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Old 04-28-2009, 09:20 AM   #1
Gaco
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Default SSD life expectancy - what's the status?

I recently talked with a friend about SSD's and I mentioned having read Anand's excellent article "The SSD Anthology: Understanding SSDs and new drives from OCZ" (http://www.anandtech.com/storage/showdoc.aspx?i=3531).

I was talking about the the declining performance problem while he was focusing on the life expectancy of SSDs, something that he considered to be the biggest problem. If it's still so much of the issue, why wasn't it mentioned in Anand's article? Or has a solution been been found, leaving it as an early issue of early-gen SSDs?

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Old 04-28-2009, 09:35 AM   #2
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Default SSD life expectancy - what's the status?

Nobody really knows how long a SSD life span will be. The only sure way to know is with time. All we have right now are lab test simulating what the expected wear will be. Like any tech there are going to be problems that nobody foresaw. Remember when recordable optical media was released they said it should be good for 100 years, then dropped it to 50, then 20 , then 5.

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Old 04-28-2009, 02:05 PM   #3
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Default SSD life expectancy - what's the status?

Are there no indicators yet? Is 2 years as good a guess as 10 years? And why no mention of it in Anand's recent mega article if it's something to worry about?
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Old 04-28-2009, 04:21 PM   #4
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Default SSD life expectancy - what's the status?

Quote:
Originally posted by: Gaco
Are there no indicators yet? Is 2 years as good a guess as 10 years? And why no mention of it in Anand's recent mega article if it's something to worry about?
As was mentioned, we just don't know yet, until these things get out to more people.

It also depends on how you use it. The more writes it does, then the less life it has.

Just have a good backup plan with this (or any storage device) and you will be fine.

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Old 04-28-2009, 04:35 PM   #5
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Default SSD life expectancy - what's the status?

Intel stated 5 years at 100GB/day for their 80GB X25-M. This was before they made some firmware changes that likely reduce the lifespan. However, chances are you won't use more than 30GB/day and we are being generous--in that case you are looking at least 15 years of use.

But if you are running a supersmall SSD like those 4-8GB netbook ones, don't expect much lifespan...

If you buy an SLC drive (10x the expected writes compared to a MLC drive) for mainstream use...the drive will outlast you.
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Old 04-28-2009, 05:00 PM   #6
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Default SSD life expectancy - what's the status?

for a home user its HUNDREDS of years. don't worry about it.
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Old 04-28-2009, 06:19 PM   #7
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Default SSD life expectancy - what's the status?

3 of my hd's already failed this year, i hope ssd's start picking up the pace in the storage area.
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Old 04-28-2009, 08:17 PM   #8
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Default SSD life expectancy - what's the status?

um, just to clarify, hundreds of years before it RUNS OUT OF WRITES and becomes READ ONLY...

It can fail at any moment due to the internals frying, usually from a power surge... but a regular drive can fail either from the motor failing (most common failure) from a power surge ruining the internals. an SSD only from such a power surge. (which would have identical failure results on an SSD and a spindle drive)...
Regular drives are also significantly more prone to damage from impact or vibrations...
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Old 04-28-2009, 09:58 PM   #9
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Default SSD life expectancy - what's the status?

Anand mention this info in his Intel SSD review on page 4, "How Long Will Intel's SSDs Last?" In his anthology article, he referred back to the Intel article a lot.

But basically, the OEMs wanted to write 20GB of data per day and guaranteed that this could go on for five years. Intel went one step further and delivered 5x what the OEMs requested. So you can write 100GB everyday for the next five years and your data will stay intact. But in the end, we're still in the early days of SSD...so what other poster wrote is probably correct. In that, time will tell. I am sure in the next year or two, the advancement in this space will be tremendous, and the state of the art drive I purchase today will most likely collect dust in my closet along with the 400GB IDE hard drives. So I wouldn't worry about it too much.

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Old 04-29-2009, 03:43 AM   #10
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Default SSD life expectancy - what's the status?

well, you can actually measure those things, unless intel is lying about its measurements. You can easily measure how much write multiplication you have, and you can easily test how many writes a cell can take by rewriting a specific cell again and again and seeing how long it takes it to wear out.
This is different than determining when a mechanical device will fail.

Intel is not the only one who measure it, and no home user does 20GB every day 24/7, 365 days a year. sure you get 50 gigs on some days... but then not even 1 GB on most others. I have actually done the math in detail in another thread. if i find it ill post it.
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Old 04-29-2009, 03:47 AM   #11
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Default SSD life expectancy - what's the status?

found it: http://forums.anandtech.com/me...=2297124&enterthread=y

lemme quote myself:
Quote:
when it reaches full write it simply becomes a read only drive, like a regular CDR disk. You cannot "revive" them, but your data is safe.
an MLC has only 10,000 writes per cell. and intel estimates GENEROUSLY that it will last at LEAST 5 years for the overwhelming majority... SLC will last 10 times longer (50 years +).
Write amplification does matter though (efficiency), intel CLAIMS their drive gets 1.1x amplification, while the worst controller on the market (on very old SSDs, first gen) was up to 40x write amplification.

To calculate it yourself... an 80GB drive with 100,000 erase cycles can thus have 80GB x 100,000 lifetime writes = 8 million GB lifetime writes. now you need to account for write amplification. AWD (actual written data) x WA (write amplification) = total write capacity lifetime.
I think 2-3 is a realistic write amplification worse case scenario for the vertex. so AWD x 2 = 8 million GB lifetime writes
AWD = 4 million GB lifetime writes.

