AnandTech has posted some interesting analysis of solid state drives, or SSDs, in which it provides figures showing that used SSDs perform worse than they do when they're new.
Using the Intel X-25M, among other drives, as examples, the author writes:
The “used” performance should be the slowest you’ll ever see the drive get. In theory, all of the pages are filled with some sort of data at this point.
All of the drives, with the exception of the JMicron based SSDs went down in performance in the “used” state. And the only reason the JMicron drive didn’t get any slower was because it is already bottlenecked elsewhere; you can’t get much slower than 0.03MB/s in this test.
These are pretty serious performance drops; the OCZ Vertex runs at nearly 1/4 the speed after it’s been used and Intel’s X25-M can only crunch through about 60% the IOs per second that it did when brand new.
According to the author, even the best SSDs lose performance the more you use them, but what matters most is "how their performance degrades."
And with SSDs, that means peak transfer rates may drop considerably. (But latency remains potent.)
If, however, you aren’t ok with the performance drop over time then it’s worth considering what your options will be. When drives ship with ATA-TRIM support, hopefully late this year, they will do a better job of staying closer to their maximum performance. But the problem won’t be solved completely. Instead, what we’ll need to see is a more fundamental architectural change to eliminate the problem.
I still believe that a SSD is the single most effective performance upgrade you can do to your PC; even while taking this behavior into account. While personally I wouldn’t give up a SSD in any of my machines, I can understand the hesitation in investing a great deal of money in one today.
Your SSD will probably outrun even the fastest 3.5-in. hard drives, but at the expense of getting slower than when you first got it, the author writes.
Are you willing to take that risk? Are SSDs "doomed," in the author's own words? [via AnandTech's SSD Anthology]
- To compare specs and read reviews of other solid state drives, check out ZDNet Reviews.