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This is a pic of my old drive's PCB:

my hd pcb

Can someone point out the chip that stores the firmware? Also, is it possible to determine the firmware version just by looking at it?

Update: The marked answerer made a good point, which is that, even if you could see the version somewhere on the PCB, it doesn't mean it wasn't updated after the version was printed on the chip.

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Hard-drives do not have BIOSes, they have firmware chips. – Synetech Jun 4 '12 at 22:20
Ah, yes. Is it possible to point that out on this PCB? – oscilatingcretin Jun 4 '12 at 22:34
They also have controllers and numerous other parts. What specifically are you trying to do/fix? It looks like that is an old (800MB era) WD drive, and it seems that it the board has been removed from the drive (the four contacts to the platter assembly are visible). Are you trying to fix a dead drive by attaching the PCB from another drive to it? It would not be possible to definitively determine the firmware version by looking at the chip because it could easily have been updated. – Synetech Jun 4 '12 at 22:35
Yes, that's what I am trying to do (I actually still have another question out on that right now). I guess what I need to do is try to figure out the firmware version, but the drive is dead and I have no idea how to get to the version. My computer detects it all the way up until I try to mount it in Windows 7, at which point it disappears completely from sight until I reboot. – oscilatingcretin Jun 5 '12 at 11:36
please update the question (and title) to fit what you are actually asking for. – Baarn Jun 5 '12 at 17:47
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Like I said, there is no way to detect the firmware in the drive because they will often use the same chip and just update it. As such, two similar boards could have the same chip, but different firmwares.

The firmware should not be relevant though for what you are doing; if the board is the same as the one from the dead drive, then it should be able to work regardless of the firmware version. Modern, data-dense drives usually have microscopic drive-specific alignment data programmed into the board at the factory, so even an identical board often does not work. However, this looks old enough that it should work. (I had three 512MB Maxtors, two the same model, one a slightly different model, and I could swap the boards across all three without problem.)

You said that your system can detect it up until Windows 7 tries to mount it. Can you boot into DOS or Linux and access it there? What about in the BIOS?

The BIOS may be trying to access the drive like it did before and failing because it does not realize the drive has changed). Try setting the BIOS settings for the drive to auto, then exit and save to reset the ESCD data.

Before the drive died, was it installed in the system and could Windows 7 access it before? If sounds like what is happenings is that Windows has an id for the drive from when it used to be installed. When you boot up now, Windows is detecting that the old drive is installed, but when it tries to access it, the drive is failing because it has slightly changed. What you want to do is to remove the drive completely from Windows' device database, and let it re-detect it from scratch:

  1. Take the drive out and boot Windows
  2. Open a command-prompt (cmd)
  3. Type the following:
    set devmgr_show_nonpresent_devices=1
  4. Select View->Show Hidden Devices
  5. Open the Disk Drives branch and delete the entry corresponding to the problem drive
  6. Open the Storage Volume branch and delete any shaded/faded devices that are not shown when View Hidden Devices is not selected (any non present flash drives, etc. will be re-detected the next time you plug them in)
  7. Repeat step 6 for Storage Volume Shadow Copy

Shutdown, install the drive and boot up, letting Windows detect the drive and install drivers for it.

Hopefully this will be sufficient and will work. If not, then you may need to do a little more work. In that case, repeat the above steps (yup, sorry), and then:

  1. Close Device Manager and open the Registry Editor (regedit)
  2. Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\MountedDevices
  3. Now you have to delete the volume identifiers associated with the problem drive. This can be difficult if you have had a lot of drives installed in that system. It may be easier to just rename the MountedDevices branch and let Windows just build the mappings from scratch.
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Thanks for the detailed response. This drive died back in 2000, I believe, and I am just now getting around to recovering it. I am going to mark yours as answer because it makes sense that, even if you could see the firmware version on the chip, it doesn't mean that it wasn't updated after the version number was printed on the chip. My research has also told me that the firmware version absolutely have to match, but that's not really what my question is about. – oscilatingcretin Jun 7 '12 at 13:16
@oscilatingcretin, was the research you did talking about that drive in particular. Like I said, older drives (this one is from 1998) were fairly compatible with their boards. It is newer, higher-density drives that are much more strict due to the micro-alignment data. – Synetech Jun 7 '12 at 16:52
It was talking about drives in general. I didn't really come across anything that said older drives may not be susceptible to this limitation, so I just assumed that firmware mattered strictrly across the board. I do know that the drive behaves very differently when I swap the boards although it still doesn't work. Before I ditch the recovery effort completely, I at least want to explore the option of making sure my two PCBs have the same firmware, even if it's just for peace of mind. – oscilatingcretin Jun 7 '12 at 16:55

My best guess would be the chip with the white label and "WDC '98" written on it as there seems to be a datasheet with some kind of list of test tools for it, suggesting it is some kind of programmable device. The datasheet is Russian which is not my native language so I could be wrong.

Though as it is a custom PCB with mainly Western Digital ASICs it is entirely possible that one or more of the other chips have some programmable logic or EEPROM on them. Only Western Digital knows what these chips do as they designed them themselves.

U1 and U2 (left hand edge) look to have too many pins and are likely to be interface chips, converting IDE to whatever interface the drive natively uses.

The Hyundai chip ("HY511..") is a memory chip, probably the HDD cache.

The Cirrus Logic chip is some kind of data sampling device, probably a magnetic head to binary data conversion chip.

The ST device? The internet is quiet about that one, along with the Western Digital devices.

As to finding out the firmware version the only way to do that it to power up the board and see what the computer says, there are no identifying marks that suggest firmware numbers on them and there's no reason for any manufacturer to write the version on the board or chips as it's just another annoying thing to do when you push an update. It's easier to just update it when you need to and let the controller tell computer when it's needed.

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Just wild guesses but:

  • U3 (HY511...) IC looks like memory (hard drive cache?).
  • U2 (WD69C24) looks like the hard disk controller. In fact, a Google search finds this:

WDC WD69C24-SS Microcontroller assembled in a 140-pin Square Quad Flat Pack with gullwing leads for surface mount applications and date coded 9823.

  • U6 looks like some driver IC, judging from the large capacitors/diodes near it and the thick traces coming out of it.
  • U8 (CL-SH3358...) might be some sort of decoder/interface from the magnetic head to the hard drive circuits.
  • U1 looks like a custom IC.

Probably the firmware is in U4 (the IC with a sticker on it), but this is just a guess; those other devices might have firmware or programmable logic on them.

share|improve this answer is good at it. They can help to find the matching pcb for your drive. Try to contact them for help.

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Quick question: are you by any chance affiliated with the website you linked to? It's okay if you are, but you have to disclose that in your answers. I'm just asking because you've been answering a few questions with this same link. – Indrek Oct 30 '12 at 9:03

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