Intel SSD Toolbox gets a new look

If you have an Intel solid-state drive, you might want to grab the latest version of the company’s SSD Toolbox. This helpful little utility has been given a new interface that most folks should find easy to navigate and understand. Contextual help information is integrated throughout, and even tech-savvy enthusiasts should find the functionality useful.

The utility can be used to apply firmware updates and to check whether Windows features like the built-in defragger and pre-fetching mechanisms are optimized for an SSD. A secure-erase function is included, as well, and drives can be trimmed manually using the app.

I played around with the new SSD Toolbox during an IDF session back in September. The new interface is very nice, and I particularly like its ability to monitor some of the SMART attributes used to characterize drive wear. Intel SSDs have an E9 attribute—otherwise known as the “media wearout indicator”—that starts at 100 and ticks down as the flash’s write-erase cycles are consumed. If you’re curious about how much data has been written to the drive, an E1 attribute tracks the total number of host writes, too.

Comments closed
    • rei
    • 8 years ago

    Can someone post a screenshot of what the OCZ equivalent looks like?

    • Goncyn
    • 8 years ago

    Does this work on non-Intel SSDs?

    • Fighterpilot
    • 8 years ago

    Having just installed W7x64 on a Patriot Wildfire SSD I have to say the performance is impressive.
    Start up times from post screen to usable desktop averages 23 seconds and shut down times an amazing 3 seconds from pressing the shutdown button to tower silence.
    Games load very fast and installing any software such as Catalyst drivers is extremely quick.
    All in all I’d say it’s the biggest improvement in system performance I’ve seen from any new hardware.

    • bcronce
    • 8 years ago

    Kind of sad that just as TRIM is getting support and controllers are finally getting debugged and faster, Memresitors are coming out and they won’t need either of those, plus they won’t need reserved room for wear leveling.

    • Klanky
    • 8 years ago

    I think watching that ‘Estimated Life’ thing tick down would freak me out….

      • Vasilyfav
      • 8 years ago

      What if it only went down by 1%/year? That would probably make me depressed too, knowing I would be dead before the SSD drive is 😛

      • kamikaziechameleon
      • 8 years ago

      If you think about it and turn off your page file it should be fine.

        • Firestarter
        • 8 years ago

        I guess you missed the bit about the page file being very well suited for life on an SSD.

        I think that the only enthusiast who should legitimately worry about total bytes written is a video editing enthusiast.

          • indeego
          • 8 years ago

          Or Database Admin.
          Or File Server Admin. (Arguable)

          If it’s important, RAID1,5,6,1/0+Back it up.
          If it’s not important RAID0 it and consider it dead every second you use it.

            • BobbinThreadbare
            • 8 years ago

            Admins are “enthusiasts” now?

            • 5150
            • 8 years ago

            RAID 5/6? Yuck

        • UberGerbil
        • 8 years ago

        The page file is the first thing I put on an SSD. Writes are not as high as you think.

        • Wirko
        • 8 years ago

        Why? The PF is primarily an “emergency extension” to the RAM. No computer should use it a lot.

          • Ryu Connor
          • 8 years ago

          The pagefile is [i<]not[/i<] a emergency extension to RAM. It is a contiguous location for [i<]unused data[/i<].

        • Ryu Connor
        • 8 years ago

        [url<]http://blogs.msdn.com/b/e7/archive/2009/05/05/support-and-q-a-for-solid-state-drives-and.aspx[/url<] [quote="Microsoft"<] [b<]Should the pagefile be placed on SSDs?[/b<] Yes. Most pagefile operations are small random reads or larger sequential writes, both of which are types of operations that SSDs handle well. In looking at telemetry data from thousands of traces and focusing on pagefile reads and writes, we find that •Pagefile.sys reads outnumber pagefile.sys writes by about 40 to 1, •Pagefile.sys read sizes are typically quite small, with 67% less than or equal to 4 KB, and 88% less than 16 KB. •Pagefile.sys writes are relatively large, with 62% greater than or equal to 128 KB and 45% being exactly 1 MB in size. In fact, given typical pagefile reference patterns and the favorable performance characteristics SSDs have on those patterns, there are few files better than the pagefile to place on an SSD. [/quote<]

          • Vaughn
          • 8 years ago

          I guess i’m a rebel then 😛

          My page file doesn’t sit on my ssd.

