dhanson865

SSD Reliability

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I've had a thread or two going on SPCR for some time on this and I thought I'd cross post it here. Feel free to use logical arguments to convince me or the average storage review reader that this is an invalid way to judge reliability if you think it is but so far this is the best way I have to judge without insider data.

http://www.silentpcreview.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=58422 was the thread started by another member that had a good title so I camped on it heavily.

Apr 10, 2010 I finally decided to data dive newegg for reliability. I've updated my data several times since then but this month is the first time I spent serious time looking at sandforce and jmicron/toshiba drives to round out the data. What follows is my overall recap. I'll do some follow up posts to show per controller stats.

Recap Updated Nov 2010.

Tier 1

Intel Gen 2 (~2% failures, handles XP and Vista better than most, Intel SSD Toolbox v2.x could put this drive at the top of the list even if reliability or speed wasn't a factor.)

Marvell (C300) (~4% failures but a faster drive in most cases, I'd buy on price between this and the Intel Gen 2 drives. If I used Win 7 or had a SATA 6GB/s controller I might favor it slightly)

Tier 2 or Tier 1?

Samsung 470** (unknown, too new to tell but likely less reliable than Intel by a hair and similar in speed, waiting for reviews)

Indilinx Martini (unknown, too new to tell but likely less reliable than Intel Gen2 and similar in speed, sometimes faster sometimes slower)

Tier 2

Sandforce* (~15% failure rates, higher with some brands, some compatibility issues)

Indilinx Barefoot (~10-50% failure rates depending on the brand, the more reliable brands are worth buying but only if they are noticeably cheaper than the Intel Gen 2 drives)

Tier 3

Toshiba/Jmicron (more than 16MB cache) (~5% failure rates, slower than Intel, slower than C300, Slower than Sandforce, more prone to stutter than any drive above it in the list).

Tier 3 or Obsoelete?

Indilinx Amigos Slower than Indilinx Barefoot. I haven't researched the failure rate recently but I'd assume its going to be double digit percentages based on the issues with the OCZ Onyx alone. I'm not sure if these are still on the market.

Obsolete

Intel Gen 1 (no TRIM support, slower than Gen 2 drives, discontinued)

old Jmicron (less than 1MB cache (not a typo, the old drives had KB of cache), slower than any SSD above it in the list)

old Samsung (slower than any SSD above it in the list)

* Sandforce drives would be 3rd place on that list if the failure rate was noticeably under 10%, even higher if they could be under 5% failures with no compatibility issues.

** Samsung 470 drives could be in 3rd, 4th, 5th place, I'm waiting for Anandtech to review the drive and for reliability data to show up to be sure where to place this.

Not mentioned above is Indilinx has provided support tools for their drives allowing XP/Vista users to have an alternative to Intel Gen 2 drives. They aren't cheap enough for that to be a big factor right now but It's worth keeping an eye on the Martini revision in case it becomes competitive.

http://www.anandtech.com/show/4020/ocz-vertex-plus-preview-introducing-the-indilinx-martini/2 to backup the performance I think the random data write speed is a decent proxy for overall performance. comparisons such as

         Sandforce 40GB 70.9
             C300 64GB 68.3
Indilinx Martini  128GB 47.6
        Intel G2  40GB 37.7
Indilinx Barefoot 128GB 14.4

Edited by dhanson865

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Intel Gen 2 and Marvel (C300) are the Tier 1 players

Intel Gen 2 is still the drive to beat reliability wise.

160GB 7/177 failures ~4% (I did weed out 3 posts that were from people that weren't actually reviewing the drive)

120GB 0/000 no reviews yet

80 6/347 ~2%

40 0/008 ~0%

---------

13/532 ~2.4%

Micron/Crucial/Marvell C300

128GB 5/093

256GB 6/078

64GB 0/045

128GB 0/014

64GB 0/013

64GB 1/010 (also micro SATA complaints)

128GB 0/006 (also micro SATA complaints)

256GB 0/006

256GB 0/001

------------

12/266 ~4.5%

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Sandforce recap

OCZ "Vertex 2" (sandforce controller)

48/309 ~15%.

Note in the SPCR thread I go into more detail on this but I gave up after getting stats from the highest selling capacities. Odds are its a statistically valid sample since I got the majority and it's a higher quantity that many other brands below.

Corsair Force series (sandforce controller)

24/102 ~24%

ADATA S599 (sandforce controller)

6/56 failures ~11% though that drive hasn't sold much compared to many of the others I've dived for.

