back to article IBM bricking Seagate SATA disks

IBM SATA drives in xSeries and BladeCenter servers can become bricks due to a firmware fault. A fix is expected later this quarter. The IBM SATA drive hang or drive note states: "After a power cycle, the SATA drive is no longer available and becomes unresponsive. Data may become inaccessible due to the drive not responding." …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Reading comprehension skills FAIL

    >"IBM's note states "IBM strongly recommends applying the firmware update to prevent data loss and a hard drive that is no longer accessible", suggesting that data loss might occur."

    Not to me it doesn't, because...

    >"This condition is detected by the drive during power up, and the drive goes in to failsafe mode to prevent inadvertent corruption to or loss of user data. As a result, once the failure has occurred user data becomes inaccessible"

    To me it only suggests that they are using the term "data loss" loosely in a joe-user-can't-get-his-data sense in the first case, and strictly in the data-is-physically-unrecoverable sense in the second.

  2. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    Fingers-crossed, haven't seen any yet.....

    Well, on the every-cloud-has-a-silver-lining side, at least it looks like more overtime!

  3. Ash
    Thumb Down

    Not bricked.

    Brick = large paper paperweight.

    Swap the controller, retrieve data. Not something for a user, or even a tech, but data recovery people will certainly be able to get it working again.

  4. Harry

    Re 12:45 GMT: "Lost" can be a temporary word

    "I've lost my keys" is a frequent utterance, but its rare for that particular loss to be permanent.

    Nor does knowing the location of an item prevent it from being cited as lost. "I've lost my keys down the drain" is still quite a reasonable statement, despite the owner knowing EXACTLY where the lost items are.

    Equally, despite the possible ability of the owner to reinstate access to the contents by applying a firmware update, the owner has nevertheless LOST the ability to access to that data between the reboot and the time when the firmware is updated.

  5. Keith_C

    Not as big a problem as it seems

    After chatting to a Seagate engineer, the deal is that this only happens when an event log on the drive itself reaches an exact figure. However if you reach this figure then the drive is probably fubar anyway. I recall that if the event log goes above this figure you're also safe - it's only if you cycle the power at that exact point you have an issue.

    I am *not* a Seagate engineer, and the conversation was a couple of weeks ago, so I may have some details wrong, don't take as gospel, blah blah arse cover.

    What is odd though that BB10 isn't a Seagate firmware code for those drives. Seagate firmwares start SN0x (SN06 is the latest).

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Same as earlier Seagate flaw

    The affected drives have the same model numbers as drives already known to be affected, and IBM's description is basically the same as what we already knew about the issue: if the drive is powered on with exactly 320 entries in an event log, it will corrupt the drive's SMART list and the list of bad sectors discovered since the drive left the factory.

    A little bit more about the problem can be found at

    (DISCLAIMER: It's not shamelessly pimping my own blog post if I feel a twinge of shame about it.)

    ...and lots of other places on the 'net, thanks to Google.

    The new bit in this story appears to be that IBM is alerting customers that some of the drives it shipped in some of its servers are affected, which is probably a nice thing to know if you happen to have some of those servers.

  7. Paul Postlethwaite

    HP seagate drives??

    Same problem, acording to seagate's serial number checker...

    Not acknoledged on HP's website, unless anyone can advise me otherwise?

    HP's name for the October 08 firmware on the drive in question is HPG6

  8. Dave

    A title really?

    I know that this article is specifically about the "enterprise" version of the drives, but the "consumer" range affected was far bigger than just the 1TB and 500GB models. It was that entire line of drives (see: as well as some disks from another range (see:

    It would therefore make sense (and in light of the enterprise disks) that drives made by Seagate using the same tech and based on the same firmware might be affected. So I for one, wouldn't be surprised if there was yet another annoucement that more drives *might* suffer the same issue.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    only 32 drives affected

    having written a tool to scan all our servers to get their model numbers and drive serials, I found that we have 13 servers and so 42 drives affected. damn, it's going to take a while to take each one out of service and boot the flashing tool. at least these have CDroms.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Says a lot

    ... for IBM's and (potentially) HP's test procedures.

    Not surprised about HP - not the sharpest tools in the box but IBM? Looks like you CAN get fired for buying IBM nowadays.

