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SFR
Blue Screen Again
SFR
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎03-28-2012
Location: USA

T420 SSD 8MB Error on *Current* 4PC1LE04 Firmware. Help / Advice / Report Bug.

[ Edited ]

Hello!

 

So I am having a problem with an SSD in a T420 laptop. Short and sweet, here is what is going on.

 

Specs:

- Lenovo T420 with 160GB SSD. SSD model is: SSDSA2BW160G3L.

- The type is: 4177-CTO.

 

Problem:

- The laptop will not boot from the SSD no matter what I try, which has been a lot.

- When checking the SSD with the Intel firmware update utility, the serial number reads: BAD_CTX 000001. Image attached.

- According to the Intel firmware update utility, the firmware on the machine is CURRENT. Version 4PC1LE04.

- I read that the Intel firmware update utility can have issues with detecting and accurately reporting on Lenovo drives, so I downloaded the latest firmware update utility straight from Lenovo. It also reports the current firmware of 4PC1LE04 on the drive and will not let me update it.

- I tried to boot the machine using BartPE to investigate the partition a bit, but this results in BSOD.

- I booted the machine using GParted and it boots fine and detects the SSD. Sadly, it reports the partition as being 8 megabytes in size.

- This is exactly similar to the firmware bug that existed previously for these drives, found in firmware 4PC10362. The difference is that I am on CURRENT firmware and have experienced the issue. That is not good.

- The T420 was shipped directly from Lenovo a couple months ago and was shipped with the latest firmware already installed. So, the firmware has never been changed or upgraded on these machines - meaning the bug must be inherent to the 4PC1LE04 firmware.

 

Larger Problem:

I have about 16 of these circulating in my company, many of which belong to key employees. If the 4PC1LE04 firmware is truly buggy, then all these users are at risk. There is no firmware upgrade path available, either. So how do I get this bug into the hands of Lenovo for a potential fix?

 

I am happy to verify every troubleshooting step I've taken and I'm open to suggestions for further diagnosing this problem. Any advice or help would be greatly appreciated! Again, I am NOT running the 4PC10362 firmware, which is already known to contain this bug. Instead I am running the most up to date firmware, straight from the factory, 4PC1LE04. Obviously I've already lost the data for one user... I do not want to lose data for 15 more. Thanks for your help.

 

Other Notes:

The user who handed this machine off to me said that sometimes he does shutdown improperly by holding the power button, and that the laptop does die by running down the battery on occasion. I am making note of this because in the older firmware it was hinted that the bug might be triggered by unexpected power loss. Perhaps that is also the case on the current firmware?

 

Edits: Photos

 

1) Intel Firmware Update Utility

 

Link to picture

 

2) Lenovo Firmware Update Utility

 

Link to picture

 

3) GParted (confirms 8MB partition)

 

Link to picture

 

Moderator note; picture(s) totalling >50K converted to link(s) Forum Rules

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tripplec
Posts: 1,472
Registered: ‎03-08-2012
Location: Toronto, Ontario Canada
0

Re: T420 SSD 8MB Error on *Current* 4PC1LE04 Firmware. Help / Advice / Report Bug.

I can't help but call Lenovo since they're likely the only people who may or should have the answer. Unless its an outright failure of the SSD.

 

I have a friend who had a 1 year old OCZ Vertex 2 drive which would not boot. Crashed each time. Took a look at it an put in my HP dual SATA supported notebook. I could see it but do very little. Access on the bus stopped after a few seconds and hung the entire notebook. Really problematic. It appears to have been a SSD controller or other internal SSD component failure. On a bad/going bad HD I can almost always get in and get data off. But when an SSD says NO by golly its full stop you're SOL. I had considered on as prices are coming down but don't need the quick start that much. Solid state should be reliable but clearly the technology may be not for prime time on mission critical system. Get image backups while you can it that did not hit you yet.

T520 Model 4239 Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-2860QM CPU @ 2.50GHz
Intel Sandy Bridge & Nvidia NVS 4200M graphics Intel N 6300 Wi-Fi adapter
Windows 7 Home Prem - 64bit w/8GB DDR3
SFR
Blue Screen Again
SFR
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎03-28-2012
Location: USA
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Re: T420 SSD 8MB Error on *Current* 4PC1LE04 Firmware. Help / Advice / Report Bug.

[ Edited ]

Thanks for your response tripplec. I agree, when an SSD says NO, it generally means it. The data on this drive is completely gone, I have no question there.