Interesting to note ADATA advertises these mostly by chips present no usable capacity. For example Most sandforce drives with 64GB flash will label the drive as 60GB, ADATA labels it 64GB. Note this is not the usual 1000 vs 1024 or unformatted vs formatted issue, this is on top of those concepts. ADATA S599 uses 13% overprovisioning but unlike other companies they don't round down the product name to a multiple of 10 to offset the overprovisioning.

Mushkin Enhanced Callisto Deluxe (sandforce controller)

9/83 failures ~11% again not a lot of reviews.

G.SKILL Phoenix/Phoenix Pro (sandforce controller)

23/198 failures ~12%

all together we had

48/309 OCZ Sandforce ~15.5%

23/198 G.Skill sandforce ~12%

24/102 Corsair sandforce ~23.5%

9/83 Mushkin sandforce ~11%

6/56 Adata sandforce ~11%

--------------------------

110/748 failures ~15%

That is your bottom line Sandforce drives have about a 15% failure rate from what I can see on newegg which is significantly out of whack with the 2% and 4% we see with Intel and Marvell controllers.

patriots sandforce drives have less than 10 reviews on newegg so I didn't bother to include them.

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This is a little tricky to measure, as a lot of the problems are firmware related. The C300 had terrible problems early on, but has been better lately. If you look purely at reliability track record, it would seem to me that the Intel G2 is the clear winner, with more units in use out in the wild than probably most of these other guys combined. But since few of these drives are DOA or die in use, it's more about issues with compatibility and how long it takes the firmware to catch up to the initial cache of problems reported.

Interesting data though nonetheless - thanks for taking the time to start to measure it.

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Samsung 470

0/30 failures ~0% still too new to tell but no news is good news on this front

Samsung drives were very reliable the last time around (when they were too slow to recommend) It's nice to see that they are fast enough to recommend now and people aren't screaming about them.

Indilinx Martini

OCZ Vertex Plus 0/000 no reviews yet

JMicron/Toshiba

Kingston SSDNow V+/V+100 1/84 failure either Kingston is scrubbing their reviews or its just too early to tell.

Kingston SSDNow V/V100 22/434 ~5% failure rate, much more believable.

ahh yes Western Digital has a JM618 based drive, lets look at it.

WD SiliconEdge Blue 8/164 ~5% failure rate.

Let me know if there is a JMicron/Toshiba based SSD that you think has significant reviews on newegg that I should add to this section.

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This is a little tricky to measure, as a lot of the problems are firmware related. The C300 had terrible problems early on, but has been better lately. If you look purely at reliability track record, it would seem to me that the Intel G2 is the clear winner, with more units in use out in the wild than probably most of these other guys combined. But since few of these drives are DOA or die in use, it's more about issues with compatibility and how long it takes the firmware to catch up to the initial cache of problems reported.

Interesting data though nonetheless - thanks for taking the time to start to measure it.

It's interesting to note that the C300 gets to ~4% even after the early problems (if you look at the newegg reviews there are still complaints from the period when firmware updates bricked drives). The numbers I'm reporting are raw numbers including screwups early in the life of a drive.

The OCZ Onyx (Indilinx Amigos) reviews are insanely off the charts, Hmm I guess I should have put the Amigos in Tier 3 as well.

The worst I ever culled in the SPCR thread was Patriot Torqx (Indilinx Barefoot) dead drives approaching the 50% mark. It was rough reading all the complaints and doing the count.

Amazing when you see Patriot with 50% dead drives vs another brands Indilinx Barefoot implementation hitting ~10% dead drives. It's obvious one is better than the other.

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"I have no inside data and thus as you say I can't rule out the inaccuracy of a voluntary poll. It could be inaccurate by insanely high margins. It is however the worst of every single drive I looked at on newegg and I literally read thousands of reviews in preparation for the posts I've made in this thread.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductRe ... 6820220389

It is worth noting as the worst SSD on newegg (in my own words) it still gets 3 eggs on a 1 to 5 scale.

The newegg data says Intel SSDs fail in the low single digits as a percentage of reviews. IDF quote below says:

So with regard to the, the catastrophic failures, The data that we have today with, within Intel within the drives that we have within the field, the field failure rate is coming in below 1% AFR and that's combined with everything. It's really sitting somewhere around, between 0.5% to 0.7% AFR

Scott is a SR. Technical Account Manager at Intel.

So if newegg says 2.4% and Intel says 0.6% say then the failure rate reported is 4x higher than actual. But assuming it's representative then you could normalize it by cutting the percentages to one quarter or you could just use them as a rating and not fixate on the number, realize that better is better no matter the score.

I won't bet my life on the ratio of failed drives between Intel Gen 2 and sandforce 1xxx controllers but I'm happy enough with the data to let it affect a purchase decision.

