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TRIM VS Garbage Collection (F120)


mjordan

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Hello guys. I've got a second Corsair F120 SSD and I would like to configure it in RAID 0 mode. I own an Asus P8P67 Deluxe. I have read P67 chipsets don't support TRIM in RAID 0 configurations, but Intel is working on a new major realese of their Intel Rapid Storage Technology driver that will support TRIM on RAID 0 configurations (eventually). The release that will bring this support is said to be IRST 11.5

 

I generally have very important data on my disks, I can't afford to wipe disks regularly and even if I do regular backups, it is unlikely I will accept a format for no reason. So, before I configure this second SSD in RAID 0, I have some questions for you.

 

1) When Asus update their BIOS, I notice they update the version of the OPROM firmware. So, let's assume Intel releases IRST 11.5 tomorrow, what should I do? Will it work out of the box or should I wait for a corresponding OPROM release from Asus? I really want TRIM on my SSDs...

2) Garbage collection: I have been told that in the cases TRIM is not supported, garbage collection will be used. How efficient it is in preserving performance compared to TRIM? I'm wondering if there is a way to see if garbage collection is working.

3) Would you advice me to configure this second disk in RAID 0 even without the TRIM support? I see many people that uses F120 disks in a RAID 0 configuration but I'm worried for the long time period. With the current single disk configuration (TRIM enabled), I have no performance degradation at all (almost 1 year of usage and performance are still shiny).

 

Thank you in advance for your eventual answers.

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1. Not sure, If Intel was to release IRST 11.5 then there would probably be a OPROM update as well.

 

2. Garbage collection is used with TRIM and without TRIM. It is only a SATA command, Not the performance preserver. TRIM only sends out a message to inform the controller that the file on the block is deleted and the controller can wipe the block which has the deleted file. It just basically saves the controllers time verifying that the file is already deleted. There is no way to see if Garbage collection is working.

 

3. In my opinion. Yes, you should create a RAID array. Once you have created the array and installed Windows. Run a ATTO benchmark and save it on your HD so if you feel the speed is slower you can run another ATTO benchmark and compare it to the one you had done before.

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Hello guys. I've got a second Corsair F120 SSD and I would like to configure it in RAID 0 mode. I own an Asus P8P67 Deluxe. I have read P67 chipsets don't support TRIM in RAID 0 configurations, but Intel is working on a new major realese of their Intel Rapid Storage Technology driver that will support TRIM on RAID 0 configurations (eventually). The release that will bring this support is said to be IRST 11.5

 

I generally have very important data on my disks, I can't afford to wipe disks regularly and even if I do regular backups, it is unlikely I will accept a format for no reason. So, before I configure this second SSD in RAID 0, I have some questions for you.

 

1) When Asus update their BIOS, I notice they update the version of the OPROM firmware. So, let's assume Intel releases IRST 11.5 tomorrow, what should I do? Will it work out of the box or should I wait for a corresponding OPROM release from Asus? I really want TRIM on my SSDs...

2) Garbage collection: I have been told that in the cases TRIM is not supported, garbage collection will be used. How efficient it is in preserving performance compared to TRIM? I'm wondering if there is a way to see if garbage collection is working.

3) Would you advice me to configure this second disk in RAID 0 even without the TRIM support? I see many people that uses F120 disks in a RAID 0 configuration but I'm worried for the long time period. With the current single disk configuration (TRIM enabled), I have no performance degradation at all (almost 1 year of usage and performance are still shiny).

 

Thank you in advance for your eventual answers.

 

First some clarifications, which applies specifically to Intel (and generally to AMD, Marvell, etc) chipsets and their RST (or Matrix) RAID driver software. The TRIM "command" is not passed to SSDs that are part of a RAID array (of any type, ie, 0, 1, 5, etc) regardless of the SATA interface chipset. So it's not just the P67 chipset, it's all chipsets.

