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back to article Review: Intel 335 240GB SSD

Intel’s 520 and 330 range of 2.5in consumer SSDs are the product of its relationship with LSI SandForce. It's practically unheard of for Intel not to have a controller of its own but its reliance on SandForce has left it in the same boat as every other drive manufacturer using these controllers. Namely, they are all eagerly …

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Power fail behaviour?

One thing a lot of reviews miss out, and given the increasing ubiquity of the drives is somewhat worrying, is whether the drive contains a supercap or small battery or something so that it can drain the RAM cache to flash when the power fails. Else any writes that were in flight at the time may be lost, which could do a nasty job of scrambling your filesystem (depending on the FS, of course)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Power fail behaviour?

Enterprise v. Consumer

Consumer parts often have useful bits missing, justifying the ridiculous price differential for Enterprise level parts.

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Re: Power fail behaviour?

Ehh, the Intel 320 series has capacitors, so it's worth asking about this one. Unfortunately, Sandforce charges a lot more for their Enterprise controller (the only one that supports power-fail protection,) so Intel can't add that feature cheaply to their low-end drives (like they could with their own controller on the 320.)

If you need power-fail protection, it's best to stick with the 320 series until Intel releases the (rumored) consumer version of the S3700, assuming they don't remove the capacitors in the process.

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Happy

Re: Power fail behaviour?

The Rev2 of the 320 also supports the temperature sensor information correctly, so you use them in HP blade enclosures. Obviously, Intel quickly removed this in Rev3, so the Rev2 320s are the way to go.

This means that the Rev2. 320 is in fact a viable and cheap Enterprise alternative for the budget conscious buyer.

I have an 8*320 Raid-50 array as my primary customer facing database storage. The array is connected via the somewhat challenged HP i410 controller, so a sustainable 800 MB/Sec is as good as it gets from SQL Server. We set it up as a real-life experiment and have been pleasantly surprised so far. We have a rather unique data access pattern, so it may not work for everyone.

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Re: Power fail behaviour?

I think you've missed the point on this one. If the SSD is in a laptop then the laptop has a battery and the user will be given advance warning of the battery going flat and so issues a controlled shutdown to the laptop, and the hard disk is shut down cleanly.

if you've got the SSD in a desktop, then as the user it's incumbent upon you to have a UPS feeding the PC, so what's the problem? What problem are you trying to fix? There's little incentive to put batteries or supercaps into SSD disks.

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Boffin

7% overprovisioning and a data protection nightmare

Knowing that you have securely deleted unwanted personal data seems easier to achieve on spinning media.

The overprovisioning is likely for blocks to be put out of active use, due to having exceeded safe write cycle limits. Presumably also marked out of use blocks will also contain last written data intact, ready to be found again through investigation of disposed of equipment, likely involving personally or commercially sensitive data.

There's an article here which needs to be researched and written. So when will reviews of this kind of equipment include information about secure deletion capabilities of these devices, or do purchasers have to compromise environmentally safe electronic disposal by shredding and burning disposed devices in recognition of Data Protection Act obligations to delete sensitive personal data ?

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Re: 7% overprovisioning and a data protection nightmare

No different to bad / reallocated sectors that spinning media now transparently re-allocate on-the-fly when there's a problem and barely bother to tell you about it via SMART reporting (it's a minor statistic published nowadays, doesn't even warrant a more detail SMART warning/error report).

There is no way to ensure that the data on a drive isn't still present (and, no, nobody has ever recovered "historical" data from a magnetic drive even with the most expensive hardware in the world - go research it - but that doesn't mean that you overwrote everything, as you worry about with SSD). It doesn't matter the technology.

Don't give away drives that had your personal data on if you're worried about this. Do what every sensible person in the world does - just destroy the drive. No problems, no issues, no time wasted waiting for a disk to write several times over its entire capacity (if it can even do that any more), and no worry about "what you might have forgot" in terms of reallocated sectors, low level formatting, on-board Flash cache, etc.

Burn the damn thing down to ash. Problem solved. No matter what the technology.

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Facepalm

Re: 7% overprovisioning and a data protection nightmare

Or just buy drives that employ drive encryption. Change the encryption key (a 1-second job) and job done.

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Headmaster

Re: 7% overprovisioning and a data protection nightmare

Your saying those drives don't have back doors (although probably requiring physical access). Much better to encrypt the data as well, before it's given to the drive (as I know it's technically already encrypted after it's given).

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Re: Problem solved.

A better solution: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQYPCPB1g3o

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Re: 7% overprovisioning and a data protection nightmare

"Knowing that you have securely deleted unwanted personal data seems easier to achieve on spinning media."

Two words: ham mer

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Re: 7% overprovisioning and a data protection nightmare

Given that solid state storage can't retain ghost data by nature of not relying on magnetic states, in theory, a single low-level writing of any bit pattern onto the entire device should suffice in securely deleting all data stored upon it. I wouldn't trust such a technique with highly sensitive data, but it should work in theory. In practice, the firmware may not write the data as you would expect it to be written due to wear-leveling, potentially leaving traces of something behind somewhere. That said, I'm not a security expert and don't claim to be.

