Samsung Announces Firmware Update To Resolve 840 EVO Performance Degradation

Early last month we began to hear reports of Samsung 840 EVO SSD owners experiencing issues with low read speeds of data that had not been touched/moved for an extended period of time after being written. In most cases, this data had been present in the flash memory for a period of weeks or months. As time went on, reads of this older data would continue to slow further, even as low as 50-100 MB/s. For what it is worth, we are not aware of any situations where users suffered data loss – merely slow read performance.

840 EVO front

Samsung recently released the following statement concerning this loss of read speeds on the 840 EVO series of SSDs:

“We acknowledge the recent issue associated with the Samsung 840 EVO SSDs and are qualifying a firmware update to address the issue. While this issue only affects a small subset of all 840 EVO users, we regret any inconvenience experienced by our customers. A firmware update that resolves the issue will be available on the Samsung SSD website soon. We appreciate our customers’ support and patience as we work diligently to resolve this issue.”

840 EVO pcb and case

Our friends over at PC Perspective got involved early on, and ended up working hand-in-hand with the Samsung support team to identify the source of the problem, and to test and verify the firmware update prior to its release to the public. Here is Samsung’s statement about the specifics of this issue:

840 EVO mSATA

“Because of an error in the flash management software algorithm in the 840 EVO, a drop in performance occurs on data stored for a long period of time AND has been written only once. SSDs usually calibrate changes in the statuses of cells over time via the flash management software algorithm. Due to the error in the software algorithm, the 840 EVO performed read-retry processes aggressively, resulting in a drop in overall read performance. This only occurs if the data was kept in its initial cell without changing, and there are no symptoms of reduced read performance if the data was subsequently migrated from those cells or overwritten. In other words, as the SSD is used more and more over time, the performance decrease disappears naturally. For those who want to solve the issue quickly, this software restores the read performance by rewriting the old data. The time taken to complete the procedure depends on the amount of data stored.”

840EVO mSATA large

Allyn Malventano over at PC Perspective has done some excellent research and analysis of this issue, and has been the lead contact working with Samsung to address and fix the performance degradation problem.  His article from 10/14 is well worth reading for anyone interested in the details of studying the problem and testing the firmware update before its release into the wild. Allyn’s theory was that the slow down was due to cell voltage drift over time.  Here is his graph depicting the variance:

840 EVO cell voltage drift graph

Although it was not yet available when we started this article, we did finally find a link to the Samsung 840 EVO firmware update in a discussion forum.  Highlights of the firmware update follow:

SAMSUNG SSD 840 EVO  PERFORMANCE RESTORATION v.1.0

First and foremost, back up any important data before attempting the update.  This firmware update applies to both 2.5″ and mSATA form factors of the 840 EVO.  This update supports both Microsoft and Intel drivers for Intel chipsets.  For AMD chipsets, Microsoft, AMD and Nvidia drivers are supported.  Please note that only the latest AMD driver version is supported.  For AMD driver users, it is imperative that you update to the most current version prior to attempting the firmware update to avoid error messages and a failed update.

840 EVO drive support chart

The update download is a zip file that includes both the firmware update executable and an installation guide in pdf format.  The installation guide includes two installation modes — normal and advanced.  Normal mode is for drives with more than 10% free space.  Normal mode will encompass the vast majority of users.  Advanced mode is for drives with 10% or less free space.  Advanced mode requires the user to remove/delete unused and/or unneeded files and programs until more than  10% free space is achieved.  Once this has been accomplished, the update proceeds the same as in normal mode.

The various screens you will encounter include:

Step 1:  Start Performance Restoration

840 EVO step 1

Step 2:  Update Firmware

840 EVO step 2

Step 3:  Restoration is in Progress

840 EVO step 3

Step 4:  Restoration is Complete

840 EVO step 4

10% or less free space warning:

840 EVO less than 10 percent free space watning

Samsung has also indicated that they should be releasing an ISO/DOS version of the performance restoration tool at the end of October for MAC and Linux users.

