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-   -   So you wanna buy a SSD? Read this first. (http://www.hardwarecanucks.com/forum/storage/39762-so-you-wanna-buy-ssd-read-first.html)

AkG January 10, 2011 11:47 AM

So you wanna buy a SSD? Read this first.
 
So you have decided to get a Solid State Drive (SSD)? Congratulations! Just be warned very few people who buy one, ever go back to using Hard Disk Drives (HDD’s) for their boot drive. Before you buy your first SSD there are (at least) TEN major questions you need to ask yourself and then answer before buying any SSD.

Before I begin, please do NOT take all this as gospel (I am not God and have more than "feet of clay"). It is mostly my opinion and as the old saying goes YMMV. What this should be is a good place for you to START your journey. All I hope is that after reading this you know what questions to ask and thus can formulate your own opinion on certain topics I go over in this sticky.

When in doubt make a new thread (sticky's dont always show up in "new posts" searches) and we all here at HWC can help you out! :thumb:

1) what is my budget
2) what size do I really need for my Os drive
3) what operating system will I be using
4) do I want to RAID them or do I want one SSD
5) What are the main mfg’ers of SSDs and what parts are important to look at
6) What are the “best” controller makers?
7) When looking at SSD performance what numbers are the “most important”
8) What speeds should I expect from my SSD?
9) What things do I need to do in order to get the most from my SSD and keep it “fast”
10) What are the common phrases enthusiast use when talking about SSDs


TLDR; answers are:

1& 2) expect to pay at least $100 and look for 40Gb or bigger SSDs. If you can afford more than that $150 will get you a very good drive. I usually recommend 60/64GB’ers for most first time users. YMMV
3) If its Windows 7 you have not many worries. Only earlier OS users need worry. BUT even windows 7 users need to make sure of a couple things to get TRIM.
4) When in doubt buy ONE SSD. Get the biggest you can afford.
5) The controller is all that really matter. SandForce, Intel, Marvel, JMicron, Toshiba, Samsung are the makers of SSD controllers. The label on the outside of the drive doesn’t mean jack. That is just the company RMA’s need to go through.
6) {SF, Intel, Marvel > Indilinx > Toshiba, JM > Samsung} …right now.
7) Small file 4K read/write is the most important. Sequential Speed means jack
8) there is no short answer for this one…besides: a heck of a lot more than a HDD can provide!
9) Not much. Out of the box with no tweaking you will get most of the performance from it. BUT you man shorten the life of the drive without tweaks.
10) there is no short answer for this one.

Long version:

1 & 2)


You should budget at least $100 plus tax and shipping for your SSD. If you can not afford this, you really should hold off buying one until you can. The absolute minimum most people can get by with for their OS drive is 32GB, but 40GB is a better “safe minimum”. With SSDs the 120/128GB drives are the “sweet spot” between price and performance, but they cost upwards of $200+ and provide only a moderate increase in real world performance compared to the smaller versions. A good 60/64GB drive will last you years and will provide amazing performance compared to even a velociRaptor. As with anything in life the more you can afford the more room you can get, the more speed you will get but the 60/64s have most of the performance of their bigger brothers.

3)


If your OS is Windows 7 it will make no difference which SSD you pick as all modern SSDs are TRIM aware. Just make sure to be in AHCI mode and using either Intel RST drivers, AMD’s latest drivers OR the default MS ACHI drivers. The ONLY caveat is with AMD. AMD (unlike Intel) were late to the SSD party and only added TRIM support to their 8xx series SB controllers (e.g. 890FXA). This means earlier AMD boards will NOT pass on TRIM. If you do not understand what AHCI mode means...it will be explained in section 10.

IF you are using an older OS that is NOT “TRIM aware”. I would recommend staying away from SandForce and Intel drives. They have less than optimal “ITGC” and as such are not great first time users drives. With that being said I would still recommend Intel as they are drives and the Intel Toolbox does a “manual TRIM” that will keep it fast. This makes Intel a better choice than SF. With all that being said a SandForce drive in a degraded state is still more powerful than ANY “tier two” clean drive. If you want to be safe and not worry about things Marvel based drives have very good “ITGC” and if you let them idle for a couple hours a week will be extremely fast even under XP. Please understand that "idle" does not mean "sleep" (sleep mode will in most instances not let "ITGC" do its magic). It means leaving the system up and running and walking away from it. The couple hours a week does not need to be done at once, "ITGC" is cumulative and even 20 minutes a day will be more than enough for most people.

