When is a single SSD actually two SSDs? Samsung MZRPC512

Single SSD but in a RAID-0 two disk configuration

A single SSD with two processors in RAID 0.

Solid State Disk (SSD) technology is still very much an emerging technology. There are over 100 different manufacturers of SSDs and the associated components. As a consequence of both, there is far less standardisation in the technology than with hard disk drives (HDDs). This means manufacturers can develop innovative means to attempt to increase the capacity and performance of the SSD, which can considerably complicate any data recovery attempt.

When a potential customer makes an enquiry regarding data loss from an SSD it is very important to try and identify as quickly as possible the particular model of SSD they have. This is because the amount of work required, and the likely success rate, can be largely determined by the model of SSD.

Samsung MZRPC512 / MZRPC256 in Sony Vaio Laptops

This week CDR – Manchester Data Recovery Services – received a Sony Vaio PCG-41311M laptop with a failed Samsung 512GB SSD. Model MZRPC512 . This model of SSD is effectively two separate SSDs which have been combined on two a single printed circuit board (PCB). A single proprietary connector is used between the SSD and the laptop motherboard. This allows the SSD to be detected as two 256GB SSDs. Whilst it is possible to use this device as two separate SSDs (e.g. as a “C:\” and a “D:\” drive), they are configured in the Intel Storage management to run a RAID 0 configuration. This is where data you store is distributed over both of the SSDs and so the disk appears as a single 512GB volume.

 

RAID 0 benefits

The benefit of a RAID 0 is that because the computer is reading/writing to two devices simultaneously it effectively doubles the read or write speed of the device providing a significant performance boost to the SSD. For manufacturers it is also cheaper to produce such an SSD rather than create a genuine 512GB SSD.

RAID 0 – less reliable

The downside to running a RAID 0 is that if either disk fails in the RAID 0 then all of your data will become inaccessible. Moreover, if there is a failure of the (Intel) RAID controller, or it loses its configuration information, it will mean that the data on the RAID 0 SSD will become inaccessible. If you were to remove the SSD from your computer and plug it into another, then you would not be able to access your data due to the RAID 0 configuration.

Proprietary connector

There is a lack of standardisation in SSD manufacture. The SSD in for recovery (pictured above) is a good example. As well as being in a two disk RAID 0 it also uses a proprietary low insertion force (LIF) cable connector. There are no adapters to allow to directly interface with the SSD. This means it is necessary to wire directly into the SATA channels to access data from each side of the two SSDs. This adds a considerable amount of time to the work required on the device due to the necessity of soldering the connections from a SATA data cable directly into the printed circuit board of the SSD.

Successful data recovery

In this case Cheadle DATA Recovery Ltd was able to connect directly to each side of the SSD. It was possible to clone a full disk image of each side of the SSD to a separate disk. Then the two disk images were combined by emulating the RAID 0 configuration, including the correct disk order and stripe size. With the correct RAID settings established the filesystem was rebuilt (Windows NTFS) and all the files were successfully recovered.