SSD RAID 0 TRIM Confirmed - Dreams Do Come True
Article Publish Date:
Around the time Intel released their 520 Series of SSDs based on the SandForce SF-2281 FPU a new set of drivers started going around that claimed RAID 0 TRIM support. While the early 11.5 Series drivers claimed this massive feat was possible, it took a new, very special RAID Option ROM to get RAID 0 TRIM functional. Around a week and a half ago a new RAID OROM started tipping up and with it claims of working RAID 0 TRIM were rampant again....Only this time it really worked.
From what we could tell, the pre-requisites to obtain functioning TRIM with RAID 0 seemed to be: You must have an Intel Z77 board running Windows 8, a BIOS with an OROM version of 11.5 or higher, you need to be running an IRST driver version of 11.5 or greater and you need at least 2 SSD’s that have functioning TRIM.
We decided we had to try this for ourselves to be certain because, if this is true then it’s BIG NEWS. Thousands have been anxiously waiting for RAID 0 TRIM for a very long time. Intel has made statements that RAID 0 TRIM would be available in the future on numerous occasions so thousands have been licking their chops in anticipation. Real World Labs as the name implies looks for answers by proving things in a real world manner so there is no mistake when we present you with our findings. With this in mind we have set our sights directly on this debate as to whether or not RAID 0 can actually pass TRIM.
Why RAID 0? Typically RAID 0 will at minimum double transfer rates of a single drive. (click here for an example) Transfer rates directly affect the end user experience so to double the performance of your storage is very desirable especially considering storage continues to be the bottleneck in a performance system even with the fastest SSD on board. Next is capacity, when you RAID 0 drives together your capacity doubles because the drives in RAID 0 are combined into one larger virtual drive. Sounds great right? Well not so fast. It’s not all rainbows and unicorns when running RAID 0, the reason being performance degradation over time, because until now a RAID 0 array could not be TRIMMED. I’m not going to get into explaining TRIM because most of you have a good understanding of what it does to maintain your SSD’s performance.
We set out to get in our hands the pre-requisites listed above and find out for ourselves if we could get functioning RAID 0 TRIM which is the holy grail for thousands of die-hard RAID 0 enthusiasts including ourselves. First we needed (or so we believed) to get our hands on a Z77 board. A quick call to Gigabyte and voila we had a nice little Z77MX-D3H board on the way. Next and most daunting was to get a BIOS with the necessary OROM for our board. Currently there are none available. This meant we would need to either find a way to insert the correct OROM into an appropriate BIOS or get lucky or find someone who had already modified one we could use.
Fortunately a highly esteemed member of both XtremeSystems Forums and TweakTown Forums, who is an expert with Gigabyte BIOS mods stepped in with the exact BIOS we needed. A copy of Windows 8 was no problem and we just happened to have a pair of SandForce powered 240GB drives. Now, a pair of Sandforce drives have their own pre-requisite in that they need to be running on firmware that will pass TRIM. Our drives came with 5.02 firmware. 5.02 firmware does not pass functioning TRIM, so we needed to get our hands on the still unavailable 5.03 firmware which is documented to have functioning TRIM as shown by this ground breaking review at TweakTown. (Click here)
Chris Ramseyer was able to pull some strings and we were allowed to use 5.03 firmware that’s still being validated to enable TRIM. Lastly we needed to get our hands on the latest 11.5 series IRST driver. A quick trip to Station Drivers netted us the newest IRST driver to date, version 18.104.22.1681. Finally we had our hands on the correct ingredients to bake us a RAID 0 TRIM cake, would it work?