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 + Intel IMSM 8.9
Intel + 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


View All Comments

  • AnnihilatorX - Wednesday, March 02, 2011 - link

    Anand you didn't clarify very clearly what is the difference of naming between 510 series and X-25 G3.
    The introduction leads me to believe 510 is X-25 G3, or is it not?

    Is X-25 G3 going to use 25nm flash instead, so it's another drive? If so, when is the release date of that, and how do we expect its performance compared to 510 in this review? Will the X-25 G3 uses a custom controller?
  • strikeback03 - Thursday, March 03, 2011 - link

    As the article stated, the G3 (whatever it is officially called) will be a lower-performance part whose aim is to bring lower prices and better reliability to more mainstream segments Reply
  • MrStromberg - Wednesday, March 02, 2011 - link

    So I've been waiting for quite some time now for the new intel drives since the reviews in the past about how reliable and how long life an SSD has, promising that all of this would be better with these new generation drives. Although now I am faced with the potential "problem" of a 3Gbit bottle neck in mi macbook pro and as mentioned in the review above "these next-generation SSDs not only use 6Gbps SATA, they really need it." So where does that leave me? Should a go for a cheaper older drive which might be less reliable in the long run (but nobody really knows right?) or buy a new generation drive which might be suffering from a bottleneck? I didn't really understand why the new drives really need the 6Gbit SATA to function well? Can someone please explain or give me some advice.

    thank you
  • Denithor - Wednesday, March 02, 2011 - link

    Best right now would probably be an Intel G2 drive. Fast enough and very good durability.

    The next generation drives aren't really going to perform much better on a 3Gb SATA port than the current generation already does, plus you have the worse durability inherent in the 25nm NAND chips.
  • Nentor - Wednesday, March 02, 2011 - link

    Wow, so Intel has a gap in it's road map and goes the 3rd party route and brings us a product that is essentially slower than a consumer product (Vertex 3) from another manufacturer.

    They could have gone Sandforce, why not?
  • mateus1984 - Wednesday, March 02, 2011 - link

    http://forums.hexus.net/general-discussion/199892-... Reply
  • Drag0nFire - Wednesday, March 02, 2011 - link

    Would love to see you run a traditional hdd through the new bench so we can see what sort of real world improvements can be expected from making the switch to an SSD...

    Great article. I'll be waiting for the x25-m G3. Keep on Intel about this!
  • wheel - Wednesday, March 02, 2011 - link

    Thanks for the review Anand, but I am a little disappointed that there are a lot of synthetic benchmarks but no real world tests.

    By "real world tests" I mean separate tests for: booting into Windows; loading a web browser with 25 tabs of saved web page documents on the HDD; starting Star Craft and loading a map; copying a large amount of files to itself; running a batch Photoshop image transform job; starting IE6 from a stopped Windows XP Mode VM and opening a complex web page hosted on the local disk; running a intensive anti-virus scan on a specific (large) folder etc.

    I know PC Mark and SysMark are meant to represent these real world test, but as individual consumers we have different usage profiles and by breaking down the results into individual tests we can better work out which drive is most appropriate for us, instead of studying the synthetic tests and making an educated guess.

  • Boogaloo - Wednesday, March 02, 2011 - link


    A lot of people are complaining about the performance of the drive, and I'd like to know how much of a difference it actually makes in real world scenarios. If this drive comes within 10 ms of a vertex 3 loading up starcraft 2, then who cares?
  • iwod - Wednesday, March 02, 2011 - link

    If you read carefully the Anand Benchmarks does exactly just that. Reply

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