Kingston Up Close
Getting new information from a major vendor isn't always easy. Once you get through the marketing pages and white papers, it can feel like everything has all been said before. And maybe it has. But by getting information straight from the horse's mouth, in a candid, informal conversation, sometimes new facts emerge or get said in new ways that make them more intelligible or pertinent.
This particular conversation between Tom’s Hardware and Kingston grew from the memory vendor’s ongoing evangelism meetings, called SSD Acceleration Programs, in which the company goes out and presents the technology to IT professionals to explain what it is and the benefits it offers. Attendees cover the whole spectrum of technical knowledge, but several questions seem to always emerge from audiences. We used those as the basis of the following conversation with Kingston senior technology manager Louis Kaneshiro and lead engineer Tony Chen.
Tom's Hardware: Hi, guys. I know the technical press, including Tom’s, has done a good job of describing the ins and outs of SSD technology. I’d like to see if we can tackle some of the big issues within SSD, like endurance and TRIM, in a little different way.
Louis Kaneshiro: That sounds good. I should throw in here, William, we launched the V+ drive just a few days ago, and that does support TRIM.
TH: Great—now I’ll have to upgrade my V-series. Thanks. Any more product placements you want to add?
LK: No, I'm good. [laughs] Just so you know, I'm more of a user first and a geek second. I know the geek route has been traveled many times on this subject. So I'm going to try to take it from a little bit more of a user perspective. Let's move out of the benchmarks and into the real world.
TH: OK, let's start with endurance. We know that early SSDs were at risk of failure. What's the reality today?
LK: Tony should jump in here, but it’s true. They do wear out—the NAND that's in your USB drive, the microSD card in your BlackBerry, your camera, all of that. It has a limited amount of program/erase cycles—write cycles—and sooner or later you are going to reach the end of that. When you do, essentially that drive will stop working.
Tony Chen: More precisely, when you reach the mean time of a drive—its data endurance—it’s not really a fail. It's not like the data is no longer there or the format has vanished. It just becomes read-only at the end of its life. You still can recover your data to other media. Most of our Kingston SSD drives carry at least one million hours MTBF, their average life span. We also cover at least three years in the drive warranty. That data endurance compares well against traditional hard drives. Actually, SSD has a better life span in the media and in the interface. And SSD has 1500 G of operational shock tolerance. You’re not going to find that on a hard drive. So however you want to look at it, SSD has a better life endurance.
TH: So SSD failure isn’t like an HDD head crash where I'd just lose everything. I don’t have to panic, even if the drive goes “bad.”