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 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?



View All Comments

  • Fietsventje - Monday, August 24, 2009 - link

    Nope, I wouldn't, but small differences in the ethernet controller efficiency could mean quite a difference in performance since the Atom hasn't got a lot of processing power to spare ... And since the nVidia MCH is more powerful than Intel's offerings, it could offer just those improvements needed to get 'decent' gigabit network performance. Reply
  • StormyParis - Sunday, August 23, 2009 - link

    Like many PC enthusiasts, I'm not at the stage where I want to choose WHICH SSD to buy, but rather wondering WHETHER I should buy one at all. I'm currently running off a 1.5 gig 7002.11, which was about half the price of a 64 megs SSD.. and I'm not suffering, or I'm not aware of it.

    So please, include a regular, mechanical HD(7.200 rpm) in the tests, and make the tests somewhat intuitive (boot times, level load times...).

    Thanks !


    PS and please explain what TRIM actually is: is it transparent, or do you have to run it once a week (more ? less ?), and how long does it take ? Is there a utility that tells you if should TRIM, like Win's defrag does ?
  • leexgx - Monday, August 24, 2009 - link

    If you have up todate firmware on on ssd most vertex based ssds will self heal the samsung bases ssds do this as well (corsair p128)

    You need to keep 15% free on the ssd for it to work correcty, if you have windows 7 it supports trim command and will not matter how full the disk gets (but no ssd has firmware support for it yet only in beta form but will be comming soon)

    Ocz norm get firmware updates first (best looking at the forums ignore tips for setting up drive corectly as they take it to far)
  • Ben90 - Sunday, August 23, 2009 - link

    Im not very good at explaining things like trim, read one of the earlier AT reviews where they find out about the write degrading over time if u want to understand what it does, and why its needed. But basically its invisible to the user as long as you are on an operating system that supports it Reply
  • Badkarma - Saturday, August 22, 2009 - link

    I don't recall if you touched upon advanced deinterlacing for 1080i material. Does the Ion do motion or vector adaptive deinterlacing for 1080i? How about 1080i x264? Reply
  • Beno - Saturday, August 22, 2009 - link

    can somebody tell me how to secure erase the intel drive? Reply
  • semo - Saturday, August 22, 2009 - link"> Reply
  • rfnanand - Friday, August 21, 2009 - link

    I registered on the forums to ask only one question:
    WHY CAN'T I FIND ANY X25-M G2s ??
  • vailr - Saturday, August 22, 2009 - link

    A certain podcast (dated Aug. 20) from mentioned that Newegg said they should have some stock of the Intel G2 SSD's by about Aug. 28. Reply
  • yacoub - Friday, August 21, 2009 - link

    Temps, wattage, and sound levels are always appreciated. Reply

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