Long term MLC SSD reliability

Dennis Martin, president of Demartek, discusses the long term reliability of MLC SSDs in this Expert Response.

Many MLC flash vendors claim their drives can withstand multiple terabytes of writes per day -- like 10 full-disk...

capacity writes per day for five years -- yet no enterprise has actually used one of these drives for that long. What’s the most convincing evidence you’ve seen that we should believe these claims of long-term MLC SSD reliability?

As the flash controllers become more sophisticated, they’re able to manage the flash media more effectively. In their testing labs, manufacturers can write the full-disk capacity continuously as quickly as possible, achieving higher rates than users would experience in real-world operations. After seeing enough of these test results they’re able to calculate the failure rates and expectations.

As these SSDs are being introduced from established companies who have longer product histories and service and support teams, they’re able to place five-year warranties on enterprise-class SSDs and fully expect that these products will last that long. However, this does not absolve users from prudent practices such as backups, and it’s no different for hard drives which also fail from time-to-time.

This was first published in January 2012

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