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Vol. 7 No. 6 August 2008

Reliability questions plague solid state

Just how reliable are the NAND flash cells in solid-state drives (SSDs)? One of flash memory's drawbacks has been that it permits only a finite number of writes before it becomes unusable. SSD reliability came under attack earlier this year when Avi Cohen, head of research and managing partner at Boston-based Avian Securities LLC, leveled the charge in a report that Dell laptops with SSDs were suffering from failure rates of between 10% and 20% and that the return rate on these laptops was between 20% and 30%. Mark Farley at Dell EqualLogic responded in a blog that Dell's SSDs "are showing the kind of reliability that everyone expected of storage with no moving parts. They are just as reliable as rotating disk drives, if not more so." Farley pointed out that Dell's SSDs don't use low-cost, consumer multilayer flash but single-level flash, which has better reliability. So these drives don't have disastrous end-of-life failures from wear-out. In fact, he says, Dell's next-generation SSD products will have performance levels that ...

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