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13Apr/13Off

Hard drive failure. Bonus: how to repair a bricked Seagate drive

Seagate ST3500320AS

What the... ?

Last sunday I got hit by an unexpected hard drive failure (are hard drive failures ever expected?). Good thing is I had most of the data backed up. The worst part is, it was the system drive, so the PC was effectively shut down.

The drive is a Seagate Barracuda 7200.11, also known as ST3500320AS. I have been using the PC normally the day before, I have even managed to take some screenshots of the new V3 Capital Ship shaders on EVE test server. The disk was working as it has been for the past 4 years: smooth and silent. Unfortunately, the next day my gaming rig greeted me with

"NON SYSTEM DISK OR DISK ERROR

Not good. I have rebooted this time closely watching the BIOS messages:

SATA Port P0: Port reset error!

Okay, so the BIOS can't access the disk. It must be the cabling! I have opened the case and carefully pushed all the plugs on all hard disks and dvd-rom drive.

No go. Still the same error.

Okay, let's switch the cables. I have plugged the affected disk to a different port on the motherboard. Error message changed a little bit:

SATA Port P3: Port reset error!

Right, the disk has failed. Damn! Let's see what uncle Google has to say about this. I entered the disk model number... and... surprise! It's a known firmware bug.

What happened?

The disk I have is running firmware version SD15. As it turns out, Seagate had a "black series" of 7200.11 Barracudas, which had a firmware bug. The bug usually surfaced much earlier for other owners of the disk (one month up to a few months max). Mine worked for four years, but it eventually got hit by the bug as well.

It is worth noting that these Seagate drives store most of their internal calibration and configuration data on the platters, rather than in NVRAM, so replacing the PCB (which was my immediate idea) wouldn't work. It seems that the bug is somehow related to this service data: when the drive is powered, it conducts some tests and then attempts to read the configuration information. And it hangs. Hence the bug is also known as "stuck in BSY" or simply BUSY bug.

But can it be fixed?

ST3500320AS connected to a diagnostic cableThe answer is yes, it can be fixed. You will need a special serial console cable (Nokia CA-42 cable can be adapted for this purpose), which will allow running diagnostic commands on the drive itself. An external USB-to-SATA interface with own power supply will be handy as well. You also need a Torx T-6 size screwdriver, because you will need to separate the PCB from the drive for a while.

The detailed instruction is here: Fixing a Seagate 7200.11 drive.

As expected, the drive hangs with an error message shortly after it spins up. Of course the console is inaccesible.

LED:000000CC FAddr:0024A051

Untitled-1

but after running all the commands in the solution I linked above, all is fine:

Untitled-2 Untitled-3 Untitled-4 Untitled-5

 

The disk has been put back into the PC and is working just like before, with all the data intact.

Do you still trust Seagate?

Seagate ST3290A, still in working order

Yes I still do. I have many reasons to do that. First of all, I had many hard drives of different vendors, and they all break down roughly the same. Each of those vendors had some "black series" of drives which broke down more often than others. I also do realize that every hard drive will give up eventually. That's why you can expect hard drives in server disk arrays to fail. That's why they are so easy to replace. That's what RAID disk arrays are for. Hard disks are a sort of long life consumables.

But the most important reason is a nearly 20 year old hard drive from my first PC. Guess what? It is still in working order. Although the capacity is orders of magnitude less than the current hard drives, and it is extremely slow and rather noisy, it still works. I need no further proofs that Seagate makes decent hard drives 😉

28Feb/12Off

Do Black Ops really need a fix? (edited)

Players have been voicing their concerns about Black Ops ships being underpowered for quite a while (almost for as long as Black Ops are in game). People complain, that BO are weaker than their Tech I counterparts, have limited jump range and so on. When CCP run the crowdsourcing poll to see what areas of the game need improvement, Black Ops were quite high on the list.

One might wonder, did CCP really just overlook this group in Crucible, or was this intentional? Are Black Ops ships really this ineffective?

The answer is: Not really.

Black Ops are Tech II battleships, which cost as much as a carrier, have on-board jump drive, no targeting delay after decloaking and can bridge other ships into the fray. They are already quite powerful, and the reason why they are not so commonly used is only their price rather than their capabilities. A skilled team of pilots can destroy almost any target by dropping a gang of BO, recons and T3s.

The voice of concerns claim that Black Ops jump range is too short. I say it's ok. Give them more range, and people begin hot dropping to anywhere in New Eden straight from Jita. Do we really need an unstoppable gang of battleships that are able to deploy instantly almost anywhere in the game?

Others ask for T2 resists, because the ship is too expensive to be paper thin. Au contraire, mes amis: repelling a BO hot drop is already quite hard as it is, and when done properly, no Black Ops losses should happen at all in a fight. In my opinion, the EHP and resists are just fine.

Some players claim, that the DPS is not high enough. Then I ask you this: since when 700 DPS is low for a Battleship? Mind that a covert hot drop might also have some tiny, cloaky, ultra-mobile DPS called Stealth Bombers. Having the element of surprise on your side, you don't really need a lot of DPS.

The list of complaints contains one more issue: fuel bay capacity. As it is right now, fuel bay capacity is sufficient for ship's own jump drives, but when it comes to bridging other ships, fuel runs out pretty quickly. IMHO this is the only valid concern and should be looked into. With the current fuel constraints, bridging one recon to the furthest reach of the Black Ops range (4.5 ly) takes as much as a third of the total fuel. Players of EVE are a resourceful bunch, when it comes to adapting, so they just take a Blockade Runner full of isotopes with them just to remedy this issue. In my eyes this should not however be necessary. Either the fuel bay should be increased in capacity, or the amount of fuel required for bridging should be reduced.

And one more thing: if you think the points above are not valid, please see Burn Eden's killboard. This group has mastered the art of using Black Ops (and other jump capable ships) to perfection.

Edit 1

I will be answering here to let others see my replies as well:

@RockCalledSteve: 700 /is/ low for a battleship. It is, however, perfect for a stealth ship. Also, we don't want massive range, just 2 extra AU.

Well, 700 dps indeed is not a lot, my Talos can fling about 700 dps over 40km while travelling at 700 m/s. But 700 dps with the element of surprise is... Well, a very nasty surprise.

2 extra lightyears after the Jump Drive Calibration skill is applied, or before? I would vote after the skill, because 6.5 ly gives BO almost regional range. Please mind that Black Ops can be safely deployed from high sec, and capital ships cannot. Increasing jump range makes them even safer to deploy, but yes, this would also allow more tactics.

I know that Sin is the weakest BO, but it was the first one I had the skills for when they were introduced (this is why there is Sin on the screenshots). Nowadays I'm flying a Panther instead.

Edit 2

The reason I have picked up this topic is because I am concerned. This is similar to what happened to Motherships (which are now known as Supercarriers). Players were not using them, because of their pricetag and only slightly better stats than normal Carriers. Community was complaining and CCP listened to these complaints. Result of the buff made Supercarriers the biggest solo pwnmobiles in EVE to the date. Of course, other part of the EVE Community began complaining about SCs being overpowered. Black Ops are very specific flavour of ships and it is very easy to make them too powerful. This in turn will result in nerfbat hitting them sooner or later...

What do You think? Should CCP buff the BO or leave them be? Comments are welcome.