View Full Version : random freezes with Tempo ATA100

Leif Strand
05-03-2002, 09:55 PM
In mid-March I purchased a Sonnet Tempo ATA100, an 80GB IDE Barracuda, an XLR8 MACh Carrier G3 (500 MHz -- 10x -- 1MB 250 MHz cache), and some VRAM from MacGurus. I also purchased a Sonnet Tango USB/Firewire card from MacConnection. Ever since then, I've been experiencing random freezes during heavy disk I/O. Usually the system freezes while converting AIFF files to MP3 (or vice-versa) in SoundJam MP Plus 2.5.1, but anything disk-intensive will do the trick (the system freezed in Find File once).

Initially, my system configuration was as follows:

Power Macintosh 8500/180
XLR8 MACh Carrier G3 processor daughtercard
L2 cache removed (as per XLR8 instructions)
Slot A1: Sonnet Tempo ATA100
Slot B1: Sonnet Tango USB/Firewire
Slot C1: Farallon Fast EtherTX-10/100
80GB IDE Segate Barracuda
empty internal SCSI bus
Mac OS 8.1

At first, I suspected the Sonnet Tempo ATA100, since the freezes were always during heavy disk I/O. I upgraded the card's firmware to the latest version (2.2.3) using the installer from Sonnet's website; but that didn't fix the problem.

Then, I suspected the XLR8 MACh Carrier G3 card. So I removed it, disabled the XLR8 extension, and replaced the original 604e processor. But the freezes still occurred.

Now, I have replaced the XLR8 card, and removed all the PCI cards except for the Tempo ATA100. The freezes are still occurring, so now I'm blaming the Sonnet Tempo ATA100 once again, since it is the only relevant constant. To summarize, right now the only new things about my system are:

XLR8 MACh Carrier G3 processor daughtercard
4MB VRAM (was 2MB)
L2 cache removed
Slot A1: Sonnet Tempo ATA100
80GB IDE Segate Barracuda
empty internal SCSI bus (I used to have a pair of internal SCSI drives before installing the Barracuda)

I suppose I could remove the XLR8 card once more, to remove any shadow of a doubt that the processor is involved, but it seems rather pointless.

When a freeze occurs, the mouse pointer still moves, but the GUI is unresponsive to mouse clicks. Command-Option-Esc brings up the "force quit" alert box, but the "Force Quit" button does nothing, i.e., the "Force Quit" button remains highlighted and nothing happens. I can press Command-Option-Esc again, and a new "force quit" alert will be drawn on top of the old one, but it again does nothing. Here's where it gets interesting: breaking into MacsBug with Command-Power, I find that the system is stuck in the same tight 68K loop every single time:

0014FCD2 TST.L $0008(A0)
0014FCD6 BNE.S -$0004 ; 0014FCD2

I'm pretty sure an I/O operation is in progress at this point. Unfortunately, the MacsBug "sc" command can't give me a call stack in SoundJam, but when "sc" _has_ worked (in other apps), it always indicates that a Mac OS File Manager routine is being called. I read somewhere that MultiFinder/PM can't switch out a process while an I/O operation is in progress, which would explain why the current app can't be killed. My own shot-in-the-dark crack-pot theory is that this has something to do with interrupts, but obviously I can't know.

Also, sometimes when an alert or modal dialog box comes up, the mouse button doesn't work (!!!). I have to use Return or Command-Period to get rid of the dialog. However, I think this has to do with XLR8's "thermal monitoring", as turning this off seems to have eliminated the problem. It just happened again today, but that was within two minutes after rebooting, when thermal monitoring would have still been enabled. (There are so many variables, is so hard to know anything for certain.)

Anyway, any help that anyone could give would be greatly appreciated. I'm considering contacting Sonnet tech support as well, but I've found that tech support departments everywhere seem to take that attitude that their product is flawless, and make random suggestions like, "try moving the card to a different slot." :-(

--Leif Strand

05-03-2002, 11:42 PM
With out thinking to much - the best thing thing you should do is add more RAM.


