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by Zsolt Kerekes, editor - June 13, 2014

It seems that the risk of preplanned component substitutions by the original branded SSD maker (rather than merely the supply chain risk of counterfeits by persons unknown) is another uncertainty which readers in the consumer SSD market may now have to contend with.

The article below was a popular story in SSD news in June 2014.
6 years ago when I published the article - Can you trust flash SSD specifications & benchmarks? - which began with this sentence - "One of the things I've noticed is that the published specs of flash SSDs change a lot - from the time products are first announced, then when they're being sampled, and later again when they are in volume production" - I was alluding to the unintended negative performance consequences of firmware upgrades rather than the deliberate substitution of an entirely different SSD controller introduced in an SSD product family soon after its launch.

But it seems that the risk of deliberate component substitutions by the original branded SSD maker (rather than merely the supply chain risk of counterfeits by persons unknown) is another uncertainty which readers in the consumer SSD market may now have to contend with - according to a new article - SSD shadiness - vendors caught switching to cheaper components after good reviews written by Joel Hruska in an article for ExtremeTech.

After naming and shaming specific SSD offenders with various accused offences - Joel goes on to warn other vendors who might be thinking of doing something similar - "If reviewers can't trust that the performance they see is the performance end-users will receive, they'll never recommend your components." the article

Editor's comments:- A reader in the consumer market contacted me recently because he thought I didn't give enough warnings about the potentially unreliability of consumer SSDs.

I was shocked by that view and sent him a deluge of links to cautionary articles - including those below - in which the extracts shown here are the original unedited quotes from each article.
  • "SSDs aimed at the consumer market are designed to deliver basic functionality at the lowest price. That means the designers (originally due to ignorance – but nowadays with foreknowledge) have to decide what shortcuts they can take in the production process and what design factors they can leave out to reduce the price - compared to a reliable industrial / military / enterprise grade SSD." - Why can consumers expect to see more flaky flash SSDs?
  • "How good are consumer SSDs? You won't find anyone more enthusiastic about solid state storage than me. But - here's an important sanity check. Even the very best consumer SSDs available today are vastly inferior in performance and reliability to the best SSDs in the enterprise and industrial markets." - the consumer SSDs guide
  • "In the first 5 years of its history (2006-2010) the notebook SSD market was a disappointment to SSD evangelists like me - because integration with PCs was so bad, and most of the SSDs were too slow or had too little capacity to be useful..." - overview of the notebook SSD market
And there are more - but I won't list them all here.

The danger for newcomers to many SSD market is they read 1 or 2 articles about endurance and think that's all there is to know about SSDs.

If the SSD world was as simple as that I would have abandoned this topic 10 years ago instead of writing all those other SSD articles.

The issues of visible and invisible BOM changes in embedded SSDs from the perspective of buyers in the industrial and military markets is discussed in - There's no such thing as a standard industrial SSD

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and here below is another example of a consumer SSD warning story - from the SSD news archive
SSD Review exposes how rebranded memory can adulterate consumer SSDs
Editor:- February 18, 2013 - the SSD Review recently published an in-depth article which shows how the memory chips in consumer SSDs - which appear to come from one source - may actually have come from somewhere else.

The article - by Les Tokar, Editor-in-Chief of the SSD Review - reads at times like a gripping detective story - and looks into the murky topic of remarking and rebranding flash chips - which can lead to adulteration and quality problems in the memory supply chain - all in pursuit of getting the lowest manufacturing cost.

These problems and risks have been well known in expert SSD circles but Les Tokar's new exposé brings this shadow world into vivid focus. the article


Surviving SSD sudden power loss
Why should you care what happens in an SSD when the power goes down?

This important design feature - which barely rates a mention in most SSD datasheets and press releases - has a strong impact on SSD data integrity and operational reliability.

This article will help you understand why some SSDs which (work perfectly well in one type of application) might fail in others... even when the changes in the operational environment appear to be negligible.
image shows Megabyte's hot air balloon - click to read the article SSD power down architectures and acharacteristics If you thought endurance was the end of the SSD reliability story - think again. the article