As soon as we have further information on the funeral arrangements we will let you know.

Our Next Meeting: Wednesday 19th October - Mac Update by Gareth

For our next meeting we will look at the current developments in the world of Apple. Since our last Mac evening there has been a new release of Mac OS, "Lion" and we will look at some of the changes and new features present in Lion including some of the interface cues borrowed from iOS the iPhone operating system.

Our Last Meeting:Wednesday 21st September
- Solid State Drives and Storage Devices by Michael

Michael proposed to start the evening with a look at SSDs and the technology behind them. From there moving on to a variety of performance tests that can be run against the SSD drives and also to compare with a variety of older conventional hard drives.

First off we looked at a Kingston 100V+ 96 GB SSD with a quoted maximum read speed of up to 230MB/s and a write speed of up to 180 MB/s. This is much faster than a conventional hard drive but is by no means the fastest of SSDs. The Kingston SSD can be purchased for around £80.

Next Michael showed us a higher spec SSD, an OCZ Vortex 2 120GB SSD with a quoted maximum read speed of 285MB/s and a write speed of 275 MB/s. This drive uses a Sandforce controller, which is popular in the SSD world for offering higher performance. With SSDs the flash memory itself is largely the same but a lot of the performance comes from the controller chip used making it an important aspect of choosing an SSD. The Vortex drive can be purchased for around £140.

Both of these drivers were SATA-2 drives in 2.5" form factor as used in laptops.

The next generation of drive from OCZ, the Vortex 3 will need a SATA-3 controller in the PC but has headline write speeds of up to 550MB/s.

Due to the speed of both reading and writing to an SSD drive there are advantages of using an SSD for your Operating System boot because of this speed and increased responsiveness of applications. Currently if you need to also store large quantities of pictures, music and video it is advisable to keep a conventional hard drive as a second drive for media due to the cost of SSD storage at higher capacities.

Michael had a number of software tools for testing SSD and hard drive health and performance. The first one he demonstrated was SSD Life, which shows the usage and health of the drive. Loading this to look at the first SSD also showed us that TRIM was supported by the drive.. TRIM is a feature of the drive that also requires support in the Operating System and constantly optimises the drive both to extend the life but also to maintain performance. Windows 7 supports TRIM, as do recent Linux kernels and Mac OS X for certain drives. Without TRIM the performance of SSDs can fall off quite dramatically over time. SSD Life reported that the SSD has an estimated life of 8 years at the current usage rate.

We also looked at ATO Disk benchmark, which allowed us to test the performance of the drives. This performs read and write performance tests on the drive for a number of different block sizes. Performance started low with small block sizes and rose as the block size increases until the peak for the drive was reached. In this case we came very close to the max. speeds of the Kingston SSD.

In comparison a typical SATA laptop hard disk is probably only 30 - 40 MB/s read/write performance.

Michael also had a 40GB 5400 rpm IDE hard disk from the year 2000 that had an identical image of Windows on so we could do a comparison. Replacing the SSD with this drive and powering up Windows 7 took quite a noticeable amount of time longer to reach a useable desktop. Running the ATO benchmark on this drive the maximum speeds we attained, as block size increased was 25 MB/s.

The BIOS settings are important to get the best performance from an SATA drive. SATA supports IDE emulation mode but in order to get the highest performance you need to ensure it is set to AHCI, otherwise the performance will be artificially limited.

Michael had another hard drive available to test, in this case a 3 year old Seagate SATA hard drive from a Desktop PC which on the ATO disk benchmark achieved 70 MB/s read although the write speed seemed much slower than expected at 15MB/second. Checking with another tool the drive reported 100 uncorrectable errors so could possibly be attributed to a failing drive.

Finally we looked at the Vortex 2 SSD drive in Michael's laptop again running the ATO benchmark. As the block size increased this SSD drive achieved 250 MB/s read and 230 MB/s write speeds.

This was a very interesting evening on how drive technology, in particular flash solid state drives has progressed. I for one am now considering extending the life of my laptop through the potential of improved performance with a faster SSD drive - Gareth.

ICENI Future programme

19 October Mac Evening All
16 November HD video opportunities All
21 December Party and Gadgets evening All
18 January Social evening - venue TBA All
15 February Linux 2011 on ARM etc. All
21 March Slide show evening All
18 April AGM + extras All
16 May TBA

Meetings are now on the Third Wednesday of the month unless otherwise stated.

Our meetings are held at the Bourne Vale Social Club, Halifax Road, Ipswich IP2 8RE , for a map and other details please see the website.

The first visit is free and subsequent visits for non - members is £2·50. The membership fee is £20 due from the AGM date in April, but may be reduced for those joining late in the year.


Continuing our publicity for EAUG events, there is now a full list of meetings up to the end of the year on their website.

Meetings are at the Great Baddow Village Hall, on the second Tuesday of the month

opening at 7:30 p.m. for a start at 7:45 - 8:00 p.m.

For directions see below (note the new web addresses) or 'phone one of the contacts on

Tea/coffee/biscuits usually available.

Visitors pay 2.00 GBP for the evening, which is deductible from the normal joining subscription if you decide to join at a later date.

See the Membership page of the website for more information:

St Andrews Computer Club (formerly Ipswich Computer Club and prior to that Mid-Suffolk Computer Users Group)

They have now moved to the St. Andrew's Computer Club at Britannia Road, Ipswich.

They have a full programme on the parish website (, We may be able to make new contact with them to arrange something in common.

Special Notice - Insurance

"ICENI does not have any Insurance cover for computers or other equipment so please be advised that you bring machines to the club at your own risk."

However many household insurance policies will include cover away from home often with no increase in premium. (Ed.)

Our Website and Email

If anyone would like a copy of the CD of our old newsletters this could be arranged.

I am open to suggestions on what people would like to have included in the website.

Our website URL is as a virtual domain,

it can also be reached using

Email to: