Owners of Samsung 840 EVO solid-state drives (SSDs) that have noticed performance degradation—namely decreased read speeds when accessing old files—should be aware that the manufacturer has issued a firmware fix that is now available for download from Samsung. Judging by Newegg user reviews of last year’s best-selling SSD, this issue affected between 5-8 percent of our reviewers.
Users can deploy the firmware using Samsung’s Magician 4.6 solid state drive health and performance software. By way of a new algorithm, the firmware remedies the read issues affecting the drives’ 19 nm triple level cell (TLC) NAND memory by automatically cycling old data onto new memory cells. The process runs in the background when the SSD is in use.
Since the firmware update initiates automatic re-writing of data to the drive, it theoretically impacts the lifespan of the SSD, which by nature has a set limit of write/re-write cycles. Mainstream users are not expected to feel effects of premature wear.
According to Samsung, the algorithm does not operate when the computer or device is powered down. The firmware update will be effective only if allotted sufficient run-time for the new algorithm to begin self-optimization. If the computer or device is frequently powered down, or left powered down for an extended period of time, Samsung recommends using the Advance Performance Optimization feature in Magician 4.6 to set the algorithm into motion.
This firmware update has been on the horizon for several months. Users began reporting performance issues with the popular SSD in fall of last year. Samsung issued a temporary patch last October, which staved off slowdowns for affected drives for a few months. Another temporary patch was issued in March along with a promise from Samsung that a permanent fix was in the works. We will know after a couple months’ time whether the fix is indeed permanent.
Samsung has retired the TLC 19 nm NAND memory installed in the 840 EVO in favor of three-dimensional 40 nm TLC V-NAND found in 850 EVO SSDs. V-NAND (which stands for vertical) stacks cells vertically in 24 layers, a denser iteration of multi-layer cell (MLC) NAND which has become the go-to for use in budget SSDs. V-NAND is thought to alleviate NAND flash voltage drifting, the culprit—some say—behind read speed performance issues in TLC NAND nodes thinner than 20 nm.
That has not been our observation. Thus far, we are seeing drives that use super-thin flash nodes—like the 16 nm TLC NAND Crucial MX200 for example—with mostly favorable Newegg user reviews. TLC NAND memory offers some of the best gigabyte-per dollar values for SSD on the market. Should you need further reassurance, know that solid state drives sold on NeweggBusiness have manufacturer warranties of three years or longer.
Have you noticed performance issues in your Samsung 840 EVO?