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Old 01-27-2013, 12:32 PM   #1
Special K
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Default using an SSD without AHCI

I have a Dell E1405 laptop from 2006 that I was thinking about upgrading. It doesn't support AHCI. Given that, would I still see a significant real-world performance jump going from the stock 5400 RPM SATA drive to a new SSD?

I've done a few searches and found conflicting results. I did see this article:

http://benchmarkreviews.com/index.ph...1&limitstart=3

which shows that for the Seq and 4K read/write tests, the difference between AHCI and IDE is not substantial. On the other hand, the 4K-64Thrd benchmark shows a huge improvement between AHCI and IDE. I suppose the question is: how well does the 4K-64Thrd benchmark reflect a real world scenario of typical home PC tasks: office work, web browsing, media player, copying files, etc.?

Should I go with an SSD, or save some money and just get a new 7200 RPM SATA drive?
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Old 01-27-2013, 12:51 PM   #2
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I did the same thing with my 2006 inspiron. HUGE performance increase. Get a cheaper drive though as you won't be wasting money on performance you wont see.
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Old 01-27-2013, 12:56 PM   #3
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here's another AHCI question.
For Intel Builds, Is it better to use the AHCI driver included as part of the Chipset Driver, or to load the "F6"or RST type driver?
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Old 01-27-2013, 12:56 PM   #4
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The biggest benefits of an SSD over a HDD are access times, latency and random reading. None of these 3 are affected by AHCI or "IDE" mode.

4k-64 is a largely pointless benchmark. Because an SSD can service an IO request so quickly compared to a HDD, queue depth for an average workload rarely exceeds 1. 4k-64 are random reads with a very high queue depth which you would not see under a normal workload.

In the answer to your question, you will still receive 95% of the benefits of an SSD and it will be an enormous improvement over the existing HDD.
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Old 01-27-2013, 01:00 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RU482 View Post
here's another AHCI question.
For Intel Builds, Is it better to use the AHCI driver included as part of the Chipset Driver, or to load the "F6" type driver?
I believe you are getting two things confused. On an Intel platform you need to install the Chipset driver and also the Rapid Storage Technology driver. The F6 driver is part of RST and is primarily targeted towards RAID users who need a RAID driver using Windows setup. You can install it even if you are just in AHCI but unless you install the RST package after finishing installing Windows you will not get maximum performance from the drive.

I did an experiment once where I did a fresh install of Windows with just the F6 driver and benchmarked it. I then installed the RST package and re-benched. The scores were much higher for the run with RST installed.
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Old 01-27-2013, 01:02 PM   #6
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I did the same thing with my 2006 inspiron. HUGE performance increase. Get a cheaper drive though as you won't be wasting money on performance you wont see.
How do I determine what drive read/write speeds would be "too fast" for my current setup? My PC supports SATA 1.5 Gbits/s.

I also think I would need to get a drive that has a manufacturer utility for garbage collection, as this PC is only running Windows XP and therefore can't use TRIM. My understanding is that not every manufacturer provides a garbage collection utility.
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Old 01-27-2013, 01:05 PM   #7
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No SSD can be too fast for 1.5Gb/s because the drive will just run at those speeds.

If you get an Intel or Samsung SSD they both come with toolbox utilities which will allow you to manually run the TRIM command.

All SSDs use garbage collection which is the most important feature for keeping performance high. If the machine is a very light duty machine then you can probably live without TRIM but if it is a medium duty or higher machine I would recommend an Intel or Samsung so you can use a toolbox to TRIM the drive.
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Old 01-27-2013, 01:13 PM   #8
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No SSD can be too fast for 1.5Gb/s because the drive will just run at those speeds.
No, what I mean is:

I don't want to pay for drive performance I can't use. If I look at this chart here:

http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/s...Read,2784.html

There's no reason to pay for the top drive if I won't get those performance numbers anyway due to my 1.5 Gb/s SATA interface.

