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Some 75GB IBM Deskstar drives crashing

Some 75GB IBM Deskstar drives crashing

Users of IBM Corp.'s Deskstar 75GXP 75GB disk drives are reporting abnormally high failure rates for the product, according to industry sources. But IBM officials said the problems are within the range of normal failure rates.

The culprit is the 7500 RPM, 75GB Deskstar GXP drive with the Ultra ATA/100 interface, sources said. The drive debuted in March 2000.

Big Blue's Deskstar 75GXP line of disk drives are designed for performance desktop, audio/video applications, and RAID controller boards and are available in 15GB, 30GB, and 75GB capacities, according to IBM.

Several users of the 75GB Deskstar 75GXP have reported a variety of different failures including the development of bad sectors on the drive, mistaking the drive as a smaller 8GB drive, and simply crashing for no apparent reason at all. Several independent Internet test sites, including Guru3D.com, have posted complaints on their sites. "You would be wise to avoid the IBM 75GB drive with part number #dtla307075, which is made in Hungary," one user who requested anonymity said. "Our backup servers use them and I've had three drive failures since Friday."

Another user of the 75GB Deskstar 75GXP who also requested anonymity said he had reported the problem to his company's RAID controller manufacturer, 3Ware, and that 3Ware support told him 3Ware had been receiving daily calls concerning the failing IBM drives. 3Ware support apparently told him "one customer replaced [the IBM drives] at a rate of 600 to 800 drives per day."

Phone-based technical support personnel for Mountain View, Calif.-based 3Ware confirmed that calls have been coming in steadily concerning failures with the Deskstar 75GXP 75GB drive. 3Ware technical support has been referring the calls to IBM technical support.

"What exactly the problem is, we can't tell," a 3Ware technical support contact said. "It's not normal though, and the reports are higher than usual."

An IBM spokesperson Kim Nzuyen said problems with the 75GB drives that Big Blue was aware of affected only 1 percent to 2 percent of the products shipped.

"We've been shipping [the 75GB drive] successfully. The failures we are experiencing are within normal ranges for desktop drives. There is no epidemic failure," Nzuyen said.

We do believe the quality and reliability of [the 75GB drive] is very high," she said. "If any customer thinks they are having a problem, they should certainly contact IBM."

Rob Enderle, an industry analyst at Giga Information Group in Cambridge, Mass., said that while problems with newer, high-speed drives like the 75GB Deskstar 75GXP are not uncommon in the early stages of product availability, reported failure rates could be due to a number of conditions.

"It could be a pressing problem or contamination problem," said Enderle. "It is not uncommon for a brand new product, a high-density [product like the 7500 RPM 75GXP] to have issues on the first run. I expect more problems like this on first run as the disks spin faster."

Enderle said the performance of high-speed disk drives could even be corrupted during shipping.

"We had a problem with the single platter Maxtor drive, and it was an issue with the way the product was being shipping," said Enderle. "The bearing developed a flat spot. These [disks] are now spinning at incredibly high speeds. The tolerances are incredibly tight."

Enderle said any problem with the IBM drive could mean good news for Seagate, which competes with IBM for market share in high-density hard drives.


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