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Why You Need TRIM For Your SSD

TRIM To The Rescue

Having seen just what a mess writing 1TB of data to our drives made using pre-TRIM firmware, we were pretty dubious about just how much of an effect TRIM would have, especially as the damage to the drives was so varied between them. If you’ve looked over the results though you’ll know that switching to a TRIM enabled drive was nothing short of a revelation for all three drives, and while there isn't uniform flawless performance recovery, the results really are conclusive: TRIM should be a mandatory inclusion on any SSD.

Corsair P128 128GB 19C1Q / Samsung ARM

While it’s not a one hundred percent performance recovery for the Samsung ARM powered Corsair P128, it’s still a huge turnaround considering the state of the drive in a used state without trim. Sequential read in AS SSD still only takes a small hit, but sequential write is much improved, up to 170MBs from a lowly 83MB/s, a great result. Sequential speeds in ATTO, especially the 4KB write speed, is also much improved, up to 51.7MB/s from a pre-trim 23.1.

It’s not all smooth sailing though as the random write speed still takes a 49 per cent dip in comparison to a clean drive, although this is still almost twice the random read speed of the drive in a used, pre-trim state. Both average and maximum random write latencies are also increased, and while they’re down significantly on the dirty NAND pre-TRIM results, it’s still a little disappointing to see a drop here, especially as random write is arguably the Samsung ARM controller’s weakest performance area.

Intel X25-M 160GB Gen2 / Intel

The Intel X25-M 160GB’s trim performance is simply superb right across the board, with almost none of the performance degradation we saw with the drive in its dirty pre-trim state. Sequential read and write speeds are completely unchanged from the drive in its new state despite over 1TB of data having been written to it and the same is true in every other test – there’s almost no difference between the drive from its new to heavily used state once we enable trim.

Pleasingly, the drive actually gets faster with the new firmware due to the improved ATA commands, with sequential write speeds 23MB/s faster in AS SSD and 22MB/s faster in ATTO 1,024KB. A fantastic result all round and a mandatory update for X25-M users.

OCZ Vertex 120GB v1.5 / Indilnx Barefoot

*Why You Need TRIM For Your SSD TRIM To The Rescue
The Indilinx based Vertex was hit hard by our dirty NAND, non-TRIM tests so it’s great that the latest TRIM enabled firmware not only allowed our thrashed Vertex to perform not just as fast as a clean non-TRIM drive, but in some circumstances notably faster. Sequential read speeds are rock steady at 225MB/s, with sequential write speeds up slightly to 159MB/s, even after we’d thrown 1TB of files at the drive. Random read and write performance were completely unaffected and ATTO performance, where the Vertex had seen a huge performance drop with the older v1571 firmware, was similarly unchanged. A great result for Indilinx.

Final Thoughts

After our testing here we’re left in no doubt as to the importance of the TRIM command to the continued health of consumer SSDs. The startling data we’ve produced really is definitive, with the Indilinx and Intel based drives seeing practically no performance degradation even after extremely heavy use, and in some tests performance has notably improved following the implementation of TRIM supporting firmware.

Even the Samsung controller, while not achieving a full restoration with its random write speeds, slows little signs of degradation elsewhere post update – a sea change from our pre-TRIM testing where all three drives suffered terribly after our heavy write/rewrite cycle.

With the issue of performance degradation largely solved, we’re hopeful SSD technology and mass market appeal can move forwards positively. In a presentation given by Frank Shu, a senior program manager at Microsoft back in 2008, it was hinted that drives would only be certified for Windows 7 once “the performance of the storage device shall not degrade with any amount of data stored to the maximum capacity of the device,” – a promise that the Indilinx and Intel based drives now appear to be able to deliver on, and which the Samsung ARM controller isn’t too far away from achieving either.

For those running an SSD, or thinking of picking one up in the near future there should be no doubt though – TRIM should be regarded as an essential feature for any SSD and we urge anyone running Windows 7 to make the effort and update your firmware. The results really do speak for themselves.

Related Reading

Kingston SSDNow V Series 40GB: Intel X25-X
G.Skill Falcon 128GB SSD Review
Corsair P256 256GB SSD Review
OCZ Vertex 120GB SSD