Worst the can happen from using an SSD without TRIM/AHCI?

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Worst the can happen from using an SSD without TRIM/AHCI?

Postposted on Fri Dec 06, 2013 3:45 pm

I've got a family member's old laptop here I'm fixing and the HDD is busted so I was thinking about sticking a cheap SSD in the thing for them. The user doesn't require much storage space and this cheap SSD has a better warranty than a new HDD for the same price. Then I realized that it's running XP, so no TRIM support, I'd have to use a TRIM tool - but it turns out the manufacturer (SanDisk) doesn't make a TRIM tool, though even if they did the Dell Latitude D620's BIOS doesn't give me the option to enable AHCI(even though the ICH-7M supports it).

The question is what's the worst that could happen if I go ahead and use an SSD anyway, I'm presuming it's just a speed issue? Would the drive just become slower and slower over time? Would it even be a noticeable decrease on first generation SATA controller speeds?
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Re: Worst the can happen from using an SSD without TRIM/AHCI

Postposted on Fri Dec 06, 2013 3:54 pm

In the long run, the life of the cell where the data is stored would be shortened. And, (I might be mistaken here) I think some of the higher end SSDs have hardware based algorithms that take care of this as well...
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Re: Worst the can happen from using an SSD without TRIM/AHCI

Postposted on Fri Dec 06, 2013 4:01 pm

Some SSDs have manual TRIM applications you can run. Intel and Samsung provide programs for example. SSDs also have internal firmware mechanisms that maintain the flash - it's just more efficient when assisted by TRIM.

Also, TRIM works without AHCI. The Windows 7 and later stock IDE driver supports TRIM. AHCI's main benefit is NCQ which allows more performance via parallel operations.
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Re: Worst the can happen from using an SSD without TRIM/AHCI

Postposted on Fri Dec 06, 2013 4:11 pm

swaaye wrote:TRIM works without AHCI.


I always presumed it needed it! That's good news. Not sure if I can get some kind of XP TRIM IDE Driver or TRIM tool (SanDisk doesn't make one, crazy!). Maybe Ubuntu has driver support for TRIM on IDE, I'll have a look. Then I can avoid the cell degredation ClickClick mentioned.

Thanks for your responses.
Last edited by puppetworx on Fri Dec 06, 2013 4:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Worst the can happen from using an SSD without TRIM/AHCI

Postposted on Fri Dec 06, 2013 4:16 pm

It'll become slower (and it's noticeable even in your case) but it'll still be faster overall compared to an HDD (reads will always be faster). Some SSDs will do automatic garbage collection so it might not even become slower.

I believe there's a bit more write amplification too but your SSD will still last the remaining lifetime of that laptop.
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Re: Worst the can happen from using an SSD without TRIM/AHCI

Postposted on Fri Dec 06, 2013 4:22 pm

ChronoReverse wrote:your SSD will still last the remaining lifetime of that laptop.


That's pretty much what I was I banking on. :D

Still I'll see if I can get them onto Ubuntu if it might help, God do I hate still dealing with XP these days.
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Re: Worst the can happen from using an SSD without TRIM/AHCI

Postposted on Fri Dec 06, 2013 4:39 pm

Be sure you align the partition properly (format it using a Windows 7 installer) because SSDs don't like the legacy 63-sector offset, and that's all that Windows XP's installer knows how to do.
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Re: Worst the can happen from using an SSD without TRIM/AHCI

Postposted on Fri Dec 06, 2013 4:56 pm

derFunkenstein wrote:Be sure you align the partition properly (format it using a Windows 7 installer) because SSDs don't like the legacy 63-sector offset, and that's all that Windows XP's installer knows how to do.


Ahh good tip, I forgot all about that.
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Re: Worst the can happen from using an SSD without TRIM/AHCI

Postposted on Fri Dec 06, 2013 5:15 pm

No TRIM - you may run into long-term performance issues sooner depending if the SSD manages garbage on its own or not

No AHCI - no native NCQ support(may impact multi-user and multi-taskng performance) and you cannot hot-swap it w/o causing problems for the controller or OS.
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Re: Worst the can happen from using an SSD without TRIM/AHCI

Postposted on Fri Dec 06, 2013 5:17 pm

ChronoReverse wrote:It'll become slower (and it's noticeable even in your case) but it'll still be faster overall compared to an HDD (reads will always be faster). Some SSDs will do automatic garbage collection so it might not even become slower.
They all do garbage collection (and wear-levelling) though the specific implementations vary. But without TRIM there's less garbage to collect, because the firmware doesn't know which files have been deleted and can have their blocks reclaimed. So the GC is less efficient especially if there's not a lot of free (unallocated or genuinely empty) space on the drive.
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Re: Worst the can happen from using an SSD without TRIM/AHCI

Postposted on Fri Dec 06, 2013 5:29 pm

I'm pretty sure some of the first generation drives didn't do offline garbage collection and only clean up blocks "on-the-fly" as the blocks are requested.

My first generation Samsung controller Corsair SSD is like that. It never recovers its write speeds no matter how long I idle. Even a full format only restores some of the speed. It's been relegated to my HTPC system drive for this reason.
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Re: Worst the can happen from using an SSD without TRIM/AHCI

Postposted on Fri Dec 06, 2013 5:32 pm

Ok, "all the SSDs you can buy today" do garbage collection. And that one probably did too, but in a very limited way. What's probably happening is that it's having to wait on erasing used blocks. Flash has to be erased before it can be re-written, and if the firmware doesn't work to keep some already-erased blocks around at all times, once all the flash has been written to once the drive has to always pause to erase before it can write again. You can (temporarily) fix that by secure erasing the entire drive (or using a utility to erase any available blocks).
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Re: Worst the can happen from using an SSD without TRIM/AHCI

Postposted on Fri Dec 06, 2013 7:09 pm

Oh I see, you're using the term garbage collection correctly while I meant only offline (on-idle) garbage collection. Yes, in that case all SSDs do garbage collection (which is what I meant by on-the-fly).

My fault for not being accurate here.


Nonetheless, in the context of slow-downs over time, on-idle garbage collection is needed if you don't have TRIM and a number of the early SSDs don't have that.
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Re: Worst the can happen from using an SSD without TRIM/AHCI

Postposted on Sat Dec 07, 2013 1:13 am

The question is what's the worst that could happen if I go ahead and use an SSD anyway?

Man, that's incredibly dangerous. Any of the following could happen:
  • Spontaneous incineration
  • Plague, pestilence, and famine
  • Birth defects
  • Sour milk
  • Global thermonuclear annihilation
  • Premature baldness
  • Tire sidewall blowout
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Acid reflux disease
  • Parachute deployment malfunction
  • O-ring seal degradation
  • Spurious airbag inflation
  • Mass hallucinations
  • Alien invasion
  • Asteroid impact
  • Genetic mutations
  • Loss of balance to the Force
See also these three references for more details.
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Re: Worst the can happen from using an SSD without TRIM/AHCI

Postposted on Sat Dec 07, 2013 1:26 am

You forgot waxy yellow buildup, and ring-around-the-collar.

Yes, I am showing my age. :lol:
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Re: Worst the can happen from using an SSD without TRIM/AHCI

Postposted on Sat Dec 07, 2013 1:34 am

You got the mass hysteria (hallucinations) but left out the cats & dogs sleeping together as well as the fire and brimstone.

And yes, JBI, I will never forget the 20+ years of Wisk ads chiding wives about the "ring around the collar".
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