13 Replies Latest reply on Sep 19, 2016 11:05 AM by SeanJ76

    Major flaw in SandForce SSD controllers (as used in SSD 520, etc)




      I am posting this here as a warning to others to stay away from any SandForce based SSD (as used in Intel's 5xx series and others, included).


      We have now had a number of catastrophic failures of these drives.  It is patently apparent that SandForce couldn't design a compliant and stable SATA based SSD controller if their lives depended upon it.


      The AES256 issue itself was unforgivable, but it at least it didn't lose data, although it shows well enough that such a "flaw" to pass any kind of due diligence and testing means that either there wasn't any proper testing, or worse, that they knew about it and just hoped that no one would discover it.


      Now users are having major issues with the failure of the SSD's SATA controller to properly respond to ATA Sleep/Wakeup and SATA Disconnect/Reconnect events.  The result is bad context restoration and corruption of the drive state information resulting in a drive locked in a "panic mode" where the controller will fail to reset and the drive will no longer appear as a SATA device to the host.


      Basically, if you have an SSD that is SandForce based, you *will* lose your data at some point. It is only a matter of time. 


      For those shills proclaiming that "it's an incompatibility with SATA controllers", it's most definitely not - it's an incompatibility with their moron "engineers" who can't read and properly implement the SATA specification documents.


      For those who will claim "mine is still working fine" all I can say is consider yourself lucky and ensure you back up your data whilst you can. 


      In our testing the issue is most prevalent when using SATA6G host interfaces, but it may well also occur at lower speeds.


      We are in discussions with Intel and some recovery companies attempting to recover our data, but are hindered by SandForce's use of forced encryption as an attempt to obscure the data.  This is not about your data security, it's really all about them trying to hinder attempts at analysis of their controllers after such failures to hide their culpability.


      Not that I blame Intel directly, but I would have expected a company that values its global reputation to have performed more stringent in house testing before it committed to using and putting its name on drives that used such a flawed controller.



        • 1. Re: Major flaw in SandForce SSD controllers (as used in SSD 520, etc)

          Welcome to the club of sorrow....


          But we have been testing some 6GB/s SATA 2TB drives here with 64MB cache...  They are conventional spinning disk drives...  Now-a-days. They just about perform the SAME as these fancy solid state drives but with 13GB/$ prices!!!


          The "real speed" is super limited by your CPU + other hardware now.  About 100MB/sec...  In many cases with a modern HDs, solid state just is not an advantage at all...


          In your case...  Intels are infants in HD technology...  They don't know anything at all...  Sandforce is their master of VERY failed knowledge...  Who ever cared about HD "firmware" problems before.... You "should" have  backups on test hardware to like 15 years back you know...  All hardware will fail even if it is not all messed up by bad design...  I have some 12 year old servers here that have never been rebooted... I bet they won't if I tried now   But they could be covered in minutes...  We just run them still because they are still cool!!!


          Very oddly, the last test machine with Intel's SSDs we have here is the one I am typing on right now...  I guess now, I will order even this machine to to purged of their SSD hardware... 


          It is very sad really...  Even "I" trusted them so much...


          Update - I just ordered my last machine here to be purged of the Intel test drive...  It will be destroyed as a failure...  But in mild use...  It really does work just fine still...


          I always used to say, go with very old brand name hard drives...  But I don't buy Seagate anymore right now after like 20 years...  Toshiba/Hitachi for conventional, and Samsung 840 for SSDs...  But what the heck do "I" know after 38 years...  The games are changing very very fast now, so be very very careful!!!  Trust no one really...


          My first 10MB IBM hard drive cost me $1400.  So I maybe am too old now   But when the morning comes here, I will have that 2TB filled about 70% up   And, I don't run Microsoft on any machines anymore.  So when God comes for me, I am ready!!

          • 2. Re: Major flaw in SandForce SSD controllers (as used in SSD 520, etc)

            piranha wrote:


            Welcome to the club of sorrow....My first 10MB IBM hard drive cost me $1400.


