Soft beep when BIOS detect my drives?

Discussion in 'MSI' started by Ant, Jan 24, 2011.

  1. Ant

    Ant Guest


    Is it normal to hear a soft beep from a 2+ years old MSI P43 NEO3-F
    (MSI-7514) motherboard (latest BIOS) when it detects my two old PATA/IDE
    HDDs and a SATA Pioneer DVD burner drive? I am not talking about that
    normal PC speaker that when booting up a PC (heard that one before it).
    The reason why I ask is because my motherboard seems to keep losing
    connections to both of my old PATA/IDE HDDs since last night. :(

    Specifications: Intel Core 2 Q8200 (quad-core; default clock speeds;
    Socket 775 LGA) with a Scythe Andy Master 120mm CPU cooler (SCASM-1000),
    Enlight 7237-ATX mid-tower case; two case 80mm case fans, MSI P43 NEO3-F
    (MSI-7514) motherboard (latest BIOS), two 1 GB of Crucial RAM (Samsung
    DDR2 800 (PC2-6400; 400 MHz), onboard RealTek RTL8168C(P)/8111C(P) PCI-E
    Gigabit Ethernet NIC network and RealTek audio, 600 watts SeaSonic S12
    PSU, ASUS TV Tuner Card 880 NTSC (cx23880), Pioneer CD/DVD Burner Black
    SATA Model DVR-218LBK LabelFlash Support, 3.5" disk drive, Seagate
    Barracuda 7200.7 (ST380011A; 7200 RPM; 80 GB) HDD, an IDE Quantum
    Fireball Plus LM 15 GB, USB+memory card reader front panel, and an Intel
    InBusiness 10/100 (82559) NIC (not connected). Running Debian (Linux;
    kernel v2.6.32-...-686).

    Thank you in advance. :)
    "A coconut shell full of water is a(n) sea/ocean to an ant." --Indians
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    Ant is currently not listening to any songs on this computer.
    Ant, Jan 24, 2011
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  2. Ant

    Paul Guest

    There are many things to consider.

    First off, what are the technical capabilities of "PC Beep" ? It's not
    a pure analog channel, like a channel on your sound card. And more than
    one chip on the PC, might have the capability to generate (or meet) the
    PC Beep requirements.

    As far as I know, the BIOS has the capability to change the frequency on
    the fly, which is where the "European police siren" sound comes from,
    if a voltage is out of spec or the PC is overheating when in the BIOS.

    I'm not aware of any interest in adjusting the volume level of the
    PC beep. The reason for that, is the speaker may be driven by a buffer
    transistor, and the transistor works best (avoids overheating), if
    driven into saturation. That means the waveform sent to the speaker,
    tends to be a square wave, and the amplitude is likely to be constant,
    as that keeps the buffer transistor saturated and avoids the buffer
    transistor overheating. If the tiny buffer transistor was run in an
    analog amplifier mode instead, it would likely have to be a much
    bigger device - and even if it cost $1, the general manager at
    the computer motherboard factory would have a fit. They worry about
    pennies at such places, and any unneeded technical capabilities
    would be removed in a design review. All that is really required
    of the PC Beep, is that "it makes a noise", and "you can hear it".
    There is a standard for it, but as far as the general manager at
    the factory is concerned, that's what it is there for.

    +5V ("VCC")
    34 ohms
    Logic level ____|/ 2N3904
    |\ silicon switching


    The hard drives themselves can make noises. Normally, you'd expect
    the multi-phase spindle motor, to start from zero RPM, and any sound
    produced would be proportional to the frequency of rotation.

    But if the motor controller senses an overload (they monitor the
    current fed to the coils), the motor controller may try to avoid
    a situation where something gets damaged. At least one motor
    controller chip, used to get so hot, it would actually burn out,
    and I doubt any currently shipping drives would have similar failure

    When the motor controller runs into a problem at startup, the frequency
    fed to the coils changes radically. This can result in an audible
    "tone" coming from the drive, the frequency of which may change once
    a second. Beep-boop-beep-boop and so on. It could be, that a firmware
    writer for the controller code, decided that was a good pattern
    to try, or it could be a function entirely of the motor controller
    chip. I haven't read any technical descriptions of what is happening
    at that point. (Maybe Franc would know, if he sees this.)

