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

  • Squuiid - Friday, March 04, 2011 - link

    They were the 1st of this next gen to be available, yet NOBODY has reviewed them.
    Based on the 2nd Gen Marvel controller I believe, a' la C400.
  • Luke212 - Friday, March 04, 2011 - link


    I am looking to implement SSDs in Application servers and I need to know how they go in Raid 1 over time. Noone seems to test this! So I am stuck with magnetic drives!!
  • sean.crees - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    Anyone else notice the Samsung 470 near or at the top of most benchmarks on a 3gb controller? Is this the SSD in current Macbook Pro's? I havn't seen a review posted to Anandtech about this specific device. Reply
  • daidaloss - Tuesday, March 15, 2011 - link

    I'm curious as to how does this SSD drive stacks up when compared to this unit SATA2 DDR2 HyperDrive5 from http://www.hyperossystems.co.uk/.
    Maybe sometime in the future, Anand will consider this RAM drive.
  • tygrus - Wednesday, May 11, 2011 - link

    Not specific to Intel 510 SSD:
    Sequential performance after several full disk GB rewrites ?

    The LBA remapping for wear levelling must make more of the disk look random (not sequential) after every block has been re-written several times. It's a torture test to see how it can handle reading large files that have been spread over several non-sequential NAND blocks. Or does it not matter as much because the controller can optimise access to several NAND dies at once? Does it only remap 512KB at a time or does the 512KB blocks have non-sequential 4KB LBA's written to them?

    Does SSD performance approach random R/W performance after long term heavy use ?
  • gaffe - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - link

    Just an anonymous tip. I happen to know this data is wildly inaccurate because my friend is a reliability engineer at a major company.


    It seems you have tested probably 20 SSDs for your reviews. So, how many of them have failed on you during testing? How many during the course of the past 3 years? What's the failure rate average across all manufacturers?

    Even though manufacturers probably send you their best tested units for review, and your sample size is small, etc. I am willing to bet you REAL MONEY that the failure rate will be more than 3% even in a sample size of just 20.

    How about we buy 20 SSDs today and in 3 years see who is right, loser buys em all, winner gets em (you can keep the failed ones)?
    Any takers?
  • gaffe - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - link

    Oh and P.S.

    You forgot to mention above that failure rates are generally PER YEAR. So that's a 3% chance it fails EACH YEAR. And it's still wrong by double or triple (it's closer to 9%).
  • gaffe - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - link

    Sorry to keep piling on, but it bothers me so much that this inaccurate data is out there and people are believing this that I also want to mention this data does not even say which models were tested. This is probably all enterprise grade drives that does not even apply to consumers that are reading this article, and, as I said above, it's STILL INACCURATE! Reply

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