YMMV but for XP:
Crucial or Intel > SF > Indilinx > Toshiba > everything else


4)


Raid’ing SSDs should only be done if you understand the downsides. The upside is increased performance (not double however). The downside is lack of TRIM support. You will have to rely on “ITGC” to keep your drives fast. The latency of your raid array will also be a lot higher than what the individual SSDs will be I recommend getting the biggest, fastest single SSD you can afford and then if you don’t think its fast enough….get a second later on and use it as an application drive for apps that couldn’t fit on the first one! To be honest, for most people’s needs RAID is not worth the hassle when it comes to SSDs, unless you are willing to go to at the very least three and preferably four SSDs. YMMV and this is only personal opinion, but anything less than that is not worth the effort or hassle. It is worth noting that you can (with Intel and Intel RST drivers at least) have RAID array of Hard Drives and a single SSD and still get TRIM support. It is only when dealing with RAID'ed SSDs that you lose TRIM.


5)


A typical SSD is made up of 4 main parts. A Printed Circuit Board (PCB), a controller chip, flash NAND chips, and maybe a RAM chip. For all intents and purposes a PCB is a PCB and doesn’t not matter. Ram can be important but not all newer SSDs use one nor need them. The ones that do, usually do so for a reason. The reason is simple: the controller needs an external buffer to stick I/O requests while it churns through the commands it already has. Without the RAM the drive would “stutter” or “pause”. A rule of thumb with SSDs and RAM is the larger the RAM cache needed the less powerful the controller chip is.

The NAND used is also important, but this too is only secondary to the controller chip. In a perfect world ALL SSDs would use only the highest grade NAND possible. Sadly the cheaper models do not. This difference is getting smaller and really does not need to be looked at. SandForce has proven that if your controller is powerful enough, the quality of NAND is not as important as it was. We can only imagine what a SF drive using “highest grade” NAND would do on write speed (read speed is about the same for all NAND).

This brings us to the single most important part of the SSD: the controller chip. This chip is the brains of the SSD and has a dramatic impact on how “fast” the SSD is. There is not many SSD controller makers out there and the label on the SSD does not mean squat. Right now you have Samsung (though sammy seems to have moved away from the consumer niche lately), JMicron, Toshiba (basically tweaked JM controllers built in Toshibha factories), Intel, Indilinx, Marvel and SandForce.


6)


The “tier one” drive controllers right now are Intel, Marvel and SandForce. I will get into more details later on them but for right now, the Marvel controller chips are the first SATA 6GB/s SSD controllers on the market. The earliest example of them was the Crucial C300. This is a very good controller chip. SandForce is the new kid on the block and their SF12xx and SF15xx certainly made huge waves in the enthusiast community. They too are a great controller. Intel also makes a SSD controller and their gen 2 X25M is also a very good drive.

The “tier two” drive controllers are Indilinx, Toshiba and JM. The Indilinx Barefoot controller is still a very decent controller but it is showing its age. The Toshy and JM are also decent controllers. The difference between a tier 1 and tier 2 controller is price and speed. A tier 1 will be a LOT faster than a tier 2, but will also cost more per GB. In many cases you can get a Tier 2 64gb for what a Tier 1 32/40Gb would cost you.

7 & 8)


What really makes the difference between the SSD controllers is how good and fast they can handle small file read and writes, and how they deal with keeping the NAND fast. Each of the drive controller all do TRIM now, and for most people this is more than good enough and as such will not make any difference in how they handle non-Trim enviros.

For a Tier one SSD controller you should expect to see 4K writes in the 70-90 range. I can not be more specific than that as it really does vary depending on your motherboard’s south bridge controller (ICH 10 vs AMD 890 for example).

For a Tier two SSD controller you can expect 35-60 mb/s writes on small 4K files.

Why does this matter? It matters because your OS is constantly reading and writing these small files and the faster it can handle these small background tasks the more controller cycles it has free to deal with YOUR commands. While you will never notice a difference between 70 and 90 MB/s you will notice 30 and 90. It is not “three times” as fast in real world BUT it is noticeably faster.

To put this in perspective a fast 7200rpm will do about 2-3 MB/s writes on 4K files and a 10K rpm VRaptor will do aprx 3 - 4 MB/s (once again these numbers will vary depending on a number of factors and as such this should not be taken as gospel….its only a general idea).

