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SandForce-based SSDs

 
 
Man-wai Chang
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      6th Apr 2012

Are they really that bad?

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Arno
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      7th Apr 2012
Man-wai Chang <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

> Are they really that bad?


Aehm, no? What are information you referring to?

Arno
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Yousuf Khan
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      7th Apr 2012
On 06/04/2012 1:56 PM, Man-wai Chang wrote:
>
> Are they really that bad?
>


Apparently, since they are the most popular brand of SSD chipset on the
planet, there is just more units to complain about. Some of their
problems get fixed with firmware upgrades. I just bought a Corsair Force
3 SSD, which has the Sandforce controller, and I did have some problems
with it.

When I started out, I was using the drives in AHCI mode, because I had
heard that these are the only drivers which have all of the support for
SSD-specific commands. Everything seemed fine, until occasionally I
would get a weird random lockup during normal operations. I would be
doing something normal in Windows and then all of a sudden a sudden and
unexpected freeze would occur in the system. I could move the mouse, but
I couldn't click on anything and every program would just sit there
unable to do anything until this freeze-up passed, which usually took
about 10 seconds only. But I'd get maybe a couple or more in a day. It
was getting annoying. Then I went on the Corsair forum, and found out
that this is one of the most common complaints about the Corsair SSD's.
I tried everything to see if I could fix it like turning off
write-caching or turning off the TRIM support. Nothing helped. Then on a
lark I tried it under IDE mode, and the freezes went away! I said, well
this isn't good, because there's no way IDE mode supports the SSD TRIM
command. Surprisingly, when I ran the command to turn on TRIM support,
it worked under the IDE driver too! So it looks like running the thing
in IDE mode is the best option: it has full support for TRIM, and it
doesn't lockup like AHCI does, and it is only slightly slower than AHCI.
My Windows Experience Index for the disk went down from 7.6 to 7.1 (and
that's out of 7.9 in both cases), which is a very minuscule difference,
not something that can be felt in human terms. I'll give up the slight
performance for greater stability.

Yousuf Khan
 
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Arno
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      7th Apr 2012
Yousuf Khan <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> On 06/04/2012 1:56 PM, Man-wai Chang wrote:
>>
>> Are they really that bad?
>>


> Apparently, since they are the most popular brand of SSD chipset on the
> planet, there is just more units to complain about. Some of their
> problems get fixed with firmware upgrades. I just bought a Corsair Force
> 3 SSD, which has the Sandforce controller, and I did have some problems
> with it.


> When I started out, I was using the drives in AHCI mode, because I had
> heard that these are the only drivers which have all of the support for
> SSD-specific commands. Everything seemed fine, until occasionally I
> would get a weird random lockup during normal operations. I would be
> doing something normal in Windows and then all of a sudden a sudden and
> unexpected freeze would occur in the system. I could move the mouse, but
> I couldn't click on anything and every program would just sit there
> unable to do anything until this freeze-up passed, which usually took
> about 10 seconds only. But I'd get maybe a couple or more in a day. It
> was getting annoying. Then I went on the Corsair forum, and found out
> that this is one of the most common complaints about the Corsair SSD's.
> I tried everything to see if I could fix it like turning off
> write-caching or turning off the TRIM support. Nothing helped. Then on a
> lark I tried it under IDE mode, and the freezes went away! I said, well
> this isn't good, because there's no way IDE mode supports the SSD TRIM
> command. Surprisingly, when I ran the command to turn on TRIM support,
> it worked under the IDE driver too! So it looks like running the thing
> in IDE mode is the best option: it has full support for TRIM, and it
> doesn't lockup like AHCI does, and it is only slightly slower than AHCI.
> My Windows Experience Index for the disk went down from 7.6 to 7.1 (and
> that's out of 7.9 in both cases), which is a very minuscule difference,
> not something that can be felt in human terms. I'll give up the slight
> performance for greater stability.


> Yousuf Khan


Interesting. I have two OCZ's (128GB Vertwex 2 and 256GB Vertex 3)
and never noticed any problem. Of course these are not the
cheapest models and both were bought when they had been
on the market for a while. For new products, it is not a
surprise that problems crop up. That even happens with HDDs
occasionally and they are (or should be) well-understood
technology. My advice would be to buy main-stream (larger numbers)
SSD models that have been on the market at least half a year.
You can research that particular model before. This will
not give you useful failure probability data (vocal minority
problem) but will show you the potential failure modes
and incompatibilities. Overall, my take is that SSDs are about
as reliable as HDDs.

Arno
--
Arno Wagner, Dr. sc. techn., Dipl. Inform., CISSP -- Email: (E-Mail Removed)
GnuPG: ID: 1E25338F FP: 0C30 5782 9D93 F785 E79C 0296 797F 6B50 1E25 338F
----
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Man-wai Chang
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      7th Apr 2012
> technology. My advice would be to buy main-stream (larger numbers)
> SSD models that have been on the market at least half a year.
> You can research that particular model before. This will
> not give you useful failure probability data (vocal minority
> problem) but will show you the potential failure modes
> and incompatibilities. Overall, my take is that SSDs are about
> as reliable as HDDs.


I read that SandForce chipset would try to use compression when storing
data. Could you disable that feature?

--
@~@ You have the right to remain silence.
/ v \ Simplicity is Beauty! May the Force and farces be with you!
/( _ )\ (Fedora 15 i686) Linux 3.3.1
^ ^ 03:11:02 up 7:33 0 users load average: 0.00 0.01 0.05
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Man-wai Chang
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      7th Apr 2012
> command. Surprisingly, when I ran the command to turn on TRIM support,
> it worked under the IDE driver too! So it looks like running the thing
> in IDE mode is the best option: it has full support for TRIM, and it
> doesn't lockup like AHCI does, and it is only slightly slower than AHCI.


