bit-tech.net

Own an Intel SSD? Tell how worn out it is!

Posted on 23rd Oct 2009 at 10:45 by Richard Swinburne with 28 comments

Richard Swinburne
Kingston dropped an interesting titbit that we thought we'd pass on to all Intel SSD owners - of which there's soon to be a lot more once the latest value X25-X drives arrive.

Basically, the biggest unknown factor in NAND Flash technology is wear and tear. The cells have a limited amount of data writes, so don't last forever, even though intelligent wear algorithms mean an MLC drive will last 10 years having written a few hundred GB a day to it - far more than any normal user will do.

One question that will get more important as time goes on is the second hand market: How can you account for wear if you're buying it off someone else?

Well firstly download CrystalMark Info (the install package works better than the standalone) and run it.

On the bottom half of the program there's a SMART readout: check the E9 value like shown below, this is the Media Wearout Indicator. Currently this original 80GB X25-M is 97 per cent OK with 1821 hours on the go.

Own an Intel SSD? Tell how worn out it is! Own an Intel SSD? It'll tell you how worn out it is!

Unfortunately, the limitation is that this currently only applies to Intel drives because there's no industry standard for SSD SMART data. On other drives it might be there under a different name and address, or, not at all (JMicron drives for example don't feature it).

If you've got an SSD let us know if yours features the Media Wear Indicator or a version of it and how it's fairing up in long term use.

28 Comments

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Tejstar 23rd October 2009, 11:44 Quote
Is it a linear relationship? So, if over 1820 hours it has worn by 3% does that mean at this rate it will fully wear out in 6.9 years time?

Or does it not work like that?
Bindibadgi 23rd October 2009, 12:14 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tejstar
Is it a linear relationship? So, if over 1820 hours it has worn by 3% does that mean at this rate it will fully wear out in 6.9 years time?

Or does it not work like that?

Entirely depends on use. No NAND is perfect to start with so it may arrive lower than 100 percent.
Tejstar 23rd October 2009, 12:18 Quote
Ok, cheers Richard!
do_it_anyway 23rd October 2009, 12:25 Quote
If thats power on hours, and the wear is linear (which is isn't, as Richard stated), then the drive wouldn't fail in 6.9 years unless it was on 24hrs per day 365 days per year.

I am slowly coming round to the idea that even if I leave the page file on I will upgrade an SSD before it wears out.
After all, how many people have got a 10 year old+ mechanical HDD in their computers?
Paradigm Shifter 23rd October 2009, 12:37 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by do_it_anyway
After all, how many people have got a 10 year old+ mechanical HDD in their computers?

Not in my main rig. But I do have a nearly 15 year old HDD in a hardware firewall box that does pretty much 24/7/365 duty.
qupada 23rd October 2009, 12:54 Quote
Good news is the flag has made it to the G2 Intel SSDs too.

smartmontools seemed to be the most useful tool I could find in my Linux distro's repository, info from 'smartctl --all /dev/sda'
Device Model: INTEL SSDSA2M160G2GC
Firmware Version: 2CV102G9
Code:
ID# ATTRIBUTE_NAME          FLAG     VALUE WORST THRESH TYPE      UPDATED  WHEN_FAILED RAW_VALUE
  9 Power_On_Hours          0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       138
233 Unknown_Attribute       0x0032   099   099   000    Old_age   Always       -       0
(0xE9 = 233)

Good to know about this value, might check it again once I've had the SSD for more than a week.
Bindibadgi 23rd October 2009, 13:29 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paradigm Shifter
Not in my main rig. But I do have a nearly 15 year old HDD in a hardware firewall box that does pretty much 24/7/365 duty.

But how much information does your firewall box write to the drive? Because when it's on and doing nothing, it doesn't wear. A typical MLC NAND SSD can withstand a few hundred GB per day and last years with modern random write algorithms (at least that's what Intel rates its NAND to do). SLC NAND can take hundreds of TB afaik. I forget the exact statistic, I have it buried somewhere.

I'd also suggest your 15 year HDD is doing extremely well!! What brand is it?
Blademrk 23rd October 2009, 13:40 Quote
I've got a couple of old Western Digital 80gb IDE drives still in use along with 2 Western Digital 120gb sata drives that are around 10 years old (seeing as I built the system they're in when I was in Uni, and I've been working for just over 9 years).
Paradigm Shifter 23rd October 2009, 14:16 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bindibadgi
But how much information does your firewall box write to the drive? Because when it's on and doing nothing, it doesn't wear. A typical MLC NAND SSD can withstand a few hundred GB per day and last years with modern random write algorithms (at least that's what Intel rates its NAND to do). SLC NAND can take hundreds of TB afaik. I forget the exact statistic, I have it buried somewhere.

I'd also suggest your 15 year HDD is doing extremely well!! What brand is it?

Not completely sure I can give a 'daily' figure for log size. It depends on whether I'm bored and surfing around a lot. :D A light day when I'm busy elsewhere will be a few dozen entries, a bored day will be hundreds or thousands of log entries.

It's a bit hard to compare writes on HDDs and SSDs anyway due to SSDs needing to write in blocks of, what, 4MB a time?. But then, a HDD can wear all the time it's on, because the motor needs to keep running. I was just illustrating that I have this habit of never, ever, throwing anything away... :o ...and so any electronic equipment I buy needs to last me. :D Bit annoyed ATM - I've just had two mobo's go on me in a week.

It's the HDD out of my first ever PC - an old Packard Bell (many memories of vomit inducing gaming in Descent on that system!). The drive itself is a Maxtor. :)

...

