Dell refutes solid state drive failure claims

Dell is refuting a report citing a high rate of solid state drive failures

Brooke Crothers Former CNET contributor
Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.
Brooke Crothers
2 min read

Dell is refuting a report by Avian Securities claiming return rates for solid state drives (SSDs) are high due to performance issues and failures.

"The recently published analyst report estimating a high return rate for Solid State Drive technology (SSD) in Dell products is unfounded and wholly inaccurate," Dell said Tuesday. The Avian Securities report had stated that "failure rates for SSDs are running a full order of magnitude higher than that of disk drives."

Dell disagrees. "Our global data on SSDs (to date) shows reliability rates that are equal to or better than HDD drives," Dell countered. "Return rates (to date) are consistent with our expectations for new technology and an order of magnitude lower than rates reported in the press by a recent analyst report."

Dell also said that it sees SSD as the "future of mobility storage and offers the technology across a wide variety of laptop models, including business, consumer and mobile workstations." Second Generation SSDs, like Samsung's SATA II Drive, actually outperform existing notebook drives, Dell added.

More of the Dell response here.

The reliability of SSDs is turning into a thorny issue. Major vendors like Samsung claim that SSDs are extremely reliable. The rare failures that do occur are usually in the controller chip not the flash drive itself, Samsung says. On the other hand, Intel acknowledges the challenge of making SSDs more reliable and is making reliability "a key differentiation point" for its upcoming large-capacity SSDs.

This is connected to a longstanding issue that flash memory can "wear out" after a certain number of write cycles, typically ranging between 10,000 and 100,000. One technique that can mitigate this problem is "wear leveling," which spreads out the writes evenly over many different memory cells. This prevents failure of a single sector that would occur because of a high concentration of write cycles, according to device makers.