For a bit more precise - yet still only rough estimate – of what the various controller are capable of here is a list of expected performance

-SandForce:

4K

20-30MB/s reads (more for 100/120Gb model...less for the smaller ones)
80-90 writes (128GB model), 50-60MB (40GB)…60s in between these two extremes

Sequential
230-250 reads
200-230 writes

Notes:
SF drives come in two “flavors”: Full Speed firmware and standard firmware drives. When possible get the Full Speed/ custom firmware. Some examples of full speed drives are OCZ Vertex 2, GSkill Phoenix Pro, Mushkin Callisto Deluxe. There is also two more sub groupings, but "Extended" SF's basically have the same speed as the older "original" SF drives just with less OP. They too can either have Full Speed Firmware or Std firmware. I prefer the original as Over-Provisioning is a good thing and the more there is, the longer the SSD will last (usually).

- Intel
(most common 80GB model)
4K
20-30 reads
80-90 writes

Notes:
The X25M gen 2 is about to be replaced. Expect the low end to get slightly better BUT the sequential to be the same as the SF 12xx series. This is NOT a firmware update. It will be an entire new drive dubbed (for now anyways) the “X25-M gen 3”.

Sequential
200-220 reads
About 100MB/s writes

(40GB model)
4K
20-25 reads
40-50MB/s writes

Sequential
About 200mb/s reads
40-50 writes

Notes:
The Intel V is a decent drive, but it is hobbled at the physical level and no longer my first choice for first time users. There are better drives for the asking price.

-Marvel 91xx (aka C300)

4K
25-35reads
80-90MB/s writes

Sequential
350+ reads
210-230 writes

Notes:
The “C300” drive is about to be replaced by a newer revision of the Marvel controller. Which should boost numbers across the board, but biggest boost will be in the seq with 400+ read speeds. Expect to see it pop up in the C400 by Crucial and Performance Series 3 by Corsair later in this quarter.

- Indilinx
4K
Reads 25 - 30
Writes 15-25

Sequential
Read about 250
Writes about 150

Notes:
This is based on the full speed original Vertex 128GB version running 1.6. You can basically cut off about 20-30% of the 4k write speed for the mid grade versions. Basically, these are the "Barefoot" controller Indi makes, the "Jet Stream" replacement controller should hopefully be out some time this year. It is rumored to be a SATA 6GB/s part....but no one knows until it lands what it will and will not do. IF it is as good as the Barefoot was in its days, Indilinx will go back to bein a Tier 1 SSD controller. BUT it has already been delayed once or twice and may never see the light of day. In which case Indi will be like Samsung (the founders of Indilinx are ex-Sammy employees) and not have impact on the marketplace at the controller level.


Toshiba:

4K
Reads about 20
Writes about 50

Sequential
Read 230ish
Writes 160ish

Notes:
This is based on the SSDNow V+ 128GB model. The newer V+100 128Gb does do a bit better (probably 10%) on 4K r/w.

JMicron:

4K
Reads under 15
Writes under 15

Sequential
Read under 150
Writes 230-250

Notes
This is for the JM612 based SSDNow V 128Gb gen 2. The JM618 is very similar to the Toshiba in performance. Expect the Kingston V100 to have a small to moderate improvement (probably 10%) in 4K numbers.


9)


What things do you need to do to get the most out of your SSD? On the performance side of things….not much. Any tweaks you do are going to be mainly for reducing needless writes. The lower the number of writes you do the longer the drive will last (you only get 3,000 - 10,000 per cell for MLC and up to100 000 for SLC...depending on the "generation" of NAND. Each new new gen brings a die shrink and a reduction in cell life. The new 25nm MLC will be good for 3K whereas the 3xNM was good for 5k and old, old 5xnm was good for 10k. Intel claims that most will only need 1000 write avg leaving plenty in reserve). This is the name of the game, but it is a game that only takes a couple minutes to do.

While there are PLENTY of tweaks out there the big ones are:
1) make sure Defrag on the SSD is OFF (this WILL kill your drive PDQ)
2) Move as many temp files off your SSD and on to a HDD as possible (Firefox, Photoshop etc)
3) Turn off indexing
4) Move the pagefile to a HDD and off your SSD
5) Change SuperFetch to either OFF (not recommended) or Boot files only.
6) Disable Hibernate.

