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Windows 7 and Optimization for Solid State Drives

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 22 comments

Got an SSD? Good. Got an SSD and Windows 7? Even better.

Solid state drives are in our computing futures. While prices right now make them mostly impractical for those of us without unlimited cash cheat codes, prices will fall and we’ll be buying more of them instead of the standard magnetic, spinning hard disk drives.

Perhaps by the time that SSDs are affordable, we’ll still be using Windows 7 (which means within the next few years). Thankfully, Microsoft has included several features in Windows 7 that accounts for the presence of an SSD.

“Windows 7 tends to perform well on today’s SSDs, in part, because we made many engineering changes to reduce the frequency of writes and flushes. This benefits traditional HDDs as well, but is particularly helpful on today’s SSDs,” wrote Michael Fortin, one of Microsoft's Distinguished Engineers, in the Engineering Windows 7 blog.

When a solid state drive is present, Windows 7 will disable disk defragmentation, Superfetch, ReadyBoost, as well as boot and application launch prefetching.

“These technologies were all designed to improve performance on traditional HDDs, where random read performance could easily be a major bottleneck,” explained Fortin.  

One of the more notable advancements in Windows 7 is support for the Trim command. The reason for the command deals strictly with the way that data is written to NAND memory. For an exceptional explanation of why Trim is important, check out AnandTech’s article on the topic.

Fortin detailed how Trim will work in the upcoming OS:

“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.”

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  • 12 Hide
    burnley14 , May 6, 2009 2:05 AM
    I wish I knew those unlimited cash cheat codes . . .
Other Comments
  • 0 Hide
    krazyderek , May 6, 2009 1:08 AM
    So is this indeed a feature that is active now in RC 1 or win7? And if so, is it completely automatic and auto detected?
  • 4 Hide
    darkguset , May 6, 2009 1:25 AM
    "When a solid state drive is present, Windows 7 will disable disk defragmentation, Superfetch, ReadyBoost, as well as boot and application launch prefetching."

    Does that mean that if you have a mix of HDDs and SSDs, those features will be completely disabled or just disabled on the SSD drives? It is not quite clear on that.
  • 0 Hide
    crisisavatar , May 6, 2009 1:32 AM
    glad to hear this
  • 4 Hide
    solymnar , May 6, 2009 1:55 AM
    Total speculation on my part but since windows incarnation of defrag, etc. does it per hard drive I would "guess" that it will also turns off such things and enables this "trim" operation per hard drive as well.
  • 1 Hide
    eklipz330 , May 6, 2009 1:58 AM
    cant wait for some benchmark comparisons
  • 12 Hide
    burnley14 , May 6, 2009 2:05 AM
    I wish I knew those unlimited cash cheat codes . . .
  • 0 Hide
    squarewheel , May 6, 2009 2:38 AM
    Say "dncashman", and then press space for money!

    Bonus points if you get the reference.
  • 0 Hide
    dimaf1985 , May 6, 2009 3:12 AM
    shake it baby
  • -3 Hide
    apache_lives , May 6, 2009 7:57 AM
    "what are you, some bottom feeding scum sucking algae eater?"
    "dam, im looking good"
    "dam, your ugly"
    "dont have time to play with my self"

    gawd i love the classic old days - favourite game of all time for me
  • 0 Hide
    jacobdrj , May 6, 2009 12:52 PM
    Last night I was JUST about to install W7RC on my TX2500Z. I got distracted, and opted to set up a Media Computer on the same platform. Vista worked fine, but W7RC needed some tweaking. Thank you nVidia for posting W7 drivers! So far, it seems a RAID-0 array of 3 36GB 1st generation Raptors is in fact slower than my 1 OCZ Vertex 60GB SSD at the installation of Windows (Vista Ultimate x32 or W7RC)
  • -4 Hide
    bill gates is your daddy , May 6, 2009 1:32 PM
    Why does it sound like WIN 7 is going to be a decent piece of software? Correct me if I am wrong but we are talking about the same company that created Vista?
  • 0 Hide
    igot1forya , May 6, 2009 1:43 PM
    squarewheelSay "dncashman", and then press space for money!Bonus points if you get the reference.


    Three words... "Shake it Baby!" :) 
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , May 6, 2009 1:56 PM
    I have a mixture of ssd and traditional disks in my win7 beta desktop. according to defrag program, it has never been run on the ssd and has run as a scheduled job on the trad disks. This is not something that I have set up so I guess it is already implemented on a per disk basis
  • 1 Hide
    jacobdrj , May 6, 2009 2:08 PM
    Most people won't get it without a "... chew bubblegum, and I'm all out of gum..." quote.
  • -1 Hide
    Grims , May 6, 2009 4:57 PM
    Wouldn't superfetch still be useful on SSDs? Memory is still many times faster than even the fastest SSD.
  • 0 Hide
    blackened144 , May 6, 2009 5:09 PM
    When I first got my 30gb Vertex drives the other week I installed Win7 64bit on the ssd raid0 array. It did not do the above tweaks, I had to do them all manually. I think this is because the raid controller was sending the array information to the OS and the OS doesnt see it as an "SSD" array. Anyway, I had a few little problems and after 4 days I ended up formatting and installing Vista 64bit. Its running MUCH better on Vista. I might try the RC of Win7 in a few weeks but the Beta I had previously ran better on my traditional rotating hdd.
  • 0 Hide
    backbydemand , September 11, 2009 10:03 AM
    bill gates is your daddyWhy does it sound like WIN 7 is going to be a decent piece of software? Correct me if I am wrong but we are talking about the same company that created Vista?


    OK, by that reasoning let's not buy German cars because, correct me if i'm wrong, isn't that the same country that started WW2?
  • 0 Hide
    backbydemand , September 11, 2009 10:15 AM
    I have put a new SSD in my rig, it has the OS (Win 7 v7600) and most programs on it and 2 other HDD's.

    The defrag is not set for automatic for any of the drives but I can put a scheduler on for the HDD's and miss out the SSD. Superfetch and Readyboost are not enabled. All is looking pretty sweet.

    Also I have 8Gb of DDR3 so I have reduced the swapfile size to 16mb before disabling it, so no swap file at all. I am getting boot times between 20 and 23 seconds consistent.
  • 0 Hide
    bc3tech , September 11, 2009 8:44 PM
    I have an SSD in my Asus EeePC 1000 and can say the Superfetch IS enabled on my Win7 installation, defrag IS allowed (though i have not dared to click it, the button is enabled), and Readyboost IS able to be done on an external SDHC card (not sure if this is expected or not)

    so i'm not sure what's up w/ the Asus EeePC's Phison SSDs, but Windows 7 certainly doesn't seem to do what's been said here.
  • 0 Hide
    subarooster , May 9, 2010 8:30 PM
    Windows 7 OS to install on SSD as boot drive or system drive, and have all user files and folders, and maybe some or all program files to install or reside on the 2nd drive normal hard drive
    How do you make SSD your primary drive and all data and files on your second hard drive normal spinner hard drive with out registry edits etc
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