Expanding on its efforts to remove all user control over the innards of its iDevices, Apple appears to have made it difficult to swap out the hard drive in its latest line of iMacs without finding yourself listening to screaming, interminable fan noise. In a posting on his company's blog, an Other World Computing rep says that …
EFI 100x better
Well, it could be. I mean, it's a Hypervisor. It could theoretically give you the Xbox-style ability to pause current OS and just flick to another one in the middle of something, like how you can press the green button and stop your running game to go to the system menu.
However, what is EFI's main use in Apple machines, asides making it awkward to just bung OS X on an Intel x86 PC? Come on, Boot Camp? Having to reboot the machine to start up some other OS? How is that different to every other PC in the world?
Not seen EFI yet...
but supporting PCs for about half a dozen friends and family the very last thing I want is a user friendly version of BIOS. I want text based. I REALLY want command line based. I want it to scare the crap out of them if they stumble into it.
That way they dont play. They break Windows...I dont want them breaking the BIOS (sic) as well...
Well to be fair...
...fixing a screwed up BIOS setting is usually as simple as "load optimal defaults? (y/n)"
Yon venerable old PC bootstrapping mechanism has come a long way since 1980. They even detect hard drives themselves!
Though, I do miss the IDE low level format option.
Think about it
Typical El Reg commentards, quicker to the trigger than their neurons can fire:
Do you really think Apple would go to all the trouble of making a custom drive firmware just to keep people from replacing it themselves, and then leave a door wide open by using standard connectors and letting people control the speed of the fans from software?
The iMac is really tight and it gets really hot, it's no surprise they had to *innovate* here and add to their >10 temp sensors already inside.
If you put your own drive then just use HDD Temp Control (free, donation ware) or the fantastic iStat (paid, but really good) to control the fans.
Or as you're all experts write you own code to do it, here's some source code to get you started: https://github.com/sishen/Macbook--Pro--Fan-Control
That's pretty dumb...
Many hard disk drives produced over the last decade have an onboard temperature sensor whose data can be gleaned by communicating with the drive through SMART. Practically all drives produced in the last five years do.
So why would Apple need to monitor the drive's temperature in any other way? A company that has the ability to design its own CPUs and other custom logic should know better than this.
Beats me--they did the same thing (with a temperature probe coming from the circuit board, no changes to the drive itself) in the Time Capsule, and I *know* those drives reported their temperature via SMART.
All in the world this will do is leave owners of these machines high and dry after Apple has forgotten they ever made such a thing and nobody sells custom adapters any longer. And no, I don't dislike Apple products--but this is still a very *stupid* thing to do.
According to "hardmac.com"...
...(they reported the original problem some years ago) this is the reason:
"Here is also an explanation of the reasons that pushed Apple to introduce that system in the 2009 iMac. As we sais earlier, the iMac checks very often the temperature of the hard drive. If it was doing so with the SMART system, it would shrink the disk bandwidth and would freeze the disk for a very short time at every check.
Therefore Apple decided to do it with an Out of Bandwidth system, outside of the data channels of the disks. At first the company used connectors added to most hard drives and used for programming and testing the disk. That solution had one drawback as each manufacturer had its own connector. The 2011 model uses a new system. All the information now goes through pin 11 of the power supply connector, which is normally used to light-up a LED during disk activity. In prodder to change the use of that pin, a specific firmware was needed, which explains the reason that only disks sold by Apple in the iMac don't have any problem."
...which is a reason, though I couldn't say whether it is a good one.
One step closer
It's just another push toward the higher end line so folks don't buy the cheaper model and upgrade it. Just look at the margin jump on the 21.5 iMac for the next model; $300 for 500GB more hdd (being generous it has a value of $40), slightly better video card ($15) and 200 MHz (probably same chip just clocked to full speed). So if you were buying the parts it would cost an extra $55, when Apple buys the parts it's probably a lot less so the margin on the upgrades is what, 90%? Who wouldn't want to push their customers to the better model?
Car manufacturers do the same thing, "Oh you want an automatic? That only comes with the FU model package; but you also get 2 more speakers, a shiny bit of tin on the exhaust, all this extra sporty looking plastic and two tone seat covers with genuine Gnaugahyde inserts. Hey, it's just an extra $37... per month... on an 84 month loan... with 30% down." Of course, there are a lot fewer people who are willing to do a tranny swap on a brand new car than would trade up a hdd.
