LiteOn 48125W and HDD access

Apologies in advance for any ignorance on my part - I’m by no means an expert.

I wonder if anyone has come across this problem before? For the past couple of weeks I’ve noticed the HDD access light on my system is flickering constantly when the PC is idle, once every second. It’s starting to annoy me - I can detect a momentary change in the note of the cooling fans as it occurs, and System Monitor shows a spike in activity every time too. Having investigated, my LiteOn 48125W CD burner seems to be generating this - if I give it a CD to read, when it’s finished the initial access, the HDD accesses finally stop - to start immediately again once the CD is ejected. A by-product of this constant accessing is that my system is never “idle” so System Restore does not automatically make checkpoints any more. Oddly, this all started 3 weeks after the Liteon drive was added to the system, not straight away (going by the date the System Restore activities stopped). This part I discovered by chance and I admit it was a while before I properly noticed the momentary faint flickers of the HDD light, though the audible change on the fan had been bugging me for some time.

I’ve heard of something similar happening with LiteOn DVD-ROM drives, but not with the CD burners.

My system is based on a 1GHz Athlon, Asus A7V (the original A7V) motherboard running Windows ME. The HDD is a Maxtor 5T030H3 (30Gb DiamondMax 60 Plus) on the primary master (via the onboard Promise controller), with the LiteOn as master on the secondary (non-Promise) IDE, with a Pioneer DVD-ROM slaved to this. If it’s relevant, the power supply is a 250W though the system builders have always insisted it’s good enough, and the LiteOn is an upgrade to the original (slow, non burnproof) CD-RW drive, not an additional drive where one wasn’t originally fitted.

This is bothering me more since yesterday, for the first time in the system’s 20-month life, a sudden shutdown occurred followed by an apparent HDD controller failure, though it subsequently behaved normally after restarting again. So I’m wondering whether this LiteOn-connected flicker is either just a symptom of forthcoming doom, or something which is contributing to a potential failure with its constant wear and tear on the system. Whatever the case, it doesn’t seem an ideal situation.

Thanks in advance for any advice.

The fact that the fan noise changes pitch each time the LED blinks tells me the PSU may be on its way out. Your system running for 20 months on a 250 watt PSU = struggling. 300/350 watt dual fan PSU’s are cheap enough now so it may be worth the upgrade now before real disaster strikes.

As for the LED flashing anyway, just check that DMA is enabled for the CDRW drive. If it is running in PIO mode the CPU is responsible for all IO for the drive and can cause this. It can be one of the causes of this effect on DVDrom drives.

@HelenS

I take it when you say that the burner is attached to a non Promise IDE controller, you are still referring to the onboard ide, not a separate controller? From memory your motherboard has the standard UDMA 100 hdd controller.

I prefer to connect the DVD Rom and burner on seperate ide’s. The best set up for me is the DVD Rom on the primary ide as the slave, and the Liteon on the secondary ide as master.

How much sdram are you running? Constant hdd access is often a sympton of too little ram. I run 512Mb with win XP.

I hope this helps.

I missed the bit about the Promise controller. The setup you describe means you have nothing on the main onboard primary IDE port. Fit the DVD drive as master on the primary (non-Promise) port leaving the CDRW as where it is. Not having anything on the standard primary port (assuming the port is enabled in the BIOS) can cause the system to keep seeking on that port looking for a non-existent drive, hence the HDD LED flashing.

I think that you re system has had it. I have the same liteOn in a P3 850 runing 2x20gig Maxtors on a 250psu and a CD rom. My sys is about 2.5 years old, the hd are faily new but the Cpu, PSU, and Mobo (abit BX6 Ver2) are the ancient things.

I think its just bad luck what happend to you, cos I have no problem with my sys… so far that is:bigsmile:

Thank you Mender and Jovo (and anyone else who’s replied whilst I’m typing this!) for the replies so far, which have given me extra points to consider. Gulp - flakey power supply sounds worryingly feasible, doesn’t it?

In answer to a couple of further queries put on the forum: the system came with 128 MB of SDRAM but I upgraded it at less than six months old to a total of 256 MB. There are 4 USB devices attached including 2 which are host powered (but presumably that doesn’t put too much extra load on the PSU?) - a dual format card reader and a Canon N650 scanner.

DMA is enabled on the LiteOn burner (and the Pioneer DVD-ROM) and both are reported by the BIOS as running in UDMA 2 mode.

This motherboard has a total of 4 IDE connectors, all physically “on board” but the first primary and secondary use an onboard Promise ATA 100 controller. The other two bypass this and are only UDMA 66 compatible. The optical drives are connected to one of this latter pair.

