An experiment testing the limits of modern Solid State Drives has finally come to an end after 18 months. The final two SSDs soldiered on in an attempt to reach 2.5 petabytes of data written, but failed just as they attempted the final push. Given that an individual only writes a few terabytes of data each year, these storage devices could potentially outlive their owners.
The experiment conducted by tech site Techreport attempted to discover just how resilient a modern SSD really is, and if the belief that SSDs fail much faster than HDDs is true. At the end, even the least resilient storage device still made it past the 700TB mark. In this case, the Intel 335 Series 240GB SSD had a failsafe that would kick in when the NAND write tolerance had been exceeded. The drive itself didn’t fail, but it did commit suicide to preserve the contents of the drive.
At the end, it was Samsung’s 840 Pro SSD that held on to the bitter end; although there was the small issue of it giving up without any warning. All the tested SSDs posted warning messages when their NAND allocation began to fail, and they started using the reserve unprovisioned sectors; that is, all but the two SSDs from Samsung. It would appear that while Samsung’s SSDs are capable of lasting a long time, they will not provide any sort of warning if anything goes wrong.
Conventional wisdom has it that NAND memory doesn’t last as long as slapping it on a spinning platter; if that is the case, then HDDs should last for at least a couple of millennium. At least according to the results of this experiment. Considering that each SSD survive enough read/write cycles to last at least 1000 years of data.
All this goes to show is that there shouldn’t be too much concern about data integrity on SSDs. They are able to last far longer than anyone gives them credit for, although there is still the issue of the how much they cost. These devices are not cheap by any stretch of the imagination, despite their robustness.
That being said, this experiment wasn’t entirely scientific. Only one test was run per SSD (or two in the case of the Kingston HyperX 3K), which makes it fail on basic rigour. Still, it provides some idea of how long an SSD will last. Those who would like to read the whole conclusion and examine the data can do so here.