Do these one at a time. As with any tweaks, make sure your system is backed up. These instructions are for windows 7 only. These instructions assume you have UAC turned off. You may have to enabled run as admin for some or all of them. HWC takes no responsibility for any loss of data, life, sanity, hardware, first born child, premature hair loss, premature gray hair, your soul or anything else….Etc etc. You have be warned.

1) There is no need to turn off the Defrag service if you have a HDD as well as a SSD. IF you install windows 7 on to a SSD this should be OFF. To verify it is. Open up “My Computer” and right click on your SSD’s drive (e.g. “C” drive). This will open up a popup. Select “properties”. Select “Tools” tab. Press the “Defragment now…” button. Under the “Schedule” area towards the top of the new popup window it should say “Schedule defragmentation is turned off”. IF it says anything else than this press the “Run on a Schdeule” button and in the new popup window UNTICK “Run on a schedule (recommended)”. Press OK. Reboot.

2) This will vary depending on which program’s cache you want to move off the SSD. This is how you do FireFox’s:

Type about:config in the address bar and click on the "I'll be careful, I promise!" button. You now have access to the config file for FF. Right click anywhere you want and in the dropdown box select “New” then “String”. This will open a new popup. Type “browser.cache.disk.parent_directory” and press the “OK” button. Then type in the new location for the Cache director for the string value. For example “D:\Firefox” to move it a folder called “firefox” on your D drive. Press OK. Reboot Firefox for it to take affect.


3) Click on the Start button, and then right Click you “Computer” or “My Computer” icon on your desktop. In the drop down box select “Manage”. This will open up a new window. On the right hand side you will see many options under “Computer Management (Local)”, click on the last one. Its called “Services and Applications”. This will expand its options, click on “Services”. In the left hand window scroll down and then double click on “Windows Search”. In the new popup windown look for the “Startup type:” drop down box. Change it to “Disabled”. Press “Apply” button at bottom, then press the “OK” button. Reboot.

4)
Click on the Start button, and then Right Click you “Computer” or “My Computer” icon on your desktop. In the drop down box select Properties. In the pop up window select “advanced System Settings”. This will pop up another window. It should have the “Advanced” Tab already selected. If not click on it. Towards the top of the page look under the “performance” section and press the “settings” button. This will open up a new window. The “Advanced” tab should already be selected. If not select it. Under the “virtual memory” section press the “Change” button. If “automatically manage paging file size for all drives” is ticked, untick it. Select C and select “No paging file” then press “set”. The system is going to complain to you. Ignore it. Then select the Drive you want to have the page file reside on (e.g “D” drive assuming D is a HDD and not a SSD). You can make it a custom size if you wish or leave it as “system managed size” that is up to you. Press “OK”. Now reboot.


5) Change superfetch
To do this you need to open up regedit. Press the start button and in the search bar type in “regedit.exe”. This will open up regedit. Under “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE” drill down to “SYSTEM”, then “CurrentControlSet”, ten “Control” then “Session Manager”, then “Memory Management” and finally “PrefetchParameters”. This all happens in the left hand side. When you get to the bottom level on the right hand side find the “EnablePrefetcher” key. Double click it and change the value to “2”. Press Ok. Do this for SuperFetch key as well. Reboot. This will make it cache boot files only. If you set it “0” it will be off. I prefer not to do this.

If this sounds like too much hassle you can try “TweakPrefetch” which is very easy to use.
Manage Prefetch & Superfetch settings with TweakPrefetch


6) Press the start button and in the search bar type in “cmd” and press enter. This will open up an old school dos box. In it type “powercfg -h off”. Reboot.
The reason you really want to disable hibernate is becuase it takes up a lot of room and uses a lot nand cell writes as the entire contents of the ram are written to the SSD every time you use it. This is a bad thing. Add in the fact that a cold boot is awfully darn quick and the speed difference between a a cold boot vs hibernate is not that great and you can see why you really will want to disable it!


10)


Unlike some other niches there really is not that many terms you need to familiarize yourself with. The big ones are:
SLC & eSLC
MLC & eMLC
“ITGC”
TRIM
Wear leveling
Over Provisioning
AHCI

SLC and MLC refer to the type of NAND the drive uses. Almost all consumer SSDs use MLC. MLC stands for Multi-Layer cell and each NAND cell literally has enough room for TWO bits and has FOUR states. SLC stands for Single Layer Cell and each cell has enough room for ONE bit and has only two states (on and off). MLC is cheaper to make and thus cheaper on a per GB basis. It is also slower on writes and lasts for only about 3,000 (25nm)) to 5,000 (34nm) to 10,000 (50nm) writes where as SLC is much faster on writes and is good for about ten times that number. Sadly, SLC is cost prohibitive for consumer level drives and is usually only found in the occasional “enthusiast” drive but mainly is for Enterprise customers.

