Slowing The Slowdown
While no real progress has been made on fixing the actual problem, there's plenty being done to mitigate the issue. Developers have come up with a variety of techniques to lengthen the life of SSDs:
The most common is known as “wear leveling," where all writes are spread out over the entire capacity of the disk, not just sectioned off. This ensures that it wears out evenly, across the drive somewhat reducing the problem.
Some SSD devices will have special software or firmware which can optimize the write/erase cycles for maximum efficiency by combining the writes, known simply as “write combining."
Another technique is to actually include a small DRAM cache within the SSD device—which may in itself just be another SSD. What this will do is buffer the drive, thus minimizing the number of write/ erase cycles required.
Defragmenting or "defragging" a SSD takes up many write/erase cycles... which shortens the lifetime of an SSD, even if it's also cleaning up the drive. Many, usually older, OSs will do this automatically, even when it's not necessary. However, defragging here may be useful not for the traditional purpose of reducing latency, as it is used for traditional hard drives, but for purposes of alleviating the write amplification effect described above. While it's a delicate balance, how often you should defrag your SSD for optimum performance and lifetime, it's one that more people are becoming aware of when attending to the health of their SSD. Only defrag when necessary!
Larger SSD devices sometimes even contain more memory than they advertise, so that once parts of the drive start fragmenting, those previously unknown and unused portions of the drive will start being used.
However, for all the techniques that are developed and used to mitigate the problem of the slowdown, that's still all that they do - lessen the extent of the problem. It's still a problem that needs to be fixed, and there's no complete solution immediately in sight on the horizon. Despite the slowdown, however, SSDs still have a bright future, and many powerful uses in everyday life.
(Edit: I received some comments, viewable below, that had included claims that defragging is unnecessary in SSDs. While researching for this article the commentary I found elsewhere often seemed mixed, for instance, this story from System Management News. There do appear to be at least plausible reasons to defrag an SSD, which is why I brought it up as a possibility within this article with the caveat that you shouldn't do it too often. However, for emphasis, it's an ongoing debate, and I'm just one author! By all means research other sources as well. This article is not intended as a technical justification for defragging SSDs, it's a broad overview intended for laymen. I did some tweaks throughout the article based on the commentary to attempt to be more clear.)