But when you downgrade one port of the SATA chipset to IDE, it would
affect the speed of all other storage devices....

--
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/ v \ Simplicity is Beauty! May the Force and farces be with you!
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^ ^ 03:16:02 up 7:38 0 users load average: 0.00 0.01 0.05
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Yousuf Khan
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      7th Apr 2012
On 07/04/2012 12:05 PM, Arno wrote:
> Interesting. I have two OCZ's (128GB Vertwex 2 and 256GB Vertex 3)
> and never noticed any problem. Of course these are not the
> cheapest models and both were bought when they had been
> on the market for a while. For new products, it is not a
> surprise that problems crop up. That even happens with HDDs
> occasionally and they are (or should be) well-understood
> technology. My advice would be to buy main-stream (larger numbers)
> SSD models that have been on the market at least half a year.
> You can research that particular model before. This will
> not give you useful failure probability data (vocal minority
> problem) but will show you the potential failure modes
> and incompatibilities. Overall, my take is that SSDs are about
> as reliable as HDDs.


The model I bought was introduced in early 2011, so it's been around 1
year already. The price cuts did make it attractive though. When doing
research, you're mainly looking at reviews, benchmarks, and optimization
advice. You rarely see problems crop up in reviews (perhaps they get the
cherry-picked units). You only notice the problems after you actually
get them yourself, and then do a search on the forums for this same
problem. The unit I have had already been flashed to the latest
firmware, and so it didn't seem like there should be any problems still,
but there was. Fortunately, I was able to discover the
solution/workaround myself.

Yousuf Khan
 
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Yousuf Khan
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      7th Apr 2012
On 07/04/2012 3:18 PM, Man-wai Chang wrote:
>> command. Surprisingly, when I ran the command to turn on TRIM support,
>> it worked under the IDE driver too! So it looks like running the thing
>> in IDE mode is the best option: it has full support for TRIM, and it
>> doesn't lockup like AHCI does, and it is only slightly slower than AHCI.

>
> But when you downgrade one port of the SATA chipset to IDE, it would
> affect the speed of all other storage devices....


I've done extensive benchmarking on all of my drives, I never noticed
any difference in speed on the mechanical drives when used in AHCI or
IDE modes. And there was only a minor degradation of the speed on the
SSD. Although I had switched over the AHCI mode over a year ago, even
before I bought the SSD, it did not have any features I considered
necessary yet, but might be in the future. Such as NCQ and hot-plugging.
Neither of them came in particularly useful to me, so I don't miss them
now that I've disabled them by switching back to the IDE drivers. NCQ
doesn't work on SSD's anyways, they only matter to hard disks. TRIM
doesn't matter to hard disks, they only work on NCQ.

Yousuf Khan
 
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Yousuf Khan
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      7th Apr 2012
On 07/04/2012 3:16 PM, Man-wai Chang wrote:
>> technology. My advice would be to buy main-stream (larger numbers)
>> SSD models that have been on the market at least half a year.
>> You can research that particular model before. This will
>> not give you useful failure probability data (vocal minority
>> problem) but will show you the potential failure modes
>> and incompatibilities. Overall, my take is that SSDs are about
>> as reliable as HDDs.

>
> I read that SandForce chipset would try to use compression when storing
> data. Could you disable that feature?


Nope, it's built-in to the chipset and beyond the control of the OS. It
actually helps when you have compressible data, and it doesn't hurt when
you don't. This shows the relative difference in speeds between
compressible and non-compressible data:

http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/sto...orce-gt_3.html

You get close to a 2 fold increase with compressible data in every case.
With compressible data, you can get up close to the full SATA 3 speed
limits on these drives (around 500 MB/s), in some cases.

Yousuf Khan
 
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Arno
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      8th Apr 2012
Yousuf Khan <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> On 07/04/2012 12:05 PM, Arno wrote:
>> Interesting. I have two OCZ's (128GB Vertwex 2 and 256GB Vertex 3)
>> and never noticed any problem. Of course these are not the
>> cheapest models and both were bought when they had been
>> on the market for a while. For new products, it is not a
>> surprise that problems crop up. That even happens with HDDs
>> occasionally and they are (or should be) well-understood
>> technology. My advice would be to buy main-stream (larger numbers)
>> SSD models that have been on the market at least half a year.
>> You can research that particular model before. This will
>> not give you useful failure probability data (vocal minority
>> problem) but will show you the potential failure modes
>> and incompatibilities. Overall, my take is that SSDs are about
>> as reliable as HDDs.


> The model I bought was introduced in early 2011, so it's been around 1
> year already. The price cuts did make it attractive though. When doing
> research, you're mainly looking at reviews, benchmarks, and optimization
> advice. You rarely see problems crop up in reviews (perhaps they get the
> cherry-picked units). You only notice the problems after you actually
> get them yourself, and then do a search on the forums for this same
> problem. The unit I have had already been flashed to the latest
> firmware, and so it didn't seem like there should be any problems still,
> but there was. Fortunately, I was able to discover the
> solution/workaround myself.


Hmm. Bad luck indeed. But good that you could fix this problem
yourself.

Arno
--
Arno Wagner, Dr. sc. techn., Dipl. Inform., CISSP -- Email: (E-Mail Removed)
GnuPG: ID: 1E25338F FP: 0C30 5782 9D93 F785 E79C 0296 797F 6B50 1E25 338F
----
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