Of the drives listed in that benchmark, is there any way to tell which ones I would be able to see the full performance speed/benefit from, given that I'm only running on a SATA 1.5 Gb/s interface?
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Old 01-27-2013, 01:26 PM   #9
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SATA 1.5Gb/s means it has a maximum throughput of 150MB/s, give or a take a little room for overhead. Those benchmark scores are for a 4k random read test with the fastest driver scoring around 35MB/s. Random reading will not be affected by a 1.5GB/s cap. The only metric which will hit your ceiling will be the sequential read and maybe write. These are important but not massively as people do not move files around their SSD or from/to another SSD at >150MB/s speeds for a long enough period of time to notice the increase over 150MB/s.

I understand where you are coming from, but all modern drives will saturate your 1.5Gb/s cap sequentially but none of them will randomly.
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Old 01-27-2013, 01:56 PM   #10
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I have E1505 laptop, which is of similar specs. Huge improvement, it gives laptop few more years of use. Only thing it chokes now are flash intensive web site, since CPU is outdated.

BTW maximum read speed I have seen is closer to 133MB/s, not 150.
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Old 01-27-2013, 02:16 PM   #11
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I believe you are getting two things confused. On an Intel platform you need to install the Chipset driver and also the Rapid Storage Technology driver. The F6 driver is part of RST and is primarily targeted towards RAID users who need a RAID driver using Windows setup. You can install it even if you are just in AHCI but unless you install the RST package after finishing installing Windows you will not get maximum performance from the drive.

I did an experiment once where I did a fresh install of Windows with just the F6 driver and benchmarked it. I then installed the RST package and re-benched. The scores were much higher for the run with RST installed.
After I install the chipset drivers, I go in Device manager to IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers, and see that an AHCI driver has been installed (not the generic MS AHCI driver, but an Intel Driver. So, what advantage is there to installing RST when an Intel AHCI driver is already there?
*EDIT-duh, just re-read your post, and saw the comment about performance improvement. I'll try running benchmarks before installing Chipset driver, after installing chipset driver, and after installing RST to see the difference. thanks

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Old 01-27-2013, 03:14 PM   #12
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There's no reason to pay for the top drive if I won't get those performance numbers anyway due to my 1.5 Gb/s SATA interface.

Of the drives listed in that benchmark, is there any way to tell which ones I would be able to see the full performance speed/benefit from, given that I'm only running on a SATA 1.5 Gb/s interface?
Get one of the Intel SATA2 X25-M G2 drives. TD has one for $89.99 AR, a 160GB one.
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Old 01-27-2013, 08:44 PM   #13
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No SSD can be too fast for 1.5Gb/s because the drive will just run at those speeds.

If you get an Intel or Samsung SSD they both come with toolbox utilities which will allow you to manually run the TRIM command.

All SSDs use garbage collection which is the most important feature for keeping performance high. If the machine is a very light duty machine then you can probably live without TRIM but if it is a medium duty or higher machine I would recommend an Intel or Samsung so you can use a toolbox to TRIM the drive.
What happens if you don't use an Intel or Samsung drive and you aren't running Windows 7 and therefore can't use TRIM? Does the SSD then have no garbage collection whatsoever?

I was reading the wiki article on TRIM and came across this:

a TRIM command allows an operating system to inform a solid-state drive (SSD) which blocks of data are no longer considered in use and can be wiped internally.

Do the Samsung/Intel SSD utilities somehow intercept this information from the OS and pass it along to the SSD?

EDIT: Just saw your post in this thread:

http://forums.anandtech.com/showthread.php?t=2285361

Also this:

http://www.samsung.com/us/support/ow...t/MZ-5PA128/US

Apparently the Samsung magician utility does enable TRIM under XP.

Last edited by Special K; 01-27-2013 at 08:57 PM.
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Old 01-27-2013, 08:44 PM   #14
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How do I determine what drive read/write speeds would be "too fast" for my current setup? My PC supports SATA 1.5 Gbits/s.