          Its been reduced to 1GB and on a seperate HD.

          My browser caches on a ram disc.

          My machine has 12GB’s of ram so I never touch it.

          I think all of it is the reason i’m only at 2TB’s of host writes in a 2 year span.

          YMMV

            • PixelArmy
            • 8 years ago

            I’m at 0.5 TB in 6 months, the same exact rate, just letting Windows do everything… I thought about doing all those tweaks to save some writes, but realized doing so kind of negated the point of an SSD.

            Some crude, quasi math for my 320’s lifetime:
            120 GB = .120 TB
            3000 write cycles (?)
            3000 * .120 TB = 360 TB of writes over lifetime.
            Current rate = 1 TB per year.
            Lifetime at current rate = 360 years.

            Of course this assumes great leveling, etc. and ignores over provisioning, write amplification, etc. But I can be off by a factor of 30 and still be at 12 years! (Checking the new SSD Toolbox, I am indeed still at 100%).

            You state you have a 160 GB G2 later in this thread, which I think has more write cycles plus more cells to begin with…

            The only reason I can think of for putting the pagefile on another drive would be if you absolutely needed to have the space back. My pagefile is 8 GB, which is a decent % of 120 but I’m only about 60% full right now.

            Edit: Grammar.

      • dragosmp
      • 8 years ago

      Just ran it on my 2yo X25-v 40GB – 98% Estimated life remaining 🙂

      Admittedly I don’t run a server workload on the laptop, but still only 2% gone. Looks like this SSD will survive all my current rigs.

      • indeego
      • 8 years ago

      I have an OCZ 1st gen that is ~2.25 years old at this point and estimated life is 71%.

      • Sunburn74
      • 8 years ago

      Yeah, so I recently learned something. First of all, the amount that you can write to SSDs, as in the SSD lifespan is way way more than any of us can possible write.

      [url<]http://www.xtremesystems.org/forums/showthread.php?271063-SSD-Write-Endurance-25nm-Vs-34nm[/url<] In a nutshell, a guy was curious about SSD lifespan. Most manufacturers keep it close to the vest, but intel has publicly stated that their 80gb x-25m1 SSDs will give you at least 20gb a day for 5 years (or roughly 36 TB worth of writes). Off the record, they stated their SSDs are probably good for 100gb a day for 5 years. Neither of those estimations was close. This guy bought a 40gb x-25v drive, which theoretically should have a shorter lifespan due to less NAND cells. He developed alittle app that would write random data to it continuosly. Basically he placed a large file (I think 20 or 30gb in size on it) as a static file to represent the OS and then wrote continously on it afterwards. Since the x-25v writes very slowly, he only wrote about 2TB a day (only being said somewhat tongue in cheek). He would periodly stop to check performance and the wear indicator and stuff like that at intervals of various numbers of days. This particular experiment caught on and others repeated it with much faster writing drives like the 64 gb vertex 2 and the 64gb c300 and etc (and were writing like 16TB a day). Anyway, the long story short is the total amount of writes, the last time I checked for the 40gb x-25v was like 356TB ish without any loss in perfomance at all. I think there was a vertex that was in the 400 TB area. To put this in perspective, I've owned a couple of 80gb x-25ms in raid-0 for a couple of years now and I've only put on it 4TB of hosts writes. So yeah.... I doubt you'll be watching anything tick down at all.

      • Vaughn
      • 8 years ago

      lol be less paranoid friend.

