Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Hybrid HDD hiccup in MacBook Pro!

On February 17 I wrote about "A Hybrid HDD for my MacBook Pro", I was happy because now I have a 500 GB drive instead of only 160 GB of the OEM!

Now I am able to dedicate a 30 GB Scratch Partition just for Photoshop!

The main reason I pick this Seagate drive was the incredible review done by benchmarkreviews.com !

According to their review and I quote...

Key Features and Benefits
  • Boots 40 percent faster than traditional 7200-RPM drives (for overall system performance, that's within 1% of an SSD*)
  • Cuts costs by 75 percent compared to SSDs by combining solid state and hard drive technologies
  • Delivers the perfect balance of speed and capacity
  • Uses Adaptive Memory technology to optimize performance in real time by storing frequently used files and data on the solid state drive component
  • Ensures compatibility with any operating system or application with a standard 9.5mm notebook drive form factor and the characteristics of a traditional 7200RPM drive
  • Offers all the benefits of SSD performance with the high capacity, storage, battery life, power consumption and heat generation of a traditional hard drive
Sound great! What can go wrong, right?


After using my trusted MBP with the new innards for two days, I notice something "strange"; during a task, say; when I am running a Photoshop "action", without warning or reason, the action will just freeze for a second or so and then continue!

I also notice it is impossible to put the MBP to sleep when I wanted to!

It can't be my imagination, especially when a friend from Singapore post this link in Face Book!

It was a story from Engadget titled:

Momentus XT hybrid drive causing headaches, Seagate working to fix

More searches found this story in TechWorld.com:

Seagate's Momentus XT hybrid drive winds users up

Users complained that the drive has major problems with its spindown feature

Writer Lucas Mearian of Computer World US in his article wrote:

Much of the problem involves a Momentus XT feature called Advanced Power Management (ADM), which automatically spins down the hard disk to manage power use and increase mechanical lifespan.

The feature also allows the SSD to take over read requests and serve up the most frequently used data.
Users on Seagate's online forum say the problem is the spin-down feature is too aggressive.

Enough of BAD NEWS!!

Now the GOOD NEWS!

Seagate said it released a firmware upgrade for the Momentus XT, version SD24 , to address its aggressive ADM tool.

If you are like me and you have installed an XT in your MacBook Pro, first you should check what firmware version is in your drive. Here is how you find out...

Go to the black Apple on the top left of your screen, select About This Mac, then More Info; at the Mac Book Pro window, select "Serial ATA". This is what I saw...

What we are looking for is this:

This line inform me that the XT drive in my MBP has a SD23 firmware.

No wonder I am still getting all the hiccups!

Seagate has released the SD24 to fix all the bugs!

The SD24 FIX

First, go here and download the new firmware, you will receive a file called MomentusXT-ALL-SD24.iso

Next you must burn this file into a boot-able cd-rom.

This is the instruction from Seagate:

  • MacOS Disk Utility
    1. Insert a blank disc.
    2. From the Desktop, click on Utilities (or in some cases, Applications, and then Utilities).
    3. Launch Disk Utility.
    4. From the File menu, choose Open Disk Image.
    5. Select the ISO image to be burned.
    6. In the list of volumes, you will now see an item representing the ISO file. Select it.
    7. Click the Burn button and follow the instructions.
After 7. , what they don't tell you is to insert the cd and restart your MBP with the "c" key pressed.

You will see a DOS (before the Windows day, remember the good old DOS?) screen and you will be presented with a thousand lines of white on black text, line after line! I scrolled to the end; nothing there to tell me what to do next!

I hit "return", nothing happen or return ;)

I tried "esc"... ahhhh... I was presented with a "choice" screen. I remember pressing "D" to tell the DOS screen to upload the new SD24 firmware.

This I did and presto, a few second later it say "success", but you MUST turn off the power to activate the new codes.

I just hold down the start-up button until the MBP shut off.

Restart, check your about this Mac steps and you should see SD24 instead of SD23.

Guess what; everything seems smoother and no problem putting the MBP to sleep either! I think Seagate has got it nail this time round! But you guys sure should improve your instruction sets though!

Is it fast?

You bet your hybrid it is! The start-up especially! From one minute before to 15 second now!

Photoshop load much much faster and filters and actions all run faster too!

So what are you waiting for?

Go get a SD24 FIX!! ;)


New Fix For Hybrid HDD!!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tips for this problem. I was also experiencing these symptoms on my MacBook (not pro) after installing this drive. Unfortunately, after upgrading my drives firmware to SD25, the problem still creeps up. Actually, when I start my MacBook, all is well for a while but within 30 mins or so, the problem returns. Have you learned anything further since your post or do you have any other suggestions?
Thanks for your time.

cy.leow said...

So far I do not have any problem, what version of OSX you are using? i am on 10.6.7, may be you should look into that.