When Intel finally announced TRIM support for systems using RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10 setups, users with multiple SSDs and Intel motherboards couldn’t have been happier. Before this, TRIM was available for SSDs but only when single drives were used outside of a RAID environment.
The Rapid Storage Technology (RST) 11.2 driver update was rolled out to the public but the initial positive response was somewhat tempered when enthusiasts realized their X79 systems weren’t supported. Only P67, Z68, Z77, H67, H77, Q67 and Q77 chipsets are certified, which tends to leave some Intel’s highest paying clients (enthusiasts and power users) out in the cold so to speak. Older motherboards based on chipsets not mentioned above aren’t listed either, but that’s likely due to the complications and limited ROI involved with porting the newest driver structures over to EOL’d platforms.
So why is this a big deal? TRIM is a necessity for keeping SSDs with certain controllers in top shape, since without it performance can degrade and over time, calls to and from the storage subsystem will slow down to a crawl. With TRIM, a command is passed from the OS to the SSD, informing it to clean used blocks of NAND that contain data which has been marked as deleted by the OS.
In order to bypass the lack of TRIM, some manufacturers (like Crucial) have included a controller which incorporates enhanced Idle Time Garbage Collection (or ITGC) routines which strive to keep the SSD in a non-degraded state. The only catch with these routines is their use of idle time to clean house rather than using an on the fly approach like TRIM. Thus, users who don’t let their systems sit idle for long periods of time may never fully benefit from ITGC. In addition, some of these routines do run in the background (usually called Background Garbage Collection) and can handicap an SSD’s performance.
Unfortunately for anyone not using multiple ITGC or BGGC-supporting SSDs on X79, Intel’s decision to roll out TRIM to 1155 and 1156 platforms instead of enthusiast-level products may seem like a slap in the face. But not so fast.
Amidst the outrage from understandably miffed enthusiasts, we reached out to Intel and asked about their plans for X79 users. Their response should put some of you at ease:
Current RSTe drivers specific to X79 do NOT support TRIM on RAID 0, but an updated RST driver version coming soon will add support for X79 based systems, including the TRIM on RAID 0 feature. Note that on client 7-series chipsets (non X79), RST driver version 11.0 and beyond supports TRIM on RAID 0. -Intel
So it looks like the vociferous enthusiast community hasn’t been forgotten or tossed by the wayside as some have claimed. Rather, development of this critical update is still ongoing.
Intel’s feedback also brings up a good point: the RST development for the X79 chipset is on the RSTe (or Enterprise) branch rather than the standard RST development cycle used for other mass market chipsets. This process’s extra validation steps are likely the main reason why we have not seen an RSTe driver that supports RAID 0 yet.
We’re not sure when the update will be released though –nor would Intel give us a firm date- but it is coming “soon”. Once Hardware Canucks receives more information about a release date, an update will be posted.