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News Archive for Thursday August 13, 2009     Goto Current News Page

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FYI on FileMate SSD ExpressCard Potential for Overheating
(From a reader mail today - also added to the MBP/ExpressCard reports page which had a few earlier posts on this card.)

"I've been running the Wintec ExpressCard SSD now for six weeks in my 15" macbook pro (pre-unibody). It's a 2.4ghz Core2 model with a stock rotational hard drive. I boot off the rotational drive, but my home directory and all my files are on the SSD. With 4GB RAM, this means the SSD is used for 90% of drive access and the stock drive spends the bulk of its time idle.

Overall, it's been solid as a rock. However, I did notice some odd behavior recently. After testing, I found out that the SSD is vulnerable to overheating. When this happens, it looks like the drive initially shuts down writes and then eventually powers itself off or stops responding to commands. Whether this is by design or coincidence, I'm not sure. However, I was able to trigger this overheating behavior by using the laptop resting on a bed, and using just Mail and Safari. The laptop's fans themselves never came up to full power, I suppose because the CPU itself was relatively cool.

After cooling down and rebooting, the SSD began working again, and disk utility found a long list of HFS errors. I believe that two things contribute to this "problem". First, there's very little cooling directed to the EC slot, other than passive cooling through the speaker grille area. Second, much of the heat from the EC slot needs to be dissipated by the metal bottom panel of the laptop. Third, the battery and charging circuitry is in close proximity to the EC slot. Both times this happened, the computer was plugged in to power and recharging a partially depleted battery.

So, just as a cautionary measure, I try to ensure that the laptop is always on a cooling pad when I'm logged in to an account on the SSD. I wanted to give your readers a heads-up on this because you won't see the normal signs of thermal distress such as a ramping up of fan speeds, or an abnormally elevated temperature on the CPU or GPU probes. Hopefully the unibody models are a little better at heat dissipation, but I don't expect them to be immune either.

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Mac Mini Core 2 Duo Upgrade (chip swap) reports page updated
I've added another reader's notes on a T7400 (2.16GHz) upgrade to the page of Mac Mini (2006-2008) Core 2 Duo CPU Upgrades (Chip Swaps). (He also said the CPU he bought on ebay was an "engineering sample".)
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Follow-up from new 13in MacBook Pro owner w/Crucial SSD problems (solved by logic board repl.)
Several mid-2009 13in MacBook Pro owners (w/EFI firmware 1.7 typically) had reported problems with the Crucial (M225) series SSDs (most saying not recognized, although one reader got past that but later had other poblems). Yesterday I saw a follow-up post in Crucial's SSD forums from a new 13in MacBook Pro owner (w/EFI firmware 1.7 update) that previously had problems with the M225 256GB SSD being recognized:

"Re: MBP 13" doesn't recognize the SSD 256G (CRTCT256M225)
08-12-2009 10:27 AM
Just wanted to give you guys an update - after spending couple of days with apple authorized reseller - they had (were?) convinced that they need to replace the logic board and as soon as they replaced the logic board with new one - my one week of hassle came to end !!! Now everything works like a charm - I have rebooted system more than 20-25 times to ascertain that drive would be recognized and MBP boots from the disk OK - so far so good !!!
I have started to suspect the first batch of logic boards that apple shipped with EFI 1.6 (software downgraded to SATA I (1.5Gbps ) then upgraded with EFI 1.7 to support SATA II is the culprit - if anybody out there is having the same issues, just bring your MBP to an apple service center and ask them to replace logic board.

However I wonder how many others would be able to get Apple to replace the logic board due to a problem with a 3rd party addon/drive. (Unless they've had so many problem reports that they know there's some common issue. Many but not all owners w/EFI 1.7 update have reported problems of some sort with some (not all) drives. (And some reported problems with the same drive model that another owner of the same system/firmware didn't.) And now there's said to be an update (firmware?) in the works to address the pausing/freezes many new MBP owners have seen with 7200rpm/500GB drives. (ref: previous posts here/long apple forum thread on that topic.)

And there was also a reply to the post above from another user that said a M225 worked in a white Macbook. (I assume he means "2nd generation")

"I have just mounted the same SSD drive in an 2. generation White Macbook. Booted perfectly - and rebooted. So it seems Crucial are not alone in this mess."

I've also saw a post from a mid-2009 17in MacBook Pro owner that said he had no problems with the M225 SSD in that system.

BTW: Speaking of SSDs, I've never used it personally but a reader suggested using Spotless ($16.95) to disable -content indexing- rather than disabling all indexing via Spotlight privacy prefs. (Added a note/link to last month's post with Tips for OS X SSD Users on Disabling Hibernate mode/deleting sleepimage file.)

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FYI on SuperTalent UltraDrive GX Firmware update
[Update: As of August 24th, the ST firmware page has now been reverted back to show the previous 1571 firmware update, after problems with corruption from Win 7 users with auto-trim enabled. And even a 2007 MBP owner reported problems/freezes with 1711 firmware in his SSD.]
(original post from Aug. 13th follows)
In case any readers have this SSD, SuperTalent recently posted a UltraDrive - GX Firmware Update version 1711 - here's the changes listed in their release notes:
(BTW - SSC (spread spectrum clocking) was a show-stopper in the past with standard SATA hard drives in PowerMac G5s - not sure if that's still a problem for later (intel-based) macs, although I don't think SSC is enabled on most standard SATA hard drives.)

    (for SSDs w/Serial Numbers: xxxxxxx-xEBX-xxxxxxx)
  • Updater runs out of DOS instead of Windows
    • ATA 8 ACS2 TRIM support
    • SATA Rx and Tx SSC both off
    • IDENTIFY word 69 bit 14 is cleared (Non deterministic trim)
    • IDENTIFY word 60-61 are changed (usage addressable logic sectors for LBA28)
    • FPDMA error return code was not adequate
    • SMART related changes were made (BBM error log was removed)
    • SATA error handling code was enhanced
  • Bug Fix: a bug in error handling in Set Multiple mode command
  • Bug Fix: a bug that caused 1.5Gbps diagnostic failure
  • Bug Fix: SMART related bugs were fixed
  • more ICs supported

Earlier this month a (late 2008) Unibody MacBook Pro owner reported on problems with a ST 256GB SSD (UltraDrive) but it had a different S/N (xxxxx-FCIX-xxxxxx) - per their release notes his 1370 firmware is still the latest. (Firmware 1571 was for their S/N "xxxx-xDIX-xxxx" drives.) Not sure what the differences are (controller revision?). Crucial's M225 per some PC site reviews/take-aparts is said to be a literal clone of the ST UltraDrive (and the M225 256GB shipped earlier this month had firmware 1571.) Still hoping Crucial releases firmware updates as well as secure erase and Trim tools (although likely they will not be for OS X, but hoping any firmware updates will be in an iso for burning a bootable disc.
FYI: I saw a post from a Crucial M225 (firmware 1571) SSD (PC/windows user) that said OCZ's vertex performance refresh tool worked with it, but not confirmed that. (Don't have Windows installed on a M225 SSD.)

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Apple Support/How-To/Troubleshooting doc updates

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Other News/Reviews/Rumors, Misc. Software Updates
(Updated during the day)

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Recent Articles and Reviews
Listing/links to recent articles and reviews you may have missed.
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