FileVault on SSD

After the previously posted of “thieving gits” in 2009, I now encrypt my laptop, and was prepared to take a performance hit for it, and this is just fine.

For the OCZ Agility 4 I just got (AGT4-25SAT3-512G) – this is the “411”, as they say here. Without encrypting, blackmagic speed test was 208MB/sec write, 252MB/sec read. Encrypted with Filevault, it’s 196MB/sec write and 215MB/sec read, which is good enough, especially considering I was getting about 40MB/sec read/write on my encrypted 5200RPM HDD (vs 70MB/sec read/write on my wife’s unencrypted 7200RPM HDD)

One of the pieces of advice I’ve seen about SSDs is to not encrypt them because the extra write cycle will wear them out quicker, incompressible data leads to slower transfer rates, garbage collection/trim will slow them down, etc. Well, that hasn’t been my experience, and these concerns are even addressed specifically for this drive.

OCZ Agility 4 in MacBook Pro (Mid 2009)

I sort of regard replacing hard drives like changing oil in a car – something you need to do to keep things working. It might last, but it probably won’t.

So along those lines, I’ve just replaced the hard drive in my MacBook Pro with a new SSD – my local computer store had two 512GB OCZ Agility 4’s for a very good price – so I got that.

One things I was worried about was how it works with the crazy NVidia MCP79 SATA interface in these.. they are a SATA-II controller, and have a bit of a bug, where if they see a SATA-III device, it goes “wtf is this?” and clocks it down to SATA-I speed, instead of SATA-II. For hard drives, that doesn’t matter – but for SSD’s, it’s going to limit performance. I have an SSD in my work MacBook Pro, of a similar vintage, and it only runs at SATA-I speed, and it’s good enough, but not great.

I did some reading on OCZ’s offerings – for their “3” series of drives, there’s a utility you can download to set them to SATA-II, but no such utility exists for the “4” series. Well, turns out what I had seen suggested is the case – they will detect they’re connected to an MCP79, and automatically claim to be SATA-II. This is the main reason I’m posting this – in case someone else has similar concerns ;) So this SSD is doing 208MB/sec write, 250MB/sec read, which is pretty impressive.

As a side note: I saw a storage company’s SEs who I work quite closely with while I was buying this – and made a joke about how much cheaper they were than their SSD’s ;)