The JEDEC Solid State Technology Association today announced it has published two long-anticipated standards for measuring and reporting Solid State Drive (SSD) endurance relative to overall reliability. As the leading developer of standards for the microelectronics industry, JEDEC’s view is that widely adopted industry standards for SSDs are essential tools to reduce market confusion, facilitate broad adoption and alleviate product quality and reliability concerns.
The Solid-State Drive Requirements and Endurance Test Method, a.k.a. JESD218 is the first of the two standards and is focused on defining conditions of endurance. The standard defines two application classes: Client and Enterprise. These two classes have specific requirements which are intended to ultimately help consumers as well as enterprise IT managers choose products that are best fit for their needs.
Since workloads are expected to change as applications evolve, they are described in a separate, complementary standard: JESD219 Solid-State Drive Endurance Workloads. Because the workload that a SSD is subjected to has a significant impact on the amount of data that may be written to the drive, a standard workload is required to have comparable results.
Now, why is the JEDEC standards announcement such a significant milestone? Let’s dive into some recent history for perspective on the answer.
Just a few years ago, hard disk drive makers including Seagate of course, were getting beat up by many in the industry who were making noise about the promises of newly-emerging SSDs…and stating that the death of the HDD was imminent. Solid State, it was being said, was by nature immensely more reliable than those mechanical spinning disks. On the surface, it seems a very easy argument to make and believe.
So what’s happened behind the scenes and now publically with SSDs since that time? Well, SSDs entered the marketplace and also hit the technology media reviewers and bloggers. It was time to put up or shut up.
Performance of many SSDs was very strong in cases, but in other cases, disappointing and slower than some HDDs. Overall however, the performance aspect of SSDs did, at least at first, seem to live up to much of the hype.
But, it wasn’t long afterward that the technology challenges and stories of failures went public. Now, of course HDDs have had their bouts of failures – to deny that would be silly – but the point is that failure rates in many cases for SSDs was dramatically larger than some vendors were initially claiming.
As time went on, solid state technology started to shed some more of its “end all-be all” perceptions. Anandtech wrote a very educational piece that uncovered the technology challenges of performance degradation of SSDs over time. Breaking it down in easy to read and understand language, this story originally posted in March of 2009, and still stands as an immensely valuable and relevant reference story
that cuts through the hype.
So in an industry that was mixing messages, and in some cases failing to deliver on its promises, consumers and OEMs were rightfully confused about SSDs. What the industry needed were real-world standards that could guide users beyond the hype. Today’s announcement from JEDEC provides the tools to do just that.
SSDs are indeed an exciting part of our storage ecosystem. But like any new technology, there are, and will continue to be, challenges to overcome. Having standards available now from JEDEC is a big step in the right direction and ultimately delivers much-needed peace of mind.