            I've been using a 520 series SSD 240GB for over a year now and it's been totally reliable. OTOH, I've had mechanical spinning disk drives fail after 6 months.  Recently moved the SSD to a motherboard which supports SATA 6, now my Windows Experience Index number is maxed out at 7.9.


            Your 10MB IBM HD was a full height 5.25" MFM most likely made by Seagate or Miniscribe. Used one for a year in an IBM XT. Later I got my hands on a real IBM AT with a 20MB hard drive, thought I was on top of the world. A year later I bought a 60MB Mitsubishi RLL with a Western Digital controller card, that was real cutting edge stuff back then.


            I love Intel and Microsoft products, admit the truth, so do you :-)

            • 3. Re: Major flaw in SandForce SSD controllers (as used in SSD 520, etc)

              I love Intel and Microsoft products, admit the truth, so do you :-)

              I have no problem with any Intel hardware or the chips!  They are the best!!!  It is the SSD firmware that was the big problem for me.  The SSD hardware side looks great really.  Maybe they will update the firmware sometime and fix everything.  Hope hope...  OP's problem here sounds far worse than my SE command problem, but I did not run into anything like his situation.


              I used to write and store programs on punch cards...  So guess how old I am... 


              Microsoft...  I really have not used it much since Vista.  Windows 8 sure is funny though...  Seems like everyone is going to wait for 9.  But that is their world, not mine.


              Anyway, I just hope the problems with the Intel SSDs get fixed asap.  A lot of other makers have screwed them all up too.  But it is rather sad to see some really basic problems.  I wish the firmware was open source, then we would just fix it for them

              • 4. Re: Major flaw in SandForce SSD controllers (as used in SSD 520, etc)

                I ran into this myself with my Intel 520 Series SSD as well.  Everything was running fine for months, then out of the blue my machine started BSODing and rebooting which then of course I ended up looking at a screen with "No Boot Device Found".


                I talked to the warranty company that's handling the warranty for this SSD and I told them that it's randomly dropping from the SATA channel.  I ended up talking to someone who was fairly knowledgeable about computers, or at least sounded like he was, he knew what I meant by dropping from the SATA channel.  He even asked if I tried another device on the port, yep... I told him yes, I did and those had no issues.


                So here I am, with an Intel SSD that's useless to me, completely unreliable.  I can't trust it to keep my data.  So off to the warranty company it goes.

                • 5. Re: Major flaw in SandForce SSD controllers (as used in SSD 520, etc)

                  I know what company to not buy SSDs from now.  I always thought that Intel was a trusted name, hell... I use their CPUs.  Guess they aren't as trustworthy in the SSD category though.  Grabbed myself a Samsung 840 Series SSD to replace it.

                  • 6. Re: Major flaw in SandForce SSD controllers (as used in SSD 520, etc)

                    I own two 240 GB Intel 520 SSD's and my second drive (for file storage) just failed.  I ran the Serial Number check on the Warranty page and it claims the service is temporarily unavailable so I will have to call tomorrow.  I have owned these drives for two years and recently moved them to a new laptop.  What troubles me is that the primary drive (OS, Programs) is running fine and is used 24/7 yet the secondary drive that had limited use failed.


                    My original laptop had a Sandy Bridge chipset but my new one is the Haswell chipset.  I wonder if this contributed to the failure?  I tested both drives using a Sata to USB cable while waiting for my replacement and could access the data on both without issue.


                    Also to Mario:  How has the experience been with the Warranty process?  One of the major draws for my purchase was the 5 years.  It seemed paying extra would be worth it.  Especially with other companies offering larger storage capacity and performance at lesser prices.  I also am wondering if we are really SOOL here or if replacement 520's will have better support, coding, etc.  Your input is greatly appreciated.