Edited by dhanson865

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But since few of these drives are DOA or die in use, it's more about issues with compatibility

You might think that if you haven't read the reviews. Pick a controller and drive sort by most reviews then when in the individual product sort by lowest rating. You'll see tons of DOAs and a few it died after 2 weeks/2 months type reviews on some drives and on others you see more It died reviews than you see DOAs. Either way I'm seeing more DOA and died in use failures than outright compatibility issues for any drive other than the ones with the sandforce controllers.

Sandforce is the only one I'd say it's more likely or just as likely to be a controller/firmware issue.

On the topic of number of reviews for individual drives the top drives are

OCZ Vertex Series OCZSSD2-1VTX30G 30GB 493 reviews

Intel X25-M SSDSA2MH080G2R5 80GB 322 reviews

OCZ Vertex Series OCZSSD2-1VTX60G 60GB 277 reviews

OCZ Agility Series OCZSSD2-1AGT60G60GB 230 reviews

OCZ Vertex Series OCZSSD2-1VTX120G 120GB 187 reviews

but that is because the Older Intel part numbers no longer show on newegg and because it's common for newegg to have 2 to 5 versions of the same Intel drive listed (OEM vs retail, with a bundle, without, new SKU even though the controller didn't change, etcetera).

So lets pick some quotes from the 80GB Intel reviews which obviously doesn't have any significant firmware or compatibility issues.

* Mordicus

* 6/20/2010 5:44:54 PM

* Verified Owner

Dead after 2 months

Pros: Fast boot up when it worked. Rebooting and loading programs like Firefox with many tabs is not as daunting as it once was.

Cons: Suddenly and completely died after two months. Cannot even detect it on any machine. Some software can see the boot record partition (~8Mb), but no the volume with my data. The data is all lost.

Verified Owner 5/24/2010

S.M.A.R.T. Errors after 40days

Pros: Boots with alacrity. Silent. Cool. Fast.

Cons: Roughly 40 days after purchase/install, system would occasionally not resume from screensaver. Upon re-boot this morning, BIOS reported failed disk and did an automatic chkdsk. Looked at Intel's disk monitoring program. End-to-End Error Count parameter was flagged red.

5/24/2010 Verified Owner failed

Pros: worked great for a month or two.

runs silent and cool.

crashed in middle of just idling.

6/6/2010 Cons: Last night my system blue screened, then and wouldn't boot, citing disk failure. BIOS still saw the drive, so I booted from a Linux live CD, which saw the drive as being 8 MB in size.
He didn't mark it as DOA so I'm assuming he used it for a few weeks or months. I doubt a firmware issue caused this but I'm willing to be corrected if anyone in the know can say how exactly an 80GB drive fails in a way that it looks like a 8MB drive short of a hardware failure.
# pyabo

# 6/1/2010

Other Thoughts: Had this for two months and ran fine... then one day absolutely kaput. Had to call Intel for RMA and ship to them. 2-3 weeks later a new drive arrives... completely DOA. BIOS either fails to detect HD (random string of chars as the ID) or seems to detect it, but then gives a Pri Master HD failure error.

Now this, I suppose you could argue that he had a controller failure on the motherboard, or bad ram, or bad CPU, something that caused his system to stop working with the drive correctly but it was a failure after several months time.
11/15/2009 Verified Owner Pros: FAST FAST FAST. This drive was blazing before it started dieing. Booted to fluxbox on Gentoo in <15 seconds on my 6710b.

Cons: Crashed after 40 days..

limit to quote blocks reached, splitting this into multiple posts.

Edited by dhanson865

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Now lets dip into the OCZ Vertex 2 60GB reviews

# Piotr

# 9/11/2010

Cons: DOA

10/5/2010

Pros: Fast when it works

Cons: Died without warning in 35 days

# killerbee812

# 10/28/2010

Pros: Fast when it worked.

Cons: Drive just stoped after 3 weeks.

# Avid6eek

# 8/10/2010

Cons: Drive recently failed after 3 weeks of use. No errors before hand to give any indication of a problem. Went to boot my laptop with the hard drive being the only boot option in the BIOS. After post I recieved a loud beep and an error message that no hard drive could be found. Popped in the old 2.5" hard drive and it booted right up.

11/18/2010

Cons: -Unstable

Stopped working after 3 weeks

10/21/2010

Cons: Only lasted 2 months. After 2 months of use it is completely dead, it is no longer recognized by the BIOS.

Other Thoughts: Had been 2 weeks since last backup. Loosing data blows. Don't let using a SSD trick you into a sense of security. Backup backup backup.