 

I am not sold on the drive being faulty (physically) just yet though. There was a previous firmware version that caused this issue. The fix was to secure wipe the drive and then repartition / install the OS. After that, the drive would work fine again until the firmware bug caused the issue again. The bug itself would force the partition size down to 8 megs and render all data unreadable in the process. Whoops. It also would lose the drives serial number, putting BAD_CTX in the serial number field.

 

So now here I am, with the "fixed" firmware version but having the exact same issue on the exact same drive. The partition is decreased to 8MB and BAD_CTX is showing up in the serial number field. If the SSD is just outright bad, I would likely have issues detecting it and using utilities like GParted... If it the drive is dying, I don't see how or why it would shrink the partition to 8 megs. I've seen a lot of drives die in my day, some in spectacular fashion, but never have they changed the logical properties of the drive such as partition size...... It would seem to me that this could go beyond hardware failure. As a previous firmware version was a known culprit of this seemingly exact issue, I'm stuck thinking that perhaps it didn't get entirely fixed and is still an issue.

 

I have yet to do so, but I'm betting that if I secure wipe the drive and start over that the drive will work just fine. At which point I can put it through every HDD test on the planet to confirm if it's failing or not. That is my next step, but I need to do a bit more analysis before I do that. If it turns out that there is a bug in this firmware then it needs to be addressed. Thousands of people depend on this firmware, and if it is capable of completely wiping the drive due to a bug, then that is quite serious. They released a firmware update before for that very reason.

 

At the same time, maybe the drive is truly just dying. That is what I plan to test next - but my hopes aren't high. If that is all it is, then I'll be very happy.

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tripplec
Posts: 1,472
Registered: ‎03-08-2012
Location: Toronto, Ontario Canada
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Re: T420 SSD 8MB Error on *Current* 4PC1LE04 Firmware. Help / Advice / Report Bug.

If its an Intel SSD SATA then try calling Intel support for guidance on fixing it. Popping it into an external chassis may be required depending on the firmware program. I know you said the update said its up to date but if not and you want to rewrite it there maybe a software switch to force reloading it. If its mSATA that a different issue though. Without the notebook boot I can only see a ISO for a bootable CD or boot USB if that can be created.

 

I would talk to Intel and not wait for Lenovo here. Good luck though some bug eh.... LOL

T520 Model 4239 Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-2860QM CPU @ 2.50GHz
Intel Sandy Bridge & Nvidia NVS 4200M graphics Intel N 6300 Wi-Fi adapter
Windows 7 Home Prem - 64bit w/8GB DDR3
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JDay
Posts: 999
Registered: ‎01-06-2011
Location: Sacramento, CA
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Re: T420 SSD 8MB Error on *Current* 4PC1LE04 Firmware. Help / Advice / Report Bug.

[ Edited ]

tripplec wrote:

If its an Intel SSD SATA then try calling Intel support for guidance on fixing it. Popping it into an external chassis may be required depending on the firmware program. I know you said the update said its up to date but if not and you want to rewrite it there maybe a software switch to force reloading it. If its mSATA that a different issue though. Without the notebook boot I can only see a ISO for a bootable CD or boot USB if that can be created.

 

I would talk to Intel and not wait for Lenovo here. Good luck though some bug eh.... LOL


Intel will have him contact Lenovo since it's an OEM drive. This is the famous Intel 320 Series SSD 8MB bug, flashing the latest firmware should fix this. You might need to stick the drive into a desktop system to flash the firmware since SSD flashing utils do not usually recognize the drive if it is in the primary bay.

 

EDIT: And use the tool off Intel's site.

 

http://www.intel.com/support/go/ssdfirmware/index.htm

Bit Torrent
tripplec
Posts: 1,472
Registered: ‎03-08-2012
Location: Toronto, Ontario Canada
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Re: T420 SSD 8MB Error on *Current* 4PC1LE04 Firmware. Help / Advice / Report Bug.

I suspected as much, that it would have to be moved but wasn't sure if it could be done via USB enclosure. Does he have desktop? One reason I have 3 and several notebooks. When I am tasked with repairing a system at home I need at least one good working machine to assist in getting files and/or moving data about. Yes I know I am not normal but the moment you throw it out you end up kicking yourself.
Lenovo service depot should fix it doing the patching IMO.
T520 Model 4239 Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-2860QM CPU @ 2.50GHz
Intel Sandy Bridge & Nvidia NVS 4200M graphics Intel N 6300 Wi-Fi adapter
Windows 7 Home Prem - 64bit w/8GB DDR3
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tripplec
Posts: 1,472
Registered: ‎03-08-2012
Location: Toronto, Ontario Canada
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Re: T420 SSD 8MB Error on *Current* 4PC1LE04 Firmware. Help / Advice / Report Bug.

