Not all SSDs are created equal

Flash memory flaws are to blame

WE’VE COME ACROSS an interesting bit of information that we’re fairly certain that no SSD maker would want you to know about. With the current push of SSD drives into every sector of the computer market, no-one seems to have stopped to take a closer look at the drives themselves, but instead everyone’s raving about the performance.

There are plenty of reviews of SSD drives on the interweb, but it seems like just about everyone has failed to notice that there are minor discrepancies between SSD drives, even of the same make and model from the same manufacturer. If you look at the screen shot below which is taken from a Windows based RAID configuration utility, you’ll notice that the disk 4 in the RAID array has 220MB of unused space.

These are two seemingly identical 32GB drives from the same manufacturer and both should offer the same formatted capacity, yet one drive offers more space than the other. 220MB might not be much to get hung up over, but considering that SSD’s are anything but cheap, the extra space would be welcomed by anyone investing in an SSD.

We were told by the manufacturer of these specific SSD drives that it comes down to the flash memory used and the fact that there are minor flaws in all types of flash memory. There’s no difference in this case between SLC and MLC flash memory. The very best flash memory chips are used for enterprise storage solutions, while the slightly less perfect ones end up in consumer drives.

It’s all down to pot luck if you get yourself an SSD that offers slightly more capacity or not and there’s no way to determine if a specific drive offers more space or not, apart from plugging it in to your computer. It might be a bit harsh to call this a scam, at least not as long as the SSD manufacturers don’t end up selling drives that offer less than the advertised capacity.

Still, we can’t but wonder why this isn’t regulated by the firmware in the SSD’s, especially as the extra capacity could be used to prolong the life of the SSD in the case of damaged data blocks. None the less, this is a new technology and as manufacturing of the flash memory improves, this might just become a distant memory. However, if you’re in the market for an SSD and have the chance to try out a few different ones, you might just get lucky and get some extra space for free.S|A

The following two tabs change content below.