back to article Dell gets in a state over SSD claims

Dell has slammed an analyst's claim that a large number of disgruntled customers are returning the vendor's flash drive-based notebooks due to high failure rates. Avian Securities managing partner Avi Cohen said in a report earlier this week that the rate of return on Dell notebooks using solid-state drives ranged from 20-30 …


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  1. Mad Hacker

    Actually the report didn't name Dell, they outed themselves

    One of the interesting items is the report never names the computer supplier. Some Apple rumor sites were speculating it could be Apple, Leveno, or Dell.

    Then some intermediate stories claimed it was Dell even though the report didn't state it was Dell.

    Until Dell got upset, no one really knew. Of course, the denial basically confirmed that it was in fact Dell.

  2. J


    "However, critics have grumbled that flash drives, given their expensive price tag, fail to provide a better overall experience for the customer."

    Hm... I wonder how many of those were seeing Vista for the first time and blaming the SSD for the "experience"...

  3. Daniel Silver badge

    Lies, damn lies and ....

    Surely this is an easy one to prove or disprove? An analyst quoting a statistic like "20-30% return rate" can either back it up with fact or not - same goes for Dell. Me, I'd tend to believe the analyst ...

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Failure rate

    on average across the whole board is about 20% in the first 3 years on laptops. So im inclined to disbelieve the 1-2% remark.

    Plus Flash drives are relatively new on the market which begs the question about Dells comment regarding reliability on SSD drives.

  5. bygjohn


    The SSD in my EeePC seems fine, and there's no outcry on the Eee forums about high failure rates. Are Asus just lucky or have Dell or whoever bought a bunch of duff ones?

  6. Giles Jones Gold badge


    Performance should be good but it depends on the file system.

    You can't write to flash as many times as a hard disk so they employ wear leveling which probably won't work too well with NTFS (it fragments quite a bit) as it writes in sequential order to even out the wear on the flash blocks.

  7. Sam


    NTFS=Neanderthal Technology Filing System.

    The animal skin and club please..

    Me go bash rocks together, get it eventually..

  8. Nexox Enigma

    @Giles Jones

    """You can't write to flash as many times as a hard disk so they employ wear leveling which probably won't work too well with NTFS (it fragments quite a bit) as it writes in sequential order to even out the wear on the flash blocks."""

    Actually all the information that I've seen suggests that without wear leveling you'd be fine for far longer than the life of the drive. The newest drives will do 10M writes to each sector before they die.

    Plus, fragmentation and other filesystem details don't matter much when your seek time is as low as what SSDs quote.

    So either the manufacturers lie about the write count and seek times, or customers are too thick to notice the performance changes. Either is likely.

  9. Steve
    Thumb Up

    SSD in EEE

    Is a completely different beast to the SSD in a Dell.

  10. Simon Neill

    SSD write limit

    I wonder how many people are running vista on low ammounts of RAM and thus hammering the swap file and burning out the SSD.....

    After all, vista really needs a minimum of 2Gb

  11. richard
    Jobs Halo

    Flash HD wear out-how?

    please could someone explain, in simple terms, how a SSD wears out when there are no moving parts?

  12. Cameron Colley

    RE: Flash HD wear out-how?

    My understanding was that the charge held in the memory eventually causes the structure of the transistors to break down due to electron migration or some such.

  13. Clive Galway

    @ Flash HD wear out-how?

    And while you are at it, please explain how, with no moving parts, the following items do not last forever:



    Rechargable batteries



  14. michael

    @ Flash HDD ware out-how

    they stop switching states after so meny wites but the new ones are so good they last longer then the moving parts in a standerd hdd would (the time frames qouted where 20+years constent writing)

    I can not find the link but it is on el reg somwhere

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Got one myself, no problems here

    Got a Samsung SSD myself and had no problems with reliability. Its also blazingly fast :)

    I think this "analyst" is just plain lying.

  16. Dr. Mouse

    @ Flash HD wear out-how?

    Have a read of:

    It's fairly accurate and esplains the basics. In short, each write damages the structure slightly. You do not need moving parts. Think of it like a lightbulb, every time you turn it on you damage it ever so slightly, and it gets a little damaged while being used. Eventualy it cant take it any more and goes bang.

    I know this is very simplified, but it is a fair analogy.

  17. Brutus
    Paris Hilton

    @Flash HD wear out-how?

    And if you think small, you'll realise that there are lots of moving parts: electrons (and 'holes') whizzing all over the place :-)

    Paris, because she likes moving parts!

  18. John Stag

    Flash memory hasn't worn out since the early 90s. Get over it.

    "You can't write to flash as many times as a hard disk"

    New types of flash memory together with wear leveling means the SSD will probably last much longer than a hard drive.

    Please apply the appropriate upgrade patch to your brain to stop the knee-jerk posting to message boards every time somebody mentions "SSD" (you and all the other morons who are doubtless busy typing as we speak).

    "which probably won't work too well with NTFS (it fragments quite a bit) as it writes in sequential order to even out the wear on the flash blocks."

    SSDs have zero seek time so fragmentation isn't any kind of a problem on SSDs (in fact it's a good thing as it works as a natural kind of wear levelling).

  19. M. Burns Silver badge

    Wear Leveling Calculation Example

    This is a ST Microelectronics Application Note on Flash wear leveling. Even with improvements in the numbers of writes, wear leveling is still usually a good idea. In the example in the application note, the Flash lifetime is extended from about 0.5 days to almost 50 years through wear leveling.

  20. marc farley

    Dell EqualLogic blogger

    I'm Marc Farley from Dell (EqualLogic). I don't work with the laptop SSD folks, but I became instantly interested in this story because it seemed so outrageous. I found the SSD group and checked out the story and - low and behold - was utter rubbish. We keep ORT reports for all this stuff and the flash SSDs are doing extremely well. They were sold initially for high mobility and rugged environments - a hard place for any storage to survive and they have better failure stats than disk drives. And that was for the first generation product. Early failure stats for 2nd gen SSDs are spectacular.

    As to wear out. Yes, we use wear leveling algorithms to alleviate this, but at some point, there will be some statistical distribution of cells that can't be written to. Mind you, this takes some time. Anyway, the point is, Dell SSDs are designed to convert to read only devices when this happens. I don't know how this is done or at what point - but the main thing is that data is preserved, not lost.

    This whole thing is so overblown and reckless. The technology is already highly reliable and getting even better. This will be born out over time.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    My Dell XPS 1330

    Is great although there are several niggles with it. They could either be down to an intermittent hardware fault or Vista or a mixture of both. I may have had an issue with the SSD when some kind of file corruption locked me out of the machine and I had to rebuild it when the password restore didn't work.

    Anyway, it's a keeper as far as I'm concerned. Roll on bigger drives though.

  22. Andy Tyzack

    wear and tear

    there are so many different opinions on how long an ssd will last.

    as soon as there is a story on el reg re mass failure of eeepcs, then we will all know for sure how long an ssd lasts, in the mean time, shut your holes because no one really knows!!!!


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