# Nascarsucks

# 10/19/2010

Pros: 35 second Windows 7 boot, great starting of the few programs I installed on it

Cons: It cought on fire, literally on fire.

Other Thoughts: I RMA'd it to OCZ , it's on the way to CA. The fire issue is the ONLY reason I took 1 egg off, I'm sure this is just a fluke and not the norm. I've always had good luck with OCZ, I bought the 3.5" 120 GB one a few weeks after I bought this 60gb drive and couldn't be happier.

I've heard people talking about how flash is supposed to fail to an unwriteable read only state but I've never seen anyone who actually knew of a drive in that state just references to flash documentation and Wikipedia articles.

What I've actually read in newegg reviews and manufacturer support threads are

1. totally dead doesn't respond to power at all (including letting smoke out or catching on fire)

2. powers up but no data visible

3. the drive misreporting its size in MB instead of GB and data not being accessible

4. the drive working OK but data being wiped

5. the drive working part of the time (causing blue screen errors at random, random reboots, failing to resume from standby properly)

I can see some of this being firmware/controller issues part of the time but you can't rule out physical defects or other types of hardware failure. In fact I specifically avoided counting any performance issues or anything that looked like user error and I didn't count posts where someone gave a bad review saying it wouldn't work with specific laptop or motherboard chipset.

Every day is International Backup Awareness Day.

Edited by dhanson865

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This data kinda scares me.

Aren't SSD's suppose to be more reliable than HDD's.

And I am very surprised how much Sandforce disks die. Since Sandforce has some technology which should prevent loosing data if flash dies it looks like manufacturing problem or it is all a big bluff.

by

TheR

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This data kinda scares me.

Aren't SSD's suppose to be more reliable than HDD's.

And I am very surprised how much Sandforce disks die. Since Sandforce has some technology which should prevent loosing data if flash dies it looks like manufacturing problem or it is all a big bluff.

by

TheR

Pay attention to what Intel said in the IDF presentation. They saw 5% hard drive failures per year in their "internal" IT records drop to less than 1% SSD failures per year as they migrated from hard drives to SSDs.

A big portion of this advantage for them was because 80% or so of their employees use laptops/notbooks/netbooks whatever you want to call them. Dropping, bumping, overheating, etetera cause failures of hard drives in laptops and such. Of course every hard drive has to be packed and shipped to you before you can use it and no matter how careful you are with a hard drive you don't know how UPS/FedEx/shipper joe/stock boy fred/etcetera treated that drive. Even if you take the shock damage out, thermal issues are significant. Once you take Shock and Heat out of the equation (which all SSDs do) you get down to reliability of the flash memory, the controller, and other circuits on the SSD "motherboard".

The significance of this data is all relative. Good SSDs are more reliable than good hard drives (because they don't have to worry about shock or heat). Bad SSDs are worse than good hard drives (though I can't say exactly why, it varies from one model/brand to another).

One of the downsides to cheaper sandforce drives is that manufacturers (knowing that the controller is more robust in dealing with failed flash) feel free to use lower quality flash and/or have less of it held in reserve for wear leveling/bad block relocation. If the sandforce controller was paired with the same quality flash as the Intel/C300 drives they would fail less but they would also be more expensive.

Lets, be clear, if you gave me free of charge a 120GB G.SKILL Phoenix/Phoenix Pro or Mushkin Enhanced Callisto Deluxe I'd be reinstalling windows on it first thing and it would be my new boot drive and I'd be happy to do it. It's just if I'm going to spend my own money on it I'm going to take the route that is less likely to waste money. I'll take the drive that has 1/5th the failures or 1/3th the failures instead.

Again these numbers aren't here to scare you away from SSDs, they are here to help you make an informed decision on which SSD to buy.

Yes you should switch from hard drives to SSDs, No you shouldn't stop making backups. Any drive can fail.

Edited by dhanson865

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is another couple of anecdotes showing sandforce drives failing. The first post covers the short version for one, then we get this

I've registered just for this topic only. I have the same disks from A-Data, so did a friend of mine, and used it in a RAID 0 setup. The speeds are superb, but the realiability seems poor.

My first 2 drives had loads of reallocated sector counts which I found out because I had random BSOD's and unbootable disks, so I returned mine and got 2 new ones. I told my friend to test his drivers also. He had no BSOD's, but did had the same terrible reallocated sector count. So that are 4 drives which are crap.

My current drives are giving me BSOD's since a week or 2, I need to read the SMART values of those 2 soon (SMART does not work in RAID, but to lazy to remove them from my system :P ). So if those drives have the same problems, that would number 5 and 6...

