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SSDs on Windows 7 are About to Get Much Faster

Firmware update will add considerable speed to SSD performance. What will it do?
Posted December 31, 2009
By

Andy Patrizio


Corsair Memory and OCZ Technology Group, two of the leading suppliers of DRAM- and flash-based memory used in the making of solid-state drives (SSDs), have issued firmware updates to add a feature that will boost the performance of Windows 7 on an SSD.

The feature is called the "TRIM" command, or function. Windows 7 shipped this past October with support for the feature even though none of the SSDs on the market actually could support it. Intel released a firmware update to add TRIM support in August but had to quickly withdraw it due to data corruption problems.

When SSDs first hit the marketplace, users loved the performance, but noticed over time that performance degraded. That's because unlike a platter-based hard drive, when you delete data from an SSD, the contents in the cells aren't truly deleted, but are rather marked as being disposable and can be overwritten. So when new data is written, the old data had to be physically deleted first.

TRIM acts like a garbage collector in an application. When you delete data, it actually deletes it and frees up the cells for immediate data writes. This is done when the drive is not otherwise in use.

It's one of many SSD-specific technologies Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) put under the hood of Windows 7. The OS also disables disk defragmentation, Superfetch, ReadyBoost, as well as boot and application launch prefetching when an SSD boot drive is detected. All of these technologies were designed to improve performance on traditional HDDs, where random read performance could be a bottleneck. On an SSD, random read speed is its forte.

"Windows 7 tends to perform well on today's SSDs, in part, because we made many engineering changes to reduce the frequency of writes and flushes. This benefits traditional HDDs as well, but is particularly helpful on today's SSDs," wrote Michael Fortin, a Microsoft distinguished engineer in the Engineering Windows 7 blog.

Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) issued the updated firmware for its SSD drives earlier this month. More recently, Corsair Memory and OCZ have released a firmware upgrade for their respective lines of drives. In addition to Windows 7 support, the OCZ firmware will do file deletes when the system is idle on Windows Vista and XP machines.

Both Corsair's firmware update and OCZ's update require a complete drive format. Intel's update does not specifically mention formatting the drive but does recommend backing up the data regardless.

Article courtesy of InternetNews.com.




Tags: Windows, SSD, Storage


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