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Doing an ATA Secure Erase on an SSD should reset all of the cells to factory condition, which results in a program/erase cycle on cells at least in blocks that contain data.

On self-encrypting drives, a fast version of the secure erase regenerates and replaces the encryption key, and then it marks all blocks as unused so that they can be erased later before using. This seems like it should cost a P/E cycle only on used blocks.

When doing a secure erase, do typical SSDs typically attempt to reset all blocks, or do they reset only used blocks, saving P/E cycles on the blocks containing no data?

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It depends on how the secure erase is implemented. If it just deletes the encryption keys without actually writing to storage, it doesn't cost any P/E cycles in either case. If you go through and zero all blocks that haven't already been erased, then it depends which disk has more blocks that need to be erased. That isn't straightforward to relate to free space on the disk, since blocks are not necessarily erased when freed.

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