Now do you chalk that up to compatibility issues or do you call it several failed drives?

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what I can see on newegg
I trust Newegg user reviews about as far as I can throw them, which is to say, not very.

Intel's AFR of sub-1% is well in line with what we see here and fully what I would expect, given that Intel understandably is the de facto gold standard for their own products. :)

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I trust Newegg user reviews about as far as I can throw them, which is to say, not very.

Intel's AFR of sub-1% is well in line with what we see here and fully what I would expect, given that Intel understandably is the de facto gold standard for their own products. :)

fwiw last time I looked the Samsung 470 had between 50 and 60 reviews and still had zero failures reported. I know 50+ isn't a lot to go on statistically but it's a nice start and the old Samsung drives from the days before TRIM always had a good rep for reliability.

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The thing about Samsung is one, they've been in this game a very long time and two, they use their own parts almost throughout, or as throughout as anyone can. The latter point to me is important as it speaks well to their build, compatibility, etc.

Unfortunately...or not, depending on your perspective, the SSD market is flashy and about topline performance to many. Things like reliability and compatibility are largely lost on the client computing base.

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Unfortunately...or not, depending on your perspective, the SSD market is flashy and about topline performance to many. Things like reliability and compatibility are largely lost on the client computing base.

True when it comes to overall sales but somewhat reversed when it comes to forums on tech sites. I get tired of seeing the X drive fails too much threads and the subjective I've had 9 of drive maker Y that never failed responses.

I thought culling reviews from a larger user base would be a proactive way to reduce those sorts of threads from wasting time in the forums.

Eventually when SSDs almost entirely replace HDs for PC builds it'll be too much work to manually cull the data. When it gets to that point I'll have to give up and rely on other methods or just be less thorough about making sure I've accurately categorized the reviews.

For now though the reviews come in slow enough that I can check on them once a month or even once a quarter and not be overwhelmed.

Try doing that with traditional hard drive reviews and even once a week would be overwhelming now. I guess in a few years maybe I can take advantage of the reversal and mine data on traditional hard drives as sales drop off to a trickle. Of course it remains to be seen if that will happen at all but it could possibly reduce enough that I could try it.

Anybody want to guess when the unit crossover will occur? 2015? 2020? 2025? I'm not talking about 0 hard drives, just the year where as many SSDs are sold as hard drives.

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Dear goodness...a long time. Did you see the post I made in the HDD forum about hard drive sales? They're still going up, 700 million next year is the projection. SSDs are fun to talk about and great to use in some cases, but I think we're talking about 7-10 years before we can have a serious conversation about them overtaking HDDs in volume.

As to reliability data, I had an interesting call with Hitachi yesterday. They're releasing a new HDD, but the interesting comment was regarding reliability. They talked to me about data from some of the largest OEMs in the world who show them data and say Hitachi's drives are most reliable. I'll be listening for that kind of feedback from the SSD guys...guessing Intel's first to make that claim...well, they probably do already. Reliability is just so hard to measure, you need an OEMs data to do it conclusively I think. For now, your review method will have to hold us over ;)

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Dear goodness...a long time. Did you see the post I made in the HDD forum about hard drive sales? They're still going up

I saw figures for Seagate and WD, one was up one was down (for their most recent quarter). Tell, you what I'll meat you over at and add some more stats.

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I was just looking at Newegg ratings for the Samsung 470 and Intel 120GB drives that the OP didn't have enough info for. There are no DOAs for either. There were 2 or 3 people who seemed to have bricked their drives from the Samsung firmware update utility and another dozen or so that complained about the Samsung firmware update process. On the Intel drive, the most serious complaints were that it wasn't automatically recognized as an SSD by Windows and/or Intel's SSD Toolbox for some people.

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I think in those cases you're seeing better reliability because the components are all made in-house. That goes a long way to making sure the on-drive compatibility is excellent.

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A couple of points I would like to add;

I have an Intel G1 E-Extreme SLC that has been running non stop since the day I installed it. 3 years of non stop R/W ops. Still silently performing flawless.

Corsair F-Series 120GB; No problems to complain about, just not very consistant.

Samsung 470 256GB; Installed it 6 months ago. I would put it on par with my Intel G2 80GB. They are both extremley stable, never one error or hiccup. The latest Samsung FW changes the entire updating process. It is non destructive now and it's as simple as loading a disk that you have burned an .iso file onto to update the FW. If someone screws that up, they don't need to be doing FW updates. Samsung will do it for free if you send them the drive. I would not hesitate to purchase another Samsung 470 in a heart beat.

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