The reason that the life span of the NAND reduces so much from generation to generation (especially with MLC) is that when you shrink the size of them data integrity gets harder and harder. This is why we are seeing huge reductions in lifespan from one die shrink to the next. Intel states that the majority of SSD users really will only use about 1K of writes, so while this large reduction is worrisome it is not as scary as you would first think. It really does depend on how often you plan on using the device for. If you plan on using it for longer than the typical SSD user you will want to look at SSDs with more over-provisioning. The more OP the more "good" cells there are to replace any that die and the longer your drive will last (see below for more on OP). Personally 3k lifespan is at my min tolerances and anything lower than this is going to cut your drives life...no matter what Intel says...after all they do expect / want you to upgrade every TWO years.

Ofcourse this bring us to "eMLC" and "eSLC". The "e" stands for enterprise and while it is a bit slower than the typical MLC/SLC it has much better write endurance. For example instead of being good for up to 100,000 writes eSLC is go for up to 300,000. The same for eMLC. Instead of up to 10,000 (which we havent had in a LONG while) it is good for upwards of 30,000. This maybe what we see backstop NAND based SSDs until something comes along to replace NAND...or it will be just another branch of the "technology tree" that goes nowhere. Only time will tell! BUT OCZ has already announced PCI-E SSDs that use eMLC so it is possible that it is here to stay. The big two questions eMLC needs to answer is 1) is it cost effective to use it (ie use eMLC instead of much more expensive eSLC in the short term and use eMLC instead of MLC in the long term) & 2)can they overcome the performance hit and / or are people willing to take a performance hit for much increased lifespan. When those two are answered...we will see if eMLC/eSLC takes off. Until then it is more a "huh thats interesting" deal with the potential to be the next big thing in SSDs.

ITGC and TRIM are the two terms used to refer to how internal house cleaning is done. TRIM refers to the ATA-T13 TRIM command which tells the SSD controller to do a cleaning after a file is marked as deleted. Why is this important? To change a NAND cell from a 1 to a 0 requires controller cycles and once it is done, before the cell can be REused the cell has to be “cleaned” and brought back to its “virginal” state. Further compounding things, a SSD controller can write at the cell level but can only erase at the BLOCK level. This doesn’t matter when there is plenty of free block and free cells, but as time goes by each of the blocks in a SSD becomes used. Once this occurs and a call for a write is made by your system the SSD controller has to spring into action and read into memory (either the controllers or the RAM depending on the controller) ALL the “good” data, then erase the block, then rewrite the good data and then and ONLY THEN can it do the new write. This is noticeable to even us slow poke humans.

In the bad old days this was called a “stutter” or a “pause” as that was exactly what your system did…it locked up for anywhere from a blink of an eye to a 10+ seconds! Needless to say this was not a good thing. The TRIM command tells the drive to clean the block(s) of cells a give file was in as soon as you delete it (or in the case of Windows…when you empty your trash bin). This means you will ALWAYS have free virginal cells and never get the dreaded stutters!

The downside to TRIM is that it is carried out in real time (usually). This means that controller cycles that would otherwise be free for YOUR commands to be carried out are being taken up by the TRIM command. The more files this TRIM command is telling the drive to permanently delete the longer the performance degradation will last. It is doubtful you will ever notice this lowered performance but it can be under extreme circumstances.

Like many complex commands TRIM requires 5 crucial things for it to work: a TRIM aware OS that can pass on the TRIM command, your system to be AHCI mode, AHCI drivers that can pass on the TRIM, a storage controller that is TRIM aware and can pass on the commands to the drive and a SSD that is TRIM enabled. If any one of these 5 criteria are not met, the TRIM command will not work.

Older operating systems are not TRIM aware. Windows 7 is. Later versions of Linux (kernel 2.6.33 and later) are TRIM aware. To the best of my knowledge MAC OS X is not TRIM aware.

All modern SSD's have firmware that are TRIM enabled. This makes this a moot point unless you are buying an OLD second hand SSD (such as the Intel X25-M gen 1)....in which case...DON'T. They are not worth it. Buy either new or slightly used newer generation SSDs and save yourself a LOT of hassle.

