Hard drives have been one of the key assets for the storage industry for almost six decades. However, large data centers have started using a new technology known as SSD (Solid-State Drives) with the intent to get better performance. But the subject of reliability is still a secret to many enterprises and end users.
SSDs are known to provide huge performance gains, but the reliability factor is more consequential in determining the life span of your data stored on these drives. The effect of moving from 3x nm NAND to 25 nm flash memory design is the lower number of program/erase cycles that the SSD can sustain. Drive failures may also happen due to fault in firmware, memory IC, or capacitor. However, write-cycle exhaustion is critical when estimating the reliability of the media.
When it comes to drive reliability at enterprise level, some real facts suggest that the annualized failure rate of enterprise drives and consumer drives is almost same. The drives designed for enterprises and consumers mostly have identical components. The only differences can be seen in their firmware and corresponding external designs.
A common misconception about drive failures is that a drive is likely to fail at a higher temperature. However, temperature is less often the underlying reason of failure, as it has an effect only on older drives. A new drive will have the capability to easily survive at high temperature. Further, SMART technology is not as reliable as commonly perceived. Most of the time, you do not get a warning before the failure. Some studies show that SMART triggers an alert only if your drive is impending a mechanical failure. In other cases, the problems would simply go unnoticed.
If you were to compare SSDs and hard disk drives (HDDs) based on reliability, the SSDs are no better than HDDs as mentioned above. SSD manufacturers claim that their flash memory device will yield better performance and reliability. But if there is no assurance of better safety of data on an SSD than on a HDD, you would have only one reason to switch to the SSD technology. When you talk about performance, a low-end SSD has 85% performance gain and a high-end SSD has nearly 88% performance gain over a hard disk drive. With this small difference, some companies have started marketing these drives by putting reliability ahead of performance.
Intel SSD drives are getting huge attention in big businesses nowadays. The data center studies have reported that failure rates of SSDs depend on a variety of factors, including manufacturers, vintages, and drive models. Further, the number of such incidents increases with the age of SSD. However, enterprises can use flash-based storage to replace a part of their mechanical storage. This consolidation will reduce the power and cooling requirements. Reliability can be achieved by replicating data three or more times. Overall, both the solid state technology and hard drive technology are advancing rapidly, but the new drives are not made as reliable as you may expect them to be.