Industry standards arrive for testing SSD endurance, reliability

They could help solid-state drive buyers better compare hardware

The leading developer of standards for the microelectronics industry today announced new metrics for determining the endurance and reliability of solid-state drives (SSD), allowing users to more easily select the best products for applications.

The JEDEC Solid State Technology Association said that its standards subcommittee has published two standards for SSDs: JESD218 Solid-State Drive (SSD) Requirements and Endurance Test Method and JESD219 Solid-State Drive Endurance Workloads.

The new standards will help level the playing field in terms of SSD vendors, many of whom use mean time between failure (MTBF) as a key metric for endurance and reliability.

While annual failure rate (AFR) is a more accurate measurement for drive reliability, neither the AFR nor MTBF specifications are designed to determine an individual drives useful lifespan but are more suited for entire drive lines that ship in lots.

As SSDs are subject to different levels of demand depending on the applications in use, the new standards will help to more accurately determine individual drive life by first defining two application classes: Client and Enterprise. The standards also establish specific requirements for each, an approach intended to help consumers and enterprise IT managers choose products that are the best fit for their needs.

Widely adopted industry standards for SSDs are seen as essential tools to reduce market confusion, aid broad adoption and alleviate product quality and reliability concerns, the JEDEC said.

"To achieve the goal of consensus-based industry standards for SSDs, [the subcommittee] has taken the lead to provide meaningful, real-life, endurance and reliability metrics to better enable customers to select the right SSD for their expected applications and workloads," said Alvin Cox, chairman of the JEDEC SSD committee.

The JESD218 standard creates an SSD Endurance Rating, which represents the number of terabytes of data written by a host to the SSD, which is referred to as TBW. TBW provides a standard comparison for SSDs based on application class.

The JESD219 standard addresses SSD Endurance Workloads by establishing a standard workload for comparable results. For now, JESD219 defines workloads for enterprise applications only; client workloads will be added later.

"The comprehensive approach taken to defining capacity, workload and endurance will go a long way towards enabling market confidence in SSDs," Scott Graham, vice chairman of the subcommittee, said in a statement.

Both documents are available for free download at www.jedec.org. To speed up adoption of the new standards, JEDEC plans to offer an in-depth tutorial on SSDs on SSDs in San Jose on Oct. 5.

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed . His e-mail address is lmearian@computerworld.com.

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