3/24/2011

Updating OCZ Vertex 2 SSD Firmware on a Mac: A Theoretically-Helpful Guide

So, because I couldn't find any guides for quite what I did I figured I'd write a quick summary in the hopes that it can help someone else. Also, I feel like procrastinating a bit. It is hardly a comprehensive tutorial, and I can only speak for my specific setup.

The situation: I have a MacBook Pro 15" Core2Duo running 10.6.7.* I recently swapped in an 80gig OCZ Vertex 2 SSD for the boot drive in place of the old hard drive and moved the hard drive to the optical bay slot using an OptiBay.** I have been having kernel panics every time I try to wake it up from Safe Sleep*** after power loss (swapping batteries w/o power cable). It seems this is a known issue with the OCZ Vertex 2 (and other similar) SSDs. A firmware update**** seems to fix the problem. Unfortunately OCZ has shit-awful support for updating firmware on any non-Windows platform.

I found a few helpful forum discussions, but this is what I did:

First, check your firmware version: In System Profiler (Apple menu --> about this mac --> more info) under the Serial-ATA window in hardware you should see your SSD. Look for the "Revision" next to "Model" and "Serial Number." That is your current firmware version.

To actually change the firmware you need to deal with Windows. I already have Windows 7 installed via Bootcamp on the hard drive, and NTFS-3G installed so OS X can read and write NTFS (the Windows file format). The OCZ firmware updater is a small Windows program. For it to work, the SSD can't be the drive that Windows is booted from, and the SSD needs to have at least a small Windows-formatted partition.

Using Disc Utility I shrunk the existing OS X boot drive partition and added a second partition that was about 6 gigs big. It could probably be smaller. I formatted it as NTFS (possible thanks to the NTFS-3G plugin), but FAT may work or you could format the partition as NTFS from Windows or the Bootcamp Utility app. You don't need to instal anything onto the partition, it only needs to be Windows-formatted (I'm not sure if it must be NTFS or if FAT will also work).

I booted into the existing Bootcamp Windows instal on the hard drive, and ran the OCS firmware updater program following their instructions. (When I first tried I didn't know you had to have a Windows-formatted partition on the SSD, and the program didn't recognize the SSD even though Windows saw it just fine.) Somewhere along here you'll probably have Windows or some antivirus program you installed and forgot about yell at you to register or update or whatever because you haven't booted into Windows in months and never bothered to put in the license key. I cursed a couple times, mashed some buttons to make the dialogs go away, and rebooted into OS X.

I checked the firmware in System Profiler again, saw a higher number, and felt triumphant. A quick test of the Safe Sleep issue was successful, so hopefully that fixed it. Now you can remove the extra partition on the SSD in Disc Utility and have a sandwich.

* I believe this guide applies to all Intel MacBooks, including unibodies, running any OS X, but this is the only unit I have tried.
** The OptiBay has adequate but mediocre build-quality, and at $100 w/ external drive case included is rather over-priced, but it did the job. I have since learned that there are alternatives, but I don't know the specifics.
*** Technically Deep Sleep I believe, but the Mac automatically enters that from Safe Sleep under default settings (I think).
**** In my case the current firmware is 1.32, I believe I started with 1.22 or 1.24 but I didn't keep good notes because I fail at life.
[Edited to fix NTSF to NTFS because yay dyslexia]

6 comments:

  1. thanks for the guide. is it possible to install and run windows from the second harddrive without having optibay? e.g. external usb hard disk?

    ReplyDelete
  2. okay, better question: is it possible to boot into Windows vista recovery disk without superdrive?

    ReplyDelete
  3. I frequently boot OS X off external drives (yay Carbon Copy Cloner and Super Duper) - on Power PC Macs you can use Firewire; Intel Macs can use Firewire or USB drives. I am almost-positive you could boot any OS off an external drive the same way, as long as it's in a bootable partition or disc-image. I've never tested it, but I can't imagine why it wouldn't work. As long as you can get the Mac to recognize the Vista recovery disk image or bootable partition on the USB or Firewire drive it should work fine.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Another option, if you have another machine with Windows and Firewire, is to boot the Mac in target disk mode, and mount it on the Windows machine. I think it can be any PC, though it may need to be another Mac running Boot Camp.

    ReplyDelete
  5. thanks, i have no problems to boot into external usb (Carbon-Copy-Clonned) OS X disk, but seems that windows is a bit less usb-friendly. also i cant even install windows into bootcamp because i have no working superdrive.

    Seems that the easiest way to update OCZ Vertex2 firmware - is to return/replace it to the retailer.

    ReplyDelete
  6. That sucks... I know you can do Windows over USB, but apparently it's not simple? Ugh.

    ReplyDelete