In order to keep the Windows Vista media machine going
despite the release date delay, Microsoft recently released some official names
for some of the new Windows Vista performance enhancing features. In the
February 16th edition of The Windows Vista Report “Windows Vista: SuperFetch and External Memory Devices,” I told
you about SuperFetch, which retains it name, and the
then-code-named EMD feature. Now, SuperFetch is joined
by ReadyBoost and ReadyDrive.
Let’s take a closer look.


As I explained in the earlier article, SuperFetch
is a technology that builds on and greatly improves on Windows XP’s PreFetch feature. SuperFetch is essentially
a a memory management feature designed to enhance
Windows Vista’s responsiveness when loading and switching between applications
that you use most often by intelligently preloading these applications into
memory and tracking them while in memory.

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ReadyBoost is now the official
name of the External Memory Devices or EMD feature I described in the earlier
article. As I explained, SuperFetch will retrieve prefetched data from the virtual memory page file and move
it to physical memory as soon as possible to ensure the continuity of the
performance enhancement. However, because the page file exists on the hard
disk, which is less responsive than physical memory, SuperFetch
is still going to be hindered by the time that it takes the hard disk to
respond to its retrieval operation. In order to overcome this potential
performance degradation in SuperFetch’s retrieval
operation, the ReadyBoost feature will monitor prefetched data that that is to be sent to virtual memory and
instead direct it to a more responsive memory device–a USB drive, SD Card,
Compact Flash, or other flash memory device that is connected to your computer.


ReadyDrive is the new kid on the
block, so to speak, since it really hasn’t been talked about much because it
relies on a hard disk technology that is still emerging called a hybrid hard
drive. Such a drive is literally the combination of traditional hard disk and
flash memory. Since flash memory has faster read/write access times that a
mechanically operating hard disk, the two can work together with the flash
memory working on the frontline intercepting data and then dispatching it to
the hard disk.

As you can imagine, this opens up all kinds of performance
boosting potential for both desktop and laptop systems. For example, a desktop
system will be able to resume from hibernation mode so much faster if the data
is being retrieved from flash memory. In a laptop, flash memory will be able to
handle the majority of the hard disk related tasks and the hard disk can
actually sit idle until needed, which will greatly decrease battery consumption,
thus providing more computing time per charge.


With the official release date of Windows Vista being pushed
into 2007 and even though Microsoft has stated that the operating system is
basically feature complete at this stage in the beta process, it’s important to
keep in mind that some of the information presented here may change between now
and the official release date. You can learn more and keep tabs on the SuperFetch, ReadyBoost, and ReadyDrive features on Microsoft’s
Windows Vista Performance page
. As always, if you have comments or
information to share about the SuperFetch, ReadyBoost, and ReadyDrive
features, please take a moment to drop by the Discussion area and let us hear.