Seagate starts releasing new firmware updates
Seagate is making another attempt to sort out its firmware problems with certain ranges of hard disks, and has now made new firmware updates available to download from its website. The company is trying to limit the damage caused by its rushed attempt earlier this week to release firmware that later turned out to be incompatible with some drives.
The new firmware is available for the Barracuda 7200.11 range of drives with 500 GByte (ST3500320AS and ST3500620AS), 750 GByte (ST3750330AS and ST3750630AS) and 1 TByte (ST31000340AS). Owners of the 640 GByte models (ST3640330AS and ST3640530AS), on the other hand, can only obtain an update by sending an email to Seagate Support (firstname.lastname@example.org).
All of the above models are considered defective if they have the SD15, SD16, SD17, SD18 or SD19 firmware installed. Contrary to Seagate's earlier announcement, it seems that drives with the AD14 firmware do not require updating. The company has included an article in its Knowledge Base to help customers identify which firmware their hard drive contains.
For all other Barracuda 7200.11 hard disks – including the 1.5 TByte flagship model – there are still no updates. Owners of disks that do not have "CC or LC firmware" installed, should therefore keep watching for possible updates over the next few days.
These warnings also apply to owners of the DiamondMax 22 range of drives, which need updating if they have the MX15 or more recent firmware installed. Barracuda-ES.2 hard disks, on the other hand, do not require updating unless their firmware is older than SN06. Updates for the ES.2 models are available only on request from Support.
As we have already reported, this firmware problem could cause the Seagate hard drives mentioned to stop working when the host system is powered up. The disks will run up normally, but the system will no longer be able to access the data on the drive. Seagate blames the problem on the firmware's internal event log, which the drive stores in a circular buffer. If the pointer for the current entry is located exactly at the end of the buffer, firmware will increment the event log pointer past the end of the event log data structure. A fail safe mechanism will detect the error and cause the driver to hang.
The firmware defect does not exist on all hard disks, but only on those tested using an incorrectly configured or faulty piece of test equipment on the production line. Seagate has promised to issue a list of serial numbers to make it easier for users to determine whether they have a faulty drive, but this has not been forthcoming.
A document has appeared in the US forums, which reveals further details of the firmware problems with Seagate hard disks. It claims that there may yet be firmware updates for the SV35 drives that the Seagate Knowledge Base claims are not affected. According to the document, external hard drives marketed under the FreeAgent and Maxtor OneTouch 4 brand names could also contain the firmware bug. It is currently not known whether this document relates to an official Seagate statement, whether all of its information is still up-to-date, or how it managed to find its way onto the internet.
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