I also think I would need to get a drive that has a manufacturer utility for garbage collection, as this PC is only running Windows XP and therefore can't use TRIM. My understanding is that not every manufacturer provides a garbage collection utility.

I was responding on my phone before and didn't have time/patience to type a full response. I have a 2006 Dell 620m, same as the Inspiron 1410 or whatever the number is I believe. Anyway it was getting kind of hard to use from a drive latency point of view as I'd been using SSD's in my other computers. I found a good deal on an Intel 330 and moved the Intel 320 120GB from my desktop into my Dell laptop.

First of all the Acronis clone application didn't work with this system. It worked perfectly with my other two systems but not this one. I had to load reload windows and I think the reason is because you can't actually get into the Dell bios and adjust the drive parameters so if they don't "line up" it just won't boot.

So I reloaded Windows and everything was great. The Intel 320 is not a fast drive so it was a good match for the old Dell. And to tell you the truth it's perhaps a tiny bit faster opening programs than my main rig in the sig below.

So when I say don't waste money on performance you won't see, you will be limited by the SATA II interface of your Dell laptop, you will be limited by the IDE interface, and you will be limited by the old chipset and CPU. I suggest buying a decent mid-tier SSD. Something reliable and cheap. Basically the best deal you can find on a solid name brand that is reliable. Just don't go out and buy a Samsung 840 Pro or a Vector!

The addition of the SSD will instantly bring your laptop up to date as those Core2Duo's are still rocking chips.
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Old 01-27-2013, 08:47 PM   #15
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I was responding on my phone before and didn't have time/patience to type a full response. I have a 2006 Dell 620m, same as the Inspiron 1410 or whatever the number is I believe. Anyway it was getting kind of hard to use from a drive latency point of view as I'd been using SSD's in my other computers. I found a good deal on an Intel 330 and moved the Intel 320 120GB from my desktop into my Dell laptop.

First of all the Acronis clone application didn't work with this system. It worked perfectly with my other two systems but not this one. I had to load reload windows and I think the reason is because you can't actually get into the Dell bios and adjust the drive parameters so if they don't "line up" it just won't boot.

So I reloaded Windows and everything was great. The Intel 320 is not a fast drive so it was a good match for the old Dell. And to tell you the truth it's perhaps a tiny bit faster opening programs than my main rig in the sig below.

So when I say don't waste money on performance you won't see, you will be limited by the SATA II interface of your Dell laptop, you will be limited by the IDE interface, and you will be limited by the old chipset and CPU. I suggest buying a decent mid-tier SSD. Something reliable and cheap. Basically the best deal you can find on a solid name brand that is reliable. Just don't go out and buy a Samsung 840 Pro or a Vector!

The addition of the SSD will instantly bring your laptop up to date as those Core2Duo's are still rocking chips.
Thanks for the recommendations.

I'll ask the same question I asked Coup27:

What happens if you don't use an Intel or Samsung drive (the only two drive manufacturers that provide their own TRIM utility) and you aren't running Windows 7 and therefore can't use Windows' own TRIM? Does the SSD then have no garbage collection whatsoever?
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Old 01-27-2013, 09:08 PM   #16
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Does the SSD then have no garbage collection whatsoever?
all SSD's have GC built into the firmware algorithms these days. But some are just not as aggressive as others and it pays to idle the machine with constant power to the drive to enable it more time to play catch up, is all.
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Old 01-28-2013, 02:55 AM   #17
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TRIM and Garbage Collection (GC) are not the same thing. Traditionally when you deleted a file (as in emptying the recycle bin) the data was never erased from the storage device. This was because a hard drive could overwrite data which was no longer required with no performance penalty. An SSD cannot overwrite data, it has to erase it first. This presents a problem because once you have wrote sufficient data to fill the drive, every cell will have to be erased before it can be used and this makes the SSD slower than when it was new.