                    • 7. Re: Major flaw in SandForce SSD controllers (as used in SSD 520, etc)

                      I am sorry i didn't read this forum before i went to buy a 300$ 240gb intel 520ssd drive


                      I can't even seem to be able to install normal windows 7 on it... always asking for a driver in beginning


                      It's so frustrating... IS IT THE END OF INTEL FOR ME AFTER ALMOST 20 YEARS OF DISTRIBUTION??


                      Is Intel headed down with unreliable hardware??? i hope not!!


                      HELP SOS!!!



                      • 8. Re: Major flaw in SandForce SSD controllers (as used in SSD 520, etc)



                        I am sorry to know about the bad experiences some of you have had.

                        For those of you with unsolved issues I would recommend contacting your local Intel® support team for further assistance.


                        Contact Support


                        Ika, in regards of your issue, please note the Intel® SSDs do not require drivers as they are operating system independent. However, Windows* 7 may be requiring a driver for the motherboard’s SATA controller. Please refer to the drivers and support provided by the system or motherboard manufacturer.

                        • 9. Re: Major flaw in SandForce SSD controllers (as used in SSD 520, etc)

                          Believe me i tried every single driver in existence... My motherboard is DX58SO2 latest bios update from yesterday!!!


                          I tried marvell 9 & 6 and all... nothing works


                          Please help me!!!

                          • 10. Re: Major flaw in SandForce SSD controllers (as used in SSD 520, etc)

                            Joe can you please help me?? i really need help!


                            My computer right now exists of


                            Coolermaster SPH850W

                            INTEL DX58SO2

                            INTEL I-7 950 + NOCTUA D14 FAN

                            KINGSTON 6X2GB TRIPPLE CHANNEL 1600

                            EXTERNAL USB CD-ROM LG

                            LATEST BIOS

                            AND LAST A GAINWARD NVIDIA 9500GT 1GB VIDEO CARD


                            That's my computer... no other hard drives nothing connected... i am trying to do a clean install..


                            Computer sees CD-ROM & INTEL SSD 520 240GB and i put the ssd as first boot and second the cd-rom


                            i am starting installation from CD-rom windows 7 pro 64-bit and after choosing language for installation it starts and then immediatly stops and asks for driver... but doesn't say nothing... it's a clean screen


                            Please help. Shop won't take it back.  i am stuck with this hard drive ssd which i paid 300$


                            HELP ME PLEASE

                            • 11. Re: Major flaw in SandForce SSD controllers (as used in SSD 520, etc)

                              The issue you are discussing is far different than what we are talking about.  This thread is about the SDD completely failing and losing it's data.


                              Your issue is about installing an SSD into your computer.  First, the Intel 520 SSD does NOT require drivers.  Second, you need to enter your BIOS and switch the drive mode from IDE to ACHI.  Then your computer will recognize the disk.


                              Edit: Also, make the Windows 7 disk the first Boot option, not the SSD.


                              Message was edited by: Nicholas Romano

                              • 12. Re: Major flaw in SandForce SSD controllers (as used in SSD 520, etc)

                                BigNick is right, the thread’s subject is completely different and I was just trying to give a quick suggestion.


                                Ika, I would recommend using the Intel® SSDs with the Intel® SATA Controller instead of Marvell*’s. If you need further assistance please post your inquiry in the Intel® Desktop Boards Communities.

                                • 13. Re: Major flaw in SandForce SSD controllers (as used in SSD 520, etc)

                                  This was only with OCZ drives, Intel never had any issues with the BSODs and their Sandforce controller. I own 2x 520 series Sandforce controlled SSD's for over 3 years now(as well as 2x 535 series SSDs) and none of them have/had any BSOD issues that OCZ had.OCZ is probably bottom of the barrel when it comes to SSDs, so no shocker.

                                  Intel is no 1 when it comes to SSD reliability, maybe not speed, but they aslways last 7+ years- As it was tested here -SSD stress testing finds Intel might be the only reliable drive manufacturer | ExtremeTech


                                  Read here about the Sandforce issue and how it affected all but the 520/530 series- Intel SSD 520 Review: Cherryville Brings Reliability to SandForce