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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  • lyeoh - Wednesday, March 02, 2011 - link

    Oh yeah, thanks for the max latency figures. They're very useful.

    The G2's max of 900ms is quite a long time. Nearly a second! What are the max latencies for say a velociraptor in similar tests? I know the theoretical figures would be based on seek time + RPM but often theory is different from practice.

    I find it interesting that the Crucial RealSSD C300 does worse than the Intel SSD 510 in the "Anand Storage Bench 2011- Heavy Workload" despite getting better numbers in the random and sequential tests. Any idea why this would be so? Poorer max latency?
    Reply
  • jimhsu - Wednesday, March 02, 2011 - link

    Poorer sequential performance I guess. The C300 (which I just got) is very fast, but the sequential perf of the 510 is simply better, which impacts a lot of the sequential portion of the workload test. Random performance in typical desktop models has reached somewhat of a plateau, particularly since most applications currently out there are optimized for the dog-slow random performance of consumer hard drives. Reply
  • Creepwood - Friday, March 04, 2011 - link

    About reliability/compatibility: have you tested this drive in the new Sandy Bridge Macbook Pro? Any issues? Reply
  • davepermen - Monday, March 07, 2011 - link

    Interestingly, one of THE main performance cases is when you need to quickly write lots of stuff, like in video editing. And there, all data is at least partially compressed, so i guess there the intel will be in a better place. Reply
  • RaistlinZ - Wednesday, March 02, 2011 - link

    Intel is going to have to price this thing cheaper than the Vertex 3, or any other new Sandforce SSD for that matter. They can't use performance as a selling point. I'm sure the new SF controller will offer good stability. Unless you're an Intel fanboy I don't see any reason to get the 510 over the Vertex 3, unless they price it much lower. Reply
  • semo - Wednesday, March 02, 2011 - link

    This is an Atom alright!

    I think the conclusion, although critical in places was overall mild. “It looks like we may have hit the upper limit of what we need from 4KB random write performance”… Yeah, in the consumer/budget space. But what consumer/budget computer user would buy a 250GB SSD. I’ve managed to convince a few of my clients to go with an “expensive upgrade” and in the end they’ve been extremely happy… In those cases I’ve only installed 64GB drives.

    At the moment SSDs are NOT mainstream and it’s mostly the enthusiast and pro crowd that will be buying consumer grade SSDs. I’ll be using my SSD for VMs for testing and studying and I do a lot of heavy random IO operations.

    For a drive as big and as expensive as the 250GB 510, I expect much better across-the-board performance.
    Reply
  • TSnor - Wednesday, March 02, 2011 - link

    Hi, the article states "~900ms write operation, the 510 keeps the worst case latency to below 400ms. The Vertex 3 by comparison has a max write latency of anywhere from 60ms - 350ms"

    microseconds are usually abbreviated us, where the u has a funny tail on it. (the u is greek for something)
    ms usually means milliseconds. I usually type 'mics' when on the keyboard and reserve the funny u for when handwriting. example, a good SSD write takes less then 100 mics.

    saying something is around 900 ms means it takes about a second.
    Reply
  • epicsnackus - Wednesday, March 02, 2011 - link

    The article is correct, the numbers are really in milliseconds. The microsecond numbers you're thinking of are 1) best case, and 2) usually reads Reply
  • Chloiber - Wednesday, March 02, 2011 - link

    "Write speed with fully incompressible data is easily a victory for the SF-2200 based OCZ Vertex 3."

    I think you meant fully compressible?
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Wednesday, March 02, 2011 - link

    Fixed! Thank you :)

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply

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