    And way to go on the hyperbole and inaccuracies El-Reg - a brick is unfixable; these drives are NOT unfixable.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    So what IBM is trying to tell us

    Is that these are a continuation of the Seagate FUBAR series of drives. That's just swell.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Power cycling

    "avoiding or minimizing power cycles will greatly reduce the chances of SATA drives becoming inoperable after a power cycle"

    So, avoiding power cycling reduces the chances of power cycling?

    But anyway, are they saying that they don't normally expect these servers to be run 24x7x365? I guess they must ship them with windows then!

  13. Alan W. Rateliff, II
    Paris Hilton

    Quick way to earn a buck?

    1. Perfect the "fix" to this problem

    2. Identify servers with affected drives

    3. Reboot said servers over the weekend

    4. Hang out at the pub waiting for hell to break loose

    5. errr Profit.

    Or summit like that.

    Paris, needing a "fix" to her affected drives.

  14. kain preacher

    IBM computers

    Just cant stick any drives in them. They have to be formated with IBM special code, well at least for the lap tops. Seen a Seagate boot up fine in a Dell and it craps out on IBM laptop . Now this Seagate is the same model number in other IBM laptops but it does not have that stupid code on it so it wont boot..

    The crazy thing I've every seen is an IBM cock up with the bios on the system board .I replaced 3 SATA HD on an IBM desktop. I would load the OS off the recovery CD. Every thing appeared t o work fine, then I tried to boot up in to XP and blue screen. Later found out do to an bios bug you cant boot off a SATA in the particular line of IBM desktops .

  15. Power Pentode

    Re: IBM computers

    "They have to be formatted with IBM special code, well at least for the lap tops"

    FWIW, I have Z60m & T61 ThinkPad laptops, and have replaced the factory drives with off-the-shelf SATA drives in each -- no problem.

  16. Chris Mellor

    A little more data

    The original Barracuda drive firmware failures were concerned with ST31000340AS drives and then ST3500320AS ones, Barracuda 7200.11 desktop drives.

    This IBM story involves ST31000340NS, ST3250310NS, ST3500320NS and ST3750330NS drives - high-capacity, business-critical Tier 2 enterprise drives, Barracuda ES.2 enterprise drives. There was no suggestion originally as I recall that enterprise Barracudas were affected.

    Also, the IBM note says "IBM strongly recommends applying the firmware update to prevent data loss" suggesting that data loss can occur - IBM did not say apply the firmware update to prevent data unavailability but to prevent data loss.


  17. Tezfair

    @Paul Postlethwaite

    HP have got firmware updates, do a search on their site for "seagate sata". A 2 day old desktop as supplied to an end user has failed with this problem so its either old stock or an on going issue.

  18. Anonymous Coward

    Made me smile :-)

    "This condition is detected by the drive during power up, and the drive goes in to failsafe mode to prevent inadvertent corruption to or loss of user data. As a result, once the failure has occurred user data becomes inaccessible".

    Did anyone else find this rather amusing? So, to avoid losing data, the drive goes into brick mode - so YOU lose access to it :-o

  19. David Kairns

    More garbage hardware

    Expect to see more of this as corporations erode their quality standards.

    Apple used to ship fairly strong hardware. Now it's chinese junk.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    Look on the Bright Side

    IBM could have waited to provide this information only in response to support calls

  21. TeeCee Gold badge

    Re: IBM computers

    Model numbers?

    I have personally replaced drives in IBM Thinkpads of a variety of vintages using off-the-shelf parts from a variety of manufacturers (otherwise known as "whatever's cheapest right now") with no problems at all.

    No "special formatting" required in my experience.

  22. kain preacher

    Re: IBM computers

    Well Tell that to the techs that I worked with T22-t43 were the ones I had the most experience with. I'm no talking about Sata for the lap tops . Of course my problem might of been the fact that that it was really lenvo with the IBM brand name .

  23. Brian


    The original Barracuda firmware problems did include the enterprise drives. In fact, the non-enterprise drives were fixed first and enterprise customers were made to wait 2-3 more weeks before the firmware was available. The kicker is the enterprise firmware won't apply to OEM drives, so these IBM customers can't just go to Seagate's site and get the firmware updates. IBM will have to provide them unless Seagate removes the restriction from their installer.

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