*sigh* - Silly People
Reg: I don't care for the tone of this article. It's nothing but a cheap shot with no thought as to why this may have happened.
Let's look at this logically for a second.
1. It's an AIO. What goes on inside shouldn't concern you much (although how reliable it is as a whole should).
2. If you don't agree with #1 buy a Mac Pro, a linux, or win7 box. The iMac (and probably the portables) will not be for you.
3. Steve Jobs (or an SVP, etc) did not sit around some table musing about ways to screw people out of money and come up with fitting a custom HDD. Thats just silly.
4. What actually happened is engineers made a call that a more accurate HDD temp sensor system made a measurable impact in service life. (thus making the entire unit, which is what we are concerned about in an AIO, more reliable)
5. This is not about money to such a degree that they are actually spending more money to do this. (If it isn't a bog standard drive with bog standard cables/firmware, it is costing them more. Guaranteed.)
6. Someone somewhere along the way brought up the point that this would stop, or at least seriously hamper, customers from being able to pop the case and change the drive. - To that end they would have looked at overall statistics and realized that 90%+ of all users used External HDD's when it was time to upgrade, and also talked to applecare who said opening the machine voided the warranty. (whether they look the other way on a regular basis or not is a different matter).
7. Another reason I wouldn't get too hung up about it; Chances are very good that the rest of the line (With the exception of the MP, where this sort of thing actually matters to an appreciable percent of their customer base) is going this way as well. I anticipate a not-to-distant future where every part of the system is soldered down and compacted as much as is physically (as in, the laws of physics) possible. An upgrade will be changing the entire logic board.
7b (Edit). And you would be remiss if you don't think the general computer marketplace isn't looking at what Apple is doing here. Good bad or indifferent the sales figures and stock numbers are telling a story, and that is that people are willing to spend good money on highly integrated, non serviceable products. (assuming the support is there for when things go wrong). This is the biggest case for Thunderbolt in my mind. It gives us a good, fast, low level external I/O capable of real work. Allowing it to fail may doom us to a period of highly integrated, low or zero expansion systems with no high quality low level external I/O options.
8. Even if you don't agree with anything I said, within 16 months someone will have an elegant hack for it.
Calm down people, it's not that big of a deal. It's actually understandable, and if you look at it from a realistic viewpoint it is probably a reasonable decision.
Apple's engineeers 'making a call'
But can we trust them to make the right call, considering the history of thermal issues that MacBook and iMacs (basically laptop parts in a screen housing) have had and then later had silent recalls in the form of extended guarantees, EFI and software updates which alter fan behaviour, and new hardware revisions which finally fix the problem?
Their inventing a new standard is most probably just more flailing round in this area. Every other laptop manufacturer manages to make do with the SMART standard. I assume management decided that a little bit more lock-in forcing customers to buy a bigger hard drive from Apple was also an added benefit.
(An iMac owner but not a member of the iCult.)
re: . if you look at it from a realistic viewpoint it is probably a reasonable decision.
having a non-standard interfaces on a commodity item like harddisks from economically, technologically and long term support perspectives strikes me as bizarre
My Take on the Subject
This is something I have railed about privately for years is the lack of serviceability of most electronic products. People do not get them repaired, they just throw them away and replace with new because it's easier. Take flat panel televisions, for a few years there they used 85watt capacitors instead of 110watt capacitors so they burned out and wouldn't fire the actual panel up. $20 +labor part replacement and it's working better than before oddly enough. (sat in my closet for a long time because I couldn't bring myself to throw away a $700 HDTV after only two years).
How many ended up in the landfill?
How many non replaceable battery powered items end up there? How many iMacs will end up there after the HD dies and it makes more sense to purchase a new one than pony up $300-400 to send your machine to be repaired? This is not an Apple-only issue, it's rampant throughout the world. Replace rather than repair, it's going to hurt us all eventually.
Please note I am not a treehugger, this just happens to be one area where some things do not make sense to me. I have been told that Apple is ahem, green, but in what way? Manufacturing items in this way just adds to the disposal issue. I've seen people with multiple dead iPods (iPodi? What is the plural for iPod?) in drawers or boxes.. where do you think they will go come spring cleaning time?
