ⓘ Trim, computing. A trim command allows an operating system to inform a solid-state drive which blocks of data are no longer considered in use and can be wiped i ..


ⓘ Trim (computing)

A trim command allows an operating system to inform a solid-state drive which blocks of data are no longer considered in use and can be wiped internally.

Trim was introduced soon after SSDs were introduced. Because low-level operation of SSDs differs significantly from hard drives, the typical way in which operating systems handle operations like deletes and formats resulted in unanticipated progressive performance degradation of write operations on SSDs. Trimming enables the SSD to more efficiently handle garbage collection, which would otherwise slow future write operations to the involved blocks.

Although tools to "reset" some drives to a fresh state were already available before the introduction of trimming, they also delete all data on the drive, which makes them impractical to use for ongoing optimization. By 2014, many SSDs had internal background garbage collection mechanisms that worked independently of trimming. Although this successfully maintained their performance even under operating systems that did not support trim, it had the associated drawbacks of increased write amplification and wear of the flash cells.


1. Background

Because of the way that many file systems handle delete operations, by flagging data blocks as "not in use", storage media SSDs, but also traditional hard drives generally do not know which sectors/pages are truly in use and which can be considered free space. Contrary to for example an overwrite operation, a delete will not involve a physical write to the sectors that contain the data. Since a common SSD has no knowledge of the file system structures, including the list of unused blocks/sectors, the storage medium remains unaware that the blocks have become available. While this often enables undelete tools to recover files from electromechanical hard disks, despite the files being reported as "deleted" by the operating system, it also means that when the operating system later performs a write operation to one of the sectors, which it considers free space, it effectively becomes an overwrite operation from the point of view of the storage medium. For magnetic disks this is no different from writing an empty sector, but because of how some SSDs function at the lowest level, an overwrite produces significant overhead compared to writing data into an empty page, potentially crippling write performance.

SSDs store data in flash memory cells that are grouped into pages typically of 4 to 16 kiB, grouped together into blocks of typically 128 to 512 pages. Example: 512 kiB blocks that group 128 pages of 4 kiB each. NAND flash memory cells can be directly written to only when they are empty. If they may contain data, the contents must be erased before a write operation. An SSD write operation can be done on a single page but, due to hardware limitations, erase commands always affect entire blocks; consequently, writing data to empty pages on an SSD is very fast, but slows down considerably once previously written pages need to be overwritten. Since an erase of the cells in the page is needed before it can be written again, but only entire blocks can be erased, an overwrite will initiate a read-erase-modify-write cycle: the contents of the entire block are stored in cache, then the entire block is erased from the SSD, then the overwritten page is written to the cached block, and only then can the entire updated block be written to the flash medium. This phenomenon is known as write amplification.


2. Operation

The TRIM command enables an operating system to notify the SSD of pages which no longer contain valid data. For a file deletion operation, the operating system will mark the files sectors as free for new data, then send a TRIM command to the SSD. After trimming, the SSD will not preserve any contents of the block when writing new data to a page of flash memory, resulting in less write amplification fewer writes, higher write throughput no need for a read-erase-modify sequence, thus increasing drive life.

Different SSDs implement the command somewhat differently, so performance can vary.

TRIM tells the SSD to mark a LBA region as invalid and subsequent reads on the region will not return any meaningful data. For a very brief time, the data could still reside on the flash internally. However, after the TRIM command is issued and garbage collection has taken place, its highly unlikely that even a forensic scientist would be able to recover the data.


3. Implementation

RAID issues

As of January 2017, support for the TRIM command is not implemented in most hardware-based RAID technologies. However, software RAID implementations often do include support for TRIM.


Windows 10 offers support for TRIM in SSD RAID volumes using the "optimize drives" option when configuring a RAID volume.


3.1. Implementation Operating system support

Trimming is only effective on operating systems which support it. The table below identifies each notable operating system and the first version supporting the command. Additionally, older solid-state drives designed before the addition of the TRIM command to the ATA standard will need firmware updates, otherwise the new command will be ignored. However, not every drive can be upgraded to support trimming.

The support for TRIM also varies by what the particular filesystem driver on the operating system is capable of, since only a program with an understanding of what parts of the disk is free space can safely issue the command, and on the system level this ability tends to lie in the filesystem driver itself.


