Intel firmware fixes SSD performance issues

According to an article by TechSpot, Intel has released a firmware update for two of its Solid State Drives that were suffering from performance issues. The firmware update addresses some internal fragmentation issues, which resulted in writing speeds dropping significantly in some cases. This fragmentation meant that the performance of the drives would decrease with time.

The firmware update only applies to the Intel X18-M and X25-M SSDs, and can be installed by using the tools provided by Intel on their website. According to the site, the firmware includes several more optimizations, on top of the issue fix. PC Perspective, who picked up on the issues in the first place, and who received the new firmware in advance, reported significant performance increases, noting that the drive was now much closer to the 80MB/s write speed it was supposed to have, as opposed to the 25-30 MB/s speeds it would occasionally drop to under certain circumstances that the firmware claims to fix.

The update requires the user to burn the firmware update tools provided by Intel to a disk, and then flash the drive from it. The tools, found here, can be used for Windows, Mac and Linux systems. Needless to say, backing up data from the drives is highly recommended before attempting the update.

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Wait a minute. I thought SSD's didn't suffer from fragmentation because there is no disk, so random reads and writes should be almost instantaneous. Is this a different type of frag?

Yes that is true but this is talking about writing speeds not read speeds.

Without getting into a bunch of detail, every time something is written to a SSD (or flash drive) most of the time data must first be copied, then erased, then rewritten with the new data. Its kind of redundant but it has to do with how flash technology is set up.

Its kind of like your honeycomb cereal. Data can be stored in each of the little cells in the honeycomb but data can only be erased or changed by erasing the WHOLE HONEYCOMB, not individual cells at a time. Data can be written to each cell at a time, but erasing requires dumping the whole honeycomb.

So imagine i have a honeycomb with 5 spots in it, and 3 are taken up. In the first I have a document, taking up 1 space. But i want to add something to the first document, increasing its size to 2 spots and rewriting all of its data. Sure this honeycomb can accommodate the increased size, but I CANNOT ERASE JUST THE 1 SPOT. I must erase ALL OF IT, THE ENTIRE HONEYCOMB. So if i have a pic in spot 3, that has to go to. The honeycomb has to be copied to a temp spot in memory, then have its files changed, then rewrite all the data back to the honeycomb.

So i am guessing that what is happening is with these SSD's is that data is being written all over the place, in honeycombs everywhere, which should be fine at first, but once a bunch of honeycombs have bits and pieces in them, changing those bits and pieces becomes tedious with lots of read and writes happening, just to change a few files.

short and sweet: SSD degrade fairly fast with the more data they have to hold. There are complicated ways around this but those also only work for a while.

The issues where unbearable... we were unable to use Outlook because of the 10 + second delay in moving from folder to folder (Exchange 2003). After a month + we forced the vendor to swap us with standard hd's.