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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  • Marlin1975 - Wednesday, March 02, 2011 - link

    How about throwing in a AMD SB850 to see how they handle SSD's.
    AMD has had native SATA6gb longer than intel so like to see how that matchs up. Most only look at CPU and ignore the chipset.
    Reply
  • DarkKnight_Y2K - Wednesday, March 02, 2011 - link

    +1 Reply
  • tech6 - Wednesday, March 02, 2011 - link

    So nothing has really changed. There still isn't one "perfect" SSD that does everything well and is proven to be reliable. I guess the disappointment stems from many that were hoping that the new Intel SSDs would tick all those boxes - speed, reliability and price. As usual YMMV - Samsung and Intel is the conservative choice and SF based drives are for those who want maximum performance in random I/O situations. Reply
  • tno - Wednesday, March 02, 2011 - link

    This, as always in the tech world, is a numbers and marketing game. Somewhere there is a user who is encoding video and really needs the bleeding edge for that. There is an artist working on large incompressible canvasses in Photoshop. These guys need this drive. They have a small Sandforce doing OS duties but they need a fast non -Sandforce drive for data. All those numbers mean squat without perspective and that's what's the text of Anandtech articles bring.

    So maybe for the consumer that is tech savvy enough to know they want an SSD but not enough to have read all that has been published with regards SSD drives they need a simple primer. Maybe a web app. Do you use you computer with VMs? Do you use it with games? Is your computer a netbook? I'm certain there is a way to ask a few questions and come up with a sensible suggestion for what drive is right for which user.
    That would only work with a more comprehensive field of tested drives. Other posters are right, there is little to no way of knowing which is the best 40GB drive. So I volunteer myself to help. Anand, I am a soon to be new father that would love to work from home if for no other reason than daycare costs nearly as much as what I get paid as a paramedic. Send me a system, every SSD on the market and a small stipend and I will test anything and everything solid state.
    Reply
  • Gigantopithecus - Wednesday, March 02, 2011 - link

    ...with poor product differentiation. With Intel's adoption of the same controller others are using, SSDs become that much less interesting. I realize firmware and QC differences still exist, but without hard numbers (aside from the French site's), and given that major snafus can hit any maker at any time, it seems like the only real consideration is ye ole customer service. I've dealt with OCZ's 'support' department twice and that was enough for me. Intel and Crucial have always treated me right, so considering real world performance differences more or less don't exist anymore, they'll be getting my SSD $s. Reply
  • LeeKay - Wednesday, March 02, 2011 - link

    have had 100% Faliure and i have had 5 drives all failed. Reply
  • iwod - Wednesday, March 02, 2011 - link

    I have been asking the question for a long time. Why an Toshiba SSD manage to beat Sandforce in some real world usage. And finally we got an answer.

    Given all SSD latency are roughly equal or the same.

    Seq Read Write is EXTREMELY Important in Everyday usage. IT IS THE SINGLE MOST Important factor that gives you most improvement in SSD Real World usage benchmarks.

    Random Write reaches the top with 50 MB/s. And while we would want further reduction in Write latency, but with the increase of Ram / Cache onbroad with SSD. This should not be an issue.

    Random Read results shows we have still some head room to grow.

    With further tweaking Intel may be able to squeeze out even more performance our of it.
    Reply
  • tno - Thursday, March 03, 2011 - link

    I think I missed something, while Seq Read Write is obviously the big number that makes the marketing materials, in terms of user experience (ooh, buzzword) the Random Reads are where lies the money, and as Anand said in the article, no modern OS stresses this enough to make the lower numbers a significant limitation.

    High sequential reading and writing is only going to be felt by those that are moving large files around within an already fast environment where a mechanical disk drive would be a bottle neck (encoding files locally for instance). And while for those users Seq Read Write might be considered "THE SINGLE MOST important factor" it wouldn't be for, say, the person that wants to add some oopmh to a dual-core laptop of otherwise mediocre specifications.

    Certainly, aside from playing around with transferring files, my drives have probably never approached their max seq speed. As OS drives, they mainly spend their time hunting out small files for the OS to use.
    Reply
  • Beenthere - Wednesday, March 02, 2011 - link

    These SSDs aren't ready for prime time just yet IMO. Maybe in another 2-3 years? Reply
  • tno - Thursday, March 03, 2011 - link

    What's the hold up? Reliability? Speed? Reply

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