I'd be interested in those statistics if you can find them, as I've been slow to consider adopting an SSD as a boot drive for longevity reasons just as much (if not more) as price. :)
Skiddywinks 23rd October 2009, 14:19 Quote
Wow, handy thing to know! Cheers Richard!

I am looking to buy a SSD around Christmas, so this is helpful knowledge for then.
Ross1 23rd October 2009, 19:09 Quote
http://i33.tinypic.com/16gmzc3.png

my g2 has been on as much as your 80gb g1 ;)

given mine is still at 99%, it might stop the posters above worry quite so much about when its going to fail.
bobwya 23rd October 2009, 20:22 Quote
Uhmm

Tidy bit of info. I'm @1% wear with a 160Gb G2...
nitrous9200 23rd October 2009, 23:50 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by do_it_anyway
If thats power on hours, and the wear is linear (which is isn't, as Richard stated), then the drive wouldn't fail in 6.9 years unless it was on 24hrs per day 365 days per year.

I am slowly coming round to the idea that even if I leave the page file on I will upgrade an SSD before it wears out.
After all, how many people have got a 10 year old+ mechanical HDD in their computers?

I do, I've got a WD200 manufactured on 10 Nov 1999 that AFAIK is still running perfectly (this in a machine that was on 24/7 every day for many years).
I too am wondering how SSD's will hold up with all of the constant reads and writes done by the modern OS and whether they will even last through their warranty period. I guess it's fine for us consumers if they don't make it.
ConservativeOC 24th October 2009, 00:16 Quote
I'm at 98% for 3,645 hours.

My question is WHY DOESN'T THE TEMPERATURE "GAUGE" WORK on these drives.
Mankz 24th October 2009, 01:36 Quote
I thought they didn't heat up, and heat doesn't affect them... so why need one?
cyrilthefish 24th October 2009, 14:26 Quote
It's quite new, so hasn't got much registered yet, but it looks like that 'E9' function is the same as the intel one :)

http://forums.bit-tech.net/picture.php?albumid=375&pictureid=6012
Bindibadgi 24th October 2009, 14:40 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by ConservativeOC
I'm at 98% for 3,645 hours.

My question is WHY DOESN'T THE TEMPERATURE "GAUGE" WORK on these drives.

Because it generates about 1C of heat?
Phil Rhodes 26th October 2009, 14:59 Quote
I dunno about that - I've run several out of their cases, and the controllers do get quite warm. They may only pull five or six watts, but those five or six watts have to go somewhere.
ConservativeOC 26th October 2009, 17:40 Quote
I have run several brands of SSDs in Laptops and Desktops and they all measured the temperature. They are not as hot as mechanical drives, but they DO emit heat. I wanted to measure the heat gain when using an icy dock in a desktop, but was unable to since the SMART temp doesn't work.
ConservativeOC 26th October 2009, 17:45 Quote
Here is a review showing that SSDs can run as hot or hotter than traditional drives:

http://benchmarkreviews.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=250&Itemid=60&limit=1&limitstart=8
Bindibadgi 27th October 2009, 07:36 Quote
My point was that it's irrelevant because heat does not affect them though. The ICs will run up to 85C or more. Your case could be an oven and it would still be happy :)
Ross1 27th October 2009, 10:31 Quote
BTW, i would now suggest using the intel toolbox rather than crystalmark info.

Mainly because as well as the wear level you also get info on the total amount that has been written on the drive.

http://i34.tinypic.com/2py3yfp.png
Zurechial 30th October 2009, 16:55 Quote
The intelligent wear algorithms extend the life of the drive, but in an ideal situation do they also prolong the performance of the drive?

That's something I've never been too sure on..
A drive that lasts 10 years because of those algorithms but which loses a chunk of its performance by the 2- or 3-year mark and runs like a dog at the 5- or 6- year mark isn't so appealing - Can anyone confirm if that's the case or not?

Many of us replace drives more often than that, but it's still a consideration for someone who has yet to take the plunge with SSDs.
A speedy 64GB SSD used just as a boot drive for a bunch of OS partitions isn't going to get replaced quite as soon as a storage drive, for instance, since most OS installations don't inflate anywhere as fast as the data we store and collect elsewhere.
Bindibadgi 30th October 2009, 17:35 Quote
You'll notice the capacity drop off after a while, rather than performance loss because it will rewrite the bad block data into another working block and mark it as bad in the firmware.
Zurechial 30th October 2009, 17:38 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bindibadgi
You'll notice the capacity drop off after a while, rather than performance loss because it will rewrite the bad block data into another working block and mark it as bad in the firmware.

Ahh, thanks Bindi!

I can't decide if that's better or worse than what I surmised before.. Depends on the usage, I guess.
Phil Rhodes 6th November 2009, 15:18 Quote
So um, er. Are the -only- type worth buying now the outrageously expensive Intel ones?

Will -all- the others just get slower and slower and eventually become unusable and unfixable?

Argh.
kimandsally 7th November 2009, 10:45 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blademrk
I've got a couple of old Western Digital 80gb IDE drives still in use along with 2 Western Digital 120gb sata drives that are around 10 years old (seeing as I built the system they're in when I was in Uni, and I've been working for just over 9 years).

How did you manage to get 2 Western digital SATA drives 9-10 years ago when they only came out in 2003??
Blademrk 8th November 2009, 11:31 Quote
My memory is terrible, I could have sworn I built the system with those in when I was in Uni. Just checked my old emails - the first 120gb was bought from Scan in Sept 2003, the 2nd and 3rd in 2005. I'm sure the IDE drives are 10 years old (give or take).
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