The advantages of SSDs over traditional hard drives are widely known. Enthusiasts searching for higher levels of performance have long favored combining several slow platter-based drives together in a RAID array to better mask the latency issues, even while increasing overall read and write throughput rates. Extreme users would frequently go as far as to RAID a pair of Western Digital’s Raptor’s series drives together for the best performance available at the time.
As SSDs begin to make inroads into the enthusiast and performance-minded storage markets, prices still remain above that magical $2/GB mark and large SSD drive capacities are not easy to justify. One problem is that smaller capacity SSDs almost always offer lower performance than identical larger capacity models, but they are usually the most affordable. And that affordability is only because the actual drive capacity is fairly small, 30GB being one common size.
RAIDing a pair of small capacity SSDs together neatly solves both issues mentioned above, but it presented a new problem in that Intel’s RAID driver lacked support for TRIM. Without TRIM functionality to intervene, SSDs will lose performance as deleted data lingers within the flash cells, ensuring a loss of SSD performance over time as the drives became completely fragmented. That is, until now.
Intel has newly released drivers for Intel’s onboard RAID technology that will enable TRIM support to work in Intel Matrix RAID arrays. The standard requirements are that the operating system must already support TRIM (Windows 7 and some newer Linux distributions to date), all SSDs must already include support for TRIM at the firmware level, and the RAID array must obviously use Intel’s own controller before TRIM support can be enabled on a RAID array.
There is also one unusual caveat in that RAID 5 is not yet supported for TRIM, but we would suspect this to be corrected in future Intel Rapid Storage Technology driver updates. With Intel seemingly the first one to show TRIM can be enabled at the driver level we expect it will be only a matter of time before major RAID controller manufacturers and other chipset manufacturers to also implement RAID compatible TRIM in their own drivers.
Update: Turns out that Intel doesn’t support RAID with TRIM. More here.
Actuellement, l’un des freins à l’utilisation du RAID par les adeptes de SSD est sans aucun doute l’absence de possibilité de le cumuler avec la fameuse fonction TRIM, vitale pour garder ces unités de stockage au meilleur de leur forme. Intel qui avait déjà évoqué la possibilité d’utiliser conjointement ces deux avantages vient ainsi de publier un pilote qui permettrait d’activer la fonction TRIM, même si les SSD sont montés en grappes RAID.