05-04-2002, 12:38 AM
Try this if you haven't already. Enable Write-through. This checkbox option can be accessed by holding down the option key when selecting the "Advanced" tab in the XLR8 control panel for earlier versions, but the checkbox may be visible in later versions without the necessity of the option key when selecting the Advanced tab. See what enabling Write-through does for your freeze problem.

Randy is right on, you need more RAM and disable Virtual Memory. That also could be part of the problem during heavy I/O. k

[This message has been edited by kaye (edited 04 May 2002).]

Leif Strand
05-04-2002, 01:19 AM
Write-through is already enabled in the XLR8 control panel. (It was enabled by default.) And again, the freezing happens with the original 604e processor installed, which eliminates the XLR8 card as a variable, in my view.

Virtual memory is disabled; always has been.

I have more than enough RAM. Keep in mind that this is an 8.1 system, not a Mac OS X system :-) Right now, I have 64MB free, even with 9 apps running (including Internet Explorer). I've run this system without trouble for _years_ with 160MB of RAM. (I upgraded from the stock 32MB to 160MB in March of '99.) It is only after adding the ATA drive/card in March that the freezing started. Plus, my beige G3/233 minitower also has 160MB of RAM. It is also running Mac OS 8.1. Right now, it has 15 apps running with 50MB free. It shipped with an IDE drive. It doesn't freeze. I can't remember the last time I rebooted it. I should expect differently from my upgraded 8500? I need more RAM because I'm using IDE instead of SCSI? Because I have a faster processor???

Which brings me to a related question. Assume for the moment that there is a bug in the Sonnet ATA card. What other options do I have? Does anyone else make ATA cards for the Power Mac 8500? Can I install an ATA controller advertised/designed for a Windows PC and expect it to work?


Brian Higgins
05-04-2002, 07:53 PM

Some months back I experienced a similar problem. My system is a PTP Pro, 500MHz G3, IDE drive, Sonnet TA card, 400+ Mb memory. The crash was so bad that I could no start it on reboot. I thought I had fried something. Anyway after much hazzles, of pulling out drives processors etc, I eventually traced the problem to my USB card. I cannot recall what make it was but it was not Sonnet. After I pulled out the USB card the system rebooted immediately and worked as before. Some weeks later I thought perhaps the USB card was OK and I had been imagining things, so I put the card back in. I got the same major freeze soon thereafter. After that I chucked the card away and do not have a USB card in my computer and have never had some a freeze again. I have now upgraded to OSX

05-05-2002, 07:49 AM
Most USB devices state "8.6+" for system requirement, don't they? Getting USB with 8.1 would be iffy, but OS X or 9.1+ should be fine.

There is an article in the Apple Dev section on how some self-powered USB can affect SDRAM on a cold boot. They wouldn't have tested earlier DRAM and especially not with USB, but seems like there might be potential for mischief.

And then older FW/USB cards, Tango and others, would lose USB support under OS X. Not sure if later OS X versions or newer combo cards were the solution. I have a FW only PC card that works fine in OS X on Beige but not under OS 9. Plus the XLR8 Dual Port USB ( which doesn't seem to be available anymore, and using a precious PCI slot for just USB or FW is hard to justify).


Leif Strand
05-06-2002, 12:11 PM
From my original post:

"[I] removed all the PCI cards except for the Tempo ATA100"

The Tango USB/Firewire card is no longer in my system, and I still get the freezes, so USB is not relevant here. I was rebooting into Mac OS 9 to use the USB card (for printing to my new ink jet). It is true that I cannot use the Tango card under Mac OS 8.1, but I figured that the card wouldn't cause any trouble just sitting in a PCI slot without a driver. And again, removing it did not fix the problem.

