Kingston Technology, a major player in the consumer SSD segment, has recently released a new version of LSI/SandForce’s Series 5 firmware for their Hyper x/Hyper X 3K drives. The new 5.0.3 firmware apparently fixes the TRIM functionality, which was not working,in its entirety, in previous versions. Hopefully, Kingston will be only the first of many to adopt this crucial fix for their products. Expect to see a slew of related announcements in the coming weeks and months.
Well, I guess we finally get to have our cake and eat it too, and I have to say, LSI/SandForce’s Series 5 firmware is about as sweet as it comes. It’s true, you can’t ask for much more than improved performance across the board, especially when the only barrier to entry is a simple firmware flash. There has to be a fly in the ointment, right? We’ll unfortunately, in this case, there was an issue, in the form of broken TRIM support where TRIM, although still functioning, was found not to be working at its full capability. If you need a refresher course on how TRIM works, I suggest you take a look at this article. The short version is that the OS has inside info on stored data which is no longer valid, and directs the SSD to erase certain blocks ahead of time, which has the effect of simplifying subsequent write operations. Because the SSD doesn’t have to erase old data before writes, performance is improved, in many cases quite substantially.
With the release of the new Series 5 firmware, many new drives no longer had full TRIM functionality due to a bug in the software, and because of this, a lot of the associated performance benefits were ameliorated. This was a shame because the new firmware really did take performance to new heights. Luckily, Kingston has finally come to the rescue and released LSI/SandForces’ brand new 5.0.3 firmware, which returns TRIM to full functionality and retains the performance of previous releases. This is excellent news for those in the market for an LSI/SandForce based SSD, especially if they were putting off their purchase until the problems were resolved. Now potential buyers can rest easy in the knowledge that they will be getting their hands on some of the fastest SSDs in the world, available with all the TRIMmings.
While this is definitely a happy ending of sorts, I can’t help but think that this type of issue should be able to be avoided at this point. Indeed, a feature as important as TRIM is one of the things most consumers take for granted, and it being non-functional right out of the gate with a new firmware release doesn’t instill a lot of confidence. That said, the issue was fixed relatively quickly and these types of hiccups really are a small price to pay to have what are among the highest performing SSDs in the industry. I just hope validation issues such as this become less frequent as time goes on. Fortunately, SandForce now has LSI, along with all their resources, to back them up, so the situation should only get better from here. Being the best isn’t always easy, and sometimes a focus on top notch performance means having to deal with tedious bugs. I’m just glad we no longer have to trade one for the other.
It’s nice having the best of both worlds.