A Word on Reliability

Marc Prieur has been around writing about hardware for as long as I can remember (think back to the old school Tom days). Late last year he published some particularly controversial numbers on his website: failure rates of various PC components according to a French etailer. Among the components were SSDs and the numbers are below:

SSD Failure Rates - Hardware.fr
  Intel Corsair Crucial Kingston OCZ
Failure Percentage 0.59% 2.17% 2.25% 2.39% 2.93%

I should add that the numbers Marc published were accurate (confirmed by some of the manufacturers involved), although they don’t paint the complete picture of world wide failure rates - they are an important sample to look at.

Other than Intel, none of the companies listed in that article were particularly pleased with the numbers.

I mentioned earlier that the 510 would go through Intel’s extensive validation testing, just like any other Intel product. Presumably this means that the SSD 510 should have similarly low failure rates in the field (unless there’s something horribly wrong with the Marvell controller that is). Compatibility should also be a strong point of the SSD 510 due to Intel’s stringent internal testing.

Note that I am separating reliability and compatibility from drive longevity. There’s typically a good correlation between high random write performance and low write amplification. The Intel SSD 510 doesn’t have particularly high random write performance, and in turn should suffer from fairly high write amplification in highly random workloads.

I’ve already proved in the past that at 5,000 p/e cycles there’s no cause for worry for a normal desktop user. The likelihood that you’ll wear out all of your NAND within the next 5 years is very, very low. However I will say that when faced with enterprise workloads you’re going to have to pay much closer attention to write amplification and spare area than you would on say a SandForce drive.

The Test

CPU Intel Core i7 965 running at 3.2GHz (Turbo & EIST Disabled)
Intel Core i7 2600K running at 3.4GHz (Turbo & EIST Disabled) - for AT SB 2011, AS SSD & ATTO
Motherboard: Intel DX58SO (Intel X58)
Intel H67 Motherboard
Chipset: Intel X58 + Marvell SATA 6Gbps PCIe Intel H67
Chipset Drivers: Intel 9.1.1.1015 + Intel IMSM 8.9
Intel 9.1.1.1015 + Intel RST 10.2
Memory: Qimonda DDR3-1333 4 x 1GB (7-7-7-20)
Video Card: eVGA GeForce GTX 285
Video Drivers: NVIDIA ForceWare 190.38 64-bit
Desktop Resolution: 1920 x 1200
OS: Windows 7 x64
Intel’s SSD 510 Powered by Marvell Random Read/Write Speed
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  • TrackSmart - Wednesday, March 02, 2011 - link

    It would be silly to return the Vertex 2 (my opinion). Just check out the PCMark Vantage scores in this article. There's little real world difference between all of the high end drives. Without the benchmarks, there's no way to tell the drives apart.

    But if it's going to eat you up inside, knowing you were just a 2-3 months away from having the latest model, go ahead. I'll be keeping be enjoying my OCZ Agility 2 in the mean time.
    Reply
  • JohnBooty - Wednesday, March 02, 2011 - link

    "I'm wondering if I should return the [Vertex 2] and just wait for the Vertex 3"

    I've got a mix of Vertex 1's, Intel G1s, Intel G2, and Vertex 2's in a variety of machines at home and at work.

    For workstation usage as a software dev, there's not a heck of a lot of subjective (ie, "it feels faster") difference between them. At this level of disk performance, your machine just isn't waiting on the hard drive very often.

    Obviously you may have specific needs. I used to work for a client who had a 8GB database that I was constantly backing up and restoring many times a day in the course of development work. Now there was a situation where raw read/write speeds were king and the Vertex 3 probably would have performed close to 2x faster. For me that kind of usage is the exception and not the rule though.
    Reply
  • sean.crees - Wednesday, March 02, 2011 - link

    I didn't see any discussion on internal garbage collection (ie: NOT trim).

    Does it have any?