      My 160GB G2 drive has been in service since dec 2009 and the meter is still at 100% with about 2.14 Tb’s host writes!

      • GTVic
      • 8 years ago

      How about the time left until [b<]you[/b<] tick down, would that freak you out? [url<]http://www.deathclock.com/[/url<]

    • dashbarron
    • 8 years ago

    Give us some sub $1 GB SSDs and I’m sold, Intel.

      • NeelyCam
      • 8 years ago

      When they get there, you’re gonna be demanding $0.50/GB because HDD prices have gone down…

      Just bite the bullet already!

        • videobits
        • 8 years ago

        Indeed…buy it if it works for you.

        As I calculate it, I paid $7,500 per GB for my first hard drive. Granted that was in 1990. About $240 for a 32MB drive.
        It all gets better and cheaper as time goes by. You just have to get what is best for your application at THIS time.

        I wanted SSD for system drives in 4 boxes we bought 2 years ago but the cost was far beyond mechanical prices.
        The systems I spec’d out last month have SSD for system drives as the price premium is very little for the speed and reliablity now. Those same systems have large mechanical hard drive arrays as this works out finanacially best for video storage.

      • 5150
      • 8 years ago

      Why is $1/GB such a magic number? Asinine if you ask me. They’re worth every penny.

        • dashbarron
        • 8 years ago

        Because at $1 these things get affordable for most of us. I don’t know about other people, but I can’t conceive having one of these until I can get it at 180GB. I won’t spend a fortune on these so at $1 I could get one for $200, which would make it a much easier price point and where I’d finally buy one.

        And no, I don’t require just a small 60GB for the OS footprint and that’s all.

          • Vasilyfav
          • 8 years ago

          Why do you need a 180GB SSD?

            • dashbarron
            • 8 years ago

            *Sigh.* Because with the OS I have enough applications I need on the main drive that 180GB is the size limit I need, plus a few extra GBs as buffer. 120 isn’t enough and 60 surely isn’t.

        • Compton
        • 8 years ago

        SSDs are infinitely more interesting than HDDs ever were. I can foresee a time when they’re just commonplace items, but right now there are enough controller, firmware, and NAND configurations to stay anything but generic for a while. If there were a fire in my apartment building, and I could only take enough stuff with me to fit in my two meaty paws, I’m taking my SSDs in one hand and my Modulus Vintage-J Bass in the other. Every SSD, starting with the Intel G1s are worth saving.

        But for the “If it’s not $1/GB, it’s crap and I’m sticking to my HDD” crowd, there are more than a few deals on SSDs. X25-M 80s go for cheap on the eBay, and you can routinely get SF2281 asynchronous 120GB drives for just a little bit over your mental $1/GB barrier, and a good deal under with MI rebate. Corsair Force 3s and OCZ Agility 3s are cheap, and if you’re rocking a Sandy Bridge system and booting off a HDD, then you’re missing out.

          • dashbarron
          • 8 years ago

          $1 isn’t a “mental barrier.” If you read the above posts, its a “price barrier” where I don’t want to spend more than $200 for a 180GB drive.

            • indeego
            • 8 years ago

            But you and everyone else has ALWAYS paid more for the performance/$ historically for performance. i.e. you paid more in 2007 than you do today.

            What you are complaining about is drive capacity, not performance, which is fine, but you can always bring over your mechanicals with most systems.

            I think people that complain about SSD pricing really haven’t used them much. Far more than most components, it improves almost every aspect of your computing life, and going back to mechanical is almost unthinkable.

      • kamikaziechameleon
      • 8 years ago

      I agree, I think 1$ per gigabyte scales in such a linear fashion in my mind. I’m waiting for 250 Gb HDD to be 1$ per gigabyte before I get to excited.

        • Wirko
        • 8 years ago

        That may happen if the flood in Taiwan never subsides … but I don’t believe this is what you really want.

    • BKA
    • 8 years ago

    Nice, will certainly check this out when I get home.

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