No RAID controller is trim aware at this time. Intel's "ICH10" (and ICH 9 to the best of my knowledge) controller is TRIM aware and can pass on the command. AMD only added TRIM capabilities to their 8xx series. All previous AMD SouthBridge controllers are NOT trim aware (e.g. 790FX is not capable of passing on TRIM command).

AHCI stands for Advanced Host Configuration Interface. Here is a link to Wikipedia on what AHCI is.
Advanced Host Controller Interface - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The default Microsoft Windows 7 AHCI driver is TRIM aware and will send the command. ALL IDE drivers in windows 7 are not TRIM aware and will not work. Intel RST 9 and later series AHCI drivers are TRIM aware and will pass on the command. AMD added TRIM support into their 10.11 drivers (and all subsequent drivers) and thus are TRIM aware.

AMD Drivers for 8 series mobos can be found here (its under "Motherboard/Integrated Video Drivers", pick your OS {windows 7 32bit and 64bit only!!} then "Optional Downloads" tab. It is called "South Bridge Driver". Latest version is 10.12) :
Downloads

Intel RST drivers can be found here:
http://downloadcenter.intel.com/Deta...?DwnldID=18859
(if the above link doesnt work search for "intel rapid storage technology")

To get your system into AHCI mode you need to enter your BIOS and change it from IDE mode to AHCI mode. It may also be labeled as "RAID" mode. This will vary from motherboard to motherboard. Consult your manual for more information. The easiest way to do this is BEFORE you install your OS. IF you installed your OS in IDE mode you will need to do the following BEFORE you change it in the BIOS (otherwise your OS will fail to load and you will get a BSOD). If you have already installed your OS and need to change it over...follow this guide (or better still just DL the reg file in that thread).
Guide Change from IDE to AHCI after Installation

The other way a SSD keeps itself fast (in a NonTrim environment) is via self maintenance routines. These routines and algorithms are colloquially called “ITGC” or “Idle Time Garbage Collection”. As the name suggests this only happens when the drive is idle. IF you have an older OS, letting the system Idle as much as possible is CRUCIAL for keeping the dreaded stutters from happening. ITGC is also harder on the NAND as it does use more writes in the process.

There actually is a third way you can manually get the drive to clean itself. Intel as their SSD Toolbox and Indilinx has their wiper.exe program (aka "performance tool"). These work...most of the time and the longer it takes to complete the more "dirty" your drive was. For other systems there is also an old school way of doing things. Its called "Tony Trim". You need only do the second part (AS-Clean w/ FF option part). Do NOT do this too often as it is hard on the cells and basically uses up 1 write on all the free NAND cells. Once a week is plenty. Try every 10 days, if you notice no slow downs...try 2 weeks, etc etc until you do notice slow downs in between cleanings. ;)

I do not recommend this method unless your dirve is stuttering OR really getting noticeably slower. It is very hard on the cells. Doing it too often WILL kill your drive....luckily doing so should NOT void your warranty. It is also NOT needed on modern SSDs IF you let the system IDLE!! "ITGC" is easier on the cells than this and all it takes is TIME. Let the system idle overnight > Tony-Trim.

Let it run until it stops. BUT ignore the green bar...it goes up and down and has no bearing on far along the cleaning is. It will take anywhere from 3 minutes to 15+ depending on the size of your SSD and the controller's speed.

DO NOT RUN THIS PROGRAM WITHOUT FIRST TICKING THE FF BOX. The clean (aka "virgin") state of a NAND cells is FF ("1") and thus what you are doing is erasing all the free blocks. BUT if you don't tick that small box AS-Clean will dirty all the free cells with zero's. This is not a good thing and will basically put your drive into (or damn close) to a degraded state.


The Indi program can be found here:
OCZ Technology

The Intel SSD Toolbox can be found here:
http://downloadcenter.intel.com/Deta...&DwnldID=18455

Guide to Tony Trim can be found here (use at your own risk...you have been WARNED!):
Guide A simple guide for speeding up EOL OCZ SSD's..
(once again you ONLY really need to do the AS-Clean w/ FF option)


For those rare instances where you are dual booting a TRIM aware and non-TRIM aware Operating Systems (for example XP and Windows 7) you can actually keep the system fast by simply booting into Windows 7 (assuming all the normal TRIM requirements are met like AHCI mode and drivers) and running this program:

Guide Here's a tool to force-TRIM your entire drive

This program is not needed if you only run Windows 7 as TRIM is TRIM. BUT any data that is "deleted" while in XP or any file modified in XP will NOT be TRIM'ed. This could lead to a degraded state even if you mainly use Windows 7! Do not panic if the system "locks up" for a minute or three. It will become responsive after a couple minutes. If it does not, give it 30 minutes before doing ANYTHING. The program is safe'ish and I have used it many times (usually becomes unresponsive for a minute or three), but much like the author of the program I say: Use at your OWN risk!

