Testing TRIM

A firmware update gives you TRIM support, but we should probably test to make sure it's actually working.

First up, the Intel X25-M G2 with the TRIM firmware. I ran a 4KB random write test across the entire 80GB LBA space for five minutes. I ran the test again afterwards and recorded the average transfer rate for each run:

4KB Random Write, IOQ=16 Run 1 Run 2
Intel X25-M 80GB TRIM Firmware 37.9 MB/s 13.8 MB/s

 

As expected, performance goes down as the drive fills up. The second run is much slower than the first.

Now look at the two runs if we format the drive in between. The format under Windows 7 triggers a TRIM of all invalid data, meaning all the jibberish we generated in the first run is gone and the second run now runs at full speed:

4KB Random Write, IOQ=16 Run 1 Run 2 after Format
Intel X25-M 80GB TRIM Firmware 37.9 MB/s 38.0 MB/s

 

Obviously you don’t usually write a bunch of garbage to your drive then format and repeat, but we’re trying to confirm that TRIM works here; it does. Windows 7 will actually take noticeably longer to format a drive that supports TRIM and has data on it. It still completes in less than 30 seconds on these SSDs, but it's a lot longer than the few seconds it used to take before TRIM.

This confirms that TRIM works on a format, but what about if you delete a partition? To find out I created a partition on my X25-M G2, filled it with data, deleted the partition and ran my 4KB random write test across all LBAs. If deleting a partition forces TRIM I should see new-performance out of the G2:

4KB Random Write, IOQ=16 Run 1 Run 2 after Deleting Partition
Intel X25-M 80GB TRIM Firmware 37.9 MB/s 17.9 MB/s

 

Performance drop. Formatting a partition causes the contents to be TRIMed, but just deleting a partition doesn’t. This means if you accidentally delete a partition you can still retrieve your data, however there’s no way to go back from a format.

What about file deletion? I performed the same test. Created a partition, filled it with garbage but then deleted the garbage before deleting the partition and running my 4KB random write test. Deleting data should force a TRIM:

4KB Random Write, IOQ=16 Run 1 Run 2 after Deleting All Files
Intel X25-M 80GB TRIM Firmware 37.9 MB/s 40.4 MB/s

 

Indeed it does. You no longer have to worry about performance dropping over time. When you delete a file it’ll eventually be nixed on the SSD as well. Below we have the actions that will force a TRIM of data under Windows 7:

Windows 7 File Delete Partition Format Partition Delete
TRIM? Yes Yes No

 

Formatting your drive now actually does something. You no longer have to boot to DOS and secure erase your SSD before installing Windows, just quick format the partition before installing Windows 7.

I performed the same tests on an Indilinx MLC based SSD, this time a SuperTalent UltraDrive GX with the 1819 TRIM-enabled firmware. The results were identical:

4KB Random Write, IOQ=16 Run 1 Run 2 After Format After File Delete
SuperTalent (Indilinx) UltraDrive GX TRIM Firmware v1819 17.8 MB/s 14.1 MB/s 17.8 MB/s 17.8 MB/s

 

We have TRIM working on both Indilinx (from SuperTalent/OCZ) and Intel drives. Sweet.

Index Wipe When You Can’t TRIM
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  • strikeback03 - Thursday, October 29, 2009 - link

    The 4k thing was a way to quantify the stuttering problem on some drives, as if he had just said "the drives stutter" but only shown objective results that look good (due to sequential write speeds), then people would have claimed he was making stuff up to be an intel fanboi as well. Reply
  • AnnonymousCoward - Wednesday, October 28, 2009 - link

    Human-observed delay time is really all everything comes down to. 4kb performance and IOPS are interesting to look at, but they're severly inadequate. If I remember right, RAID0 tends to look awesome in benchmarks, but offers virtually zero real-world benefit.

    So screw the benchmarks get and out a stopwatch. Measure what matters: boot time, time to launch various applications, media encoding time, and the time to copy files. Quantified seconds are a helluva lot more meaningful than IOPS.
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Wednesday, October 28, 2009 - link

    You mean something like this: http://www.anandtech.com/storage/showdoc.aspx?i=34...">http://www.anandtech.com/storage/showdoc.aspx?i=34... Reply
  • AnnonymousCoward - Wednesday, October 28, 2009 - link

    Yep, something like that, but with more categories. I think this is a good set:

    1. Boot time
    2. Time to launch applications
    a) Firefox
    b) Google Earth
    c) Photoshop
    3. Time to open huge files
    a) .doc
    b) .xls
    c) .pdf
    d) .psd
    4. Game framerates
    a) minimum
    b) average
    5. Time to copy files to & from the drive
    a) 3000 200kB files
    b) 200 3.5MB files
    c) 1 2GB file
    6. Other application-specific tasks

    Imagine if we had a table of this data and all of the SSDs and a conventional HDD. That would be so much more useful than all the charts in the existing article.
    Reply
  • buzznut - Wednesday, October 28, 2009 - link

    Finally, an SSD that I can afford and makes sense to me. Anyone can afford a POS SSD drive, but this one doesn't look crippled too much. The writes I'm not too worried about, but the stuttering and performance degrading is not what I want to pay a premium for.

    I'm hoping by Jan-Feb (when I could afford one) that Kingston will have the trim support and upgraded firmware. Then I'll jump on it!
    Reply
  • soltari - Thursday, December 10, 2009 - link

    Just picked mine up yesterday.. Kingston 40gb bootdrive desktop kit.. Has 2CV102HA firmware .. i.e. TRim support already.. be on the lookout for it. .dont know if its all drives now or just some.

    http://img209.imageshack.us/img209/8616/img6915.jp...">http://img209.imageshack.us/img209/8616/img6915.jp...

    http://img301.imageshack.us/img301/7214/img6920m.j...">http://img301.imageshack.us/img301/7214/img6920m.j...

    box note on firmware and hdtune info screenshot..
    Reply
  • Cavicchi - Wednesday, October 28, 2009 - link

    What I read from Intel about the Optimizer suggests it is not needed in Windows 7 or not needed to actually run it. Anyone understand what Intel is saying here:

    "When using the latest Microsoft Windows* 7 operating system with Microsoft AHCI storage drivers the OS will contain native support to execute the Intel® SSD Optimizer on an Intel SSD without requiring any user interaction."

    "Microsoft Windows* 7
    Microsoft* AHCI
    Native OS support (Intel® SSD Toolbox not required)"
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Wednesday, October 28, 2009 - link

    No, that was part of the point of this article, that TRIM is supported natively in 7. It is not in earlier OSs, so they have the manual TRIM tool. Reply
  • drwho9437 - Wednesday, October 28, 2009 - link

    Are all the Kingston SSDNOW drives X25 based in design with just different amounts of memory? Reply
  • Tuvok86 - Wednesday, October 28, 2009 - link

    * Kingston SSDNow E Series
    - (Intel Controller, 50nm Intel SLC NAND, 16MB Cache)

    * Kingston SSDNow M Series
    - (Intel Controller, 50nm Intel MLC NAND, 16MB Cache)

    * Kingston SSDNow V+ Series
    - (Samsung Controller, Samsung MLC NAND, 128MB Cache)

    * Kingston SSDNow V Series
    40GB - (Intel Controller, 34nm Intel MLC NAND, 16MB Cache)
    64/128GB - (JMicron Controller, Toshiba MLC NAND, No Cache)
    Reply

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