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Technical question about USB flash drives' internal controllers

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by Alex Ethridge, Aug 9, 2010.

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  1. Alex Ethridge

    Alex Ethridge Thread Starter

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    I understand USB flash drives are composed of two components, the memory part that retains the data and the controller that regulates the writing and retrieval of the data. I alo understand there are different types of the controller components.

    Also, I've learned that some machines will see just about any USB flash drive; but, I occasionally see some machines that will recognize one of my flash drives and not the other. I suspect this is because of the different controllers in each of the USB flash drives.

    Here's the question: Is there a way to determine which USB flash drives contain which controller components?

    The reason I'm asking is that I have two USB flash drives, a 16-Gig and a 32-Gig. The 16- is getting too small and I'm going to retire it in favor of a new 32- or 64-Gig and I don't want to end up with two that have the same controller component and then run into a machine that will see neither.
     
  2. chazshep

    chazshep

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    Hi Alex. It isn't the specific components on the Memory Controllers that would limit compatibility, it would be the required driver or firmware for the internal controller. Often USB drives are not compatible with OS's because of the lack of the required driver. Most USB flash drives use generic drivers included with XP+ (and 2000 sometimes.). There are still some USB flash drives lingering on the market that require their 3rd party drivers (annoyingly). But when you speak of replacing your current USB flash drive. Is this going to be a constantly removed USB flash drive constantly going between computers, or is it going to be a backup array that get's used rarely, or is it permanently plugged in as additional storage? USB harddrives can useful as they use the Generic Volume driver. Also what OS(s) is this on?
     
  3. Alex Ethridge

    Alex Ethridge Thread Starter

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    Thanks for the reply.

    I do on-site service and support. I connect to different computers every day.

    I know for a fact that different USB flash drives have different built-in controller components and I have seen no drivers offered for Windows XP and up.
     
  4. chazshep

    chazshep

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    They will have different components in the memory controllers, yes (sorry to seem to be arguing that). The drivers that USB flash drives usually use are already on the OS, or are instantly installed upon insertion. I think nearly any USB drive at the moment would be suitable, I know that Lexar's TwistTurn Jumpdrives work great (I have the 16Gb model). I see you are in Birmingham, USA (not the British Birmingham, 25 miles from me :p) so here is a NewEgg link: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ..._-Memory+(USB+Flash+Drive)-_-Lexar-_-20191268
     
  5. Alex Ethridge

    Alex Ethridge Thread Starter

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    I am currently using these two flash drives, both reasonably late models as they are still easily found many places for sale:

    32G PNY
    16G PNY

    Most machines will see both drives, some see the 32G and not the 16G. Some machines see the 16G and not the 32G. All machines I am writing about are USB 2.0. The difference has to be an incompatibility between the USB drive's controller component and something in the computer's main board. Buying USB Flash drives of different brands does not guarantee a different controller.

    So, to get back to the original question: How does one determine what kind of controller the drive manufacturer has put into a particular USB flash drive?

    If I'm going to fork over another 80- to 150 dollars, I certainly don't want to wind up on a service call to find the machine I'm working on will not see either drive. I realize getting two different controllers doesn't guarantee that at least one is readable; but, it does increase the likelihood that at least one will work.
     
  6. chazshep

    chazshep

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    If the PC doesn't detect that flash drive, that is something to do with the PC, not the memory controller "components" it uses. If you routinely use the same files when servicing PC's, why not put the files in a network drive/folder?
     
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