    So I'd say the soft tone is coming from a hard drive motor. Such a tone
    may be evident on drives, for the first second of their operation,
    but whether that means failure is imminent, I'm not sure. If the tone
    stays there for any period of time, then the spindle is likely stuck.

    Since your problem is associated with the hard drives disappearing,
    I'd guess there is a power problem feeding the drive, such as
    a slightly out of spec voltage. But the drive should refuse to
    attempt to spin, if the voltage is even a bit low. So if the
    voltage was +11V instead of +12V, it might not even make the tone.
    If the spindle was stuck, then you'd hear a soft, modulated tone,
    as long as +12V for the motor was available. I'd check the cabling
    feeding the drive, to make sure you haven't got too many "extension
    cords" in that path, or aren't feeding the Aux connector on a
    video card, from the same cable bundle. Then, I'd take a
    multimeter, and check the voltage on that cable, while the
    PC is starting up. That's where I'd start. (Adding a "Y" cable
    to the cabling, is how you get easy access to the pins, so you
    can make multimeter readings on the end of the cabling.)

    I'd also run the model numbers of the hard drives, through a
    search engine, and see if there are reports of the spindles
    getting stuck. Modern drives have switched to fluid bearing
    motors, which are virtually frictionless as long as there
    is lube in the sealed spindle area. But if high temperatures
    force out the lube over time, the spindle can stick solid
    (the "sticking solid" can even happen when the drive is
    spinning, with a physical reaction to match - one poster
    noted his external drive "made a hop" on the floor, when
    the spindle jammed).

    A ball bearing motor, one of the older noisier kinds, might
    not have that as a failure mode. Perhaps with those, you'd
    notice a gradual increase in noise level, as the bearing
    reaches failure. I have some old drives here, that I had
    to retire them, because the noise was getting to me. Those
    9GB drives still work (I test them occasionally), so there isn't
    an instantaneous failure there, merely an annoying increase
    in noise as they get older.

    Many years ago, drives had a "stiction" problem, when the
    head would remain in contact with the platter. Apparently, the
    lubricant was more of a bulk fluid, on the platter, and the
    head would become "glued" to the platter. But those days
    are probably over, as the lubricant scheme is different, and
    even if a drive was using the contact method, the landing zone
    is "patterned" to break stiction. The platter lubricant now, is
    only a few molecules thick, and consists of a "bonded" layer, with
    a layer a molecule or two thick over top of it, that might
    be considered a "fluid" in some sense. So it's no longer
    a "macroscopic" fluid, and looks more like a hard finish.


    1) A hard drive is making the tone.
    2) It's OK for a hard drive to make the tone for one second
    at startup.
    3) If the tone is longer, either the drive is bad, or the
    power feeding the drive is suspect. For example, if you
    recently rewired the computer case, and connected a video
    card Aux connector and two hard drives to the same cable,
    that might be too much in terms of voltage drop. An older
    video card, with Molex power input, works best with its
    own separate cable. That protects the hard drives from
    unnecessary voltage drop. Modern video cards, use PCI-Express
    power connectors, so this is no longer a problem, in terms
    of power distribution.

    Paul, Jan 24, 2011
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  3. Ant

    Ant Guest

    It is only a second long. Now, people think my old HDD(s) is/are dying. See
    for the details. :(

    Quote of the Week: "A coconut shell full of water is a(n) sea/ocean to an ant." --Indians
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    Ant, Jan 24, 2011
  4. Ant

    stan.birch Guest

    stan.birch, Mar 24, 2011
  5. Ant

    stan.birchy Guest

    stan.birchy, Mar 26, 2011
  6. Ant

    stan.birch Guest

    stan.birch, Mar 26, 2011
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