Chia mining has the potential to create a storage shortage, which is a real drag considering that certain CPUs, GPUs, and even some power supply units are almost always out of stock. But if looking at the proverbial glass as being half full, Chia mining could also lead to SSD makers putting a greater effort towards making drives that are rated to last longer.
A lot longer, in fact—Sabrent's new Plotripper and Plotripper Pro SSDs are the latest example of this, with endurance ratings that put most consumer models to shame.
These are not yet available, but it looks like Sabrent will be releasing at least three models, with endurance ratings ranging from 10,000 terabytes written (TBW) to 54,000 TBW.
As the company is quick to point out, the highest end model is built to last 18 times longer than a typical SSD that leverages triple-level cell (TLC) NAND flash memory chips.
In some cases, that is a conservative estimate. For example, the 2TB model of WD's SN850, one of the best SSDs for gaming, has a 1,200 TBW. Compared to that drive, Sabrent's 2TB Plotripper Pro is a whopping 45 times more durable.
Smaller capacities have lower endurance ratings because they fill up faster (memory cells wear out after repeated write operations), and Chia mining can wreck a typical 512GB SSD in as little as six weeks. Still, a standard 2TB SSD might only last 160 days.
This is prompting SSD makers to focus on drive endurance. TeamGroup had already been doing that with its T-Create Expert SSDs for creators, which offer an endurance level of up to 12,000 TBW. More recently, TeamGroup pivoted to pitching its T-Create Expert SSDs as being ideally suited for the "new crypto craze," and now Sabrent is following suit with its Plotripper and Plotripper Pro lines.
It would not surprise me if other drive makers followed suit. The bigger question is, will high endurance SSDs become the norm if and when Chia mining loses its luster? I hope so.
We may find out soon enough. Chia launched four weeks ago with an initial price of just under $1,600, then quickly lost half its value on the same day. It then spiked to nearly $1,700 a couple weeks later before dropping again (it's every bit as volatile as other popular cryptocurrencies), and for the time being has settled at around $700.
What about performance? Sabrent has not yet provided any speed ratings, or information on pricing or availability either (only that these drives are "coming soon"). However, endurance does not necessarily have to come at the expense of fast read and writes. Those T-Create drives are rated to deliver up to 3,400MB/s of sequential reads and 3,000MB/s of sequential writes—very good good numbers for a PCIe 3.0 drive.
Here's hoping Chia miners won't be the only ones to benefit from the recent focus on SSD endurance.