OS X Lion Adds Essential Function To Help Preserve SSDs

OS X Lion Adds Essential Function To Help Preserve SSDs

This is welcome: OS X 10.7 Lion adds support for the TRIM command. The addition of this deep little function will mostly be of interest to new MacBook Air owners, as it’s essential to the long-term performance of an SSD drive.

In essence, here’s what TRIM does. At a fundamental level, SSDs, being solid state, handle data differently than spinning hard drives, but because operating systems like Snow Leopard treat SSDs like HDDs when it comes to how the operating system handles operations like deletes and formats, performance can progressively degrade overtime.

TRIM fixes that, allowing Lion to inform the SSD which blocks of data are no longer considered in use and can be wiped internally. It’s welcome news to MacBook Air owners, as even the latest versions of Snow Leopard don’t support TRIM, and therefore tax the SSD more than is necessary.

If Apple intends on making SSDs more ubiquitous across the future Mac line-up, adding TRIM to Lion is necessary. I only wish Apple would roll it out to Snow Leopard owners too.

  • Rocugbg

    At last!!!

  • Renegader

    Here’s a question. I have an Adata 128 GB S599 with Sandforce Controller SSD in my MacBook Pro 13 inch computer. Right now that drive over-provisions to reduce degradation. When Lion comes out and I update and use the TRIM option will it automatically start working? Or will I have to wipe my hard drive and start over to see the benefits of TRIM. If so, how do you wipe a Solid State Drive to make it “like new”?

  • David Hird

    Not so sure it is ‘essential’ if you’re using a really good controller (Sandforce etc), but it’s certainly better than nothing :D Now we just need to ditch the Optical drive across all MacBook’s and make SSD loving a standard feature! Might even make up some room for a dedicated graphics chip in the 13″ MBP.

  • Harvey

    Apple does plan to roll it out to Snow Leopard users also. The update to Snow Leopard that contains TRIM is called “Lion.”

  • Davegan

    The beauty of having hardware and OS married!

  • MacAdvisor

    “At a fundamental level, SSDs, being solid state, handle data differently than spinning hard drives, but because operating systems like Snow Leopard treat SSDs like HDDs when it comes to how the operating system handles operations like deletes and formats, performance can progressively degrade overtime.”

    I can’t resist channeling my English teacher mother when I read one sentence with two grammatical mistakes. Things are different FROM, not different THAN. If something is in the group being compared, they are an example; if they are similar, but not part of the group, then they are like. Thus:

    “At a fundamental level, SSDs, being solid state, handle data differently from spinning hard drives, but because operating systems, such as Snow Leopard treat SSDs like HDDs when it comes to how the operating system handles operations like deletes and formats, performance can progressively degrade overtime.”

  • Spazturtle

    1) It will automaticly start working with TRIM so you will be fine.
    2) You cannot wipe a solid state drive to make it “like new”. Once data is on a solid state drive it can never be removed; even overwriting it with random data 30 or so times (standard military procedure) will not get ride of it, the data can always be recovered (with a lot of money in some cases), that is the main security risk of solid state.

  • Download

    Interesting and useful post

  • anti grammar-snob snob

    I can’t resist channeling my grammar-hating-student self when I read a grammar snob call out a grammar mistake that isn’t.

    NOUNS are different FROM other NOUNS. He wasn’t comparing two nouns, so it was perfectly acceptable for him to use THAN rather than FROM.

    Now I feel petty for writing this. Is this how you felt when you wrote your correction?

    ;)

  • facebook-727727012

    Not so fast. I’ve been running 10.6 on my 60GB AGILITY 2 SSD, which uses sandforce, and which is recognized by windows 7, but OS 10.7 shows “Trim support: no” under profiler.

  • Osxrox

    Haha – the beauty is that we only get important updates like this when Apple gets around to doing it? I’m embarrassed to see that Windows has had this for two years, since Windows7 launched.

    TRIM fixes a significant performance loss for almost all SSDs, that’s why Apple has had to finally implement this – no OSX does NOT make us immune to this problem.

