Update 2: Intel has given us an updated timeframe on a fixed version of its TRIM firmware. Intel will release the new firmware by the end of November 2009. More info here.

Update: Some users have had issues with Intel's TRIM firmware bricking their drives, Intel has since pulled the firmware while they figure out what's going on. If you've downloaded it but haven't updated, do so at your own risk. While we haven't had any issues on the three drives we've updated here others have had problems. We'll keep you posted. Intel's official statement is below:

“Yes, we have been contacted by users with issues with the firmware upgrade and are investigating. We take all sightings and issues seriously and are working toward resolution. We have temporarily taken down the firmware link while we investigate.”

Welcome to the anti-climax. After a year of talking about it, Windows 7 and TRIM are here. How does it feel to be a TRIMionaire?

Indilinx, as usual, was first. After a couple of false starts, the two tier 1 Indilinx partners (SuperTalent and OCZ) enabled TRIM on their Barefoot SSDs (OCZ Vertex, SuperTalent UltraDrive). OCZ calls its TRIM firmware 1.40 while SuperTalent calls it 1819. Update:As many of you have correctly pointed out, Crucial also has an 1819 update available for its SSDs. You can get the firmware for your drive from the links here:

  TRIM Firmware Download
Crucial M225 1819
SuperTalent UltraDrive GX 1819
OCZ Vertex /Agility 1.40

 

Intel held off to align with the release of Windows 7. Last week Windows 7 officially went on sale, and today Intel is delivering on its promise: this bootable iso will enable TRIM on X25-M G2 drives.


Only the X25-M G2 gets TRIM, the G1 (right) is left in the dust. The G1 is more resilient than the G2 when it comes to performance degradation over time since it doesn't have TRIM.

Alongside TRIM there’s one more surprise. If you own a 160GB X25-M G2, Intel boosted sequential write speeds from 80MB/s to 100MB/s:

The 80GB drives remain unchanged unfortunately. Intel still won’t tell us why write speeds are so low to begin with.

What TRIM Does

Before we get much further, and without diving into a complete rehash of how SSDs work (which I’ve done here, here and here again), I want to do a quick refresher on TRIM.

SSDs are made up of millions of NAND flash cells. They can be written to in groups called pages (generally 4KB in size) but can only be erased in larger groups called blocks (generally 128 pages or 512KB). These stipulations are partially the source of many SSD performance issues.

The whole ordeal gets more complicated when you realize that an SSD has no way of knowing when a file is deleted. Until an address gets used again, the SSD has to keep track of every last bit of data that’s written to it. The ATA-TRIM instruction tilts the balance in favor of the SSD.

In a supported OS (e.g. Windows 7), whenever you permanently delete a file or format your drive, the addresses that are erased are sent along with the TRIM command to the SSD’s controller. The TRIM instruction tells the SSD that those locations don’t contain valid data and that it no longer has to track them.


Simplified version of how a SSD controller works. TRIM helps the SSD clean blocks and add them to the free block pool

Again, I won’t go into great detail here but TRIM addresses a major part of the performance degradation over time issue that plague all SSDs. A TRIM enabled drive running an OS with TRIM support will stay closer to its peak performance over time.

Testing TRIM
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  • dcljpc - Saturday, November 14, 2009 - link

    On that intel firmware that provide trim support but bricked people's drives, now intel said it is a problem specific to Win7 64bit. Does this mean that if you update the firmware from within Win7 64bit there could be a problem, or does it mean even if you updated the firmware in Vista or Win7 32, and then install Win7 64 on it, it could still cause a problem? Does anyone know the answer?

    I just bought a X25-M G2, I plan to use it in a new computer. Can you just update the firmware on an older computer first, and then install WIn7 64bit on it?

    Thanks.
    Reply
  • jaydops - Friday, November 13, 2009 - link

    I am looking to purchase a ssd for a Dell Studio 15 i7 with 4gb ddr3 1333ghz.

    Anand recommends Indilinx (OCZ or SuperTalent) or Intel.

    1) Are all OCZ drives good or only Vertex drives? If only Vertex then those are really expensive on newegg.

    2) Why was the Corsair P256 not recommended? It seems to have good numbers in the charts. And newegg has a reasonably priced 128gb version here: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...">http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...

    3) The Dell Studio 15 has a sata connection, will that work ok with sata2 ssds?
    Reply
  • crobb100 - Tuesday, November 10, 2009 - link

    No Kingston SSD for sale at NewEgg so far. Where'd it go? Reply
  • dullard - Tuesday, November 10, 2009 - link

    It is at Newegg. But it isn't at the MSRP.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...">http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a...SSDNow%2...

    I'm considering getting it for a new Win 7 build. But are SSDs ready for prime time yet? Or should I wait a bit longer?
    Reply
  • lordstryker - Monday, November 09, 2009 - link

    I was curious about the possible setup of these Kingston drives in a Raid 0 format. If they are roughly half the performance of an intel 80GB drive, it would be reasonable to think 2x of these Kingston drives would be comparable to a single Intel 80GB drive. However, I am not familiar with TRIM support on a Raid setup. Is there any info on this? Reply
  • spaceB - Monday, November 09, 2009 - link

    Hi all,

    I have a x200 Thinkpad with a SSD inside. The SSD drive is a 128GB Samsung (OEM MMCQE28G8MUP-0VAL1). I noticed that the drive becomes slower after three month of use. So I use WIN XP SP3. Is it possible to use Trim or Garbage Collection in any kind of way on this older Samsung SSD drive? The Samsung support homepage and google couldn’t answer my question.

    Big thx in anvance!

    GreeTz

    space
    Reply
  • maraz - Wednesday, November 04, 2009 - link

    Hi,
    I was very interested to see results from trace-driven I/O tests. Is the AnandTech Storage Bench mentioned in this article generally available?

    Best regards,
    Manolis.
    Reply
  • Steney - Monday, November 02, 2009 - link

    What would the performance of two of these drives in a RAID 0 array be like? Would there a single 80GB drive for $170 that would be better? Reply
  • abuda - Monday, November 02, 2009 - link

    just found this stuff in mwave
    http://www.mwave.com/mwave/SKUSearch_v3.asp?px=IM&...">http://www.mwave.com/mwave/SKUSearch_v3.asp?px=IM&...

    INTEL 160GB SSD G2 just US 599 with free shipping
    Reply
  • kunedog - Monday, November 02, 2009 - link

    That's only $159 MORE than the predictions we got from Anand over 3 months ago:
    http://www.anandtech.com/storage/showdoc.aspx?i=36...">http://www.anandtech.com/storage/showdoc.aspx?i=36...

    Wow, indeed.

    I wish Anand would acknowledge these extremely high prices and how wrong the prices in that article were (preferably in a follow-up). Especially since he is again making statements about Newegg's possible future pricing (of the Kingston).
    Reply

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