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300GB SATA problem please help.

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by Rob.Screene, Feb 17, 2005.

  1. Rob.Screene

    Rob.Screene
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    Gents,
    Any opinions on if it's the SATA controller or Maxtor that's going to go back to DABS?.....

    Please help, as I'm not sure which one is the cause.
    Thanks for any thoughts or experience....

    I bought a single Maxtor DiamondMax Plus10 300GB SATA hard disk and DABSVAL SATA RAID0+1 PCI controller (http://www.ivmm.com/eio/products_sata_pci_host.html uses a Silicon Image 3112A chip; very common on motherboards, intel boards, etc.).

    Win XP Pro recognised the SATA PCI card automatically and the on-cd drivers aren't used if I try to upgrade the driver, so I guess I've a not too out-of-date microsoft approved driver set.

    I'm currently copying about 37GB on to it from my existing WesternDigital PATA 100GB hard disk, at about 30MB/sec, as expected from that 100GB drive.

    I have a strange issue, in that each minute or so, cpu drops from 90-99% down to 1% for about 5 seconds and the copy remaining time estimate jumps (throughput dropped), then the whole desktop including usb mouse appear to hang for exactly 33 seconds, until it carries on.
    i.e.
    22:47.32s cpu drops to 1%, 22:47.36s desktop hangs, 22:47.45s resumes 99% and fast copying.

    22:51.08s cpu drops, 22:51.12s desktop hangs, 22:51.45s resumes 99%.
    22:52.34s cpu drops, 22:52.38s desktop hangs, 22:53.11s resumes 99%.
    22:54.22s cpu drops, 22:54.26s desktop hangs, 22:54.59s resumes 99%.
    ...
    The gaps vary, but the 4secs io pause then 33secs hang are consistent.

    It did originally fail at 99% of original formatting (full format, to check it better), but I had undervolted the machine's cpu from 1.7v down to 1.5v (at which it has just run 24/7 for 4 weeks flawlessly before adding the SATA card and Maxtor drive). I'm testing back at 1.7v.

    The machine is a Pentium3 750MHz, on an ASUS/intel botherboard, 512MB running Windows XP Pro SP2, all updates and AVG anti-virus. D-Link gigabit, usb2 card, usb2 nebula usb (not running), media server for netgear (showing no cpu used).

    thanks.
     
  2. mephistopheles

    mephistopheles
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    You could maybe check the disc by using a SATA->PATA converter and attaching it to the m/b IDE controller, but I'd hazard a guess it's your cpu struggling.

    How is the disc set up? Is it a single SATA or a RAID span? Not sure what happened with original formatting, can you clarify?

    Just so's you know, the PCI bus gives you a theoretical max of 33MHz (33MB/s) per disc, ie 33MHz in RAID1 and 66MHz in RAID0. A single SATA on the PCI host controller would therefore give you slower tfr speed than your existing PATA (assumed to be ATA66 or ATA133).

    RAID cards are sold by 'misrepresentation'. The manufacturers quote the theoretical max of SATA specs not the actual speed via PCI bus. You'd need 4 drives in RAID0 on a PCI host controller to match a single PATA attached to an IDE controller at 133MHz. It's only really worth it on 66 or 100MHz busses when there's a RAID chip on the card (ie not software RAID).
     
  3. Werner

    Werner
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    eh?

    Not trying to contradict, but it is true that pci bus speeds are 33mhz. It is also true that ide controllers are pci devices (verify this by going to device manager, view devices by connection, and you will see the ide controller listed under "pci devices")

    A single pata plain jane ide disc will fill about 40mb/s continuous, but the ide /pci bus can handle about 80mb/s before it becomes saturated (you can verify this with 4 drives in a raid0 setup to get the required throughput). From this, you can work out that ata100 and ata133 should actually give similar performance, which is why not everybody has hopped onto the ata133 bandwagon. The bottleneck is the pci bus. And a pci sata controller compared to an onboard ide controller are both linked to the pci bus, so the max saturation is about the same.
     
  4. mephistopheles

    mephistopheles
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  5. Rob.Screene

    Rob.Screene
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    Thanks guys,
    The machine hung at 99% formatted in disk manager and I reset, probably not giving it the 33secs required to continue, having assumed a total lock-up.

    I tried re-formatting 2 more times, then upped core voltage back to standard, then tried again to success, but then noticed the regular 33sec hangs on drive usage.

