Final Words

TRIM is a huge step forward in SSD maturity and readiness for the masses. There are only so many people who have the patience to listen to a NAND flash explanation to understand why their luxury storage device gets slower the more you use it. TRIM not only simplifies the problem but it makes SSDs work the way they should. When you delete a file TRIM ensures that the file is no longer tracked by the SSD. And it just works.

The driver limitations are a bit annoying, especially given Intel knew this was coming. Difficulty in coordinating schedules is one of the downsides of having such a huge organization.

It's also ridiculous that Intel has done nothing to take care of it's original X25-M G1 customers. Those who spent over $600 on Intel's first SSD deserve to be taken care of but instead they get no TRIM support and no SSD Optimizer. Both of these are things that Indilinx has offered it's customers before Intel. Vertex owners have had a wiper tool since before Intel ever announced intentions to enable TRIM on the G2.

The write speed improvement that the Intel firmware brings to 160GB drives is nice but ultimately highlights a bigger issue: Intel's write speed is unacceptable in today's market. Back when Indilinx first arrived there was no real threat, but today Intel is facing a much more mature group of competitors. Our heavy trace benchmark is a prime example of why this is an issue. I fully expect Intel to address it with the third gen drive next year but it makes buying a drive today unnecessarily complicated.

From a compatibility standpoint, Intel has the advantage. It's just a much larger company than Indilinx and has the ability to do more compatibility/reliability testing.

The performance side is a bit more difficult to break down. The more sequential writing you do to your drive the more you'll stand to benefit from Indilinx's higher write speeds. In nearly all other situations the two controllers perform similarly or Intel is in the lead. The fact that both controllers support TRIM makes it even more difficult.

The easiest way to decide continues to be to buy the largest drive you can afford. 64GB? Indilinx. 80GB? Intel? 128GB? Indilinx and 160GB Intel. If you're buying an Indilinx drive the rate of firmware releases pretty much dictates that you'll want to buy from OCZ or SuperTalent. None of the other Indilinx manufacturers have Windows 7 TRIM support yet (Crucial has now posted a firmware update with TRIM support). The additional testing and exclusive agreements that OCZ/ST have with Indilinx provide their customers a tangible advantage in this case.

Kingston's 40GB option is super interesting. Anyone who's sold on SSDs will probably opt for a bigger drive but if you're on the fence, the Kingston solution might be for you. The write speed is disappointing but for application launches and boot time it's got the speed. If Newegg can keep these things in stock at $85 after rebate it's a gold deal. I'd prefer the price without the rebate but these things are still selling at a premium unfortunately.

Next year SSDs will get even more interesting. I attended a couple of Intel's SSD tracks at IDF this year and got a glimpse into what Intel is working on. Through TRIM and other architectural enhancements Intel is expecting to deliver much higher consistent performance on its future SSDs, regardless of how full they are. We can also expect to see a decoupling of capacity from the number of channels the controller supports; right now Intel has a couple of oddball sizes compared to the competition, but future designs will allow Intel to more closely mimic HDD capacities regardless of controller configuration.

I still firmly believe that an SSD is the single best performance improvement you can buy for your system today. Would I recommend waiting until next year to buy? This is one of the rare cases where I'd have to answer no. I made the switch last year and I wouldn't go back, it really does change the way your PC behaves.

Introducing the AnandTech Storage Bench - Real World Performance Testing
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  • RAWIRON - Saturday, December 19, 2009 - link

    I've read about some Macbook hacks for the SSD user, but still wonder how I should make my SSD's "new" state last longer.

    I do still wonder if I should use the "Secure Empty Trash" in Snow Leopard? At first, I've partitioned my drive for all available space, but then reduced the HFS partition to 68 Gb or so - will this prolong my drive's "new" state because of Intel's algorithms?
    Should I use "Erase Free Space" in Disk Utility?
    Thanks!
    Reply
  • kunedog - Saturday, December 26, 2009 - link

    I would say NO. Secure Erase (of used or free space) will generate (many) more writes which can only make the problem worse, "using up" your reserve space much more quickly than before. At least that's what my intuition says. Maybe somenoe who knows for sure will chime in. Reply
  • kunedog - Friday, December 4, 2009 - link

    The Kingston 40GB is available for $130:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...">http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...

    I wonder how many, if any, were sold at $85 (or even $115). I also wonder how this article is repeatedly bumped for minor (and predictable) updates while the incorrect pricing predictions are never acknowledged. The Intel MLC SSDs continue to list for much higher than the given "expected" launch price . . .
    http://www.anandtech.com/storage/showdoc.aspx?i=36...">http://www.anandtech.com/storage/showdoc.aspx?i=36...

    . . . yet that article was never bumped to the top. Even the G1s were priced higher! Props to Anand for keeping the SSD companies honest on performance, but why can't the same be done for pricing?

    If I were going to release/retail a new SSD, I would definitely call Anand ahead of time and tell him an expected price about 50-75% of the real one so he would blindly print it and create demand.
    Reply
  • mohsh86 - Thursday, December 3, 2009 - link

    lol the promised to deliver it by the end of Novmber, they didn't but they changed the date of release :P i've been checking every day..

    The Firmware Update tool 1.5 is now available, posted (according to intel in 30/11) the SSD toolbox still unavailable..

    did any one try it ?!

    i have the firmware the one before the bricking firmware, i guess it has the letter g, should i upgrade ?!
    Reply
  • mohsh86 - Tuesday, December 1, 2009 - link

    It finally came ! The End of November, The 1st of December..

    No Trim Firmware, No Intel SSD Toolbox, no RAID support for toolbox
    Reply
  • Dverez - Tuesday, December 1, 2009 - link

    The new Firmware is out and works properly.
    To test SSD this is a good program, I think.

    (http://alex-is.de/PHP/fusion/downloads.php?cat_id=...
    Reply
  • mohsh86 - Tuesday, December 1, 2009 - link

    It finally came ! The End of November, The 1st of December..

    No Trim Firmware, No Intel SSD Toolbox, no RAID support for toolbox
    Reply
  • Sind - Monday, November 30, 2009 - link

    Wheres the firmware update, it's Nov 30th! Reply
  • xpclient - Wednesday, November 25, 2009 - link

    Please test 2 X25-Ms with Intel Matrix RAID10 and other Matrix RAID arrays the moment Intel drivers with TRIM come out. Reply
  • Mygaffer - Tuesday, November 24, 2009 - link

    Another great article, thank you for all the hard work and insightful analysis. Articles like yours help keep the industry honest and responsive.
    I can't wait until they become cheap enough for me to buy two for a RAID 0, and of course for Intel to release new drivers to support the TRIM commands.
    Reply

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