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?

POST A COMMENT

84 Comments

View All Comments

  • Pirks - Sunday, August 23, 2009 - link

    Why Pages and not Word? Reply
  • Tutor69 - Sunday, August 23, 2009 - link

    Hey Anand, will Intel update the first generation X25-M with trim functionality? I'll be quite upset if they won't. Reply
  • StuR - Tuesday, August 25, 2009 - link

    Ditto. I'm getting tired of buying SSD's only to find out they're lacking important functionality (not mentioned by the vendor of course). I don't see any reason the X-25G1's can't support TRIM. And I expect that the Intel Matrix AHCI driver should start to pass the command in future releases too!

    Why hasn't Intel been more upfront about all of this? Why do we have to get this information from a second-hand source?
    Reply
  • cliffman - Sunday, August 23, 2009 - link

    I would like to see the zotac mini itx board reviewed. I have been wondering how it compares to an atx board in speed. Some review sites say it has comparable performance while others show it being 5% slower. Also any information on core i5 mini-itx would be cool to read about. Reply
  • StormyParis - Monday, August 24, 2009 - link

    5% is comparable. I challenge you to spot the difference during anything but benchmarks (or d**k size comparisons). Reply
  • strikeback03 - Tuesday, August 25, 2009 - link

    Well, if you were transcoding a lot of movies, that 5% could definitely add up to a lot more time spent. Reply
  • Zab00 - Sunday, August 23, 2009 - link

    I'm looking forward to any new SSD reviews, Anands seem to be the most thoroughly done of the tech sites.
    About SSD review, up to now I couldn't find any reviews on Toshibas products (up to 512GB). Aren't they interesting?

    In preparation of buying a SSD drive I realized that my only one year old PC with a Intel G31 (ICH7) doesn't support AHCI. As far as I know that means no NCQ available and also TRIM won't work.
    Is there a big deviation from the numbers in the reviews to expect when running in the IDE emulation?
    Reply
  • graysky - Sunday, August 23, 2009 - link

    According to both wikipedia and a reply in this thread, the TRIM command has been implemented in Linux since kernel version 2.6.28 yet I can find no mention of it in the kernel docs (http://www.kernel.org/doc/menuconfig/x86.html)">http://www.kernel.org/doc/menuconfig/x86.html).

    1) Does the kernel auto detect and use TRIM?
    2) Does one need to modprobe a module to use it?
    3) How can one verify that TRIM is actually in effect under Linux?

    I am on waiting to purchase the 80 GB Intel G2 SSD for a Linux system using 2.6.30, but I do not want an SSD wo/ TRIM support.

    Thanks!
    Reply
  • Fietsventje - Sunday, August 23, 2009 - link

    Hello Anand,

    Concerning what I would find interesting in an Ion platform article would be the network performance.

    I think an Ion board would be perfect to serve as a base for a very basic server. Using it as a file server board (despite the limited number of SATA-ports) would require it to be able to achieve at least 50 MB/s during file transfers.

    It would be nice to see these things measured and maybe even compared to Intel-based Atom boards.
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Monday, August 24, 2009 - link

    Would you really need the video enhancements of Ion for a server? Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now