When Intel launched its second-generation X25-M solid-state drives, the company promised updated firmware with TRIM support following Windows 7's release. Now, just shy of a week after the arrival of Microsoft's latest OS, Intel has released a firmware upgrade for the X25-M G2. The new firmware supports the ATA Data Set Management Command, otherwise known as TRIM, and also promises faster write speeds for users of 160GB flavors of the SSD. According to Intel, the 160GB G2's maximum sustained write speed has been increased from 70 to 100MB/s. That's an impressive boost from just a firmware update, although 80GB drives apparently won't benefit. Intel says they have fewer flash chips than the 160GB drives, and thus less parallelism to exploit.
For those who haven't been paying attention to the SSD market, TRIM promises to address the block-rewrite penalty inherent to flash memory by allowing drives to opportunistically clear flash pages occupied by data that's been marked as deleted, but not actually erased. This should enable drives to keep more empty flash pages available for writing, easing long-term performance degradation.
We'll be revisiting SSD performance in Windows 7 soon. In the meantime, you can grab the new X25-M firmware here. Intel has also released an SSD Toolbox and Optimizer that lets users run various drive diagnostics and even invoke the TRIM command manually. The only catch: you'll need a gen-two X25-M. Intel has no plans to bring TRIM support to its first batch of SSDs.
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