TRIM/AHCI support on AMD/nVidia chipsets

Discussion in 'Memory and Storage' started by Modus, Sep 17, 2010.

  1. Modus

    Modus Platinum Member

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    Couple questions:

    1. Is the consensus that to get proper Windows 7 TRIM support on AMD/nVidia chipset-based motherboards, you need to use the standard Microsoft PCI Standard Dual IDE Controller driver (i.e. either MSAHCI.SYS or PCIIDE.SYS)?

    These threads seem to indicate, yes: http://forums.amd.com/forum/messageview.cfm?catid=383&threadid=126518&STARTPAGE=3&FTVAR_FORUMVIEWTMP=Linear

    1.a. Do you know of any benchmarks comparing SSD performance when using the MS driver to the AMD/nVidia driver?

    I found this blog post which is very detailed, but unfortunately a bit out of date (the fastest HD they test is a Velociraptor 150.)

    http://expertester.wordpress.com/2008/07/24/ahci-vs-ide-%E2%80%93-benchmark-advantage/
     
  2. coolVariable

    coolVariable Diamond Member

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    For AMD systems you should definitely run the MS AHCI drivers. I do not know about nVidia systems.

    AMD AHCI drivers do not support TRIM and are 10-30% slower than the generic MS drivers.
    With my Vertex the difference was approx. 10-12% but there are reports of much larger performance differences.

    There is a thread on this board about the topic with some benches.
     
  3. Modus

    Modus Platinum Member

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    Thanks for the info about AMD chipsets! I'm building a budget gaming rig soon based around a Phenom II X2 3.1 GHz and I had been considering an nVidia MCP61P-based board, but after reading some comments, including yours, I am now leaning toward an AMD SB710-based board like this: http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813186201.

    Does anyone know about nVidia chipsets? I have read conflicting statements. It sounds like most (all?) nVidia chipsets for AMD motherboards support a kind of "fake" AHCI that offers features like NCQ but does not follow the established AHCI standard. If you run the nVidia storage drivers your performance will be better than the standard MS drivers, but you will not get TRIM support. On the other hand, if you change your controller mode to IDE emulation in your BIOS, and then change to the standard MS drivers, you will get TRIM support (because TRIM can actually work through IDE) but lower performance.

    Can anyone confirm this?
     
  4. adamantinepiggy

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    I can't confirm anything about the Nvidia questions, but I can tell you that performance in IDE mode versus AHCI mode, is negligeable when concerning "SSD" performance. The modes make much more of difference with spinner hard drives, because spinner's benefit more from NCQ since spinners have mechanical head "position" issues when reading/writing data. SSD's do not have mechanical "positional" head issues.

    AHCI mode's bigger benefit for SSD's over IDE mode is hot-swapping, but that has nothing to do with performance, only convenience.

    Trim functionality is more important with longer-term SSD use than a particular driver's 1-4% benchmarking improvement. So basically, given the choice between a driver that gives a tiny bit more performance but does not support trim, versus a slightly less perforimg driver that does support trim, I would choose the slower but with trim support every time in real-life use with SSD's. With just spinner hard drives, I would choose even the tiny performance benefit as sspinners don't need trim.
     
  5. sub.mesa

    sub.mesa Senior member

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    If you have AMD or nVidia chipset DO NOT USE the chipset drivers but instead use the default Microsoft AHCI driver. You can download AS SSD to check which driver you use; it should say pciide.sys or msahci.sys. This program also checks for partition alignment, so it useful to many SSD owners.

    This is only true for low-quality SSDs that do not support NCQ; these include early versions of JMicron, Samsung and Toshiba.

    You can see this very well in AS SSD benchmark and CrystalDiskMark as well; the 4K and 4K-32 read benchmarks would be about the same; while if you have NCQ enabled the 4K-32 score will be about 10 times higher.

    SSDs use NCQ to be able to receive up to 32 requests in advance, rather than process each I/O one for one; which might make sense on a HDD but not on an SSD which is a true parallel I/O device.

    NCQ requires AHCI to be enabled, and can improve multiqueue random read performance on SSDs by a factor of up to their channel width. Intel SSDs use 10 channels, Micron uses 8, Indilinx 4 and JMicron 1.
     