@Lvl 70 Durid...
Completely agree. What would the Cenarion Circle think? BTW get to level 85, yo.... Get with the times :P
Why tinker with perfection?
You have been told that this is the ultimate machine, why the question that you might know something they don't. This is the ultimate machine, how could a mere mortal improve it?..............................................................................................................................................................................by the way we're in the business of making money, not IT kit
Come on Rik, stop your click bait
"Expanding on its efforts to remove all user control over the innards of its iDevices"
That's it Rik, Apple is doing this simply to make it harder for the users to change a hard drive, like they even were going to try on a new iMac. Gimme a break. The iMac is a consumer device that was designed to be an appliance: Use it until it breaks, then toss it. When they start doing it on the Mac Pro's then maybe you have something of a point other than the one on the top of your head, but I suspect that we will see more of this and from other manufactures too. Did Apple put the temp sensor in the hard drive or simply are they using what the drive manufactures already have in there and Apple's firmware turns it on? I want an upgradeable machine too, but I recognize the iMac for what it is.
"Use it until it breaks, then toss it".... whether you want to or not. But it's YOUR property.
>"The iMac is a consumer device that was designed to be an appliance: Use it until it breaks, then toss it"
How is that not *exactly* the same thing as deliberately removing user control over its innards? It is _deliberately_ designed in the exact same way that /a lot/ - I don't say Apple are the only ones - a LOT of modern appliances are designed: intentionally not possible for the user to upgrade/maintain/repair, deliberately and on purpose in order to *force* us to throw these devices away and buy new ones rather than extend the lives of the ones we have already bought.
>"Did Apple put the temp sensor in the hard drive or simply are they using what the drive manufactures already have in there and Apple's firmware turns it on"
Both/Neither. They used the temperature sensor that the drive manufacturers already put in there, but they deliberately invented a new, proprietary and incompatible interface for it, not for reasons of improved performance or any benefit to the actual consumer/user you refer to (just how many times a second do you need to sample the HD temperature anyway?), but solely in order to obtain monopoly control over the secondary market. It's *exactly* Microsoft's "Embrace, extend and extinguish" technique, and Apple are exactly as bent when they do it as Microsoft are when they do it.
Your entire argument depends on you having already implicitly accepted the assertion that, even after you buy something, the manufacturer somehow still has rights over it to tell you what you can or cannot do with your own personal property. The fact that you don't even realise that is actually a very seriously loaded assumption is the only reason Apple's stance appears reasonable to you, and a sign of exactly how far down you have swallowed the corporate kool-aid.
Apple paranoia strikes again
Control freaks (like Jobs himself), coupled with the most outlandish hype for their relatively ordinary, over-priced products gives me the signal to steer well clear.
Huh. Why am I not surprised?
Frankly, I'm surprised that anyone's at all shocked with this.
The writing was on the wall for tinkering with Jobsian-created kitwith the first idiotPhone - if you missed this, it's when they decided that you couldn't be trusted to even change a battery safely, without a degree in mechanical and electonic engineering and, oh yes, certification from Apple that maybe, just maybe, you could be trusted with a tool kit to actually open the damn thing to perform that battery swap.
So, just another example of Jobsian control freakishness, then.
Not a major surprise to any of the rest of the world, then, is it?
Flames, because I'm sure to have pulled someone's plug *veg*
Bye bye Apple
Yeah, this has finally done it for me. When it's time to upgrade my iPhone and iPad, I'll be getting a Droid and some other tablet. When my MacBook dies, I'll go with something else. For years I've used both Windows and Macs, and love my iPhone and iPad. Apple's latest Gestapo stranglehold on their hardware and software really insults those of us who actually know what we're doing.
"It just works" doesn't work for me any more.
Good for you
Don't let the door hit you on the way out.
Have fun in your Windows paradise.
Buy a bigger drive to start with..
..all but the cheapest allow 2Tb FFS.
or buy one of them external jobs.
or stop storing so much crap.
"but I bought it, so I have a right to do what I want with it..."
yeah, but you don't have a right to expect Apple to make it easy for you.
anyone who has time or desire to faff around with upgrading isn't Apple's primary market.
stop bloody moaning and get on with life !
So what happens if the hard disk fails (and being mechanical devices they do)? You just gonna pay Apple super inflated prices or landfill the system?
