The SSD Anthology: Understanding SSDs and New Drives from OCZby Anand Lal Shimpi on March 18, 2009 12:00 AM EST
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Be sure to read our latest SSD article: The SSD Relapse for an updated look at the SSD market.
I spent about three weeks working on my review of Intel’s X25-M SSD. Most of that was research and writing and re-writing to not only review the product but also to talk about the rest of the SSDs in the marketplace and their deficiencies. Truth be told, I spent more time working on SSDs that weren’t the X25-M than the Intel drive itself. The Intel drive just worked as it should, the rest of them didn’t.
If you read the article, you know I was pretty harsh on some of the SSDs out at the time and if you’ve ever used any of those SSDs, you know why. Needless to say, there was some definite fallout from that review. I’m used to negative manufacturer response after a GPU review, but I’m always a bit surprised when it happens in any other segment.
I took a day or two off after that review went live, I think it was a day. Afterwards, I immediately started working on a follow-up. There was a strange phenomenon a few people noticed, something I unfortunately picked up on after the review went live; if you filled the X25-M up and re-benchmarked it, it got slower. And I had no idea why.
A few weeks later, I had it figured out. But then Nehalem was right around the corner. I’d tackle it after that. But then a new batch of SSDs from OCZ and other vendors were almost ready. I told myself I’d do them all at the same time. Then CES happened.
The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same
If you look at the SSD market today, you’d assume that it’s very different from what it was just six months ago when the X25-M launched. People are worried that the Intel drive has issues with degrading performance over time. Some vendors are now shipping “revised” JMicron drives with multiple controllers, supposedly fixing all of the problems I talked about last year.
I hate to break it to you guys. As different as the world may seem today, it’s all very much the same.
The Intel drive is still the best of the best. Yes, it, and other SSDs do get slower over time and later in this article I’ll explain why it happens and why it’s not as big of a deal as you’d think. The issues I complained about with the JMicron drives from last year are still alive and well today; they’re just somewhat occluded.
Delay after delay kept me from writing this article, but I believe it’s for the best. What went in to what you’re about to read is nearly six months of research, testing and plain old work with SSDs.
The timing couldn’t be more perfect. We’re about to see a new wave of SSDs hit the market and it’s time to separate the fact from the fiction, the benchmarks from reality and the men from the boys. The last time I wrote an article about SSDs I ruffled quite a few feathers. That’s never my aim, but we’ll see what comes of this one.
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Erickffd - Friday, March 20, 2009 - linkAlso created an account just to post this comment.
Really impressive and well done article ! Will stay tune for further developments and reviews. Thank you so much :)
Also... very impressed by OCZ's respond and commitment upon end users needs and product quality assurance (unfortunately not so commun by large this days among other companies). Certanly will buy from them my next SSDs to reward and support their healty policy.
Be well ! ;)
Gasaraki88 - Friday, March 20, 2009 - linkThis truly was a GREAT article. I enjoyed reading it and was very informative. Thank you so much. That's why Anandtech is the best site out there.
davidlants - Friday, March 20, 2009 - linkThis is one of the best tech articles I have ever read, I created an account just to post this comment. I've been a fan of Anandtech for years and articles like this (and the RV700 article from a while back) show the truly unique perspective and access that Anand has that simply no other tech site can match. GREAT WORK!!!
Zak - Friday, March 20, 2009 - linkI just got the Apex. I'd probably cough up more dough for the Vertex after reading this. However, I've run it for two days as my system disk in MacPro and haven't noticed any issues, it's really fast. But I guess I'll get Vertex for my Windows 7 build.
Nemokrad - Friday, March 20, 2009 - linkWhat I find intriguing about this article is that these smaller manufacturers do not do real world internal testing for these things. They should not need 3rd parties like you to figure this shit out for them. Maybe now OCZ will learn what they need to do for the future.
JonasR - Friday, March 20, 2009 - link
Thanks for an excellent article. I have one question does anyone know which controller is beeing used in the new Patriot 256GB V.3 SSD?
tgwgordon - Friday, March 20, 2009 - linkAnyone know if the Vertex Anand used had 32M or 64M cache?
Dennis Travis - Friday, March 20, 2009 - linkExcellent and informative article as always Anand. Thanks so much for posting the truth!!
IsLNdbOi - Friday, March 20, 2009 - linkCan't remember what page it was, but you showed some charts on the performance of SSDs at their lowest possible performance levels.
At their lowest possible performance levels are they still faster than the 300GB Raptor?
Edgemeal - Friday, March 20, 2009 - linkIt's too bad Windows and applications don't let you select where all the data that needs to be updated and saved to is stored. If that was an option a SSD could be used to only load data (EXE files and support files) and a HDD could be used to store files that are updated frequently, like a web browser for example, their constantly caching files, from the sound of this article that would kill the performance of a SSD in no time.
Great article, I'll stick to HDDs for now.