I am focusing on the Tempo ATA100 as the source of the problem here. On Friday or Saturday, I used the "Tempo AV Tool" to slow down the ATA card, thinking that bus speed limitations might be an issue here, even though use of the "Tempo AV Tool" is not indicated by the problem I have. I set it to the "Video Playback" setting. But the system froze in SoundJam again this morning. I may write Sonnet tech support today.

Again, what other options do I have for ATA cards?


05-07-2002, 01:05 AM
Other cards are available. Acard and SIIG come to mind, but there are others. Several threads here at the Gurus lately about the Pros/Cons of both SIIG and Acard; it gets a bit complicated, because Acard has made some (but not all) of the Cards that have been sold under various brands, including Sonnet. You can also check xlr8yourmac.com for lots of user reviews, or check out barefeats.com for benchmarking and tech comparisons.

For what it is worth, I have a SIIG 100/133 card in a BW 350 that has been flawless, painless, and fast. Sounds like you need to talk to Sonnet techsupport 1st. Good luck.

05-15-2002, 07:25 AM
I recently went through a major upgrade (and headache) with my 7600. I got the Sonnet ATA 100 after I returned my new SIIG ATA 133 card. I also got a new 60 gig maxtor IDE drive plus a Sony internal ide 24x CDRW. I was running 8.6 but through the mess I (wisely) decided to upgrade to 9.1. (Partly becasue I got a used Mac with 8.6 already installed and no install disk of my own)

I have learned: That 9.1 is really a pretty good OS. I look at all the upgrades that you have done and I wonder why you might limit yourself with your choice of OS? I mean no offense by that, only that I was loath to modernize my OS. For some odd reason I was just stuck in older, smaller, etc, was better. Silly moi. When going for speed and modernizing an older Mac, why not give it the most recent OS you can? (9.2 can be hacked on to this older system but that was just too many more headaches than I already had at the time)

To be fair, I heard lots about how the 8.6 system was just as good, etc. And perhaps it is. But, I kept coming across software that said it need version 9 and above (Palms latest desktop). SO my point is, yes, you can make do with 8.1, or 8.6, but, if you are putting the bucks into such a major upgrade, why not treat your self to SHerlock2 as well?

The SIIG card had pretty bad customer support. And, it came with a bad cable as it turns out. I still don't know exactly what caused it but I had major file damage that even Disk Warrior couldn't pull me out of. Overlapped files were everywhere. In the end I did loose all my email archives, which was not good, but at least I kept everything else.

For some reason that I can not explain, the SIIG card had lower benchmark figures than the Sonnet does, but, the Sonnet feels less zippy than the SIIG did.


Leif Strand
05-15-2002, 01:26 PM
Well, I contacted Sonnet tech support. An engineer who allegedly wrote the firmware for the Tempo said the problem was obviously interrupt-related, which is what I thought all along. But then things quickly fell into the usual pattern of blaming everything and everything but their product. "Try iTunes instead of SoundJam." "Try a different IDE drive." "Try disconnecting the internal SCSI devices." "Try Mac OS 9." Anything but just admit there might be a bug in the Tempo, and attack the problem from that angle.

Eventually the file system on the Barracuda became corrupted from all the freezing during disk I/O, and I got fed up. I decided to write the Tempo card off as a loss. After all, I spend enough time each day trying to find the bugs in our own product (at the software company I work for); I don't have time to beta-test someone else's product.

So I removed the Tempo and its attached Barracuda from my 8500, and replaced my original SCSI drives and my other PCI cards. Naturally, the freezing problem went away. Since I still need a bigger and faster drive, I ordered a Miles 2 board and an LVD SCSI drive from MacGurus. I'm going to put the Barracuda in my G3 minitower, which has a built-in IDE interface. And I'm going to forget the Tempo ever existed.

