Intel's first stab at making an affordable PCIe NVMe storage device resulted in last summer's crop of 600p-series SSDs packing 3D TLC flash. The company offers these drives in four capacities ranging from 128GB up to 1TB, but curiously launched them with the same 72 TBW endurance level for all versions. Those numbers were revised later on with figures as high as 576 TBW. TR has previously shown that most SSDs are capable of reliably writing data far past their specified endurance rating. Now, Chris Ramseyer over at Tom's Hardware decided to see what would happen if he pushed an Intel 600p 256GB drive to the bloody limit, and then shared the results with the world.
In our testing, a now somewhat-ancient Intel 335 Series 240 GB SSD was able to write just over 700TB of random data before its internal monitors triggered autophagy. At the very end of its life, the drive went into a read-only state, and after a reboot, the data on it was completely inaccessible. For testing the 600p 256GB unit, Tom's used an even harsher torture test with non-stop 4K write operations.
Bearing the difference in testing methods in mind, it's still a little surprising to see that the 600p that Tom's tested switched to read-only mode after less than 110TB of writes. On a brighter note, the data on the drive was recoverable even after the drive was unpowered for a full thirty days. The Intel 600p 256GB drive bears an endurance rating of 144 TBW, though that figure is almost certainly not derived from the extremely punishing methods used in Tom's testing.
Ramseyer's report includes additional information about the drive's performance degradation nearing its time of death, as well as more general information about the SSD's error-checking and correction. The piece is an interesting read and well worth checking out.
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