Fixing Storage Adapters for Raspberry Pi via Firmware Updates

I’ve covered how to get the right type of storage adapter for your Raspberry Pi for years on this site and cataloged storage adapters that both work and don’t work with the Raspberry Pi. Over the years we’ve learned that many of these adapters can be “fixed” with a firmware update to work with the Raspberry Pi.

In this article I’ll put together an evolving list of firmware adapters that can be fixed with these updates from my own experience as well as comments people have left over the years!

Overview

The preferred and safest way to identify your device is by brand name. This will work if you have a “popular” or “name brand” storage adapter.

If you have a generic / unbranded adapter then the next best way is by chipset. We can identify your chipset by using the following command:

sudo lsusb

This yields the following result:

pi@pi:~ $ lsusb
Bus 002 Device 002: ID 174c:55aa ASMedia Technology Inc. Name: ASM1051E SATA 6Gb/s bridge, ASM1053E SATA 6Gb/s bridge, ASM1153 SATA 3Gb/s bridge, ASM1153E SATA 6Gb/s bridge
Bus 002 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0003 Linux Foundation 3.0 root hub
Bus 001 Device 003: ID 04d9:0007 Holtek Semiconductor, Inc.
Bus 001 Device 002: ID 2109:3431 VIA Labs, Inc. Hub
Bus 001 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub

Yours will look similar to mine. I’ve bolded the important line which is our storage adapter. The above result is for the StarTech 2.5″ SATA to USB 3.1 (USB312SAT3CB) adapter. This example is a name brand adapter that will be on the list but if it wasn’t the generic chipset would be the ASMedia ASM1153E chipset for this adapter. Other common chipsets include JMS-578, etc.

If you’re confused about which is which use this version of the command to get a lot more detail (including device properties that often make it much easier to identify):

sudo lsusb -v

This will yield something like this:

Bus 002 Device 002: ID 174c:55aa ASMedia Technology Inc. Name: ASM1051E SATA 6Gb/s bridge, ASM1053E SATA 6Gb/s bridge, ASM1153 SATA 3Gb/s bridge, ASM1153E SATA 6Gb/s bridge
 Device Descriptor:
   bLength                18
   bDescriptorType         1
   bcdUSB               3.10
   bDeviceClass            0
   bDeviceSubClass         0
   bDeviceProtocol         0
   bMaxPacketSize0         9
   idVendor           0x174c ASMedia Technology Inc.
   idProduct          0x55aa Name: ASM1051E SATA 6Gb/s bridge, ASM1053E SATA 6Gb/s bridge, ASM1153 SATA 3Gb/s bridge, ASM1153E SATA 6Gb/s bridge
   bcdDevice            1.00
   iManufacturer           2 asmedia
   iProduct                3 ASMT1051
   iSerial                 1 123456799FA6
   bNumConfigurations      1
   Configuration Descriptor:
     bLength                 9
     bDescriptorType         2
     wTotalLength       0x0079
     bNumInterfaces          1
     bConfigurationValue     1
     iConfiguration          0
     bmAttributes         0xc0
       Self Powered
     MaxPower                0mA
     Interface Descriptor:
       bLength                 9
       bDescriptorType         4
       bInterfaceNumber        0
       bAlternateSetting       0
       bNumEndpoints           2
       bInterfaceClass         8 Mass Storage
       bInterfaceSubClass      6 SCSI
       bInterfaceProtocol     80 Bulk-Only
       iInterface              0

The above example didn’t give us the name “StarTech” anywhere but it did give us some clues. This is identified as a “Mass Storage” interface class device which definitely narrows things down. Your other peripherals will show as the category they are from like mouse, keyboard, etc. You should be able to narrow things down by unplugging everything else from your Pi if you are still having trouble identifying which is which.

Many of these updates need to be applied using a Windows machine as that will be the only platform these updates will be offered on from their web site. Some manufacturers have update utilities for multiple platforms available but from what I’ve found if you’re lucky enough they offer them at all it will usually be for Windows.