Apple apologists amaze and baffle me.
With a PC you will have to upgrade the hard drive.
With an iMac you can server it, Time capsule it, ... so the hard drive really is supplemented by other storage options.
(My Mac Pro is 5 years old - a circa 2006 model and luvin it. None of my previous PCs managed to endure so long without a major bellyflop that meant serious removal and replacement of innards so, yes, I expect PCs to really need that option?)
Seemplz - tseetch
Longevity increases the likelihood for a needed upgrade.
> With a PC you will have to upgrade the hard drive.
No you don't. You can use any number of external options including the same sort of "Time Capsule" approach. PCs have been able to do this since the pre-Next days.
Although for a single machine n00b household, all of that stuff is kind of stupid and ultimately sub-optimal for the class of user that Apple is supposed to cater to.
If you bought a machine 8x more than it needs to be, then it better last a long time.
If you are expecting to keep the thing longer than a PC is supposed to be able to last, then of course it should be upgradeable so that you can accommodate future needs. This should be obvious even if you don't consider the fact that Macs have always been more anemic in what they actually include in this regard (RAM & disk).
I have an AMD Athlon64 4000+(circa 2006) powered pc around here in daily use by one of my kids, in a godawful see-through case with neon lighting that I thought was cool at the time. This particular case started as an AMD Athlon 2800+ before that but other than video card upgrades and RAM addition, has happily transitioned from Windows XP, Vista Business (have to specify that - Vista Home was the MS killer), and now Windows 7 Professional x64.(*)
(*)Just as fecal matter rolls down hill, so do workstations in this house in roughly two to three year time periods. As I upgrade, everybody else gets one step better. Exceptions are video cards, RAM upgrades, and the occasional hard drive replacement to stay up with the home network. (yeah we have family CounterStrike2 LAN battles and play EverQuest together) Laptops/tablets - need before greed lol.
...you can add a NAS box to any network. Doesn't cost much, almost certainly less than a Time Capsule, and you can use it on any computer INCLUDING Macs! (Well, for now anyway)
However, a gigabit network link still has nowhere near the throughput of a SATA cable, and Apple are still being shitty by making you buy a speshul Apple hard drive for WTF prices.
I wonder if you brought cheap PCs
buy ones of comparable quality/cost to Apple and it will go on and on
T i t l e
Surely an easy workaround is to place a new fan controller in there? It doesn't cost much to have a controller that varies current supplied to the fan motor with respect to the output of a thermocouple. Pennies.
I use PCs because of my CAD background (that, and my experience of changing the autoexec.bat and config.sys files just to play one computer game or another...), so point-blank can't consider getting a Mac (yes there is Bootcamp, but still, where's my middle button?). Macs do have a lot going for them- my bosses G5 Mac Pro is still fit for purpose and comes out of sleep instantly, something I've never known a Windows machine to do- but this hard-drive malarky does sound a bit shit.
But then, I'm the kind of person who hops over those railings at traffic junctions that cause the pedestrians to walk fifty yards out of their way for no good reason.
It made my heart sink the other day, when an article contained "Apple store employees beat customers with iron bars" and the first umphteen comments were the same old antifanbois/promac comments. It was if the commenters hadn't even registered the phrase "beat customers with an iron bar"!
[i paraphrase cos I can't be bothered to copy/paste]
For noise and because there are dozens of fan and sensors on today's systems both the the fans and temperature sensors all have to be controlled and report back to the operating system, usually via a very complicated system called ACPI (which is almost a virtual machine in itself)
This is true in Macs and PCs, but Macs tend to have more fans and sensors simply because they tend to have smaller cases and show a little more concern for noise levels.
So your simple controller idea has not cut it for at least the past 10 years I'm afraid.
I can understand you were shocked by the Apple Store incident report, but as usual the news love a bit of hysteria and China provides the ideal environment to claim just about anything. The whole thing was badly reported, lacked a lot of credibility and we'll never really know what happened.
I've lived in Zhuhai, which is not far from Hong Kong and Shenzen , plus travelled many times to Shanghai so know most of these cases are nothing but scams to get money.
Re: Fan control
> a very complicated system called ACPI
ACPI is a very simple interface. Most computer systems are at least as complicated as APCI.
