The firmware update does its own periodic refreshing of data, to eliminate the “stale data” issue altogether. Along with the revised firmware there is an “Advanced Performance Optimization” function that can be triggered within Samsung SSD Magician 4.6. For owners who never tried the one-time “Performance Restoration Tool” stop-gap fix, they can skip that completely and update to the new firmware, and hopefully be good to go.
Image courtesy of pcper.com
Once users have downloaded the latest Samsung Magician 4.6 software, they will see an “Advanced” tab under “Performance Optimization.” The “standard” optimization merely triggers the TRIM function to execute on all empty portions of the SSD. The “Advanced” performance optimization triggers the same action that was triggered by the previous “Performance Restoration Tool.” The original was for one-time usage; but this version available through Samsung SSD Magician can be triggered whenever, or as frequently as desired.
Many have questioned whether or not there is (or will be) a problem with the Samsung 840 (non-EVO) models also, which at this point in time Samsung has neither officially acknowledged nor addressed. Users have, in fact, begun reporting similar issues with the base 840 models. The EVOs use 19nm TLC NAND, and the problem crops up beginning around the eight-week mark. The non-EVOs use 21nm TLC NAND, and with these the problem apparently begins around the forty-week mark. In other words, the problem exists, but takes about five times as long to manifest itself. It remains to be seen if Samsung will embrace these drives as also having the known problem, and comes up with fixes for them too.
Taking this to the next logical extension, will there also be problems with OEM versions of the 840EVO, such as ones used by Dell, the Razer Blade Pro laptop, and Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3? Will there also be problems with the enterprise versions, such as Samsung’s PM841 and PM843 (21nm NAND), and the 845DC EVO (19nm NAND)? Even if Samsung culls the best quality NAND for the 845DC EVO, it appears likely that this will end up being when, not if, the issue crops up. Reports and forum discussions are already appearing concerning these drives also.
Image courtesy of techspot.com
Another interesting aspect of the various analyses done in examining this issue, is the discovery that heat is actually beneficial to the TLC NAND’s performance, which improves as it gets hotter. One conclusion derived from this is that the voltage drift is affected by NAND temperature, lessening as heat increases. PCPer was able to prove that the drive’s controller will throttle when it becomes too hot, so as NAND performance improves, the controller may throttle back the improvement. This certainly makes one wonder what the performance could be of a drive that has “heated” NAND and a “cooled” controller?!
Also, keep in mind that there have been no reports of actual data loss, or lack of reliability (not endurance) in the 840EVO drives as a result of this issue. Although some feel that it took Samsung a long time to address the issue, once they acknowledged its existence they did get cracking on finding a solution, and kept at it until they came up with what is likely the most workable solution under the circumstances. This whole situation also proves just how difficult it was to both identify the problem and come up with a fix.
The bottom line here is that the issue is something that has turned out to be inherent in using TLC NAND. Samsung has always been an innovator, and they are the first manufacturer to aggressively use TLC NAND in their drives in order to achieve performance and capacity at an attractive price point. Their experiences with this issue have likely saved other manufacturers who delve into TLC NAND-based SSDs a headache or two, as Samsung has already done the heavy lifting for them. Being a leader and innovator comes with a bit of a price tag attached.
Both the latest firmware update (EXT0DB6Q), and the newest Magician 4.6 software can be downloaded from Samsung’s SSD downloads page here. They are in the 3rd and 4th sections down the page, respectively.