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Intel Releases Firmware Update To Speed Up SSDs

Intel released a firmware update for its 160 GB solid-state drive to boost performance by 40%.

The SSD Optimizer update, released Monday, is for Intel's 34-nanometer X25-M SATA drive, which the company offers as a replacement for traditional hard-disk drives. While significantly more expensive than hard drives, SSDs are faster, have higher reliability and use less power.

The update boosts the write speed of Intel's 160 GB X25-M to 100 MB per second, a 40% jump from the existing firmware version, according to Intel. The latest firmware uses the Windows 7 ATA Data Set Management Command, known as Trim, to improve performance of the mainstream X25-M SSDs.

Trim syncs the operating system's view of deleted files with those that are deleted, but not erased, on the drive, Intel said. The technology tells the SSD which data blocks are no longer in use, which helps to stabilize the overall performance and health of the SSD over time. Intel claims the firmware will also up performance of SSDs running in Windows XP and Vista systems.

"The latest firmware and toolbox upgrade for Intel 34nm SSD users provide a host of new management, information and diagnostic tools to help SSDs retain out-of-box performance," Pete Hazen, director of marketing for Intel's NAND Solutions Group, said in a statement. "We are encouraging our 34nm customers to download the new firmware update today."

The update is contained in a package called the Intel SSD Toolbox that also includes new management and diagnostic tools. The Toolbox features a graphical user interface that lets users schedule and run the Trim command independent of the operating system. Intel recommends using the Trim function daily to ensure optimum performance.

Intel's X25-M is a 2.5-inch drive that's available with either 80 GB or 160 GB of storage. The drives cost $225 and $440, respectively, in quantities of 1,000.

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