A bump on the road to consumer tech heaven worth a mention

Anyone with a keen interest in consumer computer technology should quickly learn to study, carefully, the gap between what a manufacturer claims about a product and what is actually experienced. The point of the exercise is to develop a sober view about the likely performance of products they may introduce in the future, and, subsequently to at least save some time, if not some money.

Here’s a case in point:

  1. Solid State Drives (SSDs) and PCs with a Redundant Array of Independent Disks (RAID) managed by Intel Matrix Storage Manager

Consumer Grade SSDs and PC Software RAIDs don’t mix

We own a Dell T1500 Workstation, with 2 80 GB Samsung Drives in a RAID 0 configuration. The holidays are approaching. We thought we’d give ourselves a present and swap out the 2 Samsung Drives in this computer for a pair of Crucial (consumer brand for Micron) 500GB SSDs. This swap looked great on paper. We checked with Microsoft to ensure we wouldn’t experience problems backing up the current RAID architecture and restoring it to a RAID 1 (which would give us a Disaster Recovery option should one of the drives fail). We also checked with Dell (actually we downloaded their version of the PC Doctor diagnostic tool) and determined the BIOS for the T1500 was absolutely current.

But once we put our cash on the line and paid over $420 for the pair of Crucial SSDs, and physically received them, we learned the configuration wasn’t going to work. Crucial support let us know the consumer grade SSDs don’t get along well with the Intel Matrix Storage Manager at all, regardless of whether the SSDs are configured as a RAID or not.

Readers thinking of making a similar effort to “upgrade” older computers are advised to think otherwise. The only option, for the record, is to purchase the commercial grade version of these SSDs, which carry the Micron brand. But we can’t claim to have verified the accuracy of this option. The fact is we can’t reach Micron to confirm our assumption (in 2014 pre-sales support for a commodity product like SSDs is, apparently, not available from Micron).

Does all of the above give this writer cause for concern? Certainly. So we are thinking very carefully about how we will proceed on the renovation we have in mind, and may just end up purchasing a pair of old fashioned spindle driven WD hard disks (1 TB each) and simply configure them into the RAID we are after.

What’s the bottom line impact on the manufacturer vis a vis the consumer market? It would be better for the manufacturer’s marketing communication content to speak to the kind of configuration we had in mind, so consumers, like us, would have saved the time and thought otherwise before paying for the SSDs.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved

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