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Re: 7% overprovisioning and a data protection nightmare

Intel's SSD tools application actually "secure wipe"s the entire SSD (including over-provisioning space). The program is a cinch to use too. The only other SSD maker that offers better software would be Samsung (their "Magician" software even optimizes your OS for you and gives you manual control of over-provisioning), and I've personally had better luck with Samsung drives as far as longevity is concerned. Granted, a few dozen drives is not much of a sample set...

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Don't trust CrystalDiskMark

It's using comic sans font.

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These may be...

...faster than spinning discs but at £165 for a 240GB SSD as opposed £80 for a 1TB (2.5") HD, I think I'll stick with a spinning disc for now.

Incidentally does anyone know of a 2.5" hybrid drive that operates as 2 distinct partitions (SSD for OS/Apps, HD for other data) rather than appearing as 1 drive with a large SSD cache?

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Re: These may be...

How is the drive to determine which files comprise an app and which are data? Surely you'd just be better off with two drives and you choose the appropriate partition for each when you install your o/s?

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Boffin

Re: These may be...

Modern operating systems have quite good algorithms to swap least live memory pages out of real memory into swap or extended memory. Presumably if a disk controller knew which were the most frequently or recently used sectors, or sectors ahead of those currently being accessed, these could be put into the flash/faster access part of the hybrid drive using similar algorithms. Should be doable if it isn't already being done. Not all parts of an OS or apps will be used very frequently, and not all data will be used infrequently, so you might get better performance from a smart controller than by the system administrator allocating different filesystem directories or folders to different drives.

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Re: These may be...

Given that the OP was asking about 2.5" drives, I'm going to assume they're after something they can use in a laptop/netbook, where running two physical drives is generally not an option. Could even be of use in SFF desktop PCs where internal expansion space can be as limited as on a laptop, and where you'd rather not have to hang your spinny-platter storage off one of the USB ports.

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Re: These may be...

@ChrisC: Your assumption is absolutely correct. My ideal drive would be one that effectively houses 2 seperate drives within one 2.5" shell, for instance a 64GB SSD and 500+GB HD. However, it would report itself to the OS as being 1 drive with 2 partitions (C: and D: respectively). Better yet, my ideal drive would maybe allow me to reduce the capacity of C: (the SSD part) which could then be used as a cache for D: (the spinny part) giving me the best of everything.

@deadmonkey: The drive wouldn't determine what goes where, I would. Much like I do now with my traditional HD split into 2 paritions: OS/Apps goes on C: and Data goes on D:

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Unhappy

no rating?

Nice to see some actual hardware reviews again on the Hardware site. However, why the continuing trend for dropping The rating on the product. Its the go-to figure to see if you approve or not.

Is this for editorial reasons, or just to keep the manufacturers sweet? Or just to encourage us to click the amazon link even on crapware?

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Re: no rating?

Top of the Amazon link is a vendor selling the drive for £20 more than suggested on El Reg, and claiming is uses 25nm tech.

Hardly a fantastic first impression.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: no rating?

We've killed ratings because they're applicable only at the time the product is reviewed. Even a week later, when new kit or an update is out, the old figure might no longer apply. You can always skip to the Verdict for a quick run down of whether we like something or not.

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Re: no rating?

Appreciate that you've taken the time to read and respond.

On a personal note i must say that i strongly disagree with the decision though.

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Re: no rating?

To be honest ratings are pretty useless.

I'd rather just have an honest user experience review and that's it.

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Pie
Happy

Re: no rating?

I like the buy it, maybe buy it, don't buy it sort of ratings.

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Re: no rating?

We all know ratings are relative.

We all accept if a C64 was given 95% in 1983 then the rating isn’t true today.

We all know that nothing scores below 60%

We all know that Apple always gets the Apple 15% bonus (cue fanbois...)

I just think the rating is a reasonable indicator of the reviewer’s experience of the product. At least class it into something more subjective like BUY/Recommended/Avoid.

Its also a good talking point on the forums as to whether the score is merited etc.

My own preference would be for Reg to use the full range of ratings though. If a product isn’t fit for purpose it should be scoring considerably less than 60%, and manufacturers are still pumping out pointless shite – hence the plethora of 1366*768 kit being churned out.

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Actually.....

and really nothing to do with this review. Whats the best SATA1/SATA2 solution currently available? You know for the old kit which people actually use, but want a bit of a boost. Crucial V4's have been suggested, but I'd like to try general consensus. (Yes I know modern SATA SSD's are backward compatible, but not in all cases - looking at you G5 powermacs).

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Re: Actually.....

I've had good results running Samsung 830 SSDs with older SATA2 kit.

The Sandisk drives work fine too.

No idea with Macs though.

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Re: Actually.....

No idea about the PowerMac compatibility, but the Intel 320 series is probably what you want. Honestly, given the way most drives lose data on power fail, I'd go with an Intel 320 even for a SATA3 system. But that's just me - I understand most people value benchmark numbers over reliable data storage.

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