  6. extra

    extra Golden Member

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    I just want to say that I agree with your post (and it has good info about what drives don't support ncq), but I did want to add one clarification:

    I have a ssdnow v+ in my secondary box, got a great deal on it at one point--it has a toshiba controller, which, like you said, doesn't support NCQ (it was teh cheap though!)

    However, it *definitely performs better in ahci mode*. This is on an Intel chipset, but I'd imagine the same would be true on others (use msahci on amd boxes though).

    So yeah, use AHCI if possible! And like he said, if you have an AMD chipset (I don't know about Nvidia, but I'm sure he's right) use the msahci driver.
     
  7. sub.mesa

    sub.mesa Senior member

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    You can use AHCI with the Microsoft AHCI driver; it should support all AHCI controllers. AHCI is not required for TRIM, and AHCI does not imply NCQ but NCQ requires AHCI. Do you still get it? :D

    Easier version: if you installed so called "chipset drivers" from AMD/nVidia then you might have gotten vendor storage driver instead; which does NOT support TRIM. To check this use the AS SSD tool to find out if you are running the Microsoft driver: msahci or pciide. Those two give you TRIM (if your SSD is capable); but nVidia/AMD drivers don't support TRIM.

    @extra:
    Don't the Kingston SSDNow V+ series use Samsung controller instead?
     
  8. coolVariable

    coolVariable Diamond Member

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    Check out this thread: Avoid AMD AHCI driver at all costs
    If you are planning to use SSDs, I would considering going with an intel system.
    Until AMD fixes their drivers, and we have been waiting 2+ years for it, their chipsets are just not up to current and future standards.
     
  9. nenforcer

    nenforcer Golden Member

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    I believe only the very last nVidia chipsets (MCP72 and later) even support and had an option for enabling AHCI in the BIOS.

    However, it appears the nVidia drivers do not support TRIM natively and require switching to IDE mode and using the standard Microsoft PCI/IDE controller drivers which will then enable TRIM in Windows 7 only.

    However, doing this you will lose any features of AHCI, like NCQ, just like sub.mesa suggests.

    For regular SATA drives I would stick with AHCI but for SSD drives it my be worth it to go back to IDE mode since TRIM is so important to maintaining the performance of SSD drives.
     
  10. sub.mesa

    sub.mesa Senior member

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    @nenforcer:
    Older nVidia chips do not support AHCI; this counts for ATi (now AMD) as well.

    TRIM works in both AHCI and IDE mode!

    Since the AMD/ATi driver DOES NOT SUPPORT TRIM, you would need to use the MICROSOFT drivers instead. Those two are:
    - pciide - microsoft IDE driver (TRIM capable)
    - msahci - microsoft AHCI driver (TRIM capable)

    Thus, whether your controller is nvidia, ati or whatever; you should use the Microsoft AHCI driver and the controller in AHCI mode if capable. The you will have trim and max performance.

    Also, please note that SSDs prefer AHCI due to NCQ which makes their random reads about 10 times higher. Try to avoid IDE legacy mode.
     
  11. coolVariable

    coolVariable Diamond Member

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    EXCEPT if you have an intel chipset.
    then you should use the intel drivers which support TRIM.
    Did intel release drivers by now that support TRIM in RAID?
     
  12. adamantinepiggy

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    I should have qualified my response better. You're right that AHCI mode's NCQ makes a huge difference on "benchmarks" however in real-life doing real "normal" things. There is s negligeable difference in "perceptual" performance between IDE and AHCI modes (when using fast SSD's). If the OP is doing what most people do, playing vid games, browsing the Internet, checking e-mail, running numerous desktop apps, etc, etc. I stand by my statement that there is a negligeable difference between the two modes. I have run both modes with SSD's and for things like boot time, game screen loading times, copying large numbers of files between disks, etc, etc one cannot tell the difference at a human level (unless their PC is crap; like a really slow processor).

    With HD's, you can often feel the difference in IDE and AHCI perforrmance, like with copying large numbers of files and such on really fragmented drives, but with fast SSD's, you really can't.

    The average PC is generally not I/O request-queue bound when using SSD's. Now if you're talking high I/O server-type work, then yes, the depth of HD/SSD queue abilities can make a serious impact. If I were to magically change everyone's (even enthusiasts) PC from AHCI to IDE mode, the performance difference between the two modes would have little if any impact on their system's daily perceived performance.