What the TRIM command does is implement something that informs the SSD when a file was actually deleted so the SSD could erase the NAND cells at some point.

GC is the process of the SSD using the information from received from TRIM to erase the cells so they are empty when they are next required.

All SSD's have GC and as groberts101 has said, some is a lot more aggressive than others. Drives with very aggressive GC do not depend as much on TRIM but regardless of the drive, if you give it enough idle time for GC to complete its work on the whole SSD you will maintain good, if not full performance irrespective of TRIM.

Any SSD you buy whether it has a toolbox or not will will fine without TRIM especially if you leave it idle for a few hours. If the machine has a medium to heavy workload, TRIM would be very advantageous.
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Old 01-28-2013, 11:45 AM   #18
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So when I say don't waste money on performance you won't see, you will be limited by the SATA II interface of your Dell laptop, you will be limited by the IDE interface, and you will be limited by the old chipset and CPU. I suggest buying a decent mid-tier SSD. Something reliable and cheap. Basically the best deal you can find on a solid name brand that is reliable. Just don't go out and buy a Samsung 840 Pro or a Vector!
What about SSD seek times? Won't I still be able to take advantage of a faster seek time even though my laptop is several years old? The newest SSD's have better seek times than previous generations:

http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/s...imes,2788.html

It might be worth buying a latest-gen SSD if I could still take advantage of the improved seek times, even if I couldn't take advantage of the higher sequential read/write speeds.
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Old 01-28-2013, 05:12 PM   #19
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I would buy what you can afford now. The larger the better and be prepared to move it into your next system. SATA-II or SATA-III, you'll never really see the differance.
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Old 01-28-2013, 06:10 PM   #20
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TRIM and Garbage Collection (GC) are not the same thing. Traditionally when you deleted a file (as in emptying the recycle bin) the data was never erased from the storage device. This was because a hard drive could overwrite data which was no longer required with no performance penalty. An SSD cannot overwrite data, it has to erase it first. This presents a problem because once you have wrote sufficient data to fill the drive, every cell will have to be erased before it can be used and this makes the SSD slower than when it was new.

What the TRIM command does is implement something that informs the SSD when a file was actually deleted so the SSD could erase the NAND cells at some point.

GC is the process of the SSD using the information from received from TRIM to erase the cells so they are empty when they are next required.

All SSD's have GC and as groberts101 has said, some is a lot more aggressive than others. Drives with very aggressive GC do not depend as much on TRIM but regardless of the drive, if you give it enough idle time for GC to complete its work on the whole SSD you will maintain good, if not full performance irrespective of TRIM.

Any SSD you buy whether it has a toolbox or not will will fine without TRIM especially if you leave it idle for a few hours. If the machine has a medium to heavy workload, TRIM would be very advantageous.
Thanks for the clarification. Here's an article I found that does a good job explaining the difference between TRIM and GC:

http://thessdreview.com/daily-news/l...an-ssd-primer/
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Old 01-28-2013, 08:16 PM   #21
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What about SSD seek times? Won't I still be able to take advantage of a faster seek time even though my laptop is several years old? The newest SSD's have better seek times than previous generations:

http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/s...imes,2788.html

It might be worth buying a latest-gen SSD if I could still take advantage of the improved seek times, even if I couldn't take advantage of the higher sequential read/write speeds.

You will barely notice the difference on an up-to-date fast PC and you won't notice it on your old laptop. As I said I have the Intel 320 in my old Dell laptop, like yours, it scores 126 in AS SSD in that laptop. My Intel 330 in my desktop scores 665. Huge difference in scores but the in actual usage I can barely detect a difference. An application like CorelDraw open in like 5 seconds on the laptop and perhaps 4 on the desktop. Office applications open instantaneously on both. The reason I mention loading times of large applications is because that's the only slow down I ever notice from the hard drive.
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Old 01-29-2013, 10:55 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Coup27 View Post
TRIM and Garbage Collection (GC) are not the same thing. Traditionally when you deleted a file (as in emptying the recycle bin) the data was never erased from the storage device. This was because a hard drive could overwrite data which was no longer required with no performance penalty. An SSD cannot overwrite data, it has to erase it first. This presents a problem because once you have wrote sufficient data to fill the drive, every cell will have to be erased before it can be used and this makes the SSD slower than when it was new.