Warning / Disclaimer

This is not an entirely risk free procedure. If something goes wrong during a firmware update it is possible to brick it. This doesn’t happen very often but understand it’s possible. If you lose power at the moment you are updating the firmware for example that could definitely do it.

There is less risk for the “branded” adapters as these are the manufacturer’s tools intended for the manufacturer’s devices. It’s as safe as it gets but even in these cases things can go wrong (like the examples I mentioned above). There is also some risk that even chipsets identifying as the same chip may have slight variations in how they are actually implemented or which revision they are.

Make sure you understand this is not a completely risk free procedure (and carries the same risk as firmware updates on any other device, and a little bit extra risk even for the generics since they may not have been intended for that exact device) before proceeding!

StarTech Adapters

StarTech 2.5″ SATA to USB 3.0/3.1 Adapter

StarTech 2.5" SATA to USB 3.0/3.1 Adapter
StarTech 2.5″ SATA to USB 3.0/3.1 Adapter

Both the USB 3.0 and USB 3.1 variants of the StarTech 2.5″ SATA adapter work well with the Pi 4. I’ve used the 3.0 variant with my Pi 4 since launch and it has always worked well. I later bought the 3.1 variant and had the same positive experience. These two adapter variants are my go to adapters for all my Pi related projects that need a fast and easy 2.5″ SATA SSD!

Links: Amazon.ae*, Amazon.ca*, Amazon.cn, Amazon.com*, Amazon.com.au*, Amazon.com.mx*, Amazon.co.jp*, Amazon.co.uk*, Amazon.de*, Amazon.es*, Amazon.fr*, Amazon.in*, Amazon.it*, Amazon.nl*, Amazon.pl*, Amazon.sa*, Amazon.se*, Amazon.sg*

There are a few different variants. Check the tag on your cable to see which exact model you have.

USB 3.1 Gen2 version: https://www.startech.com/en-us/hdd/usb312sat3cb

USB 3.1 Gen1 version: https://www.startech.com/en-us/hdd/usb31csat3cb

USB 3.0 version: https://www.startech.com/en-us/hdd/usb3s2sat3cb

Click the “downloads” tab and choose “firmware.zip”. This must be ran on a Windows machine. It will update the firmware almost instantly when you launch the program with the adapter plugged in and say “SUCCESS – UNPLUG AND REPLUG THE DEVICE”.

Sabrent Adapters

Sabrent and Orico both have the worst track records for working storage adapters for the Pi. I don’t recommend them at all but they can sometimes be fixed.

The following Sabrent JMicron adapters can be updated with their official tool:

Important Note: After the update the Sabrent adapters often work but usually only with quirks mode enabled (see bottom Quirks section of article).

For Sabrent’s version of the JMicron firmware update tool: https://www.sabrent.com/download/jmicron-sabrent-update-tool/

EC-SNVE*

PSiler has reported that you can fix UAS support on the EC-SNVE* with a firmware update available at: https://www.sabrent.com/download/ec-snve/

For the general Sabrent adapters firmware update list (check if your adapter is listed): https://www.sabrent.com/downloads/?wpdmc=firmware-update

Generic Adapters

Note with generic adapters there is some risk. These may not necessarily be by the same manufacturer of your device. It usually doesn’t matter as these all have the same storage controller but due to slight variations in the way some manufacturers implement this technology it’s possible it could cause an issue / brick it. Make sure you understand that there is some risk before proceeding!

JMicron JMS578 Firmware

This is a copy of the JMS578 firmware that has fixed this issue for many people (but not everyone) on the Raspberry Pi. You may still need to enable “quirks mode” (see quirks mode section) even with the updated firmware in some cases.

It’s a little bit trickier to use than some of the other ones but not too extraordinarily difficult. You will need the updater utility and the .bin file.

