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What is the performance impact of disabling NCQ?
This is incorrect. NCQ allows the SSD to do operations to multiple NAND dies in parallel. Under heacy IO load this can have a huge effect on IOPS, up to 10x on AHCI and even bigger differences with NVMe.
Are SSD drives as reliable as mechanical drives (2013)?
TRIM is really important in drives with very little over-provisioning, which is manly the case in consumer drives where the $/GB is all-important. Most enterprise drives have enough over-provisioning that TRIM doesn't make any difference.
Ssd TRIM/DISCARD details
There may be some drives where the logical bits are inverted, but I'm not aware of any. OTOH in the pre-TRIM days there were some SSD makers recommending writing 0xFF fill to empty space, as a poor mans TRIM. The facts that you read zeros after a secure erase doesn't tell you anything because it unmaps the LBA-to-page mappings, so when you run the hexdump the drives isn't reading the NAND at all, its just generating zeros and returning them.