Intel releases SSD firmware and SSD Toolbox (Trim) for Windows 7
Intel has released the long-awaited trim feature for its newer 34nm SSDs (Intel X25-M and X18-M G2). For those of you with the older G1 series, there is no trim feature available.
Trim is enabled by installing the firmware update from Intel to bring all G2 SSDs to the 02HA firmware. http://www.intel.com/go/ssdfirmware. When updating, remember to take your system out of AHCI mode (but put it back after the update). The firmware tool cannot update drives in RAID.
You must also download the SSD Toolbox from Intel. It is recommended to run the trim tool daily for optimal performance (scheduled task) if you are using Windows XP or Vista. Windows 7 users will not need to run it as long as they have the drive in AHCI mode. http://www.intel.com/go/ssdtoolbox
The trim feature in Windows 7 helps to alleviate the ‘re-write’ penalty found in most SSDs. When you have a fresh SSD, unwritten blocks only require one operation to fill, whereas a previously full (even if the data is deleted) SSD requires two operations to fill a block.
What trim does is ‘zero’-out the SSD’s free space to return it to a factory fresh state. In a previous entry I described how to do this (but it required erasing the whole drive – not very useful).
Here are some benchmarks from PC Perspective outlining the IO improvements of the Intel X25-M with trim enabled. If you run a database or web server you’ll want to use the trim feature. Anandtech’s writeup is here (more technical).
UPDATE: I’ve just updated the firmware on my Thinkpad T400 with the 34nm G2 X25-M 80GB SSD. Everything went smoothly, the firmware update DID NOT erase any files. Before you do the firmware update, backup all of your files with the expectation that you will need to reinstall everything! Just because it worked for me, doesn’t mean it will work for you. Below are the screenshots step by step just in case you were curious. It took about 12 minutes from downloading the ISO to booting Windows 7 back up.