> (which is almost a virtual machine in itself)
No it isn't.
> So your simple controller idea has not cut it for at least the past 10 years
If your assertions about the need for this system are correct, then that simple controller idea is indeed making a comeback: if Apple were just adding ACPI thermal management to HDDs, there would be no need for modified drives or proprietary interfaces.
I beg to differ.
From the ACPI glossary:
ACPI Machine Language (AML)
Pseudocode, interpreted by a virtual machine within an ACPI-compliant operating system, providing a layer between the underlying hardware and the documented interface presented to the OS.
Really people you're downvoting my straight rebuttal of Vic's mistaken statements, where I just posted evidence directly from the ACPI docs?
I also happen to know a few things about the inwards of the beast as I've worked on the FreeBSD implementation of it, oh man ACPI is not a pretty sight.
You 3 downvoters must be more deluded than I thought. But I still love you all, keep them coming.
Or 7 wire HDs will be released by Western Digital or Seagate
There are likely real reasons (like saving electricity) for that 7 wire lead. Perhaps other computer makers will care as much for the wallets and ears of their customers to ship computers that are as quiet and energy saving as possible.
All the windows boxes here seem to use way more power than the macs.
Get a couple of multimeters.
Wire them up to measure volts/current so you get an accurate reading, Do it carefully because the mains supply in any country is rather nasty. Then try shoving an Ubuntu Live CD in them Windows PCs. It's bloody amazing how much difference using a half-decent OS without a shedload of bloatware bolted on can make to your power consumption figures.
Really, try it some time. The fans on my PC and laptop both thank me with joyously low revolutions whenever I switch that damned Microsoft monstrosity off in favour of Canonical's distinctly more svelt baby.. and Ubuntu is supposed to be a kitchen-sink distribution too!
Give it a rest
Its an iMac, you put it on your desk, plug it in, turn it on and you have a computer. The typical target consumer of this product has no interest in changing internal components.
If thats not for you, custom build your own box and tinker until your hearts content. There are hundreds of other products you can choose from.
I despair of these dreadful articles and foolish comments, utterly, utterly missing the point.
"Unless you enjoy eternal fan noise"
And if you wish to enjoy eternal iPhan noise then you only have to browse this type of thread!
I see the mac defense force is out in strength today!
But there's a few undeniable aspects to this:
A. This cable connector is propriety, not standard. for any third party to use it infers licence fees, which is a deal breaker. you won't see other companies bringing out compatible drives in any great numbers or models, if at all.
B. The features offered through this extended connector are already available through SMART, which is an industry standard for hard disk drives and has been for several years.
C.This action clearly reduces market competition for replacement or upgrade parts without the use of unsupported hardware or software; a reduction in market competitiveness is generally well proven to be bad for consumers.
D. Comments about the eventual hack are moot. Either you agree with the concept of a new propriety connector (and all that implies) or you don't.
E. I expect to be down voted for posting this, so I'll clarify that I am an Information Analyst, working with a wide variety of operating systems on a regular basis, and that I hold no bias in what I'm sure many readers perceive as the Microsoft vs Apple battle. All operating systems have pros and cons; that is irrelevant to the point in hand: this propriety connector is unnecessary considering widely used standards which supply the same features, and it is bad for consumers. That is the important thing here.
So that makes you qualified to know about cables? I'd think you'd need to be an electronics engineer for that.
There's no hack or concept to agree here. Apple gives you an API to control the speed of your fans. It's all kosher.
You don't know what the cable does so you don't know if SMART is enough or not.
The cable connector is standard it just uses more pins, that's why people can still plug in normal hard drives into it. But what you also don't know is if there's a standard for those pins or not, you're just taking OWC and this article's word for it, which is not enough.
So essentially you're just giving out unqualified opinions. Is this what Information analysts do? Maybe I should apply for that.
Well I upvoted you.
Because you said that it's about controlling the secondary market and not about any conceivable benefit for the end user, and that's the truth.
I have been a hardware and comms tech for 30 years and I agree 100% with the poster. There seems no injustcice that apple does that cannot be defended by deluded fanboys.
This type of stuff will lead Apple to it's death. One reason why I no longer buy Apple products is this greedy lock in, we want everything, mentality that Jobs has instilled in the company. It started with the first ipod with the battery and shop lock-in. They got a taste of it and now it's nearly in everything. Screw that.
