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Thinkpad Storage Problem

For a while I’ve had a problem with my Thinkpad X1 Carbon Gen 1 [1] where storage pauses for 30 seconds, it’s become more common recently and unfortunately everything seems to depend on storage (ideally a web browser playing a video from the Internet could keep doing so with no disk access, but that’s not what happens).

echo 3 > /sys/block/sda/device/timeout

I’ve put the above in /etc/rc.local which should make it only take 3 seconds to recover from storage problems instead of 30 seconds, the problem hasn’t recurred since that change so I don’t know if it works as desired. The Thinkpad is running BTRFS and no data is reported as being lost, so it’s not a problem to use it at this time.

The bottom of this post has an example of the errors I’m getting. A friend said that his searches for such errors shows people claiming that it’s a “SATA controller or cable” problem, which for a SATA device bolted directly to the motherboard means it’s likely to be a motherboard problem (IE more expensive to fix than the $289 I paid for the laptop almost 3 years ago).

A Lenovo forum discussion says that the X1 Carbon Gen1 uses an unusual connector that’s not M.2 SATA and not mSATA [2]. This means that a replacement is going to be expensive, $100US for a replacement from eBay when a M.2 SATA or NVMe device would cost about $50AU from my local store. It also means that I can’t use a replacement for anything else. If my laptop took a regular NVMe I’d buy one and test it out, if it didn’t solve the problem a spare NVMe device is always handy to have. But I’m not interested in spending $100US for a part that may turn out to be useless.

I bought the laptop expecting that there was nothing I could fix inside it. While it is theoretically possible to upgrade the CPU etc in a laptop most people find that the effort and expense makes it better to just replace the entire laptop. With the ultra light category of laptops the RAM is soldered on the motherboard and there are even less options for replacing things. So while it’s annoying that Lenovo didn’t use a standard interface for this device (they did so for other models in the range) it’s not a situation that I hadn’t expected.

Now the question is what to do next. The Thinkpad has a SD socket and micro SD cards are getting large capacities nowadays. If it won’t boot from a SD card I could boot from USB and then run from SD. So even if the internal SATA device fails entirely it should still be useful. I wonder if I could find a Thinkpad with a similar problem going cheap as I’m pretty sure that a Windows user couldn’t make any storage device usable the way I can with Linux.

I’ve looked at prices on auction sites but haven’t seen a Thinkpad X1 Carbon going for anywhere near the price I got this one. The nearest I’ve seen is around $350 for a laptop with significant damage.

While I am a little unhappy at Lenovo’s choice of interface, I’ve definitely got a lot more than $289 of value out of this laptop. So I’m not really complaining.

[315041.837612] ata1.00: status: { DRDY }
[315041.837613] ata1.00: failed command: WRITE FPDMA QUEUED
[315041.837616] ata1.00: cmd 61/20:48:28:1e:3e/00:00:00:00:00/40 tag 9 ncq dma 
16384 out
                         res 40/00:01:00:00:00/00:00:00:00:00/e0 Emask 0x4 
(timeout)                
[315041.837617] ata1.00: status: { DRDY }
[315041.837618] ata1.00: failed command: READ FPDMA QUEUED
[315041.837621] ata1.00: cmd 60/08:50:e0:26:84/00:00:00:00:00/40 tag 10 ncq 
dma 4096 in
                         res 40/00:01:00:00:00/00:00:00:00:00/e0 Emask 0x4 
(timeout)                
[315041.837622] ata1.00: status: { DRDY }
[315041.837625] ata1: hard resetting link
[315042.151781] ata1: SATA link up 6.0 Gbps (SStatus 133 SControl 300)
[315042.163368] ata1.00: ACPI cmd ef/02:00:00:00:00:a0 (SET FEATURES) 
succeeded
[315042.163370] ata1.00: ACPI cmd f5/00:00:00:00:00:a0 (SECURITY FREEZE LOCK) 
filtered out
[315042.163372] ata1.00: ACPI cmd ef/10:03:00:00:00:a0 (SET FEATURES) filtered 
out
[315042.183332] ata1.00: ACPI cmd ef/02:00:00:00:00:a0 (SET FEATURES) 
succeeded
[315042.183334] ata1.00: ACPI cmd f5/00:00:00:00:00:a0 (SECURITY FREEZE LOCK) 
filtered out
[315042.183336] ata1.00: ACPI cmd ef/10:03:00:00:00:a0 (SET FEATURES) filtered 
out
[315042.193332] ata1.00: configured for UDMA/133
[315042.193789] sd 0:0:0:0: [sda] tag#10 FAILED Result: hostbyte=DID_OK 
driverbyte=DRIVER_SENSE
[315042.193791] sd 0:0:0:0: [sda] tag#10 Sense Key : Illegal Request [current] 
[315042.193793] sd 0:0:0:0: [sda] tag#10 Add. Sense: Unaligned write command
[315042.193795] sd 0:0:0:0: [sda] tag#10 CDB: Read(10) 28 00 00 84 26 e0 00 00 
08 00
[315042.193797] print_req_error: I/O error, dev sda, sector 8660704
[315042.193810] ata1: EH complete

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