Here is the updater utility: https://wiki.odroid.com/_media/odroid-xu4/software/jms578fwupdater.tgz

Here is the JMS578 firmware update: https://wiki.odroid.com/odroid-xu4/software/jms578_fw_update

And finally the how to use the updater utility / instructions here: https://wiki.odroid.com/odroid-xu4/software/jms578_fw_update#how_to_use

This thread is worth a read as well to see the different types of adapters/chipsets people tried with this and their different results: https://www.raspberrypi.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=245931&start=50

Verify Drive Performance

You can make sure everything is running correctly (and as fast as it should be) by running my quick storage benchmark. You can run the benchmark with the following one-liner:

sudo curl https://raw.githubusercontent.com/TheRemote/PiBenchmarks/master/Storage.sh | sudo bash

This will give you a score you can compare to the other Raspberry Pi Storage Benchmark results and make sure that you are getting an equivalent speed to your peers with the same device!

Benchmarking / Testing Storage

If you want to verify your drive’s performance you may want to run my storage benchmark with:

sudo curl https://raw.githubusercontent.com/TheRemote/PiBenchmarks/master/Storage.sh | sudo bash

If you search for the model of your drive on pibenchmarks.com you can compare your score with others and make sure the drive is performing correctly!

Fix (some) USB Adapter Problems Using Quirks

Some adapters can be made to work by using USB quirks to disable UAS mode on the drive. This lowers performance, but it’s still much faster than a SD card and your adapter won’t go to waste. Some adapters also require it even with the updated firmware!

To find out the quirks we need to find the device ID string for your adapter and then add an entry to cmdline.txt telling the kernel to apply them on boot.

Find Your Adapter

To apply the quirks we first need to get the adapter id. We will use the sudo lsusb command:

$ sudo lsusb
 Bus 003 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub
 Bus 002 Device 002: ID 174c:55aa ASMedia Technology Inc. Name: ASM1051E SATA 6Gb/s bridge, ASM1053E SATA 6Gb/s bridge, ASM1153 SATA 3Gb/s bridge, ASM1153E SATA 6Gb/s bridge
 Bus 002 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0003 Linux Foundation 3.0 root hub
 Bus 001 Device 002: ID 2109:3431 VIA Labs, Inc. Hub
 Bus 001 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub

On line 2 we can see my ASM1051E SATA 6Gb/s bridge adapter (it’s the known working StarTech.com 2.5″ SATA to USB 3.0* adapter). You will see something very similar to mine when you run the command and it shouldn’t be too hard to figure out which device it is. If you need more information add a -v switch to make the command sudo lsusb -v. This can sometimes add some additional details to make it easier to figure out which one is your adapter.

If you’re still not sure, we have another command that between the two that can narrow things down. Type / paste the following:

sudo dmesg | grep usb

 [0.828535] usb usb3: New USB device found, idVendor=1d6b, idProduct=0002, bcdDevice= 4.19
 [0.828568] usb usb3: New USB device strings: Mfr=3, Product=2, SerialNumber=1
 [0.828597] usb usb3: Product: DWC OTG Controller
 [0.828620] usb usb3: Manufacturer: Linux 4.19.75-v7l+ dwc_otg_hcd
 [0.828644] usb usb3: SerialNumber: fe980000.usb
 [0.830051] usbcore: registered new interface driver uas
 [0.830182] usbcore: registered new interface driver usb-storage
 [0.836488] usbcore: registered new interface driver usbhid
 [0.836511] usbhid: USB HID core driver
 [0.971598] usb 1-1: new high-speed USB device number 2 using xhci_hcd
 [1.154217] usb 1-1: New USB device found, idVendor=2109, idProduct=3431, bcdDevice= 4.20
 [1.154254] usb 1-1: New USB device strings: Mfr=0, Product=1, SerialNumber=0
 [1.154281] usb 1-1: Product: USB2.0 Hub
 [1.301989] usb 2-1: new SuperSpeed Gen 1 USB device number 2 using xhci_hcd
 [1.332965] usb 2-1: New USB device found, idVendor=174c, idProduct=55aa, bcdDevice= 1.00
 [1.332999] usb 2-1: New USB device strings: Mfr=2, Product=3, SerialNumber=1
 [1.333026] usb 2-1: Product: ASM105x
 [1.333048] usb 2-1: Manufacturer: ASMT
 [1.333071] usb 2-1: SerialNumber: 123456789B79F

This is the dmesg log showing the hardware detection as hardware is activated on the Pi. If your log is really long you can generate fresh entries by just unplugging a device and plugging it back in and running the command again. Here we can clearly see that the ASM105x is what our StarTech adapter is being detected as.

