Brian

Western Digital SiliconEdge Blue SSD Review

Recommended Posts

Western Digital is the first of the hard drive manufacturers to embrace SSD technology. Their new SiliconEdge Blue SSD is a mainstream SSD available in 64GB, 128GB and 256GB capacities, and claim 250MB/s sequential read and 170MB/s write speeds.

The drives feature MLC flash, custom TRIM support, SATA II interface, 3-year warranty, and an impressive 130,000 hours testing in the Western Digital R&D labs. But with Intel sitting in the driver's seat of the mainstream SSD category, is Western Digital's first SSD effort enough to warrant serious consideration?

Full Review

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hmm, 1 page review... I like it, clicking through lots of pages (and waiting for them to load) is a pain compared to just scrolling down.

So, this is an official SR review, not just a "reader review", right?

Reasonable spread of benchmarks, though real world desktop usage was very notable for its absence - I think that is a critical necessity if you want to maintain the reputation of SR for being better than everyone else's... erm... storage reviews (sorry).

Give me the numbers! The graphs and comparative comments are all well and good, but for comparison with other similar designs, the actual numbers need to be available. Label it on the graph, or chart it, even just stick it in the Performance Database (call it Testbed 5).

Near the end... "but it is probably one of the most extensively tested for compatibility and reliability." Can you back this statement up? How much testing does Intel do on its drives, for example?

Finally, that trim performance bug thing - it looks like a big deal to me. Why buy this drive with that issue when I can get another SSD without the issue for a similar price? How often did it happen? How bad was it when it happened? Was it just noticeably slower, or was it as slow as a mechanical HDD? Or worse? I'd definitely keep the updates flowing on that issue - by picking this up and following it through to the bitter end, you can help WD make a better drive, make life better for SSD consumers everywhere, and maybe do something to establish SR's reputation as a review site that finds and cares about the little niggles as well.

Still, good first effort! Keep it up!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hmm, 1 page review... I like it, clicking through lots of pages (and waiting for them to load) is a pain compared to just scrolling down.

You will only see one page reviews here. If there's a reason to load a bunch of benchmarks or something on a second page, we'll do that if needed. I hate the 10 page reviews some sites do.

So, this is an official SR review, not just a "reader review", right?

Reasonable spread of benchmarks, though real world desktop usage was very notable for its absence - I think that is a critical necessity if you want to maintain the reputation of SR for being better than everyone else's... erm... storage reviews (sorry).

Give me the numbers! The graphs and comparative comments are all well and good, but for comparison with other similar designs, the actual numbers need to be available. Label it on the graph, or chart it, even just stick it in the Performance Database (call it Testbed 5).

Yes this is an official StorageReview review. This is the layout going forward, just incomplete in its current form. As you can see comparisons are weak with our first “official” internal drive review but that will change quickly as more reviews are published. It is a chicken and egg problem right now with only one published review to pull numbers from. Since this is also a new test bed for StorageReview we couldn’t pull in data from past reviews either. Trust me when I say it was pretty awkward and embarrassing to have only a single drive plotted on those charts. Give it a month and we will have plenty of datasets to include in future reviews.

The hardest thing so far has just been figuring out what tests we will run and retesting drives over and over again to make sure we have consistent results. The benchmarks shown in this review represent less than half of our final goal. Real-world benchmarks will be expanded in upcoming reviews. Right now it is limited to a simple folder transfer and the rest are synthetic benchmarks. We have finally worked out a method for capturing low-level disk I/O which was the major stumbling block up until now. With that we can finally add in real-life scenarios which are discussed in our new test bed thread. Expect to see those soon. Once we prove internally that our method gets repeatable benchmarks across multiple drives we will make those public and add them to reviews. We don’t want to jump the gun and have to correct it later on if we find an error in our method. Once things are set in stone if we still have older drives in the office, those will be back-tested and the review will be updated with that information.

Long-term plans are for the performance database to be updated with tests on our new Dell XPS 9000. This will give you the chance to compare multiple drives against each other that we might not mention in any given review. We will generally keep the sample size down to

4-5 drives to not clutter standard reviews.

Near the end... "but it is probably one of the most extensively tested for compatibility and reliability." Can you back this statement up? How much testing does Intel do on its drives, for example?

This is a WD claim, the hour count, and they indicated it's probably the most extensive. We can't know for sure though as OCZ, Intel and others haven't published this data. I will say though, that they ran HDD routines which are certainly more intensive that most, if not all SSD guys run.

Finally, that trim performance bug thing - it looks like a big deal to me. Why buy this drive with that issue when I can get another SSD without the issue for a similar price? How often did it happen? How bad was it when it happened? Was it just noticeably slower, or was it as slow as a mechanical HDD? Or worse? I'd definitely keep the updates flowing on that issue - by picking this up and following it through to the bitter end, you can help WD make a better drive, make life better for SSD consumers everywhere, and maybe do something to establish SR's reputation as a review site that finds and cares about the little niggles as well.

