The SSD Relapse

I’ve been teasing everyone on Twitter with this for a while, but I’m really nearing close on the third installment of my SSD coverage. Right now I’m extensively testing TRIM on the major drives. Indilinx is the first out with official TRIM support...at least through a beta firmware. It’s currently enabled on both OCZ and Super Talent drives.


All of the text behind the next SSD article...just wait until you see the Excel sheet to go along with it

There are some limitations to TRIM. Currently the Intel Matrix Storage Manager drivers won’t pass the TRIM command through from Windows 7 to the drive’s controller. If you want TRIM to work at this point you need to use Microsoft’s drivers that come with Windows 7 (note that if you set Intel’s ICH to RAID, Windows 7 loads Intel’s MSM driver so that won’t work).

The benefit of TRIM is huge, your drive doesn’t get slower because of use, it only gets slower as you actually fill it. Intel was very careful/sneaky/shiesty to only enable TRIM on its 34nm drives. Real world performance is actually very similar between the 34nm and 50nm drives for desktop users. What makes the 34nm drive the clear buy is its support for TRIM.

I realize I haven’t said much about the 34nm G2 drives since their announcement, but Intel decided to sample after the announcement so I’ve been busy running these things through the ringer. Intel had to embarrassingly halt shipments of the drive to fix a BIOS password bug that resulted in data loss. I was actually quite surprised that Intel even let this one slip by but they’ve since put tests in place to ensure that it never happens again.

The most impressive advancements really come from the Indilinx camp. Not only has performance improved but Indilinx is actually the first to officially support the ATA8-ACS2 TRIM command. To show you the awesomeness of TRIM I've run a quick test. Here I ran my 4KB Random Write iometer script on a brand new, secure erased Super Talent drive sporting the 1711 TRIM firmware from Indilinx. I then filled the drive (simulating use over time), deleted the partition and benchmarked it again. Note that deleting a partition doesn't seem to trigger TRIM under Windows 7. You'll see that performance drops. Next, I formatted the drive (triggering TRIM) and rebenchmarked:

SuperTalent UltraDrive GX 1711 4KB Random Write IOPS
Clean Drive 13.1 MB/s
Used Drive 6.93 MB/s
Used Drive After TRIM 12.9 MB/s

 

Pretty sweet huh? You'd get the same results from the Indilinx Wiper Tool, but this one happens automatically. You get nearly-new performance without doing a thing. TRIM is awesome. The firmware is available from both OCZ and Super Talent but I’d avoid it until it hits final. The Indilinx Wiper Tool is more than sufficient for your TRIMing needs for now.

The WePC Update

I’ve done some writing on a couple of things that have been on my mind lately. The first being Glossy vs. Matte displays on notebooks. It’s something I tackled last year but it’s still a worthwhile topic, especially given the attention Apple is getting. I should mention that Apple has since gone back to offering a Matte display option on its 15-inch MacBook Pros.

The other point of discussion is the future of touch screens outside of smartphones. Apple did a wonderful thing with the iPhone, but now the OEMs are struggling to figure out where touch (and multi-touch) is useful when it comes to notebooks and desktops. Help them figure it out.

Head over to WePC and check it out, leave ASUS/Intel your feedback and you may just see your opinions productized at some point :)

More Ion Cometh

Between the next SSD article and Lynnfield I'll find myself with a bit of time to tackle a look at current (and one upcoming) mini-ITX Ion platforms. My question to you is: is there anything we haven't covered with regards to Ion that you'd like to see in that article?

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  • Kitohru - Thursday, September 10, 2009 - link

    Does OS X Snow Leopard have trim support, and if not any word from apple about that or the like? Reply
  • JakFrost - Sunday, August 30, 2009 - link

    I've bought this drive a few months ago due to the Storage articles here including the original SSD Anthology article.

    I hope that the issues with TRIM with Intel firmware and Intel Storage drivers is clarified and documented better because right now it is quite confusing.

    I already use Windows 7 RC 64-bit so far with latest Intel Matrix Storage drivers 8.9.0.1023 published on Intel's website.