    In my mind, this will be the key deciding feature between Intel and Vertex 3. Whichever has the better garbage collection without TRIM. Remember, TRIM still doesn't work in a RAID array or in OSX.
    Reply
  • MrCromulent - Wednesday, March 02, 2011 - link

    +1. I'm really eager for an IGC comparison of the Intel 510, the Vertex 3 and if possible, also of a current firmware version of the Crucial C300 (since the drive still competes very well).

    In Anand's initial test, the C300 suffered from very poor IGC, but Marvell supposedly alleviated this problem in their new firmware releases. Unfortunately, no IGC tests have been conducted with the 0006 firmware yet.
    Reply
  • halcyon - Wednesday, March 02, 2011 - link

    Hate to do this, but

    +1.

    It's not what's the latest, but what's offers the best bang for buck after upgrades.

    Such a review would be immensely helpful.

    Although based on the Intel 510 TRIM-test random write results, it may have to wait for the first Intel FW upgrade as the numbers with the shipping FW are truly appalling.
    Reply
  • Syan48306 - Saturday, March 05, 2011 - link

    I'm dying to know how it will hold up in my macbook pro. I finally caved and bought one of these 510 SSD's and although it's after the fact, I still want to know how long it'll still be "good" in my system. Reply
  • tim851 - Wednesday, March 02, 2011 - link

    If the original X25-M "conroe'd" the market, it seems G3 "atomed" it. In the way that Intel, in their crusade to maximize profits and segmentize the market, designed quite a bit to conservatively.

    I'm all for it though, because I believe that currently, the last thing SSDs are lacking is speed, so the last thing they really need is more of it. I believe at this point just about everybody would want one, if it weren't for the prohibitively high prices. So if Intel can half the per-GB-price of the G3, I'll buy one for sure!
    Reply
  • anactoraaron - Wednesday, March 02, 2011 - link

    +1

    I thought the exact same thing about the 1st gen drive compared to this one. What makes SSD's "feel" so much faster is the random read/write performance. When the 40GB X25-V is so close to matching random read/write the 510 will just "feel" slow, especially once you have everything installed on it. I mean, really, who cares about sequential performance once you have everything on the drive that you planned putting on it?

    Anand, please put the current WD velociraptor numbers into this graph. It will demonstrate what I mean.

    Glad I didn't wait and got my 60GB Vertex 2...
    Reply
  • anactoraaron - Wednesday, March 02, 2011 - link

    oh yeah if I just looked I would see the velociraptor numbers... lol its late and I should be asleep... maybe I am? Did Intel just atom their next SSD? Reply
  • Golgatha - Wednesday, March 02, 2011 - link

    I think this is a fair criticism. I also only look at the random R/W performance of these new SSDs. I can pull 215 MB/s R/W from my 300GB Velociraptors in RAID0, and use these drives to install all my games on since game loading performance is largely determined by sequential reading of data from the disks (lots of big sequential files), and because I need around 400GB of space currently for all my game installs .

    Sequential reads for most SSDs are lower than the 215 MB/s reads I enjoy from my Velociraptors in RAID0. I have a Crucial C300 256MB in this same desktop and I also use an 80GB Intel G2 in my laptop; both of these drives are slower than my Velociraptors in RAID0 in terms of sequential read performance. Also, there is obviously a space concern, in that there isn't enough space on either of these drives to install my games to them.

    Now for the host OS and all the random programs I run in parallel, a SSD gives you huge gains and the system just feels snappier. This is largely due to random R/W performance. Basically you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference between sequentially reading 10MB of data or less at 215MB/s (Velociraptors in RAID0) vs 320MB/s (my Crucial C300 256MB average speed on a PCIe4x, SATA3, ASUS add-in card), hence the reason that sequential performance of SSDs doesn't matter much to me anymore.

    Now if I could get a 512GB or bigger SSD with greater than 215MB/s sequential read performance for less than $1/GB, I might bite on that. So far this product has not come to market, so I'll stick with my Velociraptors until it does.
    Reply

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