Saturday, January 24th 2009

Seagate Techie Speaks Out, Explains Firmware Debacle

Earlier this week, reports emerged of a simple firmware update going wrong for Seagate, rendering some batches of the company's Barracuda 7200.11 hard-drives useless. The flaw in the said firmware update (version SD1A) locked the drive's microcode, preventing the system BIOS from even detecting the drive, in case the user wanted to restore a drive damaged from the update. SD1A was released to fix stuttering problems caused as a result of a bad implementation of the drives' SATA micro-controllers, the earliest diagnosis of the problem the drives were facing. An employee of Seagate working in its engineering, attempted to explain the SD1A firmware debacle, from the perspective of someone who doesn't work with the company's public-relations.

The SD1A firmware, according to the employee, wasn't given out as a singular release, but rather in several revisions to individual customers on a support-customer level, rather than an all-out public download. That was to address customers quickly, when the issue first surfaced as a flaw with the firmware. The problem actually existed where errors during drive operation was written to the drive's firmware to build on a log. When that log reached 320 entries, it would cause errors during initialization of the drive, when it is powered on, when the drive's firmware micro-code is read by the system BIOS. Errors in that process would cause the drive not to be detected / improperly initialized by the system. In a Tom's Hardware report, the employee explains that normally, a customer would go through the usual process of contacting tech-support for the preventative update and “this firmware had to go through five different checks to make sure it applies to the specific conditions to qualify sending to a customer, before now. 5 chances for us to go 'your drive needs the other (or none) firmware update'.” However, management, in order to quell the possibility of liability for drive failures, pushed a general public release of the firmware. “Suddenly, it's down to one check, and even that was more designed for a contingency just in case the wrong firmware was sent out.” The SD1A firmware mostly affected 500 GB versions of the Barracuda 7200.11 series, after it was released last week. Seagate pulled back the SD1A firmware after the issue of the firmware damaging hard-drives became chronic. The company later released a newer firmware update that can be found here.Source: Tom's Hardware
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10 Comments on Seagate Techie Speaks Out, Explains Firmware Debacle

Semi-Retired Folder
So essentially, it came down to the fact that seagate released the firmware to the public, and a bunch of people downloaded and installed the firmware that didn't need to, and it bricked their drives. Seems like mistakes on both Seagate and the consumers side.
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Actually, Seagate released the firmware and did not state that it was only for the 1TB models with part number ending in 303. If they had stated that on the site and not offered it as a fix for all Capacities, then their customers would not have damaged their harddrives, IMO the customers are not at fault, its their fault for a drop on QA and releasing a firmware which bloats itself to failure. At least now they are offering more specific firmware and advertising which series it is for. I recently bought 4 Seagate disks, like two days before this problem was made public, if i had known somehow or waited to buy my drives, i would have definitely bought a different brand, heck, they aren't even that quiet anymore, the ones i have are loud. :eek:
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At least they released an explanation that works :D
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However, management, in order to quell the possibility of liability for drive failures
I smell a class action lawsuit to follow this mess.
*Waves by to Seagate, returned 79 drives this morning, replaced them all with WD Blues/Blacks*
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Yeah, I just bought a WD Black Edition 1TB HDD a few weeks ago. I usually buy Seagate HDDs but I don’t need this kind of headache. I have Seagate HDDs ranging from: 2x 650GB EIDE, 1x 750GB EIDE, 1x 750GB SATA, 1x 500GB EIDE, 1x 320GB EIDE and 1x 320GB SATA. They are all fine but not recent purchases. I personally wouldn’t buy another Seagate drive until they redeem themselves.

This whole debacle sounds like something Maxtor would do,…..oh,…wait,….
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The firmware just should never have been released if it had catches to it like that. This stuff has to be foolproof before it gets down to consumers.
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Used this new sd1a firmware on my ST31000340AS Seagate 1TB 7200.11 hdd and it worked flawlessly. First sd1a failed to detect my drive
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what a shame
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If Seagate as a company were a person, that person would be passed out in the gutter with a cheap bottle of "night train". This is the depth of which they have sunk.
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