    However, now I'm strongly considering selling my G1 drive on eBay and buy a G2 for about the same price to ensure that I get TRIM support in the future because it seems like Intel has forsaken the G1 users.
    Reply
  • Hank Scorpion - Thursday, August 27, 2009 - link

    Anand,

    Keen follower of your website, and your reviews, LOVED SSD anthology and am champing at the bit for your next SSD update.

    Can i ask a quick one please,

    im buying a new PC once Windows 7 comes out in October. And am going to buy a 256GB SSD as my main drive. thanks to you and PcPer's SSD decoder ring, ive decided that the OCZ Vertex or Intel SSD is for me (basically anything with an Intel or Indilinx controller) i was ebbing and flowing between the Vertex and the Summit until i saw your warnings posted just recently about avoiding the Samsung...

    which one should i get? and also cost is a big one, anything with the Indilinx sounds like a great get, BUT i also see Corsair/G-Skill/Patriot all with a similar product but with differing prices.

    Should i go for the cheapest option (G-Skill) but suffer when it comes to firmware updates/support? or go the extra $150 AU to go OCZ as they seem to provide a better support with Firmware updates???

    Please let me know what you think!! as i dont want to pay a lot of money and get something that i wont be happy with.

    Im purely a gamer, and dont do video editing or anything like that....

    Thanks
    Hank!
    Reply
  • ekerazha - Wednesday, August 26, 2009 - link

    On 24th has been released a new version (1.3) of the Intel SSD firmware, but there's no changelog. Is anybody aware of the changes? Reply
  • mmaenpaa - Wednesday, August 26, 2009 - link

    It seems that it only affects X25-E (50nm) products. Others saty at the previous version.

    Quote (from releasenotes)

    X25-E (50nm product) Revision History
    Date Revision Description
    25 August 2009 045C8850 This firmware revision is for X25-E products only and has several continuous improvement optimizations intended to provide the best possible user experience with the Intel SSD

    markku
    Reply
  • mmaenpaa - Tuesday, August 25, 2009 - link

    Hi,

    Just wanted to warn if anybody is going to try upgrading with Acer notebook.

    I just installed this SSD (X-25M G2, 80G) in new Acer TM6293 about 2 weeks ago. And I must say this is probably the biggest improvement in speedup feel I have seen in 5 years in this business. Very snappy indeed.

    As it happens I noticed the warning about the "bios password" feature after the notebook went to the customer.

    I took it in for quick fix (last thursday) and of course after firmware update the notebook does not recognize the SSD anymore. SSD itself seems to be working as other machines recognize SSD OK. Naturally (lucky me) I did make a full image before and now customer has an WD Scorpio Black 250GB mechanical drive in his new notebook. Boy it feels so slow compared to SSD. Even customer noticed it which is not always the case with not so advenced users.

    Now I have been waiting for Intel or Acer to contact me. I guess both emails got lost in the customer support system.

    As it happens both Intel SSD and Acer have the latest official firmware / bios so I am stuck for the time being.

    Any hot contacts with Intel (or Acer), anyone?

    Markku
    Reply
  • StuR - Tuesday, August 25, 2009 - link

    I've downloaded and read the product datasheets and manuals and I don't see any published information from Intel showing the support for the TRIM command on any of their current SSD drives. How is a consumer supposed to intelligently purchase this technology when a lot of important information comes only from a Blog? Reply
  • MrPoletski - Tuesday, August 25, 2009 - link

    I never realised Anand was a Mac fan..

    I'm pretty sure that's a little apple symbol in the top corner of your 'here is the article text' image ;)
    Reply
  • Black Jacque - Tuesday, August 25, 2009 - link

    The table in the article SuperTalent UltraDrive GX 1711 is showing bandwidth, not the labeled 4KB Random Write IOPS. IOPS would be an integer value. Reply
  • strafejumper - Monday, August 24, 2009 - link

    seen some talk about the ion platform on media player websites
    seems an ion pc is starting to come down in price to the point it is close to the same price as a dedicated media player such as the popcorn hour.

    They seem to suggest you have to install linux on it and XBMC to get hardware acceleration
    Reply

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