Thats some bug. Data held hostage or on the verge of total loss. He's got 16 of these waiting to bow out and go down then. The firmware should be able to be updated with loosing data IMO. If all the data is on these and there isn't another drive in those notebooks. The users better transfer their files to an external drive while its running. He will also likely have to get his hands on each on and take an image backup to rebuild the drive later.

 

SSD or standard HD (speed or reliability)? I am nearly always the later taking what speed I can but biased toward the known reliability. Although its nice to see a system come up quick. The time you blink and its all gone is not worth the time saved nor the extra cost and lower capacity.

T520 Model 4239 Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-2860QM CPU @ 2.50GHz
Intel Sandy Bridge & Nvidia NVS 4200M graphics Intel N 6300 Wi-Fi adapter
Windows 7 Home Prem - 64bit w/8GB DDR3
SFR
Blue Screen Again
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Posts: 5
Registered: ‎03-28-2012
Location: USA
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Re: T420 SSD 8MB Error on *Current* 4PC1LE04 Firmware. Help / Advice / Report Bug.

JDay,

 

Thanks for the reply. You're entirely right - I tried talking with Intel but they pretty much blew me off, telling me to contact Lenovo. Mostly because they cannot verify OEM firmware versions. When I gave the Intel tech my firmware version he had no idea what it meant because Lenovo uses a different naming convention.

 

The problem with flashing to the latest firmware is that the drive is ALREADY on the latest firmware. I have downloaded the latest firmware from the Lenovo support site and tried to install it, but it won't let me because I am already up to date. I also called Lenovo to confirm that I have the latest firmware, and I do. When I boot to the Firmware Update Utility (from Lenovo) it does dectect the SSD drive - it just says that the firmware is already up to date on it. The same thing happens when I use the Intel updater. Both of them detect the SSD and both of them tell me I am current. I will try moving the drive to a PC, simply because I have nothing better to do, but I am 99.9% certain that I am already on the latest firmware.

 

This tells me that the bug is still present in the latest firmware.... On the intel discussion forums, I am not alone in this beliefe. Several users over there have re-experienced the bug on the latest firmware, and these people aren't even Lenovo customers.

SFR
Blue Screen Again
SFR
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎03-28-2012
Location: USA
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Re: T420 SSD 8MB Error on *Current* 4PC1LE04 Firmware. Help / Advice / Report Bug.

[ Edited ]

Tripplec:

 

Yep, I have plenty of desktops to try the firmware update with, so I'll give that a shot since it's worth a try. You're correct in saying that the firmware updater won't work for USB attached devices. It has to be internal. Fortunately I have an entire lab at my disposal to experiment solutions.

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tripplec
Posts: 1,472
Registered: ‎03-08-2012
Location: Toronto, Ontario Canada
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Re: T420 SSD 8MB Error on *Current* 4PC1LE04 Firmware. Help / Advice / Report Bug.

[ Edited ]

Ok, that makes it clearer as to why I  saw the screen shot indicating you have the latest firmware. Most of those updaters are programed not to allow reflashing  when its already detecting the same version. I don't understand why not because a bad dowload or flash is alway possible.

 

It sound like your IT people in the decision position have to make a choice. Ride it out and hope nothing happens to the others or covert back to the OEM mechanic drives and rest easy. Then redeploy when a know solution is found. The downtime in imaging a standard drive is short via eSATA port  or in a desktop and popping them back into the notebook. I doubt anyone will sleep well if they realize ther notebook could cease to function at a moments notice. Thing is you or they don't know what triggered the situation. But you do know it happened. LOL but what of the others when will they loose the users data?

 

If it were me I'd be proactive and lay it on the table and let them decide the course of action with the options in hand. If they decline or a higher authority decides to leave thing as they are. Well, you're in the clear but put it in an email so you have proof of the communication and alert having taken place. Thats what I would do.

T520 Model 4239 Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-2860QM CPU @ 2.50GHz
Intel Sandy Bridge & Nvidia NVS 4200M graphics Intel N 6300 Wi-Fi adapter
Windows 7 Home Prem - 64bit w/8GB DDR3