What the TRIM command does is implement something that informs the SSD when a file was actually deleted so the SSD could erase the NAND cells at some point.

GC is the process of the SSD using the information from received from TRIM to erase the cells so they are empty when they are next required.

All SSD's have GC and as groberts101 has said, some is a lot more aggressive than others. Drives with very aggressive GC do not depend as much on TRIM but regardless of the drive, if you give it enough idle time for GC to complete its work on the whole SSD you will maintain good, if not full performance irrespective of TRIM.

Any SSD you buy whether it has a toolbox or not will will fine without TRIM especially if you leave it idle for a few hours. If the machine has a medium to heavy workload, TRIM would be very advantageous.
Combining this post with the article on GC vs. TRIM I posted above, I think what I can conclude is that without TRIM, a PC that experiences heavy use will experience both performance degredation due to the drive having to spend time performing GC and reduced lifetime due to write amplification when it does perform GC (because it will not have the advantage of TRIM telling it which blocks are no longer in use and don't need to be rewritten).

A PC that is used lightly wouldn't be affected as much because:

1. It would have more time to perform GC
2. TRIM would be less of an issue because the hard drive wouldn't be written to as often
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Old 01-30-2013, 12:58 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Coup27 View Post
No SSD can be too fast for 1.5Gb/s because the drive will just run at those speeds.

If you get an Intel or Samsung SSD they both come with toolbox utilities which will allow you to manually run the TRIM command.

All SSDs use garbage collection which is the most important feature for keeping performance high. If the machine is a very light duty machine then you can probably live without TRIM but if it is a medium duty or higher machine I would recommend an Intel or Samsung so you can use a toolbox to TRIM the drive.
This.

Make sure you have a garbage-collection option if you cannot enable TRIM. Otherwise you will see performance continue to drop over time.
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Old 01-31-2013, 08:42 AM   #24
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This.

Make sure you have a garbage-collection option if you cannot enable TRIM. Otherwise you will see performance continue to drop over time.
I think you may have misunderstood the above info/link. There is no "option" since it's literally built into ALL SSD firmware these days.

Some drives just have GC algorithms that are more aggressive than others, is all.
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Old 02-08-2013, 05:21 PM   #25
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He probably means foreground garbage collection, which only occurs upon a write request from the host and there are no free erase blocks to remap the write to. This is sometimes referred to as Lazy GC. The original Intel controller and corresponding firmware were among this category. As long as the SSD had empty erase blocks, all was fine. But performance degradation could be potentially severe upon exhausting the free erase block pool. The drive would then revert to foreground GC and the writes will have high latencies.

To avoid this, simply use overprovisioning on this type of SSD. With enough overprovisioning, drives with foreground GC will remain fast while having extremely low write amplification, like 1.02 without tricks.

For SSDs with background garbage collection - also referred to as aggressive garbage collection - overprovisioning and TRIM are less important to maintain performance, but rather will decrease write amplification. SSDs of this type burn quicker through their write cycles, because of the higher write amplification. This type of SSDs may show temporary drops in performance after many (random) writes, but recover after x minutes to almost perfect performance.

However, such types of SSDs are slightly less reliable than SSDs with foreground GC, due to the higher window of opportunity the SSD is vulnerable to corruption if power would be lost at that moment.

Due to the higher write amplification, as well as the lesser (theoretical) reliability, I would prefer foreground GC over background GC. Simply apply enough overprovisioning for the job it is going to be used for.
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