The documentation provided with the 1.7
firmware update notes that:
MacBook Pro EFI
Firmware Update 1.7 addresses an issue reported by a small number of
customers using drives based on the SATA 3Gbps specification with the
June 2009 MacBook Pro. While this update allows drives to use
transfer rates greater than 1.5Gbps, Apple has not qualified or
offered these drives for Mac notebooks and their use is unsupported.
The key phrasing here is "Apple
has not qualified or offered these drives for Mac notebooks and their
use is unsupported." Given that the latest 13" and 15"
MacBook Pros have a SATA II interface and that most HDDs and SSDs use
a SATA II interface, this wording by Apple is quite peculiar. The
SATA II interface is after all a storage standard that is used by
nearly every new notebook and desktop computer sold today.
Considering that a 128GB SSD option on
a 13" MacBook Pro is going for $400, many owners have purchased
cheaper alternatives from the likes of OCZ and Patriot which offer
Indilinix-based SSDs that offer performance that rival Intel's
X-25M lineup. These Indilinx drives are also much
faster than the Samsung-supplied SSDs offered by Apple. However,
owners are finding out that Apple's implementation of the SATA II
specification on 13" and 15" MacBook Pro models coupled
with the "fixed" 1.7 firmware are causing a lot of
89-page thread on the Apple Discussion forums tells the tale of
numerous users battling with SATA II SSDs not originally supplied by
Apple and also with traditional SATA II HDDs from the likes of
Western Digital, Seagate, and Toshiba. User IanBurrell, the 13"
MacBook Pro user that started the original thread on June 23,
detailed his problems with a 320GB HDD that he took from an older
MacBook to put in his new machine, "After the firmware update
yesterday, the machine has started freezing randomly; the spinner
comes up sometimes when reading or writing to the drive. The hard
drive, a WD Scorpio Blue, supports SATA II. My suspicion is that
there are intermittent data errors when using the SATA 3 Gbps
interface. It could be an incompatibility between the controller and
drive or the ribbon cable isn't good enough for newer SATA."
Vitaeergo confirmed these issues with a
post stating, "I had an Intel X25 installed in my new (2 days
old) MBP 15 which worked splendidly before the update. Afterwards,
the MBP won't even recognize the drive, although I can use the drive
in other machines."
User mvillarreal posted this morning,
"A couple of days ago i upgraded the HD of my Macbook Pro
unibody with a Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD5000BEVT 500GB 5400 RPM
2.5" SATA 3.0Gb/s. And i stared to have the same problem as
everybody. The MBP works fine most of the time but something triggers
a pause in the hard drive, monitoring with the Active Monitor when
copying a 34 Gb file, the hard drive does to 0 for about 15 to 20
sec. every 1.8 to 2 Gb copied."
Some users, however, are even having
problems with their SATA II drives that were originally supplied with
their MacBooks after performing the 1.7 firmware update. "I'm
experiencing the freezing (spinwheel etc) very often as well, but I
just have the standard 250gb hard drive that comes in the high end 13
inch macbook pro. It only started after the firmware upgrade, too.
Does that make sense," noted 13" MacBook Pro user Kevin222.
Apple has still not responded to user
complaints over the SATA II issues -- in fact, some
users have even gone so far as to use an unsupported
1.7 firmware-to-1.6 firmware downgrade tool to bring their
machines back to "safer" 1.5 Gbps SATA I transfer speeds.
Some users have speculated that the
problem is simply a poorly designed SATA cable between the HDD/SSD
and the motherboard or a faulty SATA II implementation that Apple
fails to acknowledge. Previous MacBooks and MacBook Pros using the
NVIDIA GeForce 9400M platform don't have these SATA II issues, so the
latter could be possible.
Despite the problems, Apple remains mum
about the issues and doesn't appear to be willing to talk about them
or a possible fix.