Sometimes you get bitten by the goofiest things in computing. I bought a nice new 320 GB Samsung SATA hard drive. I like Samsung drives. They’re quiet and reliable, and good performers. I like nice little skinny SATA cables.
So I crack open the box (Antec Sonata, minus the silly CPU exhaust tube that made the interior case temperature warmer and took up all kinds of room, but otherwise a splendid case) and in less time than it takes to say “Voila! That was so easy I should blog about it!” the new drive was ready to use.
But. It didn’t work.
So I spent the best part of the morning troubleshooting. Is it the SATA cable? Try a different one. Boot. Nope, that’s not it. Shut down. Is it the power connector? Try a different one. Boot. Nope, that’s not it. Shut down. Is it the SATA port on the mobo? Swap with the other SATA drive. Boot. Nope, that’s not it. Shut down.
I can hear some of you shouting the solution already- yes, the motherboard supports only SATA I, and this is a SATA II drive. So the drive needs a jumper across pins 3 and 4 to disable SATA II. Naturally I completely forgot all about this issue, even though there was already an SATA drive on the system, and- you guessed it- also jumpered.
Too soon old, too late smart! But maybe my sad tale will help someone else.
Samsung drives disable SATA II mode with a jumper across pins 3 and 4:
power sata 7531 connector connector 8642
On Western Digital drives it’s pins 5 and 6. Other drives, you’re on your own, and remember that Maxtor bought Quantum, and then Seagate bought Maxtor. So Seagate.com has technical archives for all three brands.
There is one more plot twist in this little soap opera. The motherboard is an ASRock K7VT4A Pro, which uses the VIA VT8237 South Bridge chipset. This came before SATA II (3 GB/s), so it supports only SATA (1.5 GB/s). Newer chipsets are able to auto-negotiate the correct drive speed so you don’t have to worry about it, and can use both SATA and SATA II drives.
I put a Western Digital SATA II drive on the system way back when, jumpered of course, and it has performed reliably for a couple of years. The new Samsung drive has an interesting twitch: the system does not recognize the drive on a cold start, but it does on a reset or reboot. So apparently something different happens on a warm restart that doesn’t happen on a cold start. Once it’s up it’s fine, and doesn’t disappear mysteriously, which is another symptom of SATA protocol-negotiation follies.
I have another Western Digital SATA II drive in an external Rosewill SATA enclosure, also jumpered, and have never had any problems with it either. So maybe Samsung is different in some way. Or the planets are aligned unfavorably for Samsung. Whatever it is, it works now, so I’m going back to my rocking chair and grumbling “too much change too fast. Get off my lawn.”