Wednesday, September 02, 2009

JMicron JMB36X vs. Maxtor 92040U6

While backing up a partition to a Maxtor 92040U6 IDE (PATA) drive, Linux occasionally tells me stuff like:
ata9.00: exception Emask 0x0 SAct 0x0 SErr 0x0 action 0x6 frozen
ata9.00: cmd ca/00:00:ff:02:c9/00:00:00:00:00/e0 tag 0 dma 131072 out
res 40/00:03:00:00:08/00:00:00:00:00/b0 Emask 0x4 (timeout)
ata9:00: status: { DRDY }
ata9: soft resetting link
ata9:00: configured for UDMA/66
ata9:01: configured for UDMA/33
So, there a "write DMA" command timed out and the drive is ready. I'm not sure what else one can learn from that. I wonder what's at fault. The motherboard is Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3R. The PATA port is handled by a JMicron JMB36X chip, and the hard drive is a 10 year old Maxtor 92040U6 drive with MA540RR0 firmware. I've in the past I've had problems with the Memorex 3202 3292 PATA DVD+-RW drive which make me suspect the JMB36X. However, I also suspect the hard drive.

I'm curious because Windows 98 SE used to lock up when I was using the drive, and when I tried Windows 7, it would occasionally hang for a while with the hard drive light lit. In both cases there were no error messages, so I couldn't be sure what was happening.

If Windows 7 doesn't log error messages when there is an ATA timeout on a hard drive, then the people who wrote the ATA driver are idiots. Meanwhile, Firefox fails to properly display the Linux source file which produced the error message, and searching through a lot of text in Internet Explorer 8.0 is insanely slow, as if some evil genius invented a search algorithm that's even slower than a totally dumb algorithm. Sometimes, software sucks way too much. But hey, in this case at least it gives me something to do during the backup, and I don't have to routinely use PATA and deal with these errors.

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