A week ago I got a shipment of a bunch of new SSDs including OCZ's long awaited Onyx. This is based on the Indilinx Amigos controller, which is basically a cost reduced version of the Barefoot controller with only half the channels. A 32GB Onyx should sell for around $99.

The first drive I received showed CRC errors during a Windows install. I told OCZ to stop shipment two Fridays ago. OCZ responded by saying that they wouldn't stop shipments after only one bad drive. Their mistake.

In my experience, I never get a "bad drive", it's either DOA or has a firmware/controller bug. Three days later OCZ issued a recall on the drive and got in touch with its customers directly to make sure they were taken care of.

OCZ had the bug fixed within a week and sent me a new drive (as well as posted an updated firmware on their site). I've been testing the fixed Onyx and while it doesn't exhibit the same issues as the first drive, I am seeing an unexpected CRC error in one particular test that shouldn't be there. I just got off the phone with OCZ and they are going to be pulling back all drives until the problem is squashed.

Building SSDs is a challenging business. I stressed to OCZ that this could have been avoided if they just sent out samples a week before shipping to etailers. I have to at least hand it to OCZ for acting quickly to pull the drives, especially after today's warning. 

Update: OCZ's earlier firmware update appears to have squashed the bug completely. Its engineers and I have been working to reproduce the more recent CRC error and it doesn't appear to be an issue with the drive itself, rather something limited to my test platform. I was concerned about the possibility of another data corruption bug given the issue I had with the first drive and arrived at the wrong conclusion. Using the latest firmware the OCZ Onyx has completed almost all of my tests thus far without issue. I will keep you all updated on my experiences with the drive.

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  • rqle - Wednesday, May 05, 2010 - link

    what up with the validation for these ssd drives? These companies! Our data is probably the most important thing in our system. Do they not think it's important? Reply
  • jimhsu - Wednesday, May 05, 2010 - link

    That's why I'm recommending ordinary people to consider only SSDs that are out on the market after a year or so. Even Sandforce with all their fixes is still suspect unless they can convince me in 6 months that no horrible problems will develop. The quality control for Rev A products stinks so much that it's foolish to do otherwise. "Bleeding edge" is one thing, but doing so for your data is something else entirely. Reply
  • Chloiber - Wednesday, May 05, 2010 - link

    I'd also say, that if you want a reliable SSD, buy one which has been on the market for several months. And if you want to update your FW, wait some days after the release.
    Someone has to be the early adopter, but when I buy new or update a brand new FW I always expect problems.
    Personally, I don't have a problem with this because it is my decision to buy the newest hardware.
    But if you want a reliable SSD and don't want to play around, buy an older one...
    Reply
  • leexgx - Friday, May 07, 2010 - link

    OCZ vertex or M225, seem quite stable been out for some time now (faster SSDs not very important as norm user will not notice it unless he doing server loads) Reply
  • GullLars - Wednesday, May 05, 2010 - link

    When you buy a new-to-market SSD, you should do 2 things other than configuring your setup:
    1. Make an image as soon as OS, drivers and core apps are in place, and store the image on one or more HDDs. This makes for a quick recovery should the drive fail, or should you need to do a destructive firmware upgrade.
    2. Configure all user data folders to other drives than C: and do regular backups of important data. (this you should do anyways regardless of SSD or not)

    I have no problems with manufacturers shiping possibly unstable new to market drives if the following conditions are met:
    1. They explicitly state there may be problems with initial drives and firmware (not hidden in the middle of a manual).
    2. Such problems would be covered fully by warranty with no limitations, including flash to new firmware to fix said problems.
    3. The price isn't unreasonably high with the earily adopter risk factored in.
    4. The manufacturer listen to customers and quickly deal with any problems.

    Like others here, i agree, if people want a drive that just works without problems, go with a product with at least 2-3 months track record in the market. If there are any large problems, someone will have noticed by then. Also, when upgrading firmware, 1 week after release should be sufficient to detect any problems, as people generally yell out in support forums if there are any.
    The problem with the new C300 firmware flashing is likely more user-incompetence than problems with the method, but the programmers could make the flashing program check SATA modus before starting the flash (like HDD erase does).
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Wednesday, May 05, 2010 - link

    Well, unless you have a boatload of money you are probably only putting your OS on the SSD and your important data is elsewhere. That said, problems cropping up in something as simple as a Windows install should really be caught in testing.

    Though wouldn't a DOA drive be "one bad drive"?
    Reply
  • bplewis24 - Wednesday, May 05, 2010 - link

    DOA would mean Dead on Arrival. So I'm assuming by that he means that there wouldn't be any "errors" to catch in testing as the thing wouldn't even boot up to begin with. Thus the errors are exhibited from a controller issue, not a DOA drive.

    Brandon
    Reply
  • Taft12 - Wednesday, May 05, 2010 - link

    Their ignorance and arrogance is going to cost them a bundle

    Maybe more customers are cashing in on their abundant mail-in rebates and they need to cut R&D corners (and surely others won't even give their second rate products a chance due to their disdain for MIRs in the first place)
    Reply
  • tejas84 - Wednesday, May 05, 2010 - link

    I don't care what you say Anand... SSD's are NOT ready for primetime. I am sticking with proven mechanical technology until SSD's can prove themselves in Server environments and also come with equivalent warranties.

    I will not waste my money on unproven SSD's and I am sure that many enthusiasts who actually care about their data will agree.
    Reply
  • Impulses - Wednesday, May 05, 2010 - link

    I'm not sure I understand this panic or contempt, most enthusiasts aren't using SSDs to store data... Sure, the shoddy validation process some SSD seem to go thru is still cause for concern, but it's not like it's gonna cost you priceless memories or something. The vast majority of people toss their OS and apps on these things, something you should have backed up anyway (not because it's precious data but for convenience).

    There's been plenty of HDD firmware issues in the past anyway, Seagate's 7200.11 line, WD's TLER / RAID issues, etc. They're hardly immune from any of this. That being said, Intel's drives are not only the best bang for the buck right now, but they probably have the best track record as well, hard to go wrong w/an X25-M or an X25-V. I'm enjoying both of mine a lot!
    Reply

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