Warning: IBM Says Some SATA Disks Are Going to Sleep
March 2, 2009 Timothy Prickett Morgan
If you have a BladeCenter blade server or a System x tower or rack server in your shop sitting alongside your AS/400, iSeries, or System i machinery, listen up. IBM is warning customers that SATA drives made by Seagate Technology and sold by Big Blue are, in very rare cases, going to sleep and not waking back up.
IBM has posted a note in its disk subsystem support pages that explains what machinery could be affected. The short of it is that after power cycling a server or a storage array using the SATA drives, the drive refuses to spin up. The issue has to do with Seagate firmware, and in particular with firmware level BB10 with the following Seagate drive models: ST31000340NS, ST3250310NS, ST3500320NS, ST3750330NS. You can find out what drives you have in your systems using the ServerRAID or MegaRAOD storage manager software, by using IBM’s disk drive update utility, the BIOS on the disk controllers, or by opening up a box and looking at the model numbers. The drives in question come with 250 GB, 500 GB, 750 GB, and 1 TB capacities and spin at 7200 RPM.
IBM says that the firmware will be updated in the first quarter (which ends in a few weeks), and in the meantime, don’t power cycle your servers and disk arrays if you have these SATA drives in them. The error that causes the drives to go to sleep only happens after a power cycle, and it involves a “rare condition” whereby the disk’s event log pointer is set to an invalid location, and this forces the drive into a failsafe mode to prevent data loss or corruption. Seagate originally reported the issue back in mid-January, and a fix on some of these “Barracuda” disks did not work.
“Should a drive become inaccessible, customers should contact their IBM representative,” a company spokesperson told me last Friday as we were going to press. “IBM is working with Seagate, which will provide a firmware update shortly.”
System i and Power Systems machines use SCSI or SAS drives, not SATA drives, and are therefore not affected by this firmware issue.