There are other choices of equal or greater value than Apple thankfully and those are the ones I will be taking. Next up an android phone, a w7 media center. Once the phone goes I will no longer have anything Apple and I'm finding I can do more without restrictions..
Death? Since the iPod launch the stock troughed at $6.56 in April 2003. It's now almost $340 - a 5,100% gain - and is the second most valuable publicly traded company in the world. You can draw some conclusions about profiteering if you want (though I think you would find it more useful to analyse it on the basis of having a much better appreciation of what customers actually want than the competition), but they're clearly doing something right. Good luck with W7 and Microsoft's famous public service ethos.
By the way I've had four iPods and four iPhones, as well as two MacBook Airs with sealed batteries. None of the batteries has ever gone flat before I replaced the device. At no time have I ever felt that the hassle of carrying a spare battery was worth the gain of being able to change it. I never bought spare batteries for previous Mac laptops. The battery in the MacBook can be replaced by Apple. They charge the same for this as they used to charge for spare removable batteries: maybe they are more expensive than Dell's (don't know, don't care) but they are clealy not using this as a method to gouge. While yes, it may be an inconvenience to give up my laptop as if and when to get the battery replaced, this pales next to having the solid inflexible chassis and smooth thin lines that having a sealed unit allows. The only time I ever removed the battery in older phones was because some moronic engineer thought that the space underneath the battery was a good place for memory cards. I have not replaced the hard drive in a Mac since 1997, and haven't thought of doing so since 2001. It has always worked out as simply better to sell and buy something new. You may disagree and protest at how much you value the flexibility, but Apple's financial results suggest that people like me are in the vast majority.
So Apple have changed the 'standard four-wire SATA power connector'. Well, looks like everyone else has too, because no SATA drive I have ever clapped eyes on has had only 4 pins on the power connector.
I was wondering about that. I looked hard at the picture, and couldn't figure out what bit of proprietary kit they were showing. I was asking myself "4 pins? Are they talking about the old trapezoidal Molex that was only briefly on drives with SATA I/O connections? The SATA data connection has 7 pins, I think. The current power one looks to have more along the lines of 18..." Far as I'm aware nowadays there's a narrow SATA connector for data, and a wide SATA connector for power, has been for a year or two, if not more.
Someone got some better pictures or a fuller explanation? Right now it's kind of seeming like some folks in New Zealand got iMacs via air freight but are still waiting for (new!) PC motherboards from 3 years ago that have the Molex->SATA adapter to arrive by ship. No scorn here, too bloody confused about what's being gone on about. Eh, it's after midnight, no big.
I can't get over how nasty some Apple fanboys are getting.
I guess that's what happens when they can't think of an excuse for their saviours nonsense.
The only nonsense here is the one you and others are pulling out of your ass.
If you don't want a Mac don't buy it, don't excuse it over this drive upgrade shit which 99% of you would never do anyway ( and if you did there's an app for that)
Calm down dear.
Thank you for demonstrating my point so ineloquently.
First of all, right now, my g/f has an older mac that was running fine until the power supply failed. Unfortunantly I can not replace this with an off the shelf replacement (about $40) because Apple decided to use a non-standard pin out. The cost for a replacement? $200 (give or take)
For this particular issue, eventually someone will come up with a solution that will involve an adaper on the Mac power plug.
This adapter will split the plug into two parts, one of which will handle standard harddrive power, while the second will connect to a modifed chip that will emulate the apple firmware, and have a built in heat sensor that will allow for fan speed adjustment in the event of high heat being detected.
Not just Apple
The power supply on my Dell XPS 720 desktop also failed and no standard PS would fit in the case plus it had proprietary connectors, Dell also wanted to crazy money to replace it.
Unfortunately it all happened just a couple of months after the three year service contract expired.
It's now sitting gathering dust. 'Tis a shame, because it's an impressive machine and had two GPUs (now moved elsewhere). Fortunately I didn't pay for it as it was a work machine.
HDD's will be replaced soon by SSDs, and then this whole cooling stuff will go by the wayside anyway.
current cost of 1tb ssd drive = ~£2500
current cost of 1tb hdd drive = ~£35
that's a big gap that's not gonna get closed in the lifetime of this or the next generation of imacs
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