Now we can go back to our first lsusb command and we want the 8 characters from the ID field that comes right after the Device:

Bus 002 Device 002: ID 174c:55aa ASMedia Technology Inc. Name: ASM1051E SATA 6Gb/s bridge

Our adapter’s ID is: 174c:55aa

Applying Quirks

To apply the quirks to our USB adapter we are going to edit /boot/cmdline.txt. Type:

sudo nano /boot/cmdline.txt

We are going to add the following entry into the very front of cmdline.txt:

usb-storage.quirks=XXXX:XXXX:u

In place of the X’s above you will put in your adapter’s ID that we got before. With the example commands I gave above mine would look like this: usb-storage.quirks=174c:55aa:u. After this my cmdline.txt looks like this (everything should be one continuous line, no line breaks!):

usb-storage.quirks=174c:55aa:u console=serial0,115200 console=tty1 root=PARTUUID=d34db33f-02 rootfstype=ext4 elevator=deadline fsck.repair=yes rootwait

Now reboot the Pi. If the Pi fails to boot you can plug the SD card into the computer and go to /boot/cmdline.txt and undo the change we did so you can boot back in with your SD card.

Verifying Quirks

Once you have rebooted after changing cmdline.txt we can verify the quirks have been applied by doing another dmesg | grep usb command:

sudo dmesg | grep usb
 [1.332924] usb 2-1: New USB device found, idVendor=174c, idProduct=55aa, bcdDevice= 1.00
 [1.332957] usb 2-1: New USB device strings: Mfr=2, Product=3, SerialNumber=1
 [1.332983] usb 2-1: Product: ASM105x
 [1.333006] usb 2-1: Manufacturer: ASMT
 [1.333028] usb 2-1: SerialNumber: 123456789B79F
 [1.335967] usb 2-1: UAS is blacklisted for this device, using usb-storage instead
 [1.336071] usb 2-1: UAS is blacklisted for this device, using usb-storage instead
 [1.336103] usb-storage 2-1:1.0: USB Mass Storage device detected
 [1.336479] usb-storage 2-1:1.0: Quirks match for vid 174c pid 55aa: c00000
 [1.336611] scsi host0: usb-storage 2-1:1.0

This time we can see in dmesg that UAS was blacklisted for the device and it has loaded with the usb-storage driver instead. This driver tends to be more compatible with the “problematic adapters” but the performance is usually significantly lower. It’s definitely worth a try though as some adapters do better with the quirks performance-wise. The only way to know for sure is to run a benchmark (see “Verify Drive Performance” section).

Other Resources

To find out how to add a UPS backup battery to your Pi check out my UPS for Raspberry Pi guide

For the CM4 check out Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 and using real PCI-Express/NVMe on the Pi

To reduce your CPU usage by 1% when USB booting check out my reducing 1% CPU usage while booting from mass storage device guide here

To find out where to get the 64 bit Raspberry Pi OS beta check out my Where to get 64 bit Raspberry Pi OS article here

If you are looking for storage adapters or the best SSDs to use for Raspberry Pi my Best Storage Adapters / SSDs for the Pi 4 / 400 guide should be able to be of some assistance

If you want to see which Pi storage performs the fastest and get an idea of what kind of drives to look for check out my 2020’s Fastest Raspberry Pi 4 Storage Benchmarks

If you have one of the new Raspberry Pi 400 kits *then don’t miss my Pi 400 Overclocking and SSD Setup Guide

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