    I'll hopefully have the time and inclination to try on my HTPC tonight, which has i865 native SATA support.

    I'm sure it's not cpu bound as the cpu drops before the hang. It's some sort of IO bandwidth slow then hang.

    Any more suggestions appreciated.
    cheers,
    Rob.
     
  6. Rob.Screene

    Rob.Screene
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    It's a single SATA on the new second controller. I think the Intel on-board controller runs over PCI too, so the fact it's a PCI add-in card isn't a big deal.

    I'd appreciate any recommendations for a SATA->PATA converter, as I only went the PCI SATA controller as it looked the safest route for least hassle while using the simpler cabling and no jumper advantage of SATA.

    My issue is not with max performance, it's the fact that the server really stops for 33 seconds regularly, screwing any off-air Nebula TV recordings, etc.

    thanks and regards,
    Rob.
     
  7. Rob.Screene

    Rob.Screene
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    I ghosted from my HTPC's 250GB to the new Maxtor 300GB plugged directly in to the SATA connector on my i865 HTPC and it seems fine. Files were copied over at a healthy looking 1950+MB/min.

    Can I conclude it's the SATA RAID0+1 PCI controller?
    Could it be an incompatibility (Maxtor 10 or ASUS i815 Pentium motherboard?)
    Driver/Win XP (running latest), removing the Maxtor but leaving the SATA card in has returned it to perfect service, indeed it's fine if I'm not accessing the Maxtor SATA?

    or just simply a faulty card (tried two PCI slots now)

    I guess I have one further test option of trying the card in another desktop pc?

    Any thoughts appreciated.
    cheers,
    Rob.
     
  8. mephistopheles

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    Rob

    Here's a link to a converter so you can see how it works:-

    http://www.cwol.com/serial-ata/ide-to-sata-converter.htm

    I guess you'll have to do some trawling around to find one here. Maybe eBay?

    I still reckon the problem is that it overloads your system. If the cpu is at 90-99% immediately prior to the problem starting it doesn't look good, really. The i815 is an extremely stable chipset and the ASUS boards, especially TUSL2-C etc, are brilliant. I seem to recall the memory bandwidth is fairly narrow, or maybe it was just that you can't use more than 512MB in 2x256MB.

    I'd be inclined to RMA both and get a PATA drive to attach to your onboard IDE controller.
     
  9. Rob.Screene

    Rob.Screene
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    Thanks for the ideas mephistopheles,
    Yes, that bridge is a little pricey.

    The drives run in bus-master Ultra DMA mode. The problem was the same when I returned the cpu to it's stock 1GHz/133 speed. I'm sure the cpu utilisation drop is a symptom of the drive going off-line.

    I noticed it disappear in Driver Manager from under the Silicon Image SATA RAID controller entry. Disabling and re-Enabling the controller made the drive appear again.

    I also noticed that the drive didn't appear under the RAID BIOS screen when I had hit the reset button a during early testing.

    So, it's going offline under the SATA controller for some reason.

    I tried disconnecting the DVD-ROM drive to give it a little more watts from the reasonable 365W Enermax power-supply to no avail.
    I'm sure it's either a design fault with either or a production issue with this particular SATA RAID card.

    I put the Maxtor SATA back in my i865 HTPC, after all, I had ghosted everything to it for testing so it's a quick workaround for me. It means I've only 250GB more on the server and the HTPC just got an extra 50GB it wasn't expecting! I will give it a week or so before I wipe the HTPC stuff off the 250GB one though, just in case.

    I had to re-activate Windows on the HTPC by phone, as the OEM XP licenses don't seem to re-activate over the net, but over the phone to an operator it was fine. I had to re-activate TheaterTek2 too.

    It's a very quiet drive, probably as quiet as the WD2500 FDB PATA I just took out that the server can have. I couldn't even hear it when it was sitting on top of the case for testing before being bolted in.

    It'll bug me spending £5 postage to RMA a £15 SATA adapter!

    thanks and regards,
    Rob.
     
  10. St_ve

    St_ve
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    Have u checked the drive for errors? click on the drive in Windows explorer select properties then tools & error checking.
    I bought a used 300GB maxtor from Dabs last year & i had to format it a couple of times & error check it, it's fine now.
     
  11. Rob.Screene

    Rob.Screene
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    Thanks St ve, I'll set a check going tonight.

    Certainly doesn't feel like a media problem though, more a controller issue.
    thanks and regards,
    Rob.
     

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