After much reading into the topic of SSD performance, their possible issues and what not. I thought this topic might be helpful for those considering an SSD for their system.
Windows 7 is going to have what is known as the TRIM operation or command. Intel 2nd gen SSD drives and beyond will be able to make use of this new feature in Win 7. What does this mean for the everyday person wanting to build a system around an SSD? It basically means that your SSD which is able to interpret the TRIM command will last longer and stay at near peak performance for the duration of its life. For more on this, please see the following MSDN blog article.
Additionally, a few Linux distributions also have this TRIM operation available. This will be a great year for hard drive advancement.
In addition to the above, Microsoft and SSD manufacturers are adopting the Trim operation. In Windows 7, if an SSD reports it supports the Trim attribute of the ATA protocol’s Data Set Management command, the NTFS file system will request the ATA driver to issue the new operation to the device when files are deleted and it is safe to erase the SSD pages backing the files. With this information, an SSD can plan to erase the relevant blocks opportunistically (and lazily) in the hope that subsequent writes will not require a blocking erase operation since erased pages are available for reuse.
As an added benefit, the Trim operation can help SSDs reduce wear by eliminating the need for many merge operations to occur. As an example, consider a single 128 KB SSD block that contained a 128 KB file. If the file is deleted and a Trim operation is requested, then the SSD can avoid having to mix bytes from the SSD block with any other bytes that are subsequently written to that block. This reduces wear.
Windows 7 requests the Trim operation for more than just file delete operations. The Trim operation is fully integrated with partition- and volume-level commands like Format and Delete, with file system commands relating to truncate and compression, and with the System Restore (aka Volume Snapshot) feature.
Intel 2nd gen SSD drives and beyond will be able to make use of this new feature in Win 7.
People who use Intel G2 SSDs should be aware that the ones already being sold do NOT have TRIM support. Intel is supposed to release a firmware update for the G2 drives which will add TRIM support to them, and the last I heard it was to be made available when Windows 7 is officially released (which, if true, means that the new firmware should be available in a few days' time).
Thanks for the info. I wish I could find a list of those drives which are TRIM capable (although as I understand it, as sminlal said, Intel G2 SSD's support TRIM but only with a firmware update). One I was looking at was GSkills' Falcon, which apparently has TRIM support. Would I be correct in assuming that the TRIM function would be as effective no matter who manufactured the drive and when is was designed? (ie: since TRIM is only officially supported by Win7 - in a few days time - would the 5 month old Falcon be less TRIMmed than a hypothetical GSkill SSD released in 6 months time?)
Also, running wiper.exe is the same as what TRIM does constantly in the background, right? So wipering will only be neccessary for those using any any OS other than Win7? (and Ubuntu 9.10 too, thanks, didn't know that!)
Would I be correct in assuming that the TRIM function would be as effective no matter who manufactured the drive and when is was designed?
In theory, yes. In practice, there's been a fairly wide variation in the effectiveness of different SSDs based on which controllers they have. Some SSDs have had a lot more performance degradation than others once all of the flash memory cells were overwritten - so IMHO it seems reasonable to expect that the effectiveness of how they handle TRIM is likely to vary as well.
One of the big reasons the Intel drives have commanded a price premium is because their proprietary controller seems to be the best overall performer even when the drive gets full. Therefore there's an expectation (in my mind at least) that their implementation of TRIM support will be a good one.