option available. The Photofast G-Monster V4 ZIF SSD combines a EastWho EWS720 native PATA SSD controller, hardware garbage collection, best-in-class low power consumption and fast 15MB/s 4kb random reads. Performance testing below shows an average of 3-times-faster performance than a ZIF HDD. It is available for purchase from the Photofast US, UK, EU or AUS distributor. Note: Reviewed is a pre-release 128GB product with 16MB of cache and the SSD controller blanked. The final product will have 64MB of cache with slightly faster write performance than indicated below. 1: Unboxing slideshow 2: G-Monster V4 internals: 34nm MLC NAND flash, blanked SSD controller in pre-release product 3: G-Monster V4 installed in a HP 2510P 4: PDF showing hardware garbage collection implementation technical details PhotoFast 1.8" G-Monster V4 ZIF PATA SSD Specifications summary Interface: 1.8” ZIF ATA7 Standard Retail Price: 32GB-US$219 64GB-US$399128GB-US$599 256GB-US$999 Random 4kb reads: 16MB/s(measured 15MB/s @UDMA5) Sequential read/write: 128/90 MB/s for 128/256GB size128/60 MB/s for 32/64GB size(measured 91/73 Mb/s @UDMA5 for 128GB model) Average access time: 0.1ms Power consumption idle/active: 0.02W/1.5W(measured 0.2/1.4W) Installation The first thing I noticed was the fit and finish of the plastic top and aluminium bottom cover of the G-Monster V4. It oozes understated quality much like a German car, but in this case the product is engineered in Japan and manufactured in Taiwan. Connecting the G-Monster V4 to the system itself is very easy. The ZIF cable is disconnected from the HDD and the Gmonster V4 attached in it's place. The black strip on the ZIF socket is a stiffener as shown here. Flicking the stiffener into an upright position allows very easy insertion of the ZIF cable, secured by flicking the stiffener in the down position. No additional tools are provided for standalone cloning of the existing ZIF HDD. So suggest using a USB HDD to move your data. If don't have one consider purchasing a US$10-delivered ZIF USB enclosure to use with the GMonster V4 and downloading the free Acronis Easy Migrate 15-day Trial to do the cloning. Alternatively could copy to then from network attached storage. Performance Comparison: G-Monster V4 ZIF SSD versus Toshiba ZIF HDD DriveIdle/ActivePower^1BenchmarkIOMeter^2Bootup2GB filecopy^3CrystalDisk|PerformanceTest|atto|AS SSD^4Toshiba MK8009GAH80GB 1.8" ZIF HDD4200rpm0.4W/1.1Wlow82.1s350s Photofast G-Monster V4 128GB 1.8" ZIFPATA SSD0.1W/1.4Wboot: 919/37.34k-r: 3915/15.04k-w: 671/2.6seq: 87/6921.8s(3.8xfaster)142s(2.5xfaster) [/TR]Tested platform: XP SP3, HP 2510P U7600-1.2 2GB ICH8M UDMA5/ATA100 I/O. ^1 - measured using powertop in Linux/Recovery console. Toshiba ZIF HDD's 1.1W rated Active was used as a reference point. ^2 - industry standard used to measure performance. ^3 - link shows drive hparm output and partition alignment details ^4 - 4kb-64thrd a good reflection of overall os/app responsiveness The above benchmarks compare the HP supplied 4200rpm 1.8" ZIF HDD against the Gmonster V4 ZIF SSD. An identical XP partition image was used to give back-to-back comparison of bootup time. The image and partitioning was optimized for best performance on both the SSD and the HDD by setting it to be (i) defragmented using Perfect Disk (ii) it was aligned to a 512MB boundary for best SSD performance. WinBootInfo gives the precise bootup time data. The actual 26GB of total data occupied the top third portion of the 1.8" ZIF HDD so the benchmarks are better than average and will worsen as the drive fills and seek times increase. The G-Monster V4 SSD is a very noticable improvement in performance over the 1.8" ZIF HDD. Going from a coffee break inducing 80.2 seconds to 21.8 seconds XP boot time, or taking 142 seconds versus 350 seconds to read and write a 2GB file. That's an average of 3 times faster performance, the sort of disk I/O activity that can be said to extend to all disk activity. There's no ticking noise, Firefox doesn't have momentary seek delays when scrolling windows or reading/writing cache. Applications just popup instantly. Once experiencing this sort of speed it's hard to go back to using the ZIF HDD. Power Consumption Low power consumption is one area where this SSD shines. For the first time I see my idle power consumption as low as 5.6W. When using the ZIF HDD I'd only ever seen it go as low as 5.9W. This means battery life improvements. Garbage Collection (GC) One of the innovations of the G-Monster V4 is automatic dynamic garbage collection done simultaneously when a 'write' is issued to maintain fast write performance. Some Intel/Indilinx based products SSDs send TRIM commands following deletion of files. Works well with Windows 7, but XP without a GC firmware requires further user intervention by manually running commands such as Indilinx's wiper.exe. The G-Monster V4 requires no user management. GC is great as it meant the SSD consistently delivered > 50MB/s sequential write performance. Though at one point it did drop down to 30MB/s after excessive amounts of performance testing and drive reimaging, so was quite dirty. A manual Tony Trim was performed quickly improving write performance back up to as new levels. Pros an average of 3 times faster bootup and sequential read/write performance improvement over a 1.8" ZIF HDD novel automatic hardware garbage collection firmware is software upgradable by the user advertising blurb says it is a native PATA device meaning great compatibility up to 256GB in capacity - the first in the 1.8" ZIF SSD format Cons <strike>new product, no product history. Requires early adopters to confirm operation</strike> Related links/articles Photofast support forum - direct interface to Photofast engineers 1.8" ZIF SSDs Comparison - competing products currently available. 1.8" ZIF to 2.5" SATA enclosure - allows future use of the G-Monster V4 ZIF SSD in a 2.5" sata system.