Intel brings TRIM support to SSD RAID arrays

TRIM is the best thing to happen to SSDs since the price of flash memory started falling. Now part of the Serial ATA specification, this command allows solid-state drives to clear flash pages filled with data that has been deleted. Those pages would normally be marked as available but remain occupied with old data. Since overwriting occupied flash pages is slower than dumping bits into empty ones, TRIM can improve long-term write performance quite dramatically.

Solid-state drives have supported TRIM for years, but the command has never worked on drives participating in RAID arrays. However, Intel has now enabled TRIM support for RAID 0 arrays tied to its latest 7-series chipsets. You’ll need to be running the RST 11.2 drivers (available from Intel’s Download Center) in Windows 7 to pass TRIM commands to solid-state RAID arrays. Intel is also working on a Windows 8 driver with similar TRIM support, including the 7-series chipset limitation. Looks like last-gen platforms are out of luck.

AnandTech has put the new drivers to the test and confirmed that TRIM is indeed functioning as expected. Support is limited to RAID 0 arrays, though; RAID 10 configs aren’t so lucky.

While we’re happy to see Intel bringing TRIM support to RAID 0 arrays, it’s unfortunate that support is limited to its latest platform. The 7- and 6-series chipsets share the same storage controller logic, so there should be no technical barriers to enabling TRIM on the older platform. This isn’t the first time Intel has denied TRIM support to an older product, though. Intel released a TRIM-enabled firmware for its second-generation X25-M solid-state drive, but the first generation model, which uses the same flash controller, never got TRIM support.

Comments closed
    • evilpaul
    • 7 years ago

    So nobody posted hacked drivers yet for older mobos? I’d think with the same storage logic it would be possible.

    • cynan
    • 7 years ago

    So… Anyone know if X79 is supported? I’ll be a ….. if I can find the info from Intel’s Download Center.

    X79, while numerically a 7-series is more similar to the 6-series, no?

    I’m guessing no.

    Oh well. The TRIM issue with newer SSDs is overblown anyhow. Still, it would be nice.

    • pogsnet
    • 7 years ago
    • Sunburn74
    • 7 years ago

    Intel continues to betray its loyal customers…really getting pretty annoying..

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 7 years ago

    Finally!!!!

    • leftyassassin
    • 7 years ago

    I have a 128gb Samsung 830. They go on sale so often now I’d love to get a second and put them in a RAID 0 but I wonder how much of a hassle it would be. Something tells me ‘a big one.’

      • DancinJack
      • 7 years ago

      Well you’d have to reinstall your OS, but that’s about it. A couple tweaks in the BIOS and RAID menus are pretty easy these days.

        • willmore
        • 7 years ago

        Couldn’t he configure the new drive as one of a set of mirrors, resize the original drive to fit the space available on the new drive, copy the stuff over, and then boot from the new drive as one of a broken mirror set, then, finally, add the old drive as the new member of the mirror?

          • Duck
          • 7 years ago

          Or go into Windows disk management and set up software raid there (not tried it myself).

    • Chrispy_
    • 7 years ago

    About time!, though I remember Intel screwing over early adopters with X25-M owners too.

    It seems harsh, but just hammers home the point that it never pays to buy at the bleeding edge of the technology curve.

      • indeego
      • 7 years ago

      Sure it does, but those ways aren’t always financially or scientifically measurable. If it makes an early adopter happier, then they received their own value from said expense.

      Even without trim many SSDs in any number of RAID setups are gobs faster than most mechanicals for most workstation tasks.

        • Chrispy_
        • 7 years ago

        Yeah, I know, I went there with 4x Indilinx Barefoot back in the days.

        The more money you spend, the less happiness it seems to bring though 🙂

          • internetsandman
          • 7 years ago

          Is that why rich people never wanna pay their fair share of taxes? 😛

    • 5150
    • 7 years ago

    That’s awesome! I have a new Lenovo W530 coming today along with two Samsung 830 256GB drives I plan on RAID0’ing. Couldn’t be better timing.

    • Grigory
    • 7 years ago

    What about RAID 1?

      • Duck
      • 7 years ago

      What sort of nutjob would RAID 1 some SSDs??

        • 5150
        • 7 years ago

        I guess enterprise IT people are nutjobs.

          • Duck
          • 7 years ago

          Enterprise IT people can use RAID 5. If they double up on drives to RAID 1 them, then yeah, they are nutty.

            • bcronce
            • 7 years ago

            RAID5 has worse IO characteristics than RAID1 and will cause your SSDs to wear out faster(which may still not be fast).

            RAID1 has much better random IO characteristics, which makes it very popular for SANs as they’re a single point of contention.

            • absurdity
            • 7 years ago

            This is all sorts of wrong.

            • Rendus
            • 7 years ago

            RAID10 is becoming the flavor of the day for reliability, and RAID5 is absolutely the wrong choice for SSDs given the design compromises made for spinning disks.