    Reality is that the Mac is a mono-culture, we get only what Apple gives us, when Apple gives us. Sorry I had to say this, not wanting to start an argument.

  • Osxrox

    :) sad but true.

  • Davegan

    I didn’t know that about TRIM and Windows 7, thanx.

  • Osxrox

    Welcome. SSD has several benefits – lower power, heat and weight compared to hard disks, but for many of us it’s the performance (way faster boot-up, app. startup, video editing) that is most important. Of course we pay much more more per megabyte for this vs hard disks – so I like to ensure I get my money’s worth!

  • The Real Napster

    You’re both wrong. You compare one thing ‘to’ another. So it should be ‘handle data differently to spinning hard drives. It’s a contraction of ‘compared to’.

  • The Real Napster

    You’re both wrong. You compare one thing ‘to’ another. So it should be ‘handle data differently to spinning hard drives. It’s a contraction of ‘compared to’.

  • MacAdvisor

    “Data” is a noun and the things are handled differently from other things. Things may be compared TO one another, but they are different FROM other things. In this specific case, one kind of drive handles data differently from another kind of drive.

    “Compared’o” could possibly be a contraction of “compared to,” but nothing in the sentence is a contraction. A contraction is the shortening a word by combination or elision, such as “goodbye” “can’t.”

    I didn’t feel petty, but a bit ungenerous.

    I am in law school and have a professor who lectured us on grammar as being important in the profession. I then regularly pointed out glaring grammatical errors in cases, his tests, and even Judicial Council Forms. The worst mistake is the useless restriction of verbs with “that,” as in “I certify that the foregoing is true and correct.” “That” restricts nouns, not verbs. Verbs have direct objects. One could simply “certify the foregoing is true and correct.” After about five weeks of ongoing demonstration of the weakness of the profession’s grammar, even from its leading lights, he has stopped hounding us about it.

    And don’t get me started on “Think Different.”

  • Christoph Lindemann

    same for me- lets hope ist only in the beta that they only support apples own ssd’s … i guess they have to implement support for 3rd party ssds in the future

  • Cjphilemon

    I bought my Macbook Air in the Fall of 2009. It has a capacity of 112.68 GB. I wanted to 258 GB SSD drive to put on it. Does anyone know how I should go about doing that?

  • Gnufist

    OWC sells MacBook Air SSD upgrades:
    240 GB:
    http://eshop.macsales.com/item
    360 GB
    http://eshop.macsales.com/item

  • Floo

    prescriptivists will never be happy, or correct.

  • Cjphilemon

    Thanks for helping out. But, I needed one for the MacBook Air 2,1. Those shown in your links are for the MacBook Air 3,1.

  • Bob

    Shouldn’t that be ‘happy NOR correct’?

  • cookie2011

    Re: “Think Different”, what would you say if Ferrari came up with the marketing slogan “Think Fast”, or “Think Red”. Would you ask them to change it “Think Quickly” or tell them it’s impossible to think “red”? No, because they’re not telling you how to think, they’re telling you what to think of. “Please associate our product with different, fast, red, etc.” would be a lousy marketing message.

  • MacAdvisor

    I would suggest the use of a colon. Think: Different. Think: Fast. Think: Red. With Apple, I still believe Think Differently would have been just as effective. “”Please associate our product with different, fast, red, etc.” would be a lousy marketing message.” That is the message. The question is how to best relay the message. The goal is to deliver that message in a way that does not district. One wants the consumer considering an Apple product, not a grammar rule. After all, Winston tastes good as a cigarette should.

  • Slackman1

    2) this is simply not true. If it were true, you would have invented a way to store 30+ times more data on an ssd…
    After all, it’s simply bits that can be reset and files that loose there meaning…

  • mattlongman

    Me too. Except I have a vertex 2E 60GB.

    I have the dev preview 4 with a 2011 MBP 13″ 2.3. No yummy TRIM support yet. :-(

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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