PNY recently stepped into the spotlight when the company reduced the endurance of its XLR8 CS3030 SSDs, but apparently without fully informing its customers of the changes or the implications. The decrease in the warrantied write endurance, which was close to 80%, raised many questions - questions that PNY has answered in an official statement given to Tom's Hardware.
PNY doesn't deny having slashed the endurance on the XLR8 CS3030 lineup. The company attributed its decision to two factors: the rampant increase in demand for consumer SSDs for Chia coin farming, and the NAND shortage.
Although not one of the best SSDs on the market, the XLR8 CS3030 was one of the most durable. By giving the drive an endurance downgrade, PNY probably wants to dissuade Chia farmers from purchasing the drive.
PNY confirmed that it had evaluated other NAND options for the XLR8 CS3030 due to the global components shortage. While the performance remains intact on paper, the vendor updated the TBW (terabytes written) rating for the drives. The original XLR8 CS3030 used 3D TLC (triple-cell level) NAND. PNY didn't reveal any details on the substitute NAND. Given the lower TBW values, we suspect that PNY has switched over to QLC (quad-level cell) NAND, possibly explaining how the company now sells the XLR8 CS3030 with a 4TB model, a flavor that PNY didn't previously offer.
In fairness, the XLR8 CS3030's updated specification sheet doesn't commit to a certain SSD controller or NAND, leaving wiggle room for swapping components. PNY appears to have updated the document on May 17, 2021, so we assume that only units shipping after that date use different NAND. It's plausible that we have another SX8200 Pro situation where multiple variants of the same drive are floating around the market.
It would be almost impossible to differentiate one drive from another, at least by casual observation, since PNY uses the same part number. At any rate, the vendor believes that the warranty period will, in all likelihood, expire before an average consumer hits the TBW threshold. Therefore, the product's lower endurance shouldn't affect consumers that "use the SSD as intended."
Lastly, PNY addressed how the company will handle the warranty on the XLR8 CS3030. The limited five-year warranty is still valid. However, drives sold before May 17, 2021, abide by the previous TBW ratings, while SSDs sold after that date are covered under the new specifications.
You can find PNY's complete statement below:
PNY’s Official statement:
The changes PNY made to its XLR8 CS3030 SSD’s warranty policy were driven by two factors, the uptick in demand for using high-speed, consumer-grade SSDs for Chia farming, and the industry-wide shortage of NAND. These changes were published and made public on the company’s website in both the warranty section as well as the CS3030 product spec sheet on May 17, 2021.
Why TBW was added to PNY’s CS3030 SSD warranty:
The onset of Chia farming has many PC component brands rethinking their warranties, as consumer-grade hardware is not typically under the type of intense write use that is synonymous with Chia farming. The write activity required to farm Chia coin can wear out typical consumer-grade SSDs in a matter of weeks. Because of this, PNY, like others, introduced a Terabytes Written (TBW) policy to its SSD warranty. For consumers using these SSDs as intended, the warranty time (years) period will likely run out before they hit the TBW thresholds.
Why the CS3030 TBW rating was reduced:
Due to an industry-wide shortage of NAND, PNY qualified additional NAND options for the XLR8 CS3030 SSD. While the read/write performances met or exceeded published specs, some of the TBW endurance was lower thus PNY set its warranty threshold and updated the sell sheet based on the lowest TBW rating of those qualified options. For consumers using these SSDs as intended, the warranty time (years) period will likely run out before they hit the TBW thresholds.
PNY’s SSD warranty coverage:
Drives sold prior to May 17, 2021, correspond to the previously posted warranty, whereas drives sold on May 17, 2021, and later correspond to the latest warranty and TBW thresholds. Again, most consumers that use these drives as intended will likely exceed the warranty time (years) period before crossing the TBW threshold.
Now that you know your drive is going to fail 2.4 Petabytes sooner than expected can you return the drive for the price you paid?
Reading the PNY product page is rather humorous;
"Highly durable *"
"We've taken the world's most advanced NAND flash and refined the CS3030 to achieve a higher threshold for endurance and reliability" (I can only assume prior models became read only after only a few terabytes written)
"Reliable storage *"
I purchased my CS3030 in September 2020 and it has the lower endurance.
Only the first revision of the CS3030 spec sheet, dated 03-15-19 contains the words "3D TLC Flash Memory".
Spec sheet revisions from 01-31-20 and 09-23-20 just say "3D Flash Memory", with no mention of "TLC" but still have the higher TBW values.
Spec sheet revision 05-17-21 also says "3D Flash Memory" but states the lower TBW values.
When they actually changed it is anybody's guess, but it was definitely before September 2020.
Chia writes large amounts of data to drives. So does 4K and 8K video editing. So does editing large RAW photos in Lightroom.
The only thing that should concern the SSD manufacturer is the amount of data written to the drive and whether it is above the stated warrantable TBW threshold. How that data got written is absolutely none of their business.
If they say an SSD has a warrantable TBW of 800 then they should guarantee it until 800TB has been written. If they say an SSD has a TBW of 800 and it dies after 170TB they should replace it immediately and without question.
I have it under linux workstation so smartctl or nvme tools show this:
Available Spare: 100%
Available Spare Threshold: 5%
Percentage Used: 1%
Data Units Read: 3,398,320 Data Units Written: 6,255,628
Like you see 'Percentage used' is now 1% with 3.2 TB Written Data, if it is true - 320 TB will make my drive hit 100% of use.
I know , I will wait for it next 99 years, but problem is - I was already cheated by PNY because high TBW on their drive pushed me to buy one.
... and that was a lie