Regarding my choice to use Mac OS 8.1, instead of later versions: Mac OS 8.5 was the first version of Mac OS in which Apple started to seriously monkey with the user interface in ways which, to my knowledge, cannot be undone. In later versions of Mac OS, the menus stick, the icon titles are translucent, aliases have that annoying Windoze-like arrow on them, there is that annoying "grip" next to the application menu (I keep catching that grip by accident when I want to switch apps). At least in Mac OS 8.1, I can run Teflon/Nolfet to make the menus not stick, and run Kaleidoscope to revert to the System 7 look (eliminating the yucky platinum appearance) so that my Mac looks and feels like a Mac. (Kaleidoscope does work on later versions of Mac OS, but Teflon/Nolfet does not.) Don't even get me started on Aqua. Plus, Mac OS 9 seems slower than Mac OS 8 on my 8500 -- especially while the Finder is starting up. I'm sure people have stuff to say about this, but I'm not interested in alternative viewpoints to my own. :-)

It is true that my ability to run new apps becomes more and more limited as time goes on. This is especially frustrating considering that it only takes a modicum of effort to support older versions of Mac OS. Witness Internet Explorer 5.0, the minimum requirement of which is System 7.6.1!!! (Explorer 5.1 bumped this up to 8.1.) Oddly, shareware authors tend to be the worst offenders in this area.

Anyway, thanks for the effort, everyone.


[This message has been edited by Leif Strand (edited 15 May 2002).]

05-16-2002, 01:33 AM

From a programmers point of view, I disagree. To support older versions of Mac OS requires writing multiple versions of various routines and additional routines to decide which routines to use. Mac OS 8 introduced the Gestalt system, making it a little easier to determine what routines might be available, but separate routines would still be needed to drop support of current superior routines and compensate for their absence. To support 7.6 and earlier requires even more routines to replace the missing Gestalt manager just to discover what needs to be supported and what features to disable.

Leif Strand
05-16-2002, 02:33 AM
lasvegas wrote:
> Mac OS 8 introduced the Gestalt system

The Gestalt Manager was introduced in System 7. (See _Inside Macintosh_, Volume VI, p. 3-28.) It predates the PowerPC. Anyone who writes Mac software for a living would know this. However, a total amateur who only writes Mac software as a hobby might not know this.

Gee, the knowledge and expertise of the people in the Gurus forums is really impressive. (Sarcasm.)

"Classic" Mac OS has not changed dramatically since System 7.1.x (the first PowerPC system software). End of story.


05-17-2002, 12:58 AM

Your sarcasm is noted, but don't jump to conclusions simply because an experienced programmer makes a mistake. If you do more than write Basic, then you would know that everything I posted was accurate other than the mistake you so aptly pointed out. I've been writing software since the early 80's and began writing Mac software under System 5. Yes. I also wrote software for various versions of System 7 and Gestalt wasn't quite ready for primetime so many tricks were needed to figure out what was and wasn't supported.

"Classic" Mac OS has, as a mater of fact changed tremendously with every major upgrade. Almost every transition broke all sorts of old software. Personally, I don't remember any severe problems switching from 8.0 to 8.1 (mostly cleanup) and 9.0 to 9.1.

Did I take offense to your insulting post? You bet I did! Isn't that what you intended?

[This message has been edited by lasvegas (edited 17 May 2002).]

05-17-2002, 12:49 PM
Leif, did you get contact info for that firmware programmer at Sonnet? The reason I ask is that the Tango card supposedly contains a firmware fix for a bug in the PM6400 implementation regarding PCI-PCI Bridges. However, there is also a similar bug in the x500/x600 machines that I would like to bring to his attention. I tried going through Sonnet tech support but the public contact drone I got decided I was talking about the G4/six slot bug and I couldn't get through his noggin that this is a separate problem.

Leif Strand
05-17-2002, 03:12 PM
> did you get contact info for that firmware programmer at Sonnet?

Sadly, no. All my interaction with the engineer was filtered through Neal in tech support. (And I don't even have his personal e-mail; all correspondence was through support@sonnettech.com and whatever e-mail filtering system they have going.)