Wear Leveling, is the colloquial term applied to the algorithms implanted by the SSD controller to make sure that no cells are used more than others. Before a write is carried out it literally checks its own internal map of the free cells and sees which free cell(s) have the lowest number of writes and then uses them. Rinse and repeat for EVERY write and you get an idea of what it is doing. The down side to this is it needs FREE cells to work with! The more free cells it has to work with the better. A good safe minimum is to keep at least 10% free. I personally like to recommend 15% as my MINIUM, but once again the more free the better.

This is where Over-provisioning comes into play. Over-Provisioning (OP) is when the SSD reports to your system that it is a smaller drive than it really is. Some classic examples of this are Indilinx 120GB SSDs which were in fact 128GB drives, just with 8GB set aside for OP.

OP actually serves two purposes. The first is it allows there to be more free cells for wear levelling to work with (but once again keep 10-15% of the REPORTED size FREE!!!) and thus keep the cells from dying early deaths even when the drive is “full”. The other use is for replacement cells. While there are more cells than needed in a block, eventually enough die that the entire block is marked as “bad”. When this happens, the controller simply swaps in one of the OP blocks of “free” cells and you the end-user and even your computer never know the difference. IF there is no OP blocks left…your 100GB drive is no longer 100GB and bad things can happen. Usually the drive is listed as “bad” by SMART or it even will cease to work (and thus be “dead”)….or something in between those extreme of good-bad and bad-bad.

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Edited to add in more details on AHCI and what is and is not supported.
Edited to add in links to AHCI drivers, SSD Toolbox, wiper.exe and "Tony Trim"
Edited to clarify TRIM and RAID support and my personal opinion on RAID'ing SSDs (3-4 would be my
minimum before doing it)
Edited to add in information on why Hibernate is not a good idea
Edited to add in information on a force trim option for XP/win 7 dual boot users
Edited to add in why sleep mode does not equal idle time
Edited to add in a little bit on MLC and the reduction in life span & eMLC and what it is

Arinoth January 10, 2011 11:50 AM

Stickied as many new and current members will find this very informative and we don't want this very helpful information being lost to the pages below.

ZZLEE January 10, 2011 11:54 AM

Thanks AGK and fore sticky

I will studdy this hard before purchase :)

martin_metal_88 January 10, 2011 12:07 PM

Thx! this will be very helpfull for many people over time! Good work!

CMetaphor January 10, 2011 12:09 PM

Awesome AKG!

Sadface about the C400 tho, wish i had been even more patient, lol. My C300s arent even set up yet lol

wesamess January 10, 2011 12:12 PM

Voted Excellent.:thumb:

geokilla January 10, 2011 12:20 PM

Now I have no worries when I want to buy SSD!

ipaine January 10, 2011 02:30 PM

Very good write up. Hopefully this will help out all those new to the SSD world. I know I can't go back, now I just need to get a bigger one, 120 is just to small once you involve steam.

BootlegUsher January 10, 2011 03:27 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Quote:

Originally Posted by AkG (Post 472916)

3)


If your OS is Windows 7 it will make no difference which SSD you pick as all modern SSDs are TRIM aware. Just make sure to be in AHCI mode and using either Intel RST drivers, AMD’s latest drivers OR the default MS ACHI drivers.

I don't quite understand what you mean when you say "use AHCI drivers". I don't really know what AHCI even is. Also, when I go to the ASUS website for my motherboard (AMD Crosshair III 790FX), the only thing I see that says AHCI is what I attached.

AkG January 10, 2011 03:55 PM

Thanks guys. It is a work in progress and based on members feedback I hope it will grow into a GREAT resource for first time SSD buyers.

BootLegUsher....sorry but you are screwed. AMD only added TRIM support to their 8 series SouthBridge...so your 7 series will NOT pass on TRIM. You will have to rely on "ITGC".
I'll update the original post now with more information. So you and other peeps will know where I am coming from WRT "TRIM" :)


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