Now about the Western Digital SSD itself… The TRIM problem we ran into was triggered primarily with synthetic benchmarks that dump random data onto the drive. In the real world this doesn’t generally happen. Western Digital was able to replicate the problem and should be able to find a way to lessen the problem with a new firmware release. When the problem was active (as you can see in the HDTune Write image) write performance was terrible. Slower than notebook drive slow… like 2-3MB/s sequential write speeds bad.

This was a huge concern in our labs and prompted us to rerun tests yesterday after a long conference call with their product designers.

We localized the problem with their help and were able to work around the problem by limiting the scope of the IOMeter test to a smaller portion of the drive. If random write activity is spread out over the entire surface the drive had a mental breakdown of sorts.

Still, good first effort! Keep it up!

We will. And we greatly appreciate your input. I'm sure you guys will give us a little time to work out the bugs ;) We just didn't want to sit on this and other drives, without posting a review, even if it's not the final review. Anything we publish now, will be updated with additional tests as we develop them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

spod - added the wattages to the power consumption bar chart. Would you like it if the other bar charts had the values in them as well? Take a look and let me know what you think. Alternatively or even in addition, we could link to a text file with the data points.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nice format for the review although those results during that test are unusual... Did that result occur always or just time when TRIM was active? If TRIM was disabled, how would the drive perform??

Nice layout and nice work! I love the single page as well.....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, one page reviews are a good thing, but SR might lose in ad money...

A real-world bench would be a good thing indeed, Anand has recorded some user patterns, I feel that it is a good supplement to synthetic benches.

I'd be personally interested in Imaging Patterns : Photoshop, (an action that can be replayed, like retouch artists', with many history steps to tax the storage sub-system. Lightroom/Camera Raw: batch processing of images: import, development, webgallery creation...)

Good thing to have the ball running, even if it looks odd for the moment!

Keep going on! Thanks for reviving SR.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thumbs up for the single page layout!

Regarding the "internal TRIM" issue: was that tested with Win 7 or something without normal TRIM support? I.e. would it also happen on Win 7? If yes, then I'd say it's a feature which should just be switched off and leave the TRIM to the OS - it should know best when activity is low enough to do it. If the writes never stop.. well, you're probably using the wrong hardware for the job and are probably going to kill the drive anyway ;)

And I'd like to see a more balanced conclusion along the lines of:

- it's more expensive than the X25M G2

- slower (at least that's what Anand shows)

- reliability and compatibility are claimed but not proven yet (though we should give WD the benefit of the doubt here.. but still keep it in mind)

MrS

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We're not really concerned about ad dollars over multiple pages. I strongly believe that building a great site is more important than squeezing every nickel we can out of our visitors and community members. We operate at a loss now as it is, so an extra few bucks wouldn't matter ;)

Regarding the "internal TRIM" issue: was that tested with Win 7 or something without normal TRIM support? I.e. would it also happen on Win 7? If yes, then I'd say it's a feature which should just be switched off and leave the TRIM to the OS - it should know best when activity is low enough to do it. If the writes never stop.. well, you're probably using the wrong hardware for the job and are probably going to kill the drive anyway

Yes, testbed uses Win7. We talked to WD about the problem and identified it as a garbage collection issue that is probably resolved with firmware. They were able to replicate our issue and we confirmed it ourselves on a second drive.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Updated the review with pricing from NE - looks like $249, $449 and $799. So they're still expensive but not as bad as the MSRPs initially given by WD. I'd assume the prices will fall another $50 on the low end pretty quickly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

All in all, great to see life taking place here again. And I welcome WD to the SSD market. Not a very forgiving place to be lately, with all the new drives coming out and prices n0ot coming down the way they should.

Tom's did a GREAT 40 - photo essay of a hard drive factory at WD a week or so back. Man, it was as I suspected, NOT EASY OR CHEAP to make a spinner. Damn, that was some serious machinery. Blew me away.

I always figured it would be SO much cheaper to make an SSD. But I guess at least with the initial R and D it is not.

Welcome back SR! Dave

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Only about a year ago, and the MSRP of the 256GB was $999 then down to about $799. And at Newegg today, it's on sale for $199. Wow. Something HAS to be wrong with this SSD right?! Months have gone by while I patiently weigh the pros and cons and prices of Intel vs Sandforce based SSDs. I hadn't even considered this one (with the mystery controller). Those comparatively low IOPS must be why this has hit the bargain bin at Newegg. But having never used a PC with an SSD first hand, I don't know how much those low IOPS numbers will really matter compared to the HDD based PC I'm used to using. What to do. The only thing that has held me off these past months in buying as SSD is that my budget doesn't allow for a 256GB OCZ or Intel - the rock stars of SSDs. I'm going to make a hard decision in these next 3 hours.

--- UPDATE ---

Aaaaaand it's sold out. LOL. Sale started after I started typing, and sold out before I finished this post. Ok. That solves that little dilemma.

Edited by Datasaurus

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now