SSDs are no more non- volatile say researchers

Solid-State Drives are no more non-volatile as researchers are concluding after a detailed research. As per a survey, 13-15 flash based SSDs suffer data loss or even can worsen the storage environment when they loose power. So, in this way, the ability to retain data in the event of power loss is missing in most of the SSDs these days.

A study conducted by University of Ohio and HP Labs revealed that the deployment of flash based Solid-State Drives in data center storage systems is increasing the risk of massive data loss due to power outages. The research included 15 SSDs from almost 5 top vendors in the business and revealed that 13 put of 15 SSDs were showing signs of bit corruption, metadata corruption and in some cases total device failures. The research white paper released by the University of Ohio commissioned by HP, has kept the names of the vendors whose products were scrutinized under wraps for now.

Researchers at the University created a data center environment where SSDs were put into the operation and power was cut down in an unexpected way. They admitted that SSDs are truly much faster, more affordable and more reliable than traditional hard drives. But at the same time, they came to the conclusion that SSDs are more susceptible to power failures and data loss than hard drives.

Loss of power can be prevented in a sophisticated data center environment in today’s world. But under certain circumstances it cannot be avoided, like it happened in recent Hotmail outage 2013, where a software failure created a power spike.

The study revealed that 15 SSDs were subjected to almost 3k fault injection cycles and out of them 13 of the enterprise class devices exhibited failure. The study proved that the failure exhibited almost 2% data loss in the environment and this is indeed an alarming revelation. Two SSD drives were massively corrupted and one even stopped registering on SAS bus at all.

The findings in the research proved 5 failure types which include bit corruption, cut down in writes and write performances, unserializable writes, meta-data corruption and dead drive.

The research conducted by University of Ohio and HP Labs came to a conclusion that SSD deployment looks promising in high performance oriented environments. But the research results also prove that they do not provide reliable durability for even simplest of faults such as power failures.

So, they recommend system builders to test the SSD durability and sustainability and then deploy them in mission critical application needs.

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