PSA: SM863 "Endurance Management" firmware feature causing degraded performance over time

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Monkey IRL
Oct 1, 2022
Just a heads up, I got a deal on 20x SM863 1.92TB drives that were in decent shape (no bad sectors, ~2.5PBW) and found that performance was intermittently degraded. As it turns out, there was a recent firmware update released by Dell that removed the "Endurance Management" feature.
Fixes & Enhancements
- Firmware fix to remove Endurance Management feature, in order to maintain drive performance through life of drive.

GB57, A00
Release date
30 Sep 2022
Download Type
A fellow STH'er (EDIT: @mmk) clued me in:
Also have some SM863s at both home and work. They have an issue where some endurance management screws up and performance drops to something like some ten MB/ least if the drives have been heavily used.

Dell put out new firmware to fix that in August this year..even though these drives are rather old at this point.

Your issue sounds _a lot_ like what i've been seeing. From installing the updated firmware it seems like the sooner you do it the better. If the drive is already exhibiting severe issues the it may already be too late. This is based on some perhaps 30 updated drives behind raid may well be that there is just one or two drives causing the issues there and the rest are fine though.

Also something to note is the drives i have at home have had an easy life and work just fine.
The problem is the firmware is not available/impossible to find for non-Dell OEM drives. The workaround is to truncate the Dell firmware to just under 1MB and force it on the drive using hdparm.

Potential problems: the drive can be bricked, the version string reported by SMART does not update, and some SMART values are reset.

And to think I almost bought 50 more...

Huge thank you to @mmk for the lead on this. I might've sunken a few thousand dollars into poorly performing drives had they not taken their time to clue me in to the potential performance issues! And thank you to @Stephan, of course, for stressing the importance of choosing drives with freely available firmware updates — I get it now! ;)
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