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Acquiring SSDs for evaluation


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Hi everyone,


As many of you are aware, I released Home Server SMART 2012 into beta last week, and quite a bit of the feedback that I've gotten back has been over incorrect reporting of Solid State Disks (SSDs). Having never had an SSD, until last Friday, it never even dawned on me that they would report a completely different set of SMART attributes.


To add insult to injury, it would seem that each SSD controller manufacturer (i.e. Indilinx, Intel, SandForce) has implemented their own set of SMART attributes, so while traditional "Winchester" hard drives--for the most part--go by the same general set of attributes, SSDs branch in 8 different directions (9 if you count now-defunct Satron).


I found the tables of definitions for them here: http://code.google.com/p/hddguardian/wiki/Intel_SMART_attributes (the link says Intel but they're all there). Unfortunately, while some of these tables offer a full suite of information, many offer only attribute IDs and names, with no explanation as to what it is or how to interpret it. Many also just have a question mark.


I found out that OCZ acquired Indilinx last year, so while many OCZ drives (including mine) have a SandForce controller, newer OCZ drives are "Indilinx Infused." And Indilinx is one of the tables that has very little information to go by. And so I visited the Contact Us page at OCZ, and there were some email links on how to request information and even a form (for the press) to request an evaluation drive.


I cannot afford to buy a bunch of SSDs for testing. Most are $100 or more, so I'd need to drop nearly a grand to make sure I cover all the manufacturers and controllers, or at least most. The SSD I got last week was generously donated to me by an individual who felt very strongly about not having his SSD reported as Geriatric (which the current beta of HSS does with all SSDs).


So my questions are:


1. How willing are SSD manufacturers to donate an SSD to a software vendor for evaluation purposes? I'm not looking to keep the drive. Even if I can only have it for one week, that's all I'd need.

2. Do I need to be a member of the press to get one?

3. How willing would a hardware manufacturer be to release its SMART specs? From my experience, they are very reluctant to release APIs, which is one of the reasons why HSS doesn't support drives in RAIDs because I have no way of reading them.


It's not uncommon for a technical writer in a newspaper to state that they've got an evaluation version of a device, such as a phone, that they can try so they can write about it. Would a software developer be treated the same way?


SSD support is going to very difficult to provide without having some real hardware to test against. Support for HDDs is pretty easy...I have tons of them laying around and can easily acquire extras.


If anyone has any insight it would be much appreciated!



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