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Operating Systems

Mac drive makers help stamp out FireWire flaw

A number of hard-drive manufacurers release patches designed to prevent a glitch that has caused some FireWire 800 drives to lose data when used with the new version of Mac OS X.

A number of hard-drive makers have released patches designed to prevent a glitch that has caused some FireWire 800 drives to lose data when used with the new version of Mac OS X.

Hard-drive manufacturers LaCie, WiebeTech and Other World Computing have all posted firmware updates designed to avoid the problem, which has caused some Mac users to lose the information on their hard drives after upgrading to Mac OS X version 10.3, or Panther.

Apple Computer said Thursday that the issue is a problem with drives that use the Oxford 922 bridge chipset with firmware version 1.02.

"Apple is working with Oxford Semiconductor and affected drive manufacturers to resolve this issue, which resides in the Oxford 922 chipset," the company said in a statement.

In the interim, Oxford Semiconductor released a statement saying it is looking into the matter but does not believe its chips are solely to blame.

"We currently believe that this issue relates to a change in the way Panther uses FireWire, which affected version 1.02 of the OXUF922 driver software," the company said, adding that a later version of its firmware, 1.05, was released in September.

"As there is currently no evidence that this issue is purely related to Oxford's 922 based drives, Oxford Semiconductor is advising all FireWire drive users to take advantage of further Panther revisions as they arise."

WiebeTech said that the problem appears to crop up most often when FireWire 800 drives are attached to standard FireWire ports. "It has been determined that this problem between Panther and FireWire 800 drives usually occurs in circumstances involving older, slower Macintosh computers where the FireWire 800 drive is attached to a FireWire 400 port on the computer," WiebeTech CEO James Wiebe said in a statement.

Some of the makers, including WiebeTech, recommended that owners of an affected FireWire 800 drive disconnect the drives from a Panther-equipped Mac and install the update using an older version of the Mac operating system. LaCie said its updater is a Mac OS 9 program.