A little less than two weeks ago OCZ released mandatory firmware updates for the ARC 100 and Radeon R7 SSDs, so I figured I would give the owners a heads up along with a more detailed explanation of the contents of the update. 

The first and only observed issue is related to DRAM corruption. In the old firmware a DRAM refresh could happen during a what is called the training period, which is the duration of DRAM timing calibration during the controller power on. That lead to potential DRAM corruption that could jeopardize the drive's reliability, so the new firmware simply moves the DRAM refresh outside of the training period. This is a rather corner case issue and only applied to the 480GB ARC 100 and Radeon R7, but it's an important fix nevertheless.

The second fix in the new firmware is improved robustness of uncorrectable error handling. This is a fruit of OCZ's robustness testing and improves the firmware recovery in worst case scenarios. 

The third and final fix improves read-retry on bad block list, which enhances the security of the bad block list. As the list is stored in NAND like any other data, it's susceptible to the standard NAND failures, so the update puts improvements in place in case the NAND blocks storing the bad block list went bad and required read-retry routines. This is more of a theoretical "what if" scenario, but as always any and all reliability improvements are welcome. 

Basically, the error handling and bad block list enhancements were engineered for the upcoming Vector 180 and are now making their way into the existing Barefoot 3 based SSDs. Neither of them are related to any known issues, but are simply a part of OCZ's continuous firmware development and support. The Vertex 460A will also be getting the update with more robust error handling in the near future.

The update carries a version number 1.01 and is available on OCZ's website.

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  • eanazag - Monday, February 9, 2015 - link

    I'd replace the word critical with important/major. Critical gives the sound of being absolutely necessary to avoid major issues.
  • PrinceGaz - Tuesday, February 10, 2015 - link

    "SSD" and "Critical Firmware Update" makes me think of one thing, and one thing only: a bug has been found which can cause data corruption in normal use. Critical as in your computer (data) is at risk if you do not fix it, so stop whatever the system is used for right now, and apply the update!

    This is an Important issue, in that it fixes the possibility of reduced performance, and improves the drive's resilience as it ages, but is in no way critical as it can be safely left until the end of the day, or the end of the week if you wish, but they feel it would be preferable if you didn't forget about it all together.
  • Kristian Vättö - Tuesday, February 10, 2015 - link

    I was certain that OCZ described the update as critical on its website, but looks like I misremembered. That's the only reason I used the word critical because otherwise I agree that it's a recipe to mass hysteria. I guess this is what happens when you write stuff at 11pm...

    Either way, it's still listed as a "mandatory update", which speaks for its importance, so I don't think critical is too much of an overkill here. That said, if I wrote the article now, I would probably choose a milder word.
  • smilingcrow - Tuesday, February 10, 2015 - link

    Well now that you have realised your error why not update the title so it seems less sensational?
    Unless its not 'critical' to you that people perceive you as being sensationalist!
  • Kristian Vättö - Tuesday, February 10, 2015 - link

    I decided to go ahead and edit the title and the first paragraph, but especially title edits are a bit tricky when done afterwards. The issue is that the social media links still contain the old title, so some readers (who don't read the comments, obviously) may suspect that we changed the title to be more positive due to pressure from the manufacturer. Hence I typically avoid editing the title unless there is a major error or misunderstanding.
  • smilingcrow - Tuesday, February 10, 2015 - link

    I think that's a good call and the new Toshiba owned OCZ deserve a break and the title wasn't really giving them one.
  • Operandi - Tuesday, February 10, 2015 - link

    "Critical" implies that something terrible will happen if you don't take action. Clearly that's not the case here and you would be just fine not applying this at all which I'm sure will be the case for the majority of the drives out there.
  • Alexvrb - Tuesday, February 10, 2015 - link

    I'd consider it critical. Heck, look up all the negative reviews of ARC drives corrupting data. I'd put CRITICAL in all caps. :P
  • yannigr2 - Monday, February 9, 2015 - link

    While critical in the title is a good word to guarantee that the visitor will read the article, when we are talking about OCZ, it is an extremely bad word because your first though is that drives are killing themselves just to honor their heritage. This article is informative and thank you because I also have an ARC 100 120GB. But this title by itself, is pretty bad and unfair publicity for OCZ because many will only read the title and be glad they don't own an OCZ SSD.
  • Samus - Monday, February 9, 2015 - link

    I agree. Thank you Kristian for detailing what OCZ didn't. They make this update sound important, whereas I'll likely pass applying it to the majority of ARC100's I have out in the field based on your explanation. It isn't important enough to risk bricking a drive during flashing that probably isn't even backed up.

    I've had great luck with Barefoot 3 drives. The fresh, conservative controller paired with reliable Toshiba NAND has worked out well for the new OCZ.

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