FauxSnax
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Optiplex 990 Disk? Issue

Background:
My company bought ~30 990s w/RAID1 setup over SED/AF drives (Seagate ST320LT014), vPro i5, no other customization.

Set up MDT2010 deployment from base W7SP1x64 image, latest drivers injected, selection profile to only 990 drivers (we have some Lenovos that use later chipset drivers). Followed the AF bulletin to the T - added the MSKB to the base image, using WINPE3.1, using Intel 10.x series drivers throughout. BIOS is upgraded to latest before the process starts.

Standard MDT task sequence modified to install DSS, then RST, then base programs (Office2K7, SEP, etc), then join domain. SCE installs after that.

After install, they work beautifully.  

Until we starting installing new programs on them or giving them to people to work on. After a couple days the machine slows down to a slow drudge, with what looks like heavy disk contention issues. Takes 15minutes to start, 10 minutes to shut down, most programs unusable.

Windows, aside from the 100% activity level, shows no processes that are using the array in perfmon when the computer is idle. RST shows no rebuilding or verification in progress, reports normal.

I've tried sfc /scannow, chkdsk, manually verifying through RST, wiping and changing driver versions for chipset and SATA (including using Intel drivers for the Chipset), using a lower BIOS version. Dell diagnostics shows nothing out of the ordinary. 

At this point I turned my attention to like hardware, finding some people with similar problems related to .Net - installing 4, updating, repairing the built in versions, none worked.

In fact, the only thing that stops the pain is shutting down, yanking a drive to break the array, and bringing the computer back up on one disk. RST has a fit about the degraded array, but the speed is back to normal. This makes me think that it may have something to do with the SED not being utilized (yet), or SED not being compatible with RAID1 while not being used?

Anyone have any ideas on further TS, or heard of this, or anything? I've done more troubleshooting than what I've written here, but I'm welcoming any and all ideas and am willing to retry most anything.

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19 Replies

Re: Optiplex 990 Disk? Issue

I remember some discussions about RAID configs when the AF drives started arriving, but not in relation to known issues.  You have documented your issue thoroughly, so I would recommend that you contact  Dell Tech Support to get them working on this issue for you.

support.dell.com/.../contact_technical_support

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FauxSnax
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Re: Optiplex 990 Disk? Issue

Yeah, I'm in contact with them, but I'm having issues getting past the first level of support that asks me if I want to "format my hard drive" at my first mention of "advanced format" hard drives. And since the diagnostics come up negative, the third guy I talked to flat out said that it's obviously software and that's a fee-based support, then forcibly transferred me to that.

The Optiplex HW team I've gotten in touch with has been better, but I'm having communications issues with them thus far and am hoping to get someone that can do more than tell me to wipe and reload the machine.

This is really just a shot in the dark, as I've yet to see anyone online with my same exact problem after weeks of researching and hundreds of forums and posts.

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Re: Optiplex 990 Disk? Issue

Do you have an open support incident # that you can share?  

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FauxSnax
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Re: Optiplex 990 Disk? Issue

I actually got in touch with someone that is better (Dennis, if you look into the notes - he's a good egg). He's having the motherboard replaced at request of his supervisor - which doesn't seem like the problem, unless I got a whole bad batch. If it's still broken after he's going to send me up to the next level people to talk about compatibility or driver issues. Not the best, but at least it's progress.

I'm going to send you the case# privately, in case you're still interested. It seems every time I call back I get a better tech, so maybe I'll just keep calling until I get someone that has seen this issue.

As an aside, I got the idea from a coworker to call up Seagate to see if they have any information on compatibility with my other hardware. The tech I talked to stated that while it technically should work in its current (non-encrypted) form, he couldn't be sure. But turning on the encryption would probably break the RAID and render the machine unbootable.

Therefore I've requested from my boss requisition of a non-SED set of disks to attempt to do the same install on, and hopefully he'll approve and talk to his Dell rep. It seems that if we can't encrypt the drives anyways, there's no sense in having them installed.

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TF NOAA
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Re: Optiplex 990 Disk? Issue

I am having a very similar problem for about two months.  We are using XP x64bit on 990 MiniTowers with Advanced Format RAID 1 drives and it works perfect.  When using the image on 990 Desktops with Advanced Format RAID 1 drives and after a couple of days the slowness shows up.  The only cure is to shutdown, rebooting does not help.  When the problem shows up the drive light stays on like the system is doing a lot of I/O.  I can trigger this after a couple of days by starting a app that hasn't started in the last couple of days.  Then it is over.  I have updated every driver to the latest release, I've used Paragon Alignment Tool to make sure the new AF drives are without problems, they are.  I have turned off every Power Option available, moved to OU's without any GPO's applied.  Nothing has helped.  I have a call open with Dell Tech Support, but nothing major has come of that, normal suggestions, update RST, BIOS, etc..

This only happens with our 990 Desktop Models, the 990 Mini Tower Models (still have the legacy format drives) do not have this problem.  This is happening on the only 6 Desktop Models we have.  This has me completely stumped

Any Help????

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TF NOAA
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Re: Optiplex 990 Disk? Issue

An additional note: Our Mini Tower models have Western Digital (WD25000BEKT-75PVMT0) drives that are fine.  Our Desktop models have Seagate (ST250L0007-9ZV14C) drives that present the problems.  I looked for a firmware upgrade for the Seagate drives, but one was not available.

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FauxSnax
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Re: Optiplex 990 Disk? Issue

I've got nothing for you, except Tech Support sent out a main board replacement last week, and today the problem still exists. Interesting that it's the Seagate drives only for you, or at least the form factor change.

I can't verify your finding of shutting down vs restart. I've done both and it seems that either will work, seemingly at random. I've had the problem go away on restart, and also the problem persist even over a shut down, unplug, and move to another location before boot - although that only happened once out of a few times, so small sample size there..

I'm calling them back now with the response now, and I'm hoping that I can get some better resolution from someone higher up.

I'm also installing non-AF/SED drives from my 780s into a 990 today and running tests to see if the same problem appears.

I'll make sure to keep this updated for your sake at the very least. It's an infuriating problem, I feel for you.

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EPOC2
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Re: Optiplex 990 Disk? Issue

We appear to be having the same issue with our Optiplex 790's that are configured with the Seagate ST250LT0007-9ZV14C drives.  We have several hundred 790's deployed with Toshiba and Western Digital drives that aren't having any issues.  However, the units with the Seagate ST250LT0007-9ZV14C drives are behaving just as you described.  Typically, they run fine for 3 to 6 days and then the Disk Response Time suddenly becomes extremely slow.  As you mentioned, rebooting does not help, we need to shutdown the PC to resolve the issue.  We're running Windows 7 64-bit on our systems instead of windows XP and we're not using RAID.  I also have a case opened with Dell Tech Support.  

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Re: Optiplex 990 Disk? Issue

Can you provide the Intel mass Storage driver (RST) version, BIOS version, and HDD part number (if you haven't already provided it) for the systems that are affected.  The HDD team is looking into it, but has requested the extra details.

Thanks,

Warren

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