3.2. Implementation RAID issues

As of January 2017, support for the TRIM command is not implemented in most hardware-based RAID technologies. However, software RAID implementations often do include support for TRIM.


3.3. Implementation macOS

The macOS RAID driver does not support TRIM. This is true for all versions of Mac OS X from 10.7 through macOS 10.12.x.

TRIM is supported for RAID & 10 volumes when using the third-party SoftRAID® application, including TRIM support with non-Apple SSD devices. Note: TRIM for non-Apple SSD devices must be specifically enabled using the terminal command "sudo trimforce enable"


3.4. Implementation Linux

TRIM is available with RAID volumes in post-January-2011 releases of the Linux kernels dmraid, which implements BIOS-assisted "fake hardware RAID" support, and which now passes through any TRIM requests from the filesystem that sits on the RAID array.

Not to be confused with dmraid, Linuxs general-purpose software RAID system, mdraid, has experimental support for batch-based rather than live, upon file deletion TRIM on RAID 1 arrays when systems are configured to periodically run the mdtrim utility on filesystems even those like ext3 without native TRIM support. In later versions of Linux, e.g. Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.5 and beyond, mdraid supports actually passing through TRIM commands in real-time, rather than just as a batch job.

However, note that Red Hat recommends against using software RAID levels 1, 4, 5, and 6 on SSDs with most RAID technologies, because during initialization, most RAID management utilities e.g. Linuxs mdadm write to all blocks on the devices to ensure that checksums or drive-to-drive verifies, in the case of RAID 1 / 10 operate properly, causing the SSD to believe that all blocks other than in the spare area are in use, significantly degrading performance.

On the other hand, Red Hat does recommend the use of RAID 1 or RAID 10 for LVM RAIDs on SSDs, as these levels support TRIM "discard" in Linux terminology, and the LVM utilities do not write to all blocks when creating a RAID 1 or RAID 10 volume.

For a short time in March 2010, users were led to believe that the Intel Rapid Storage Technology RST 9.6 drivers supported TRIM on RAID volumes, but Intel later clarified that TRIM was supported for the BIOS settings of AHCI mode and RAID mode, but not if the drive was part of a RAID volume.

As of August 2012, Intel confirms that 7-series chipsets with Rapid Storage Technology RST 11.2 drivers support TRIM for RAID 0 in Microsoft Windows 7. While Intel did not confirm support for 6-series chipsets, TRIM on RAID 0 volumes has been shown to work on Z68, P67, and X79 chipsets by hardware enthusiasts with a modified RAID option ROM. It is speculated that the lack of official support for 6-series chipsets is due to validation costs or an attempt to encourage consumers to upgrade, rather than for technical reasons.

An exception to the need for a modified option ROM on motherboards with an X79 chipset is if the manufacturer has added a ROM switch; this entails both the RST and RST-E ROMs being inside the BIOS/UEFI. This allows the RST ROM to be used instead of the RST-E ROM, allowing TRIM to function. Intel notes that best performance can be achieved by using a driver with same version as the ROM; for example, if the BIOS/UEFI has an option ROM, an 11.x version driver should be used.


3.5. Implementation Enabling unsupported filesystems

Where the filesystem does not automatically support TRIM, some utilities can send trimming commands manually. Usually they determine which blocks are free and then pass this list as a series of trimming commands to the drive. These utilities are available from various manufacturers e.g. Intel, G.Skill, or as general utilities. Both hdparm and mdtrim finds free blocks by allocating a large file on the filesystem and resolving what physical location it was assigned to.


4.1. Hardware support ATA

The TRIM command specification has been standardized as part of the AT Attachment ATA interface standard, led by Technical Committee T13 of the International Committee for Information Technology Standards INCITS. TRIM is implemented under the DATA SET MANAGEMENT command opcode 06h of the draft ACS-2 specification. The ATA standard is supported by both parallel IDE, PATA and serial SATA ATA hardware.

A drawback of the original ATA TRIM command is that it was defined as a non-queueable command and therefore could not easily be mixed with a normal workload of queued read and write operations. SATA 3.1 introduced a queued TRIM command to remedy this.