        • AlvinTheNerd
        • 7 years ago

        RAID 5 requires 3 disks, which is not always possible.

        Example: I am running a code to find the optimal placement of gears in a new transmission for a Cat 777F. It is set up to run through every possible combination and so it takes awhile to run. It isn’t particularlly CPU intensive, but it is very I/O intensive. It is also propeitary, so the code runs for 43 days (with SSD) and has to stay on me at all times. If there is a drive failure, I have to start over.

        Solution: Laptop with RAID 1 SSD’s.

        But to be fair, I am a bit nutty.

          • BobbinThreadbare
          • 7 years ago

          Couldn’t you just have a secure room at your office?

            • AlvinTheNerd
            • 7 years ago

            They only give me a cubicle.

          • stdRaichu
          • 7 years ago

          RAID5 (and 6) also require parity calc, which has to be done either by the host CPU or by the RAID controller, which in even the most expensive system are still slower than even simple software-based RAID1 or 10.

          Disclaimer: I am an enterprise nutjob, and all our SSDs run in RAID1 or RAID10. RAID5 in our experience typically degrades random I/O performance by 30-50%.

          • Duck
          • 7 years ago

          You can’t save your progress?

          • indeego
          • 7 years ago

          What is nutty is running that on a local laptop and not on some remote workstation or server (43 days is a massive amount of time!)

          • brucethemoose
          • 7 years ago

          Sounds like a job for a RAMdisk. How much space does that job take?

          • ermo
          • 7 years ago

          43 days? That sounds … nuts.

          Assuming that each gear needs a certain minimum reliability, what is the minimum and maximum cog-numbers for the individual gears in the transmission in question?

          EDIT: And yeah, not being able to serialize the current progress out to disk sounds … odd, if they know the job can run for days on end.

        • Grigory
        • 7 years ago

        Me in my next desktop. Thank you for asking.

        • Buzzard44
        • 7 years ago

        Yep, I’m sure IBM is full of nutjobs who have no idea what they’re doing. </sarcasm>

        I use use vast quantities of RAID 1 arrays at work for our I/O bottlenecked apps.

        Granted, most of our disks are mechanical, but we are starting to use flash, and you guessed it, in RAID 1 arrays.

        • jpostel
        • 7 years ago

        (disclaimer – I worked for EMC)

        I think people talking about enterprise IT class RAID storage are missing the point. This is a desktop chipset solution and not an enterprise RAID solution. At best, this will be workstation class. Enterprise RAID solutions don’t use the motherboard SATA chipset, but rather dedicated cards/chipsets.

        That said, I am also curious why Intel did not include at least RAID 1. It does not seem to be overly complex, but it may be that they have issues with efficiency of RAID parity algorithms and TRIM.

      • jpostel
      • 7 years ago

      Upon reading the AnandTech article, it seems that RAID 1 was already available in a previous release of the Intel RST drivers, and therefore the focus was only on what was new (RAID 0).

    • chuckula
    • 7 years ago

    [quote<]The 7- and 6-series chipsets share the same storage controller logic, so there should be no technical barriers to enabling TRIM on the older platform.[/quote<] Do we really know that for certain? Just because the 7 series chipsets have the same number of SATA ports as the 6 series chipsets, that doesn't mean the internal control logic is 100% compatible between them. The acid test would be to hack the driver binary to change the IDs that are recognized for the different chipsets to see if the 6 series chipsets are actually capable of this. Remember, the 6 series chipsets were designed in the 2008-2009 timeframe when the SSD marketshare and TRIM support were nowhere near what it is now.

      • Duck
      • 7 years ago

      They don’t do it because it requires tonnes of validation (because they’re Intel), and because fuck you (if you have a 6 series, 5 series motherboard).

        • chuckula
        • 7 years ago

        OK.. what about my x38 motherboard? It supports TRIM pass-through for regular drives, so is Intel screwing me over by not re-engineering the setup for my 5 year old motherboard? What if Intel just threw some code out there for all of its chipsets that may or may not work… would you say they are screwing you over then by not testing their drivers properly?

        What about AMD? Where is the support for TRIM over RAID with those chipsets? Is AMD being more “fair” by denying this support to everyone who purchases AMD products while Intel is bad for only supporting it on some products?

        I’ve done some research and if you are using Linux + LVM to do software raid, then it is already possible to do TRIM support to individual drives without requiring a special chipset driver (as long as the chipset supports TRIM for individual drives). That may be a better solution anyway rather than having to rely on the chipset drivers to implement these features.

          • Sunburn74
          • 7 years ago

          Yeah except we’re not talking about ancient technology. We’re talking about 1 year old technology.

    • Jon1984
    • 7 years ago

    Pretty lame not considering the 6 series 🙁 It you’ll be nice to add another similar drive rather than buying a new bigger one :\

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