 

Files stored in a RAID array of any type of drive, SSD or HDD, are not directly accessed by the Windows NTFS file system. The LBA's (Logical Block Address) of files known to Windows does not correspond to the actual locations of files stored in a RAID array, since for example with RAID 0, a file is split into multiple parts and those pieces are stored among the drives comprising the RAID array. This is one reason that TRIM does not work with SSDs in RAID arrays, since it is difficult (or simply never implemented, but IMO, both) to "clean up" the individual pieces of a deleted file stored across multiple SSDs. The more you understand the internal functioning of SSDs, the better you will understand that it isn't a trivial task to accomplish that.

 

Since TRIM commands cannot accomplish their intended purpose on deleted files stored in a RAID array, given the current RAID driver software, TRIM commands are simply not passed to or processed for application on files in a RAID array. That apparently will change with an upcoming version of the Intel RST (aka, IRST) driver, but only for files stored in RAID 0 arrays.

 

If the SATA mode of a board's Intel chipset is set to RAID (which requires the RST driver be installed), and a SSD is connected to that SATA interface, but is not part of a RAID array (normal, independent NTFS drive) then the TRIM command will reach the SSD and function normally. RAID mode supplies all the functions that AHCI mode provides, so using individual SSDs (ie, not part of a RAID array) in RAID mode is not a problem or compromise, and TRIM is applied to those SSDs.

 

To answer your questions, yes the update of the OPROM for the IRST driver is usually done in a BIOS/UEFI update. Will an OPROM update be needed for the IRST driver with RAID 0 TRIM support? Unknown at this point. If the OPROM must be updated, then releasing the new IRST driver without it would accomplish nothing of course. Since most if not all Intel based mother boards would need the new OPROM, mother board manufactures should be preparing BIOS/UEFI updates for their products with the OPROM supplied by Intel. I have heard of OPROM updates that are not part of a BIOS update, but they are unusual and to have one that will work with all chipsets and the UEFI/BIOS of all boards seems unlikely, IMO. Actually, the IRST OPROM is not updated for every IRST update, and not updated in the majority of UEFI/BIOS updates. The last necessary IRST OPROM update I am aware of was for the ISRT (Intel Smart Response Technology, SSD caching) feature available on boards with the Intel Z68 chipset. That update may have simply been a change in the OPROM UI for configuring ISRT, and adding supporting data. Since TRIM commands are created and sent by the Windows NTFS file system, and no configuration is necessary for TRIM, a new OPROM may not be necessary. I hope not, but if it is then mother board manufactures must be working over time getting that update ready.

 

Garbage Collection (GC) operations are built into all SSDs firmware that have been manufactured in at least the last year, and most likely only the oldest, first generation SSDs may not have it. Garbage collection is always on or active in a SSD, and cannot be turned on or off directly by the user. It is independent of TRIM and has no knowledge of TRIM. It's operation varies between manufactures, some constantly "clean up" after the user, and others wait until there is more work to do. While it's operation is mysterious, it is often said to work when the PC/SSD is idle. How do we know if it is working? The same way we know TRIM is working, we don't. The only way to know presently is to assume it is if our SSD's performance does not deteriorate, just like with TRIM.

 

I use SSDs in RAID 0, and they are performing fine, although I have done that only for about two months. I have not read about terrible performance issues with SSDs in RAID 0 over time. Several very high-end All-In-One PC manufactures sell PC with SSDs in RAID 0 (one uses eight 120GB SSDs in RAID 0! For only $11k) which don't have TRIM, so they are confident about them. The usual approach to preserve performance is the same as with single SSDs, don't fill them to capacity with data, or create an unallocated or unused partition that is 7 - 10% of the total capacity as a spare area for the SSDs firmware and GC to use to maintain performance. Hopefully we will have an IRST driver that supports TRIM in the next year (and works, I can only imagine all the "how do I know if TRIM is working" questions) so we will not have any anxiety over being TRIM-less in RAID 0.

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