There are different types of TRIM defined by SATA Words 69 and 169 returned from an ATA IDENTIFY DEVICE command:

  • Non-deterministic TRIM: Each read command to the Logical block address LBA after a TRIM may return different data.
  • Deterministic Read Zero after TRIM RZAT: All read commands to the LBA after a TRIM shall return zero.
  • Deterministic TRIM DRAT: All read commands to the LBA after a TRIM shall return the same data, or become determinate.

There is additional information in SATA Word 105 that describes the Maximum number of 512-byte blocks per DATA SET MANAGEMENT command that a drive can support. Typically this defaults to 8 or 4 kB but many drives reduce this to 1 to meet the Microsoft Windows Hardware Requirements for TRIM, that command completion time shall not exceed 20 ms or 8 ms × number of LBA range entries, whichever is greater, and shall always be less than 600 ms.

An individual LBA range is called an LBA Range Entry and is represented by eight bytes. The LBA is expressed by the LBA Range Entrys first six bytes and the Range Length is a zero-based counter e.g., 0=0 and 1=1 represented by the remaining two bytes. If the two-byte range length is zero, then the LBA Range Entry shall be discarded as padding. This means that for each 512-byte block of TRIM ranges that a device supports, the maximum is 64 ranges of 32 MB, or 2 GB. If a device supports SATA Word 105 at 8 then it should be able to trim 16 GB in a single TRIM DATA SET MANAGEMENT command.


4.2. Hardware support SCSI

SCSI provides the UNMAP command a full analog of TRIM, and the WRITE SAME command 10 and 16 variants with the UNMAP flag set.


4.3. Hardware support SD/MMC

The MultiMediaCard and SD ERASE CMD38 command provides similar functionality to the ATA TRIM command, although it requires that erased blocks be overwritten with either zeroes or ones. eMMC 4.5 further defines a "discard" sub-operation that more closely matches ATA TRIM in that the contents of discarded blocks can be considered indeterminate i.e., "dont care".


5. Disadvantages

  • Faulty drive firmware that misreports support for queued TRIM or has critical bugs in its implementation has been linked to serious data corruption in several devices, most notably Micron and Crucials M500 and Samsungs 840 and 850 series. The data corruption has been confirmed on the Linux operating system the only OS with queued trim support as of 1 July 2015.
  • The original version of the TRIM command has been defined as a non-queued command by the T13 subcommittee, and consequently can incur massive execution penalty if used carelessly, e.g., if sent after each filesystem delete command. The non-queued nature of the command requires the driver to first wait for all outstanding commands to be finished, issue the TRIM command, then resume normal commands. TRIM can take a lot of time to complete, depending on the firmware in the SSD, and may even trigger a garbage collection cycle. This penalty can be minimized in solutions that periodically do a batched TRIM, rather than trimming upon every file deletion, by scheduling such batch jobs for times when system utilization is minimal. This TRIM disadvantage has been overcome in Serial ATA revision 3.1 with the introduction of the Queued TRIM Command.
  • When encryption is in use, using the TRIM command reveals information about which blocks are in use and which are not, reducing plausible deniability.

These devices are blacklisted in the Linux kernels libata-core.c to force sending non-queued TRIM commands ATA_HORKAGE_NO_NCQ_TRIM to these drives instead of queued TRIM commands:

  • Micron/Crucial M550 using firmware version MU01
  • Samsung 840 and 850 series SSDs using all firmware versions
  • Micron M510 using firmware version MU01
  • Crucial MX100 using firmware version MU01
  • Micron/Crucial M500 using all firmware versions including factory recertified SSDs

This file also blacklists the SuperSSpeed S238 against TRIM in general due to causing the wrong blocks to lose data when TRIM is issued.

libata-core.c also has a whitelist to list SSDs that are reliably known to the subsystems maintainers to correctly implement the DRAT and RZAT flags ATA_HORKAGE_ZERO_AFTER_TRIM, rather than ignoring them, as many drives do. The whitelisted drives are as follows:

  • Samsung SSDs
  • Seagate SSDs
  • Crucial SSDs
  • Micron SSDs
  • Intel SSDs excluding the Intel SSD 510

Free and no ads
no need to download or install

Pino - logical board game which is based on tactics and strategy. In general this is a remix of chess, checkers and corners. The game develops imagination, concentration, teaches how to solve tasks, plan their own actions and of course to think logically. It does not matter how much pieces you have, the main thing is how they are placement!

online intellectual game →