Intel SSDs Slowing with Age, Thanks to Runaway Fragmentation

Paul Lilly

Ruh-roh, Shaggy, it looks as though SSDs might not be all that and a bag of chips after all. Or more specifically, Intel's mighty X25-M SSD may prove a better sprinter than a marathon runner.

One of the major concerns with SSD technology is that the cells are good only for a finite number of writes, at which point they become read-only. Intel address this potential problem using sector remapping and wear-leveling algorithms, but a new report shows it might carry a nasty performance-reducing side effect.

Most wear-leveling algorithms dynamically move frequently-rewritten logical sectors to different physical sectors of the drive, ensuring that no cells are written to more frequently than others. Intel takes it a step further by extending its remap table into individual sectors, which reduces the number of small block writes needed for small files. The problem, according to PCPerspective, is that Intel's method seriously degrades long-term performance. After two of the site's writers noticed that their X25-M SSDs were performing signicantly slower after a length of time, the review site reran the drives through its gamut of benchmarks and found the drives had indeed degraded in performance, and in some cases, reads were reduced to a paltry 22MB/s. Zoinks!

If you own an X25-M and find that your drive has also slowed down considerably, there are fixes in place. According to Intel, one way to restore performance is to use IOMeter to sequentially write content to the entire drive. PCPerspective said it met with limited success using this method, but had much better results using Intel's second suggestion, which is to use a tool to perform a SECURE ERASE command on the drive. Using an older version of HDDErase (v3.3), the site says it was able to restore its X25-M back to its original performance levels.

Check out the article here , then hit the jump and sound off.

Image Credit: Intel

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