I buy used computer hardware in bulk lots most of it comes from companies that are upgrading or shutting down. I recently came into possession of an Intel X25-V SSD that is password protected. The data on the drive is irrelevant to me and I would just like to do a format/partition and make the drive usable. Is this possible to do myself or would I have to send the drive to Intel? Anyone have any experience with this?
If I understand correctly it is an ATA Password, the bios pops up a screen on boot asking for the drive's password (or the master password). When I connect it to a computer that has Windows it appears in the device manager but I can't access anything from it or query it for any config info.
There is a password prompt on boot, it appears to be the bios asking for the SSD's ATA Password. I don't have the password so when I ignore the prompt and boot into windows the drive is in a security locked state. This prevents Windows (or whatever OS) from initializing the drive/partitions and allowing me to do anything to the drive. I tried running the Intel SSD Toolbox, it recognizes the drive (just like Device Manager does) but secure erase fails. This is because the drive is security locked and is not accessible.
Here is a section from wikipedia describing the ATA Password feature:
The disk lock is a built-in security feature in the disk. It is part of the ATA specification, and thus not specific to any brand or device. The disk lock can be enabled and disabled by sending special ATA commands to the drive. If a disk is locked, it will refuse all access until it is unlocked.
A disk always has two passwords: A User password and a Master password. Most disks support a Master Password Revision Code. Reportedly some disks can report if the Master password has been changed, or if it still the factory default. The revision code is word 92 in the IDENTIFY response. Reportedly on some disks a value of 0xFFFE means the Master password is unchanged. The standard does not distinguish this value.
A disk can be locked in two modes: High security mode or Maximum security mode. Bit 8 in word 128 of the IDENTIFY response shows which mode the disk is in: 0 = High, 1 = Maximum.
In High security mode, the disk can be unlocked with either the User or Master password, using the "SECURITY UNLOCK DEVICE" ATA command. There is an attempt limit, normally set to 5, after which the disk must be power cycled or hard-reset before unlocking can be attempted again. Also in High security mode the SECURITY ERASE UNIT command can be used with either the User or Master password.
In Maximum security mode, the disk cannot be unlocked without the User password — the only way to get the disk back to a usable state is to issue the SECURITY ERASE PREPARE command, immediately followed by SECURITY ERASE UNIT. In Maximum security mode the SECURITY ERASE UNIT command requires the User password and will completely erase all data on the disk. The operation is slow, it may take longer than half an hour or more, depending on the size of the disk. (Word 89 in the IDENTIFY response indicates how long the operation will take.) 
While the ATA disk lock is intended to be impossible to defeat without a valid password, there are workarounds to unlock a drive. Many data recovery companies offer unlocking services, so while the disk lock will deter a casual attacker, it is not secure against a qualified adversary.
I've tried a few dos based hd tool suites but they all cannot perform any erase on a locked disk. For example here is a blurb from the ReadMe fror HDDErase:
If selected drive is locked with a non-HDDerase password the user is given the option to: 1) unlock with user password, 2) unlock with master password (if high security), 3) secure erase with user password, 4) secure erase with master password, 5) enhanced secure erase with user password (if supported), 6) enhanced secure erase with master password (if supported). If option 3, 4, 5 or 6 is selected any possible HPA and/or DCO areas will not be reset.
It would seem that I need either the User password or the Master password to erase/unlock the drive.
Perhaps I will have to send my drive into Intel so they can unlock it and secure erase it for me...
to disable SSD code/lock
USE HD erase version 3.3
unplug power from the SSD but keep the data plugged in
start PC and when you get to the
A:/ prompt plug the SSD power back in
and proceed as normal
you should no longer see the security freeze
The method I posted above to bypass the hard-drive password comes from the author of HDDerase itself.
This will allow the program to proceed without knowing the password and thus perform a TOTAL secure erase of the SSD(or any hard-drive actually), but will not allow you to see or access the data on the drive. So this method does not defeat the encryption for this purpose.
There is little to no risk to the harddrive itself, rather the risk is to the user itself from messing around with electrical connections if the user is not familiar with the internal workings of a typical PC.