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Seagate, IBM & Bad Firmware

3:05 PM -- As reported in Byte and Switch's news analysis section, IBM has admitted that the Seagate drives they've packed into BladeCenter and System X servers have the same problems as the Barracuda 7200.11 I discussed here back in December. While that blog post talked specifically about 1.5 TB drives, the problem exists across the Seagate SATA line, including the ES.2 nearline drives targeted for RAID arrays, virtual tape libraries, and the lot.

The best information I have on the problem is that one or more test systems at the Seagate plant left test data in a reserved area that caused the drive event log to essentially buffer overflow when it contained 320+(x*256) entries. Should a drive be powered up when the event log is in this state, the drive will think it's permanently busy and will not respond to external commands over the SATA interface.

If youve added any storage kit in the past nine months or so with 250-GB or larger drives you may also have affected drives, even though your OEM hasn't copped to it yet. The problem exists in Barracuda 7200.11, Barracuda ES.2, and Maxtor DiamondMax 22 drives manufactured before Jan. 19, 2009. If you have any 7200.11 or ES.2 drives you really should see this Seagate document and get the utilities Seagate's created to test to see if your drives have the bad firmware. If so, you can download and install a firmware upgrade as long as your drive hasn't already frozen up.

If your drive has frozen up, Seagate claims the data is all still there and will recover it for you, assuming of course you don't have a corporate policy against sending data out.

This being America, the California law firm of Kabateck Brown Kellner LLP set up a Website "investigating a potential lawsuit against Seagate." Sounds to me like this will end up with a class action suit where the law firm makes a bundle of money and each hard disk owner will get a coupon good for $10 rebate on a new Seagate drive.

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