Friday, March 18, 2011

SSD: Macbook Air, Where We Are Now, And, Hopefully, Where Lion Will Take It

Here's a must read post (Subtraction) on the state of solid-state drive in the Mac-verse.  While the article doesn't actually about that, it does say a bit about where things are at the time and what the author had to do to get his 2009 Macbook run smoothly again.  And we are 3-5 months away from the release of the next OS X, Lion, that officially supports TRIM so it might be a good time to discuss where we are and where we hope to be headed with SSD.

First, what is TRIM?  TRIM is basically a command (as I understand it from Wikipedia) that allows the system to overhaul unused blocks of space on the SSD that allows the drive to be refreshed to avoid slowdowns that have plagued earlier SSD systems.  

While this post I point to doesn't quite say much about the existence of TRIM support or another Apple specific mechanism to speed SSD along, it does show what whatever Apple has in the current OS X (or just his version) is nonexistent or inadequate.

Many mobile warriors who use Macbooks will be happy to know that Lion does support TRIM.  

Given where we are now, it is worth nothing just how speedy things are at the beginning of a new drive and where it is at weeks and months down the line.  I'll try to keep detailed data on my uses with my new 11.6" 128 GB 4 GB RAM Macbook Air (currently stuck in the back of a Fedex truck).  Supposedly, there is some TRIM support or something like it from Apple that allows optimizes the SSD in the new Airs.  But actual documentation on that is sketchy at best.  The speed that Apple often boasted about are likely pristine Macbook Airs that have not had the wear-and-wear of Web browsing cache, movement of files, coding, and whatever else a mobile warrior will put his or her Air through.

A quick check around regarding TRIM support for any SSD seems to be only for specific Mac models or configurations.  I did this they going over other forums.  It does seem that we can expect full TRIM support for Lion when it is released.  However, what that means is anyone's guess.  

And even if Lion does support TRIM, I can totally see Apple limit it to a number of SSD drives.

So for now, while I look forward to getting my hands on my Air, sooner rather than later, I have more incentives to look into additional resources and other user experiences on how they deal with their SSD in their Airs or on other Macs.  And I'll happy to share with you anything I find.

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