Why You Need TRIM For Your SSD

Written by Harry Butler

February 4, 2010 | 08:29

Tags: #comparison #drive-controller #intel-trim #performance #quiet-computing #solid-state-drive #ssd #trim #windows-7

Companies: #bit-tech

Let's Talk Firmware

Updating existing drives to support TRIM can be a major headache for both users and manufacturers, not least due to the inherent danger in updating any product's firmware. This is further complicated by companies shipping drives based on the same Indilinx controllers, then releasing updates at wildly different times (many Indilinx partners have yet to release a TRIM update even now), or in the case of Intel, releasing your TRIM firmware update and then promptly withdrawing it due to reports of bricked drives. Oops!

Drive controller: Indilinx Barefoot

Used In: OCZ Vertex, Crucial M225, Patriot Torqx, G.Skill Falcon, Corsair X128

Pre-TRIM Firmware v1571 (v1.3 to OCZ customers)
If you bought an Indilinx SSD in the last six months, chances are it shipped with firmware v1571. This is the firmware reliant upon Indlinx's wiper.exe program to maintain performance by manually running a rudimentary version of TRIM, resulting in short term performance improvements. Updating firmware to v1571 was non-destructive (to data) for OCZ and Crucial customers, yet, destructive for all other Indilinx partners.

TRIM Firmware v1916 (1.5 to OCZ customers)
Only available to OCZ and Crucial customers at present, Indilinx's second TRIM enabled firmware (the first was v1819) also makes numerous improvements to the drive's wear levelling algorithms. Available as a bootable .iso file installation, it is remarkably simple to use and is non-destructive to data (although you should always back up data from an SSD when updating firmware as a matter of principle). This update also brings the first garbage collection algorithm for Indilinx based drives, providing performance recovery in non-TRIM operating systems like Linux, XP and Vista. Other partners have an unknown release data at present.

Why You Need TRIM For Your SSD Let's Talk Firmware
Click to enlarge - the Indilinx ARM drive controller has received multiple firmware updates

Drive controller: Samsung ARM

Used In: Corsair P-series, OCZ Summit Series, Samsung branded drives

Pre-TRIM Firmware VBM18C1Q
Again, if you've bought a Samsung drive controller SSD in the last six months or so, chances are it shipped with the 18C1Q version of the firmware. We've found Samsung has been constantly dragging its heels in regards to releasing a user deployable update. This firmware supported a garbage collection algorithm that maintained the drive when idle, although from our experiences this was never one hundred per cent effective. These drives also still suffer from the infamous "full format" bug, whereby performing a full format, rather than quick format, seriously damaged the drive to the point that only a low level secure erase would restore performance.

TRIM Firmware VBM19C1Q
Samsung's first user updatable firmware doesn't fix the full format bug, but it does finally bring TRIM to these drives, to the relief of their frustrated owners. Currently only available as an executable which you'll need to run from (your own) DOS bootable flash drive, the update is destructive, removing all data from the drive. Garbage collection remains an option for non-TRIM operating systems too.

Drive controller: Intel

Used In: Intel X25-M G2, Intel X18-MG2, Kingston SSDNow M Series
Pre-TRIM Firmware 2CV102G2
The standard firmware shipping on all Intel based 32nm SSDs since their release. This firmware supports no on board performance maintenance utilities, although Intel's storage toolbox does include a manual wiper program similar to that of the Indilinx drives that can force a TRIM sweep.

TRIM Firmware V2CV102HD - Download here
The new Intel firmware finally brings onboard TRIM support to Intel's line of SSDs, although only the 34nm "G2" models - if you bought an original, black cased X25-M then sadly you're out of luck as Intel has, regrettably, cancelled support it after just one year. Gee, thanks, Intel.

The updater is available as a bootable .iso file and isn't data destructive (although, once again, always back up before a firmware update). Note that for a change, RAID arrays are supported, but only via the manual TRIM command in Intel's SSD toolbox.
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