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Intel fixes 'bricked SSD' firmware bug

New X25-M firmware released

Application security programs and practises

Intel has quietly released new firmware and an updated firmware loader that, it claims, fixes the problems 64-bit Windows 7 users had been experiencing with its second-generation, 34nm X25-M SSDs.

The original firmware was released more than a month ago, on 26 October 2009. Almost immediately, drive owners began posting claims that the software had bricked their SSDs.

The update was pulled a day after release and, a week or so later, Intel admitted it had replicated the problem and had started work on a fix.

The firmware update - version 02HA - added support for the Sata command Trim, which allows the OS to tell the drive which sectors it no longer needs for storage. The SSD uses this information to wipe those areas so there's no erase-the-write time penalty when that space is once again used to store information.

Without it, the drive can gradually slow down as 'fresh' space is slowly replaced by data that the OS may have deleted but hasn't been wiped from the SSD - and won't be until the drive needs to write date on top of it.

According to Intel, all this ensures performance remains at "out-of-the-box levels" rather than gradually slowing down.

Firmware 02HD - three versions up from the original, you'll note - brings Trim support to the 34nm 80GB and 160GB X25-Ms. It also brings "better sequential write performance" on the 160GB model, Intel said.

The software is available from the Intel website. ®

Thanks to reader James Hayes for the tip

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