The PC in question isn’t in front of me so I’m now wondering exactly which of the UDMA 66 ports I have the CD-RW and DVD-ROM drives attached to - I know they are master and slave on the same one, which is as the machine was supplied - I swapped out the old, slow Samsung CDRW and popped the LiteOn in its place (yes, I did change the jumper of the LiteOn to master) - I also know that I disabled the other IDE of this pair in the BIOS over a year ago to dissuade the system from unnecessary hunting for non-existent devices. Actually I originally did this because of an intermittent characteristic of the system whereby it occasionally pauses on startup for about 15 seconds before detecting the drive on the Promise controller - of course this change didn’t help that, since I couldn’t find a way to disable the unoccupied secondary Promise IDE connector. This has always seemed a mysterious intermittent thing, but until yesterday there had never been a complaint from the system about it.

Until I check for sure on bootup tonight, I actually can’t be certain whether the BIOS refers to the IDE used for my two optical drives as Primary or Secondary - I seem to recall it treats the Promise-controlled one completely separately and lists it elsewhere. The internal layout of the case has prevented me from easily looking to see which physical connector they are plugged into. Basically, I’m hampered by a stereotypically female lack of technical hands-on experience with PCs - fitting the RAM and the CD burner were about as much stress as I could handle (though I went about it carefully and sensibly and it seemed to go OK). The drive cages obscure a direct view of the IDE connectors and as the LiteOn didn’t come with an IDE cable I decided the least risky route was simply to connect it to the one vacated by the Samsung drive. I am certain they are on one of the UDMA 66 ports, however (and it’s a 40 strand cable - the HDD is on an 80 strand, as it should be).

With apologies, a rather dense question for Mender: I’ve always been a bit cloudy on the rules of IDE due to all the conflicting evidence on the web: would the following be a better setup than what I have now, or is it not possible to use two primaries at once (told you I was ignorant!):

HDD on primary UltraATA 100 (Promise) IDE as Master (as it is now)
LiteOn CDRW on primary UDMA 66 as Master
Pioneer DVD-ROM on secondary UDMA 66 as Master

I remember that not long after getting the PC I did query the PC manufacturer about the use of a 250W PSU since I’d read 300W was a sensible minimum, but they rather robustly defended their choice, and as they’re quite reputable I backed down. Maybe I should suggest to them it might be needing a more powerful replacement fitting now (pathetic, I know, but fitting one is probably too much for me to risk and it still has 4 months on onsite warranty left anyway).

Thanks, and sorry this is so long. It takes a lot of words to describe what you’re not really sure of!

HDD on primary UltraATA 100 (Promise) IDE as Master (as it is now)
LiteOn CDRW on primary UDMA 66 as Master
Pioneer DVD-ROM on secondary UDMA 66 as Master

Ideal :slight_smile:

You can try and get them to change the PSU but they may maintain that 250 watts was sufficient for what they supplied and that by adding extra stuff, you are resposible for the PSU so they may not cover it under the warranty.

Originally posted by HelenS
[B] A by-product of this constant accessing is that my system is never “idle” so System Restore does not automatically make checkpoints any more.

though the audible change on the fan had been bugging me for some time. [/B]

I am not familiar with system restore in ME but in XP it only occurs when there is a change made to the system eg the installation of new software.

The fact that there is a change to the fan’s sound would indicate that there is a change in supply voltage. I am surprised because 250W should be enough. You could try changing the load by swapping the supply cables to the various devices eg if the cdrom and cdrw are being supplied on the same cable (ie in parallel), see if it is possible to split them by connecting one device to another cable from the PSU. Usually there are more than 2 sets of supply cables there. You may find an spare plug on the one that supplies the floppy disk drive. By doing this you may be able to alleviate the power demand.

If that fails it may be worth trying a new 300-350W PSU. I have seen PSU’s work perfectly with one motherboard and not even boot up with a different one.

Good luck!

Thanks everyone for all the suggestions - I will take a look inside the case tonight and check the cabling, connections and so on.

Though not the obvious first thing to try, factoring in my nervousness when handling the PC’s components, I’ve decided to pick up another CD-RW drive of similar spec to fit (since I know I can do that without too much worry) in the LiteOn’s place just in case the problem clears then - seemed a good way of checking and eliminating one aspect of the many possible causes. I’ve got the shop’s agreement that it goes back if it doesn’t solve the problem so hopefully nothing to lose by trying that.

It’ll probably turn out to be something more major than just the CD burner I suppose, like the power supply or the Promise controller/motherboard…sigh - but it will be educational to try another burner just to find out.

Do you have Autoinsert notification on for any of your CD-R/RW drives? On my notebooks the HD activity light blinks every second when Autoinsert notification is on. If you want to disable it, have a look at

http://www.annoyances.org/exec/show/article03-018

Just a thought…

Yes, thanks - I did disable the autoinsert notification on both optical drives, but the blinking HDD light continued, unfortunately.

