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SanDisk, one of the leading suppliers of flash-based products, admitted that far not all solid-state drives (SSDs) that are on the market right now are really reliable, which is why many of them are never used inside branded personal computers. But Eli Harari, chief exec of SanDisk, claims that the company does know what to do in order to improve reliability of next-gen SSDs.

“Not all SSD products created equal or are equally reliable, and the OEMs are very, very good at testing, properly testing SSD devices. The industry is in the early stages, still in its infancy. You have seen the issues that we have had with our third generation, but, frankly, I believe that all the major manufacturers of SSDs are seeing similar birth pains,” said Mr. Harari during the most recent conference call with financial analysts.

There is no secret that the vast majority of solid-state drives available today and aimed at the consumer are based on the multi-level cell (MLC) flash memory and may even feature outdated controllers. MLC flash is less reliable and speedy compared to single-level cell (SLC) flash and inefficient controllers may even worsen the situation. As MLC flash starts to incorporate up to four bits [of data] per single cell (4bpc, X4), the role of memory controllers increases dramatically and far not all designers of SSDs are capable of developing appropriate controllers.

“But we know what the issues are and we know what is needed to be done architecturally, and NAND will be up to the task. We are making progress [on a monthly basis], improving our performance and our quality and reliability and so do our competitors. […] I would expect by sometime in 2010, those [birth pain] issues would be mostly behind the industry, including ourselves.” said chief executive officer of SanDisk.

Last year Eli Harari said that operating systems, such as Windows Vista, did not offer any optimizations for SSDs, which is why they could not show dramatic performance improvements. However, with Windows 7 out, SSDs would gain speed and reliability, the chief exec said.

“The operating system guys, Windows 7 is beginning to be much more flash friendly, so I do not see that reliability or quality or endurance as being in anywhere near a show stopper for SSD,” claimed Mr. Harari.

Tags: SanDisk, SSD, Flash

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