Final Words

I've been a fan of SandForce's technology since it first showed up in OCZ's Vertex 2 Pro in late 2009. Performance has never been an issue with SandForce and because of the fact that the controller writes less than its competitors, the controller and drives based on it are well behaved over months of use. The biggest issue with SandForce has always been a lack of validation compared to other, bigger players like Intel and Samsung. SandForce relies on its partners to do a lot of the validation and testing that would normally be internalized at its competitors. Until now, SandForce hasn't really had a partner large enough to really throw a ton of resources at drive validation. Now that SandForce is under the LSI umbrella things may change, but until then we finally have a well validated SF-2281 drive: the Intel SSD 520.

I'm still curious to see if other bugs crop up but if Intel hasn't found anything else after twelve months of testing I'm willing to bet that either the SF-2281 is irreparably broken or the 520 is going to be a reliable SSD.

I only have one data point where the 520 behaves better than other SF-2281 based drives, but that alone is a perfect example of what you pay for with Intel. This is exactly what we've been waiting for. If you want the absolute fastest SSD on the market today, the Intel SSD 520 is the only drive to get. If you're put off by the price, Samsung's SSD 830 is an excellent alternative.

I'm going to save this next bit for a future article, but have a look at the 520's performance in our enterprise workloads compared to the Intel SSD 320:

Enterprise SSD Performance
  Oracle Swingbench MS SQL DailyUpdates MS SQL WeeklyMaint
Intel SSD 320 300GB 56.5 MB/s 207.3 MB/s 230.4 MB/s
Intel SSD 520 240GB 67.2 MB/s 376.7 MB/s 418.1 MB/s

The 320 is actually widely used in servers as it's very reliable and can last a good amount of time with the right amount of over-provisioning. The 520 just destroys it. The bigger benefit is that if you're dealing with a workload that's not already compressed, the 520 will guarantee you much better drive longevity than the 320 thanks to the fact that it's simply not writing as much data to NAND. If you're looking for an affordable way to get a ton of IOPS for your enterprise workloads, Cherryville may be your ticket...

Power Consumption


View All Comments

  • eman17j - Wednesday, February 8, 2012 - link

    Are you trying to say that Amd's cpus are unreliable? I have one and I have no problems at all with it. I dont have crashes or freezes. Reply
  • bji - Wednesday, February 8, 2012 - link

    He's a beginner. He doesn't know what he's talking about. Reply
  • eman17j - Wednesday, February 8, 2012 - link

    Wrong because the business buys the drive at an higher price then raises the price on their product or service and passes the cost of the drive to the consumer so the consumer ends up paying for the price premium anyways Reply
  • gamoniac - Monday, February 6, 2012 - link

    Is playing game part of Brian's job description? Reply
  • Brian Klug - Monday, February 6, 2012 - link

    Heheh, I guess you could say that for once, yes, playing BF3 was part of the job! :)

  • Oberst - Monday, February 6, 2012 - link

    Seems like there is the first customer with the bsod bug in the intel forum. It seems like the reliability is no better than at all the other SF drives and it's just a matter of (bad) luck.
  • Makaveli - Monday, February 6, 2012 - link

    That tool installed his brand new Intel 520 drive in IDE mode? Reply
  • NitroWare - Wednesday, February 8, 2012 - link

    You would be surprised how many laptop owners (and even desktop owners) are unaware that they should use AHCI mode. I can guarantee that there are millions of boards out there with modern HDD or SSD in non optimal mode.

    Another large tech site interviewed several mobo vendors about Z68 and most sad it was supposed to ship with RAID mode as default due to the SRT feature., the reality is much different.

    2010 1st gen core i5 thinkpad has problems with third party SSDs which some users claim IDE mode is the only way they get their 'cheap' SSD working

    There is a mentality that if a user knows how to physically install a drive then they do not need to do anything else. Then there is the old drivers issues, yeah whatever the motherboard came with at best.

    That is something the chipset vendors need to work on. Some motherboards put up a warning if you try to turn AHCI off with an auto counter to re-enable it.

    It is definitely possible that a BIOS can detect a SSD and at least put up a text message saying what the recommend setting is. It is hard to ignore such messages.
  • mustardman29 - Monday, February 6, 2012 - link

    I was trying to tell the OCZ support guys ever since their latest firmware that the BSOD is still there. It happens a lot less but it's still there.

    They were trying to tell me it was something wrong with my system and that I should re-install windows. That the kind of thing I would expect to hear from a 1-800 number that goes to someone in India reading a script. Not from a drive manufacturer.

    I'll never buy another OCZ drive. Not because of the problem but because of the way they are dealing with it. Pretending it's does not exist and telling people to re-install windows.

    And yes, Sandforce deserves part of the blame for pretending there was no problem for a long time despite many people saying otherwise.

    However, I would not hesitate to buy this intel drive. They obviously found the problem and fixed it with their own firmware. Something the controller manufacturer seems incapable of doing.
  • ckryan - Monday, February 6, 2012 - link

    You're not crazy. SF2281s still have stability issues, and the TRIM related BSODs are still happening too. Most people won't ever have problems with a 2281, but many did and still live with the occasional problem. The last round of FW did indeed fix many problems (it solved mine), but others still suffer. I stopped using the drives just because I have quite a few I play with, but you can still get a 2281 to flop on TRIM every once in a while.

    I'm sure Intel really put the screws to Cherryville's FW, but I think some of the issues with 2281 and their ilk are still mysteries to the SF partners, and possibly even LSI/SF and Intel (the expect fewer problems?).

    Here's hoping the next gen of the SF is bulletproof.

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