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LSI SandForce 5 Series SSD Firmware - TRIM Lost and Found, Performance Investigated

By: Chris Ramseyer | Editorials in Storage | Posted: Aug 1, 2012 1:24 pm
Manufacturer: LSI SandForce

TRIM arrives on 5-Series Code - But you have to wait for it




As you can imagine, with so many drives in for review we've been all over the next firmware release. Last week we learned from a drive manufacturer that new firmware was given to manufacturers, but it had to be tested first in validation labs. As you can imagine I had quite the four letter filled reply for validation testing this time around. It didn't help much though, but here we are a week later and the TRIM is fixed, the firmware code is now in my hands, from four different manufactures so far, all of it arriving in the last four hours.



I want it and I want it NOW


While I'm sure everyone with a SandForce based SSD wants to get their hands on working TRIM, you will have to wait for it "just two more weeks." At first, we were told there was a compatibility issue with 5.0.3 and an unnamed notebook chipset, but then that was redacted from the unnamed manufacturer. We were told and later confirmed that a new release, 5.0.4 was already in the oven. We're not sure what 5.0.4 brings with it, but some of the manufacturers stated they are going to wait for 5.0.4 to come out before releasing TRIM fixing code to their support download pages.


That said, we've heard from a few other manufactures and they plan on releasing 5.0.3 as soon as they finish their validation.



When Doing Wrong is the Only Right




In our reviews we talk specifically about how one company might have a solid track record with firmware releases. Some companies do a really good job and release code very quickly, but others might take months to release new code. In this case, one company stood out for NOT releasing firmware with broken TRIM, which we know of. OCZ Technology never did anything with 5.0.1 or 5.0.2. If another company should be on this list we apologize, but we tried to cover all of the companies we work with in the review cycle.


So, what about everyone else? That is a complicated issue, but I'll take the bait. Besides breaking TRIM, the 5 Series code also included the use of new flash. If a company wanted to use 24nm Toggle Mode flash, it had to go with the updated code to make it happen.


Series 5 firmware also brought with it a massive performance increase, at least until the drive started to slow down from normal use. With Series 5, SandForce based drives were able to outperform those based on Marvell controllers in PCMark Vantage when both drives were void of data, the way most reviewers test SSDs. The temptation was just too great for manufacturers to overcome and Series 5 was quickly posted to the support pages of most Team SandForce manufacturers. It should be said that not all of them were aware of the TRIM issue either... but some of them were aware of it.

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