November 30, 2017 // 10:19 a.m.
Owners of the Samsung 960 Pro Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) M.2 solid-state drive (SSD) are being advised to avoid the company's latest firmware release following reports that it actively reduces performance and causes freezing and hitching in input/output (IO) operations.
Designed for those who need top performance in a compact form factor, Samsung's 960 Pro NVMe M.2 drives are extremely popular. Sadly, users who have picked them up hoping for peak throughput have found the company's latest firmware update more of a hindrance than a enhancement with reports that overall performance is drastically reduced and IO 'stuttering' clearly observable.
Released last week firmware 3B7QCXE7 was a minor update designed to enable support for eDrive functionality, a feature of Microsoft Windows 8 and up which allows for Bitlocker drive encryption to offload the actual cryptography tasks to the SSD's controller. While this should in theory improve performance on encrypted volumes, users have begun reporting issues from programs refusing to load to reduced throughput and frequent system hangs with 100 percent disk usage.
Figures from UserBenchmark would appear to back those reports up: The highest reported score for a 512GB Samsung 960 Pro NVMe 512GB running firmware 3B7QCXE7 is 247 percent of baseline, while the prior firmware 2B6Q hit 307 percent and the firmware before 309 percent. The same can be seen at other capacity levels, too, with the fastest 3B7QCXE7 1TB drive hitting 230 percent to 2B6QCXP7's 270 percent and the 2TB 3B7QCXE7 reaching 284 percent to a 1B6QCXP7 drive's 321 percent.
Thus far Samsung has not issued a statement on the issue, though support employee 'SamsungDave' has reportedly escalated the issue with Samsung 'actively looking into it.' For now, though, those who have already upgraded are out of luck, as Samsung's firmware flashing utility does not allow users to roll back to previous releases.