If you want it to last 50 years you must limit yourself to 4 million / 50 = 80,000 GB per year, or divide by 365 = 219.18GB per day. almost 220GB a day.
Do you write 219GB per day? because those are the "worst case figures" under which the 5 years for MLC and 50 for SLC are based...

Note also, that the more space your drive has, the longer it will last, double the capacity from 60GB to 120GB and you will have to write twice the amount daily, making the SLC drive last 50 years with 440GB a day writes instead of 220... or you can double the years and just say that a 60GB SLC written at 22GB a day will last 500 YEARS.

you want to know how long the MLC drive lasts? divide it by 10... 220 divide by 10... you get 22GB a day... So for the current MLC vertex, at 60GB, you need to write 22GB a day every single day for the next 50 years for it to run out of writes... at which case it becomes a read only media without any dataloss.

However, lets say you are trying to put a database on it, and it is one that maxes out writes by writing constantly... those drives do what.. 100MB/s writes? so thats 0.1 GB/s write x 60 seconds per minute, times 60 minutes per hour, times 24 hours per day, times 365 days per year. = 3,153,600GB a year... remember we expect to be able to write 4 million GB in its lifetime.
So depending on write amplification, if you somehow manage to get it writing at FULL SPEED 24/7 it will last slightly more than a single year... This is of course completely unrealistic for a home user, who can easily expect it to last 500 years. And even most SERVERS can safely assume that is not gonna happen...

This was more of an issue in the days of 4GB and 8GB drives with huge write amplifications... an 8GB drive with 40x amplification and 10k lifetime writes gives you 80k/40 lifetime GB write = 2000GB per lifetime, aka, 2TB total writes before it goes out... I don't think the 40x ever existed in SSDs that look like actual DRIVES, only in the worst of THUMB DRIVES... so an 8GB MLC thumb drive will only write 2TB total before it stops writing. and it might have really terrible firmware that actually DOES cause the drive to break instead of becoming read only. (if the engineers back then weren't aware of the issue, today the issue is known so its taken into account and compensated for)...

Well there is a cavet... Modern flash all have write spreading algorithms... i think on a flash drive you CAN have it write to the same SPOT on the drive over and over (say, by using NTFS which placed the log on the same few sectors), and those sectors can realistically wear out earlier, but again, not an issue in real SSD drives.
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Old 04-29-2009, 06:21 AM   #12
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Default SSD life expectancy - what's the status?

Quote:
Originally posted by: Astrallite
Intel stated 5 years at 100GB/day for their 80GB X25-M. This was before they made some firmware changes that likely reduce the lifespan. However, chances are you won't use more than 30GB/day and we are being generous--in that case you are looking at least 15 years of use.

But if you are running a supersmall SSD like those 4-8GB netbook ones, don't expect much lifespan...

If you buy an SLC drive (10x the expected writes compared to a MLC drive) for mainstream use...the drive will outlast you.
The new firmware likely increases the lifespan. The claims of "adjusting" to the usage to maximize performance was in the presentation but only with the new firmware it is capable of doing that. Reliability features and performance are closely related for flash storage.

Calculating lifespan is really not that simple. The first generation EEEPC users with 4GB SSD had some of its blocks failing after mere 6-7 months. See with ANY people spending ridiculous amounts of money to get SSDs are likely enthusiasts or at least heavy computer users. And please know data retention capability decreases as the flash cells reach closer to their lifespan.
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Old 04-29-2009, 01:25 PM   #13
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Default SSD life expectancy - what's the status?

6-7 months is the EXPECTED and CALCULATED lifespan for the beginning sectors of a drive with no wear leveling and a journaled filesystem (like NTFS)... actually even FAT would have the fie allocaton table on the first few blocks and rewrite it EVERY TIME that ANY file is modified. constant rewriting of the same single cell with 2x write amplification it will wear it out in a year and a few months according the the very same calculations i did. if it wore out in 6-7 months thanit probably has higher write amplification and no wear leveing. Modern SSDs all have wear leveling so this will not occur with them.

there can always be an undiscovered FAULT that causes the drive to break early, but MLC chips, as a technology, have a known tolerance of 10k writes which allows you to calculate accurately how long it will take to run out of writes on a wear leveled drive.. that being said, the drive can fail for OTHER reasons.
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Old 04-29-2009, 03:44 PM   #14
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Default SSD life expectancy - what's the status?

Quote:
Originally posted by: taltamir
there can always be an undiscovered FAULT that causes the drive to break early, but MLC chips, as a technology, have a known tolerance of 10k writes which allows you to calculate accurately how long it will take to run out of writes on a wear leveled drive.. that being said, the drive can fail for OTHER reasons.
And even that is just a bare-minimum spec from a reliability lifetime characterization point of view during the flash cell development phase.

The reality is that in the worst case situation the cells wear out shortly after 10k writes, but only a small percentage of them will wear out so early. And with cell-remapping on SSD's the fact is you will get to continue using the remaining good cells on the chip well past the 10k point.

Since the fundamental failure mechanism in Flash are activation barrier based kinetics (Arrhenius in nature) there will be some 80-90% of the cells that survive to 20k writes, and another 80-90% of those will live to see 30k writes...your standard half-life decay mathematics apply.

Its not to say it can't be a problem if wear-leveling is not handled properly, but when handled as Intel has handled it (and as it appears that OCZ and others have done) it is a concern that is pretty much relegated to the non-issue file folder.
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