    It's better to have AHCI, but between a choice between trim support on a slower IDE mode, versus no trim with AHCI, I'd still choose trim'd IDE mode over no-trim AHCI any day of the week, because I generally wont notice the missing features like NCQ/TQ, but I will notice the SSD's no-trim speed degradations over time. I'd miss hot-swapping more than lack of NCQ/TQ by far.
     
  13. coolVariable

    coolVariable Diamond Member

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    Totally true - though I would recommend you try AHCI with MS' TRIM enabled driver.
     
  14. tcsenter

    tcsenter Lifer

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    +1. I have used a few recent MCP61 AM2/AM2+ boards and none of them offer AHCI support.
     
  15. Modus

    Modus Platinum Member

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    Good info, thanks for all the responses.

    I think I'm going to go with an AMD-based motherboard (probably SB710) because:

    1. It supports true AHCI
    2. The MS AHCI driver will support TRIM and NCQ and will perform as well as or better than the AMD driver, whereas with the nVidia chipsets you have to choose between TRIM and AHCI/NCQ
    3. Low-end (my market segment) AMD boards seem slightly cheaper than nVidia based boards

    Now I'm just debating whether I should go for a Athlon II X2 260 (3.2GHz, 2MB L2, $74 @ Newegg) or a Phenom II X2 550 (2MB L2, 6MB L3, $94). I'm also debating which ~60 GB SSD to get: the Kingston SSDNow V Series (updated non-crappy JMicron controller) for $125 or the Crucial RealSSD 300 for $145. (I don't trust SandForce because it's new and I've heard it has issues with SMART.) But I digress... I will probably post a separate "critique my build" thread for these questions.
     
  16. coolVariable

    coolVariable Diamond Member

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    Ugh?

    If you haven't bought the CPU, you should definitely go the intel route!

    1. It supports true AHCI
    2. It supports true AHCI at FULL SPEED
    3. The intel AHCI driver will support TRIM and NCQ, EVEN IN RAID, and will perform better than any other driver for other chipsets.
     
  17. Modus

    Modus Platinum Member

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    coolVariable, the AMD SB710, a pretty old chipset, supports true AHCI, TRIM and NCQ while using the MS drivers. Not sure what you mean by "full speed." Obviously not all SATA chipsets will perform identically in all usage patterns.

    The Intel SATA controllers might slightly outperform the AMD ones in general, but it doesn't make up for the price premium you pay for going Intel for a budget gaming rig. Intel has nothing that can beat a Phenom II X2 555 + Foxconn A74ML-K 740G/SB710 for gaming @ $134.
     
  18. extra

    extra Golden Member

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    Uhmmm, this isn't entirely true. Here's the deal with RAID:
    1. If you use the controller in RAID mode and then have an SSD that *isn't* part of a raid array, trim will get passed.
    2. If you have SSDs that are in a RAID array, trim won't be passed to them.
     
  19. coolVariable

    coolVariable Diamond Member

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    http://tinyurl.com/36xwkdk
     
  20. Modus

    Modus Platinum Member

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    coolVariable,

    From the third link in your "let me Google that for you:"

    http://techreport.com/discussions.x/18653

    So Intel's supposed support for TRIM in RAID mode is mainly marketing spin, as there is no real benefit to running a drive in RAID mode unless it's actually part of an array. Intel's SATA controller might be slightly faster than AMD's, but it still doesn't justify the increased cost compared with an equivalent AMD system.
     
  21. Old Hippie

    Old Hippie Diamond Member

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    It's an improvement over previous versions and won't really make a difference in most situations.

    As always it comes down to a personal speed vs wallet decision.

    There's no doubt that AMD/nVidia are behind the eight ball on Intel's AHCI solution but it doesn't matter if bang for the buck is your main consideration.
     
  22. coolVariable

    coolVariable Diamond Member

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    Slightly outperform?
    Last I checked budget solutions were pretty evenly matched.
     
  23. Scour

    Scour Junior Member

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    Hello!

    The bad thing is, I use WinXP and like to have Hotplugin AND S.M.A.R.T.

    Is that possible?
     
  24. chong67

    chong67 Junior Member

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    I have a AMD chip on my Sony Vaio YB.

    So do I install the AMD SATA driver or just dont install it and use Microsoft?

    Also my laptop BIOS does not have any setting for AHCI.