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n0n
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 01, 2002 7:47 pm    Post subject: IDE Cables Reply with quote

Hey, everyone. Just wanted to share a couple of observations. I recently picked up a nice IBM 120 Gb, 7200 RPM drive for /home and mp3s and video (fun!), and noticed while I was copying /home over that the drive tended to get pretty scortchingly hot (although not more than you'd probably expect from a 120Gig, 7200 RPM drive). So, before actually sticking the thing in my system full-time, I went out and got myself a nifty 5.25" "case" for it, which included a number of fans and an aluminum heatsink for the drive itself. I've got a good six drives in my system (three harddrives, a CD-Rom, a CDR, and a Zip drive), so things get a bit crowded, even with it being a full tower.

With this new Harddrive Cooler thing, my old ribbon cables just weren't cutting it any more, so I decided to get myself some fancy-schmancy rounded IDE cables. 36-inch rounded IDE cables, at that, so I would no longer have to worry about trying to string a cable from my second IDE controller on the mainboard (meaning the PCI card providing me with an extra two IDE busses, in addition to the two on the mainboard) all the way up to the top of the case.

Things went somewhat awry, however. My spankin' new 120 Gig drive isn't always recognized by BIOS on startup. It *should* show up as the slave on the secondary IDE (/dev/hdd), but instead of the HD identifier, it just says " -(SS)" or something similar. I know this doesn't have anything to do with waiting for the drive to spin up, because I played around with the settings in BIOS which determine how long to wait for drives to correctly report themselves. The drive is only recognized about one in ten boots, and it doesn't seem to matter if it's a cold or warm reboot. The drive itself seems to work fine, because when I was copying /home over, I had it plugged in as the master on my second IDE controller's secondary bus (whew!), ie: /dev/hdg. And everything was working fine there. On the somewhat rare occasions that the drive *does* get found correctly, though, everything seems to work fine, and I haven't noticed any data corruption or anything like that.

My theory is that it's the cable. More than likely the length. I did some checking online and the *official* maximum length of an ATA IDE cable is supposed to be 18 inches, which puts my 36-incher just a bit out of spec. So I'll be trying my longest ribbon (probably no more than 24 inches or so) tonight, and see what happens. That's what I had been using prior to this cool-1337-rounded-cable stuff. I'll post the results here. I just figured I might be able to save someone some trouble if the 36-incher did seem to be the problem. In the meantime, if anyone else has run into this and has some suggestions, I'm all ears. :)

Thanks!
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pjp
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 01, 2002 8:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hopefully you are aware of the problem the GXP drives have? Thats just quickest article I found on the matter.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 01, 2002 8:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yikes, actually I wasn't aware of it. And I did some research on the drive, too, before I got it, and found nothing but good things all over the place! Google must be out to get me or something. :) Regardless, I *do* have the cooler on the drive, w/ the heatsink and dedicated fans. Plus as soon as I noticed how warm it was (when copying data), I pointed a small desk fan at the thing and that kept it nice and cool while I was copying (it had actually just been sitting on a box next to my computer - I hadn't swapped out the drive it was replacing yet).

Thanks for the pointer, though, I'll be make doubly sure it's being cooled properly.
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 02, 2002 2:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, so it turns out I've been spreading LIES. The cables themselves were fine. I'm using 'em right now, all 36 inches of 'em. The problem, as it turns out, was that the 120 Gig drive just did not want to be the slave on any IDE bus. Now that I've shifted things around and it's the master, it's perfectly happy. So never mind about my ramblings about cables. I knew I should have waited before posting. :)
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 02, 2002 2:49 am    Post subject: Actually Reply with quote

Two things:

1) That aritcle is about the 60GXP and the 75GXP. The new 120 Gig 7200RPM IBMs are 120GXPs, and IBM has purportedly fixed the problem that the older drives had.

2) I have read that with hard drives, you shouldn't use the longer cables (24" and 36"). I've read of people having their drives fail to be recognized when using longer cables, but they were fine with the 18" cables (I'm not sure how accurate that is, and I don't think they reported problems with CD-ROM/CD-RW drives, just hard drives), so if you really want to be safe, you might stay with 18"ers.

Also, I've heard people argue that round cables have a tendency to cause data corruption (because the wires are all braided together and you get signal interference and all that), but I've never seen anything like that proven, and I'd take that with a large grain of salt.

All of this is pretty irrelevant, since your problem seems to be fixed, but I guess it's something to keep in mind when researching your purchases.

Cheers.
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 02, 2002 4:56 am    Post subject: Re: Actually Reply with quote

Dolio wrote:
1) That aritcle is about the 60GXP and the 75GXP. The new 120 Gig 7200RPM IBMs are 120GXPs, and IBM has purportedly fixed the problem that the older drives had.
Maybe they have fixed it, I don't know. Mainly I was mentioning it because the problem existed on more than the 60 and 75. In fact, it appeared to be throughout the GXP line (at the time). As for it being fixed, don't forget that IBM denied the problem existed (have they ever admitted it?). Also, the GXP series were advertised for 'server' use. Only after the problem surfaced did they quietly rewrite the 'usage' recomendations to what amounts to 8hrs/day. Hardly server material. Am I slamming IBM? No, not really. I'm simply saying be careful about the drive. I would buy other IBM products, just not their GXP sereis. Doesn't matter now that they've sold the division to Hitachi.
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 02, 2002 3:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, I've heard rumors about the rounded cables, too, which is why I had suspected them in the first place. I had found a few sites on the net that stated they hadn't found any problems, and now that everything's working, I haven't had any problems with 'em, either. Although I'm guessing that it would be a good idea to go with the shortest cables possible. As for sticking with 18", that's just not possible for me, I'm afraid. Like I said, I've got the six drives, and it's a full tower case, and the short cables just don't work. I could probably get by with a 24" if I was creative, but I do like the flexibility these 36" cables have. Especially when it comes to the IDE controller card, which is much further down on the mainboard than I'd like. :)
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 02, 2002 6:21 pm    Post subject: yeah Reply with quote

Yeah, I don't really know if IBM has officially said they've fixed the problem (it may be more anecdotal evidence than anything else. I'm not sure. Hence the "purportedly" :)).

I know how you feel with the short cables, too. I've got a mid-tower case (albeit a big one), and I had trouble making things work when I had to connect two devices to one cable (now I'm using my RAID ide chipset as an extra so I have 4 masters :D).
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