Did you reboot once Autoinsert notification was disabled? (I’m not sure ME needs this, since I’m now on XP.) At least on notebooks, the HDD access light doesn’t show “real” disk access; it blinks every second when the OS is polling for a freshly inserted CD, and I can hear that my hard disk is parked, i.e., there is no HD activity. Are you sure the HD is really acessed in your case? You wrote that the light stops blinking once a CD is recognized… BTW, Nero Info Tool will show you the “real” status of Autorun.

Well, as threatened, here is what I found last night when trying a possible solution.

Firstly, the optical drives were indeed both attached, as master (CD burner) and slave (DVD player), to the SECONDARY UDMA 66 IDE port, with the hard drive on the PRIMARY of the other pair - the Promise-controlled UDMA 100 ports. For now, I’ve left the connections like that.

Auto-insert notification was still off for the CD burner, though it had been reset back to on for the DVD player at some point. Changing it to off and restarting didn’t stop the 1-second interval hard drive accesses.

I discovered that the Primary UDMA 66 IDE port was no longer disabled in the BIOS, but that was a late discovery at the end of the things I tried, so I don’t know if it would have affected the HDD accesses - probably not, in view of what else I found.

So, I had a “similar spec” CD burner from another manufacturer to try out as an experiment - an LG GCE-8480B, for the record. First of all I uninstalled the LiteOn’s Nero programs - and discovered that when InCD 3.27.something left the system, the HDD accesses stopped. If I reinstalled it, they were back again. I tried installing the LG’s 3.29 version (not the main Nero program since they are doubtless personalised to the specific drives) and interestingly, it gave HDD accesses at 2-second intervals instead of 1-second with the LiteOn!

Anyway, in went the LG and I fully expected that once InCD was installed, the HDD accesses would be back (seemed logical to assume this) - but they’re not! Normality has been restored, and speaking of that - Windows ME’s System Restore was instantly back to its usual functioning - once-a-day automatic “checkpoint” backup of the system, and checkpoints created when software is installed or uninstalled - I realise now that even the latter wasn’t happening whilst the constant HDD access problem was going on.

Of course, nothing’s ever perfect - the main annoyance with the LG is that its version of Nero lacks the “tweakability” of LiteOn’s - specifically, you can’t disable its version of Smartburn, which wouldn’t be a problem if it was capable of believing TDK 48x CD-Rs were actually safe to record at 48x - it insists on knocking them down to 32x! (This drive is technically a 48x16x48x if it would cooperate a bit more). Yet oddly, a 32x burn was completed quicker than a 48x burn on the LiteOn (and the LiteOn’s recording didn’t experience any buffer underruns). Odd. Another LG shortcoming compared with LiteOn is that despite having two LEDs, it doesn’t show when buffer underruns happen (though at least it stops me staring in fascination at the LED to see when they happen!!).

I’m starting to think, therefore, that it might have been one of those inexplicable incompatibilities that sometimes occur with PC’s - that an InCD initiated search of the LiteOn caused the LiteOn to do something which disturbed the HDD controller, somehow. Odd that it didn’t happen (assuming that the presence of System Restore checkpoints up to October 25, when the LiteOn was fitted on October 1 is a reliable indicator) at first, though. Obviously I need to keep an eye on this, and back up important data with one drive or the other in the meantime, in case it does turn out to be an ongoing HDD controller failure after all!

All this was found before I spotted that the unoccupied Primary UDMA 66 IDE was not disabled in the BIOS - disabling it did not change the situation - with the LG drive in place, the HDD 1-second accesses still no longer occur. I didn’t have time to put the LiteOn back in again to try it out - it was past midnight by then!

Thanks for all your help, any thoughts still much appreciated.

You should still put the DVD drive and CDRW drive on seperate cables. This gives you maximum bandwidth for each drive and will speed up “on the fly” cd copying. When copying files from the hard drive you should never have buffer underruns at all. Copying on the fly will give buffer underruns at higher speeds if the DVD drive reads slower than the CDRW drive is writing. It is usually faster if you reduce the burning speed so Smartburn doesn’t rear its head.

Originally posted by HelenS
Of course, nothing’s ever perfect - the main annoyance with the LG is that its version of Nero lacks the “tweakability” of LiteOn’s - specifically, you can’t disable its version of Smartburn, which wouldn’t be a problem if it was capable of believing TDK 48x CD-Rs were actually safe to record at 48x - it insists on knocking them down to 32x! (This drive is technically a 48x16x48x if it would cooperate a bit more). Yet oddly, a 32x burn was completed quicker than a 48x burn on the LiteOn (and the LiteOn’s recording didn’t experience any buffer underruns). Odd.