It is always encouraging to see manufacturers such as Samsung step up and resolve such issues quickly.  It is also gratifying to see them work closely with tech reviewers and the tech media to identify the problem and get it resolved.  Here again is the link to the Samsung 840 EVO firmware update download.

16
Leave a Reply

avatar
4 Comment threads
12 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
8 Comment authors
MKBenjamin HojnikAquavit4LifeSean WebsterLes@TheSSDReview Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Mangel
Guest
Mangel

Scot
Thanks for the heads up. Ran it works fine so far.
Do you think this type of update will be necessary for other Samsung drives (including the XP941)?

renosablast
Guest
renosablast

At this point we have no reason to believe that other drives are affected by this type of problem. Apparently it was a “botched” algorithm specific to the firmware of the 840 EVOs that led to the problem. Glad the fix worked for you.

Benjamin Hojnik
Guest
Benjamin Hojnik

Apperently 840basic is also affected by this to some extent. And i’m not buying the whole botched algorithm. Yeah, its possible that was the culprit aswell (but then again, why do you need a special tool if ssd could optimize files internally on its own) but i strongly believe there is more to this. Obviously TLC suffers from even greater leakage and voltage drift (to be fair, any type of flash does this, just not to this extent) so this is the core issue. Bad recalibration algorithm could be the issue, but i think this “fix” goes beyoned that. 840evo… Read more »

dejo
Guest
dejo

that firmware doesnt work for the 840 non evo. I will be very disappointed if those of use that have the original drive are lest to fend for ourselves

renosablast
Guest
renosablast

Are you experiencing slow read speeds like some EVOs are? It is my understanding that the non-EVO 840s used different firmware and were not susceptible to the symptoms. Don’t try to fix it if it ain’t broke.

dejo
Guest
dejo

I didnt attempt to run it. but did notice my drive didnt show up in the drop-down box to even have a chance to run the fix. from what I have seen, the non evo is also affected. But havent checked myself. I have one here in a laptop that is a friends and is a recent re-install so no old data to test with

Les@TheSSDReview
Guest

If you are stating the non-Evo is affected, you will have to provide some sort of validation for such; preferably on our Forums so it can be discussed. This is an EVO only fix to and EVO only problem. I have been running two 840’s in my systems and testing with them since release; there is no tie whatsoever to your problem that I am aware of.

Benjamin Hojnik
Guest
Benjamin Hojnik

There are many reports on other forums 840basic having exact same issues as EVO. They do come apperent much later, but they are there nevertheless. It’s quite possible, that its only limitedto a certain batch of 840s.

In any case, if drive was used for some time (and was never cloned, which makes results heavily skewed) if issue persist, it can be easily tested with dedicated tools (either hdtach for LBA test or SSD Read Speed Tester).

Sean Webster
Guest

I’ve seen people post up 840 results as well, some show some sort of similar pattern, but not the the same extent. I have a 2 year old 840 120GB here with a Windows 7 OS on it that has been sitting in a drawer for about 4 months now. After testing it, there were no signs of speed degradation. My 250GB 840 Evo showed drops in speed after just a few weeks. lol

Benjamin Hojnik
Guest
Benjamin Hojnik

Lets just wait and see what time will tell.
Maybe samsung was being sneaky and went ahead and stuck 19nm flash in the later batches of 840basic aswell 🙂 🙂 🙂

Les@TheSSDReview
Guest

Why would you even bring a non-EVO into this as it is not affected? Why would you even risk trying a fix that doesn’t apply to your SSD?

Aquavit4Life
Guest
Aquavit4Life

They better come up with a fix for the standard 840 250GB SSD, or I will get pissed. If I don’t run the optimization function on the Magician software for a couple of months, the performance sinks to between 90-120MB/sec. I got TRIM running of course.

Benjamin Hojnik
Guest
Benjamin Hojnik

What performanc ?
Read or write ?

Aquavit4Life
Guest
Aquavit4Life

Read.

Benjamin Hojnik
Guest
Benjamin Hojnik

Is this in convential benchmarks like as ssd and crystaldiskmark or just hdtach and hdtune ?

MK
Guest
MK

This firmware update completely fried my windows. It won’t boot and repair executables no longer work.