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OCZ, Indilinx Firmware Makes SSDs Faster

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 47 comments

This new SSD firmware collects garbage. What does your HDD do for you?

Most SSDs are wicked fast and an appreciable upgrade to any system. The thing about SSDs – at least up to this point – is that performance of SSDs can degrade over time due to the way that data is written to NAND memory.

For drives that support it, Windows 7 is able to issue the TRIM command, which aims to cut down on performance degradation from multiple file write and and rewrite operations. Not only does TRIM improve performance, but it also is able to reduce drive wear and prolong life. Of course, this requires intervention by the OS. Now OCZ and Indilinx have come up with a performance-preserving solution that operates straight off the hardware thanks to a new firmware.

A beta firmware for the OCZ Vertex line (version 1585) featured something called "background garbage collection." What the SSD does it that it services and reorganizes itself (collecting garbage) during idle time to help return the drive to its original fresh-out-of-the-box performance levels.

Early tests of this firmware, courtesy of PC Perspective and Hot Hardware, show that just a few minutes of idle is able to noticeably improve performance. After an hour of idle, the OCZ Vertex was restored to performance levels comparable to the new drive.

The beta firmware was far from final, as it did contain bugs that hindered file copy speed, but OCZ and Indilinx are already working on a new version that also supports ATA8 ACS2 TRIM.

SSDs are looking sweeter than ever. Now all we need is a new firmware that will do something about the price tags.

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  • 6 Hide
    Hanin33 , August 10, 2009 8:54 PM
    amen! firmware that lowers prices FTW!
  • 5 Hide
    eodeo , August 10, 2009 8:58 PM
    firmware about the price tags :D 

    i'll drink to that!
  • 5 Hide
    gwolfman , August 10, 2009 9:01 PM
    Any news on full TRIM support? This sounds like a hardware-based wiper instead of the software one made available.
  • Display all 47 comments.
  • -1 Hide
    simplyderp , August 10, 2009 9:14 PM
    What's this difference between this and the TRIM utility that has been available for months on OCZ forums and takes less than 10 seconds to complete?
  • -8 Hide
    simplyderp , August 10, 2009 9:15 PM
    What's this difference between this and the TRIM utility that has been available for months on OCZ forums and takes less than 10 seconds to complete?
  • 8 Hide
    Hellbound , August 10, 2009 9:16 PM
    Yes, the only thing keeping me from purchasing one is the price tag.
  • 7 Hide
    lifelesspoet , August 10, 2009 9:20 PM
    Price and capacity are the most obvious issues with ssd's, however I would buy one today despite the GB/$ if the technology didn't seem so unrefined. Every week I hear of new advancements in ssd tech. Data rot, read/write cycles, write perfomance, performance degration are the biggest issues to me.
    I still think they make decent alternatives when used for boot drives and low power computers.
  • 7 Hide
    Anonymous , August 10, 2009 9:43 PM
    People need to stop complaining about SSD prices. It has to do with NAND production cost.
    Upgrading your 7200rpm C: drive to an SSD is probably the most cost effective hardware upgrade for a lot of people right now.
  • -1 Hide
    duckmanx88 , August 10, 2009 11:01 PM
    welp the only bad thing i ever heard about SSD's was their degrading performance but soon that'll go away it seems. and I can see why people are upset about the price/GB but one SSD's are hardly mainstream yet and 2) getting a smaller 64GB would be fine for a lot of people and all other media files could just be place on another internal/external hard drive.
  • -1 Hide
    Mr_Man , August 10, 2009 11:57 PM
    A dozen Linux coders probably just lost their pet project. Oh well, firmware fixes are almost always better than OS workarounds.
  • -1 Hide
    doomtomb , August 11, 2009 12:12 AM
    OCZ is certainly driving the innovation behind SSDs and I applaud them for that. Now if only the price could come down...
  • -1 Hide
    zehpavora , August 11, 2009 12:41 AM
    Apart from the prices of those things, the wear level of the cells was the only thing holding me back. But let´s be serious: SSDs got to be better. We have a significant performance level, however, to get the good SSDs for gaming, for example (1 gb), you still have to have 2000 bucks or something in this range. I want more than a faster OS, I want that loading screens for offline games cease to exist. Even so, I´m not rich to pay for this kind of performance nowadays.
  • -1 Hide
    Gin Fushicho , August 11, 2009 2:15 AM
    Damn , thats nice , but now I need money, or just to wait.
  • -1 Hide
    ubernoobie , August 11, 2009 2:15 AM
    if only it can collect my garbage too :( 
  • -1 Hide
    redgarl , August 11, 2009 2:44 AM
    Again? Dear God, OCZ are in fire with their SSDs...
  • -1 Hide
    randomizer , August 11, 2009 5:24 AM
    I know what I will do as soon as my Vertex arrives.
  • -1 Hide
    anamaniac , August 11, 2009 7:10 AM
    Still looking at Intel SSDs myself.
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , August 11, 2009 7:39 AM
    How does this work? For the SSD to know which sectors aren't in use it would have to contain a file system implementation in firmware. Does it only work with ntfs and fat32?

    Also, this seems unnecessary once trim is supported.
  • -1 Hide
    back_by_demand , August 11, 2009 8:47 AM
    What is the virtue of saving up the large amount of money required to buy an SSD?

    End user sees SSD on website, thinks "thats pretty sweet", but needs 2 months to put cash aside.
    2 months pass and user looks back on website and sees that SSD technology has leapt up to higher standards, making the drive he saw seem old.
    User now is stuck in no-mans land. Does he buy the old drive knowing there is one much better for only a few dollars more? Does he wait another 2 months because SSDs will be even better again?

    Computer users have been formed into a level of acceptance when it come to performance updates, increases in CPU speed and performance for example, when SSD technology moves so much faster it confuses the customer. Link this with prohibitive pricing, even at entry level, makes users want to stay away.

    Drop prices, not just a small amount but significantly, within cost per GB levels near HDD prices and users will flock to the technology en-masse. Halve the cost right now and see sales more than double.
  • -1 Hide
    randomizer , August 11, 2009 10:41 AM
    Double the sales isn't much good if you're not covering your costs.
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