Then the “32x” shown on the Nero for LiteOn was not really 48x at all, but Max 32x at the most. Nero may not always report the true recording speed in real time.

I just installed this burner the past friday and I am now noticing the same symptoms as decsribed above.

My specs:

Enermax 565watt power supply
Asus P4PE with intel chipset drivers
UDMA enabled for All drives
CDrom (Lite-on 52x) and Burner (48x48x12) on secondary IDE bus, Burner as slave.

I am running WinXP pro SP1 with an Asus P4PE 845 board. This problem has never occured prior to installing the Lite-on burner, my previous burner being a HP. This is clearly an issue with the firmware of the drive, I would suspect that it is not Hard drive activty as I stopped every possible service and when I check perf monitor for Hard disk que lenght it is at zero during idle conditions. It is most likely the burner creating IDE bus activity for someone unknown reason. This issue should be presented in someway to the Lite-on folks as it is somewhat bothersome.

phobix:

Re-reading the previous posts, I’m beginning to think that indeed some strange symptoms depend on the version of InCD used, on whether Autoinsert Notification is on or off, on the burner’s firmware, and on the pecularities of IDE bus.

To get the latest InCD 3.51.61 to work at all, on 98SE some people must use Autoinsert Notification off while others use AN on (BTW, DMA on works with most burners); on W2K and XP it seems not to matter whether Autoplay is on or off.

Further, it’s not clear whether OEM versions of InCD (such as used by HelenS) are tuned for particular drives; anyway, it seems that the canned answer from Ahead to any problem reports is to upgrade to the latest version InCD.

I believe that the thread’s title is a misnomer: there is no HDD access, but the “HDD blinking light” only indicates activity of some IDE bus.

Now going back to your problem. Are you running Nero 5.5.9.17 and InCD 3.51.61? What is your burner’s model and firmware? What are the symptoms you are worried about? Have you tried changing Autoplay from on to off?

When I started on XP Pro, I tried using group policies to enable/disable Autorun, but this looked too complicated, so I ran the following autorun0.reg file to get Autorun off

REGEDIT4

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Cdrom]
“AutoRun”=dword:00000000

If you replace the final 0 by 1, you’ll get Autorun on. (Either create this four-line file and double click to run it, or edit the registry.)

Originally posted by KCK
[B]phobix:

Re-reading the previous posts, I’m beginning to think that indeed some strange symptoms depend on the version of InCD used, on whether Autoinsert Notification is on or off, on the burner’s firmware, and on the pecularities of IDE bus.

To get the latest InCD 3.51.61 to work at all, on 98SE some people must use Autoinsert Notification off while others use AN on (BTW, DMA on works with most burners); on W2K and XP it seems not to matter whether Autoplay is on or off.

Further, it’s not clear whether OEM versions of InCD (such as used by HelenS) are tuned for particular drives; anyway, it seems that the canned answer from Ahead to any problem reports is to upgrade to the latest version InCD.

I believe that the thread’s title is a misnomer: there is no HDD access, but the “HDD blinking light” only indicates activity of some IDE bus.

Now going back to your problem. Are you running Nero 5.5.9.17 and InCD 3.51.61? What is your burner’s model and firmware? What are the symptoms you are worried about? Have you tried changing Autoplay from on to off?

When I started on XP Pro, I tried using group policies to enable/disable Autorun, but this looked too complicated, so I ran the following autorun0.reg file to get Autorun off

REGEDIT4

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Cdrom]
“AutoRun”=dword:00000000

If you replace the final 0 by 1, you’ll get Autorun on. (Either create this four-line file and double click to run it, or edit the registry.) [/B]

Thanks for your reply…Well The funny thing is I do not even have Incd installed, I never use those DirectCD type programs and just burn using Nero. The nero version I am using is: 5.5.9.2. The drive itself is originally a 40125s which was subsequently flashed to 48125w version VS08. I have disabled autorun via the registry, I will reboot my machine and Let you know if the IDE LED activity light stops blinking. It is almost to a point where it flickers, very wierd, although I must say it does not seem like it adversly affects performance in anyway as my HDD benchmarks seem to be yielding the same results prior to this situation.

Originally posted by KCK
[B]phobix:

When I started on XP Pro, I tried using group policies to enable/disable Autorun, but this looked too complicated, so I ran the following autorun0.reg file to get Autorun off

REGEDIT4

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Cdrom]
“AutoRun”=dword:00000000

If you replace the final 0 by 1, you’ll get Autorun on. (Either create this four-line file and double click to run it, or edit the registry.) [/B]

Good advice KCK, thanks this registry change seems to have erridicated the problem completly…Thank you!

phobix:

Glad! Now Lite-Ons will become famous for giving extra light on IDE LEDs…:cool: