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Intel X25-M solid-state drive degrades significantly with heavy use

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Intel's top-of-the-line X25-M solid state drive--which has been touted for its superior performance--actually degrades in performance with extensive use, concluded a review site. According to PC Perspective, the problems are related to Intel's write-combining algorithm, which was designed to significantly enhance the performance of the X25-M by overcoming weaknesses inherent to flash-based solid-state drives.

In a lengthy review, the site concluded that a typical laptop user with "light workloads" will be unlikely to take a performance hit, though a "typical power user workload can fragment these drives in short order." As the drive becomes increasingly fragmented, performance can actually degrade by more than half.

Because the fragmentation occurs on the hardware level, reinstalling an operating system or running a standard disk defragmentation tool will not improve the situation. In fact, performing a disk defragmentation is strongly advised against, as it will actually cause the slow-down to surface faster.

Author Allyn Malventano wrote, "We found that a ‘used' X25-M will always perform worse than a ‘new' one, regardless of any adaptive algorithms that may be at play."

At the moment, the only way to reset an X25-M to its original performance would be to erase the LBA remap table, which stores the data used by the write-combining algorithm. The PC Perspective article provides a link to the tool used.  If the findings hold true to current enterprise SSD drives on the market, then perhaps the technology is not yet suitable for use in the data center.

For more on this story:
- check out this article at PC Perspective
- check out this article at InformationWeek

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