After almost 9 months with the OCZ Vertex 3 SATA-6GBPs (read about my OptiBay two-drive setup) and mostly no issues, the drive died on me. Starting with several GSOD (Grey Screens of Death) on my OSX Lion MacBook Pro, the drive became more and more unreliable.
Nov 28 18:30:42 mbp kernel: hfs: FindNextLeafNode: Error from hfs_swap_BTNode (node 9852)
Nov 28 18:30:42 mbp kernel: hfs_swap_HFSPlusBTInternalNode: catalog key #54 too big
Nov 28 18:30:42 mbp kernel: hfs: Runtime corruption detected on SSD, fsck will be forced on next mount.
Nov 28 18:30:42 mbp kernel: hfs: FindNextLeafNode: Error from hfs_swap_BTNode (node 10370)
Nov 28 18:30:42 mbp kernel: hfs_swap_HFSPlusBTInternalNode: catalog record #22 keyLength=32 expected=65568
Nov 28 18:30:42 mbp kernel: hfs: node=10965 fileID=4 volume=SSD device=/dev/disk0s2
Nov 28 18:30:43 mbp kernel: hfs: Runtime corruption detected on SSD, fsck will be forced on next mount.
Nov 28 18:30:43 mbp kernel: hfs: FindNextLeafNode: Error from hfs_swap_BTNode (node 14503)
Nov 28 18:30:43 mbp kernel: hfs_swap_BTNode: record #55 invalid offset (0x9B46)
It was getting slower and slower, reporting tons of errors in the Console.app. Then, it did not reboot anymore. Even in an external USB drive enclosure the drive did not mount anymore. Contacting OCZ about this issue, they sent me an RMA number right away and told me they will replace the drive. Does this mean our data is not safe in SSD? What can we learn from this?
First of all, it is a myth that SSDs are more reliable than hard drives. Secondly, they are not even fully supported on OSX yet (see Should I use Trim Enabler on Lion for the OCZ Vertex 3? No!) - at least if you install the drives yourself (which is also what I would suggest, since Apple does not offer any decent SATA 6GBPs drives yet).
So where is the proof, you ask?
Proof #1: The Hot/Crazy Solid State Drive Scale (via Coding Horror)
Super Talent 32 GB SSD, failed after 137 days
OCZ Vertex 1 250 GB SSD, failed after 512 days
G.Skill 64 GB SSD, failed after 251 days
G.Skill 64 GB SSD, failed after 276 days
Crucial 64 GB SSD, failed after 350 days
OCZ Agility 60 GB SSD, failed after 72 days
Intel X25-M 80 GB SSD, failed after 15 days
Intel X25-M 80 GB SSD, failed after 206 days
As a commenter put it: "Average life of SSD = 227.375 days (based on Wills' data)" - which is also what I can confirm.
SOLUTION: Backup early, backup often. Don't rely on the SSD and make two local backups plus one backup in the cloud.
Proof #2: long-term study of SSD failure rates (via Tomshardware)
SOLUTION: Buy drives that come with a very long warranty. Be prepared to let your drive replace for several times.
I am still waiting for my replacement OCZ Vertex and I will benchmark how fast it will die again. Since OCZ told me, it can take up to three weeks for my replacement to arrive, I bought myself a Seagate ST750LX003 750 GB SATA 600, Momentus XT, 8 GB SLC - it's a hybrid 750GB HDD with an 8GB SLC cache. The drive shifts data that is used often in the 8GB SLC SSD space automatically. While the SSD part of this hybrid drive can also fail, the data won't be lost and it will suffer just some minor speed loss (if it fails, since SLC is said to be more reliable than MLC chips). While this disk is now my main startup disk, i will go back to using the OCZ Vertex 3 again, once the replacement arrives. I just need to backup regularly - the speed gain is really worth the trouble.
While the new Apple MacBook Pro Machines are really fast desktop-like speed packed monsters, it seems like they also have severe hardware design faults as outlined by zdnet and ifixit. With a geekbench score over 10.000 the new MacBook Pro (early 2011) beats the Mac Pro (Early 2009) Intel Xeon W5590 3.33 GHz (4 cores). All the good talk and benchmarks cannot make up for the current problems Apple users are facing with their brand new machines:
- too much thermal paste seems to raise the CPU temperature
- fans running at 6000rpm+ constantly
- frequent kernel panics or freezes that are maybe related to the new GPU
- heating issues with the whole MBP early 2011 series
Come on Apple, wake up and fix those machine fast, as lots of us could benefit from a stable quad-core laptop solution (talking audio plugs and realtime audio performance).
We can recommend to tell apple to send the replacements before they pick up the faulty machines, so it is easier to transfer the data already on it. (apple care even suggested it this way)
[UPDATE] Gregg Keizer from Computerworld also writes about quality concerns regarding the new Apple Notebooks and there is also a discussion about actual "Overheating" going on in the Apple Forums. Well, I can confirm the issue exists and the current MacBook Pro Models freeze a lot. If it is a hardware, software or firmware issue remains unclear.
[UPDATE] There is a macrumors forum thread discussing that there were issues with the 2010 MBPs as well when they came out. Another thread at macrumors forum tries to sort out if it is a hardware or software issue.
Some people suspect it is related to internal graphics switching, but there really seems to be something going on since also reports on the apple discussion forums are increasing.
[UPDATE] as of 2011/03/14 macrumors suggest in their forum to "go 2010 or wait for ivy bridge". The early 2011 version of the MacBook Pro das 45W TDP vs. last generation's 35w. That's a big increase which automatically makes the whole series go louder and more hot than the 2010 model.
[UPDATE] 2011/03/21: Macrumors posted a story: "2011 MacBook Pros Crashing Under Load?"
[UPDATE] 2011/03/21: Mac OSX 10.6.7 Update was just announced by Apple. Unfortunately, on the two machines we have here, the update does not fix anything related to CPU temperature. Still there are frequent freezes as well.
[UPDATE] 2011/03/22: dailytech confirms that New MacBook Pros Freezing When Stressed, Update Adds More Problems
[UPDATE] 2011/03/28: we received our two replacement MacBook Pros. They don't seem to have any issues and also still did not freeze on us! Also the fans are not spinning like crazy anymore! For all people affected by any of the issues reported above: get your Notebooks replaced! Apple is aware of the issues and replaces faulty hardware (we had to wait for two weeks though).
[UPDATE] 2011/04/23: the current Systems freeze 2-3 times a day. Not all the issues seem to be solved! You should definitely get a late 2010 model, if you need a highly stable system!
[UPDATE] 2011/11/01: Apple replaced one of our 15-inch MBP MC721LL/A machine and the freezes are not appearing anymore. Reports from other users that bought an early 2011 model are positive, so currently the advice would be to get a refurbished Apple MacBook Pro MC721LL/A 15.4-Inch Laptop even before getting a MD318LL/A 15.4-Inch (late 2011) version, not only because of saving some bucks, but also since the Apple MacBook Pro early 2011 performs better in most of the situations compared to the late 2011 version.
Besides the heating issues, there are also reported "intermittent flickering, brief blackouts and other periodic but noticeable flaws" reported in the Apple Discussion Forums. We are getting replacement Machines - let's see if there is any improvement after the first round of shipping!