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Old 10-29-2013, 01:28 AM   #1
ciper
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Drive incompatibility and a working solution (Solid Grey Screen at boot)

Over the years I've always toyed with the idea of using an SSD in my Tivo for faster responses. Having 50+ season passes and 2tb of drive space since 2008 the menus were slow and reordering season passes was murder.
http://www.tivocommunity.com/tivo-vb...d.php?t=412679

I tried a regular SSD in my TivoHD (160gb originally) and it would show the Tivo logo for 5-10 seconds then go to a solid grey screen.

Eventually Seagate came out with a really cool hybrid laptop drive. It had 4-8gb of SSD on board and came in 500-750-1tb flavors. At the block level it would monitor which portions of the drive were read most and automatically copy those into the SSD totally transparent to the OS (no drivers or OS requirements). I tried one of those in 2011 and also got the grey screen.
http://www.tivocommunity.com/tivo-vb...d.php?t=495978

Fast forward to today and I received a desktop 2tb hybrid. It is 7200 rpm with 64mb of cache and 8gb of SSD.
http://www.seagate.com/internal-hard...-hybrid-drive/
This drive also had the solid grey screen of death.

Now I'm thinking, why the hell does the Tivo dislike any SSD or partial SSD. I was about to give up when I remembered I had bought something as a Tivo project that never came to be. It was a two drive external raid enclosure with an ESATA port. This enclosure supported JBOD mode. My original plan was to have a small SSD (say 80gb) and a 1tb drive configured in JBOD mode as the A-drive in the Tivo (with another 1tb B drive). This would mean the first 80gb of the drive was super fast and the rest was normal.

Since this enclosure works as a SATA to SATA bridge I thought it could "translate" away the incompatibility. I was right and the Tivo booted right away. It's interesting to watch the hard drive activity LED while going through guided setup. I plan to remove the circuit and mount it inside the Tivo. It was originally powered by a 2 amp five volt adapter and I'm sure most of that was to run the motors in the two laptop drives. I will power this board from the Tivo internal power supply so I don't need this extra wall wart.

This image shows the drive connected and the format LEDs lit Excuse the graininess as I was the dark.

I plan to buy an esata to regular sata cable but for now I had to improvise. The connection goes: port 1 on the motherboard - the original Tivo esata port - esata cable - enclosure board - sata cable - hybrid drive.
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Old 10-29-2013, 01:33 AM   #2
ciper
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Oh thanks to Unitron for the ideas. I don't remember the thread specifically but I got the general idea from him.

Surprisingly having the THD live streaming two HD channels and watching a third HD show doesn't have as much HD light activity as database work, like forcing a connection to Tivo.

Edit: The enclosure electronics I scavenged are from the BYTECC BT-M260U3F http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16817145097

So I just tuned the Tivo to channel 0 and channel 1 (I don't get either) while it was doing the "Loading info" portion of the daily call and the hard drive light is still brighter than recording two HD shows while watching a third. I can see why even a slow as hell hard drive is fast enough for the Tivo normally.

Last edited by ciper : 10-29-2013 at 01:52 AM.
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Old 10-29-2013, 06:56 AM   #3
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Okay, the S3 HD has a SATA "jack" on the motherboard where the internal drive usually connects, and another one that's usually plugged into by the regular SATA end of the "SATA on one end, eSATA on the other" adapter used as the eSATA jack that mounts to the rear panel of the chassis so as to be externally accessible.

Did you move the SATA plug end of that adapter to the SATA "jack" usually used by the internal drive and leave the SATA "jack" intended for external drives not connected to anything?
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Old 10-29-2013, 08:05 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ciper View Post
Surprisingly having the THD live streaming two HD channels and watching a third HD show doesn't have as much HD light activity as database work, like forcing a connection to Tivo.
...
So I just tuned the Tivo to channel 0 and channel 1 (I don't get either) while it was doing the "Loading info" portion of the daily call and the hard drive light is still brighter than recording two HD shows while watching a third. I can see why even a slow as hell hard drive is fast enough for the Tivo normally.
I found similar behavior when deciding whether it was worth the trouble to 4k-align the AF 2tb drives. The AF drives have no problem with performance even with non-4k aligned filesystems as long as you are doing sequential writes or any type of reads. The reason being the caching algorithms allow all the operations to take place with single rotation through pre-reading of adjacent blocks.

The scenario where they have performance issues is when you have random writes.

Anyway I noticed some slight delays in certain TiVo operations mostly during connects to the mother ship and indexing operations. Otherwise the performance was about the same as non-AF drive.

My conclusion was it wasn't worth spending the effort to 4k-align the TiVo partitions when the only disk activity where I'd notice the slight half second delays would be during the time of mother ship connections.

Unitron told me from the beginning not to worry about 4k alignment because many people were using these drives without issue, but I wanted to test different scenarios to understand the disk activity better.

Last edited by sfhub : 10-29-2013 at 08:10 AM.
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Old 10-29-2013, 08:54 PM   #5
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I found similar behavior when deciding whether it was worth the trouble to 4k-align the AF 2tb drives. The AF drives have no problem with performance even with non-4k aligned filesystems as long as you are doing sequential writes or any type of reads. The reason being the caching algorithms allow all the operations to take place with single rotation through pre-reading of adjacent blocks.

The scenario where they have performance issues is when you have random writes.

Anyway I noticed some slight delays in certain TiVo operations mostly during connects to the mother ship and indexing operations. Otherwise the performance was about the same as non-AF drive.

My conclusion was it wasn't worth spending the effort to 4k-align the TiVo partitions when the only disk activity where I'd notice the slight half second delays would be during the time of mother ship connections.

Unitron told me from the beginning not to worry about 4k alignment because many people were using these drives without issue, but I wanted to test different scenarios to understand the disk activity better.
I would never criticize anyone for wanting to learn, but sometimes you need to say "This works well enough, and life's too short".
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Old 10-29-2013, 08:56 PM   #6
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And speaking of the gray screen, for future searchers, when one follows the initial welcome screen, it's usually a sign of imperfect communication between the motherboard and the drive, rather than a complete failure of the board to find a drive to begin with.
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Old 10-29-2013, 10:06 PM   #7
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I would never criticize anyone for wanting to learn, but sometimes you need to say "This works well enough, and life's too short".
There are many situations where "it works" is not detailed enough for my satisfaction.

If the information provided was more detailed I could accept it without further investigation.

Also I never criticize people for verifying things themselves. Sometimes some of the more significant findings come from people who question the established thinking and even if they just reconfirm existing findings sometimes they provide more details that will save someone else time.
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